This is relevant to the question https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/31738/does-emma-watson-have-adhd

I don't dispute that this is a claim made by an notable source, and that Emma Watson is a notable person.

However, questions of this kind make me uncomfortable. If Watson herself has chosen to publicly confirm or deny that she has such a diagnosis, I suppose that might make an appropriate answer to the question (though in some sense it might not be verifiable unless she also chose to release medical records). But if this is an issue that Watson does not choose to discuss publicly (which I think most people would agree is her right), I don't think it is an appropriate topic for investigation on this site - it smacks of invasion of privacy. This is Skeptics.SE, not Paparazzi.SE.

Such questions might be appropriate for a public figure whose health or mental state is of direct relevance to many people (e.g. a head of government). For an actor, I don't think so.

Should we have a general ban on questions of this kind, which involve personal information about specific individuals, or other guidelines or requirements?

(Note that Should there be stronger notability criteria for claims about living people? is not a duplicate - it focuses on statements alleged to have been made publicly.)

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    Regarding "If Watson herself has chosen to publicly confirm or deny..." and "But if this is an issue that Watson does not choose to discuss publicly...", that seems to be saying that whether the question is appropriate depends on what the answer is. I don't like rules that depend on what evidence happens to be available because you kind of have to make a presumption about the answer in order to make a decision about whether to keep the question or not. – user30557 Feb 7 '16 at 2:04
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    "this is a claim made by an notable source, [...] Emma Watson is a notable person" are red herrings. The subject of a claim doesn't need to be notable. The source doesn't need to be notable: "saying the source must be notable is an ever-so-slightly misleading shortcut". The claim must be notable. – user30557 Feb 7 '16 at 2:19
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    Invasion of privacy if we go to her place or clinic and take pictures or if we hack into email or database of medical records. How is it an invasion of privacy to research on publicly available information? – BCLC Feb 7 '16 at 3:39
  • I mean. I was just wondering. I've seen a claim around some sites. But there seems to be nothing credible to back it up. There are sources for Zooey Deschanel, will.I.am, Adam Levine, Justin Timberlake, et al having ADHD so why not Emma Watson? – BCLC Feb 7 '16 at 3:41
  • @Dawn You sound like an admin. I'm surprised to find out you have less than 1k rep here :O – BCLC Feb 7 '16 at 4:33
  • So asking if will.I.am has ADHD would be off-topic for the same reason? – BCLC Feb 8 '16 at 7:26
  • As Dawn says whether the question is appropriate depends on what the answer is. Since we don't know I support the question. Which leave us with the next step: what specifically would the guideline be? We may fail to come up with something clear, but it's worth a try. – user22865 Feb 8 '16 at 8:31
  • @JanDoggen I don't mind the question. Let people ask what they want so long as it does not violate the rules – BCLC Feb 8 '16 at 10:25
  • @JanDoggen So what was up with the non constructive flag? – BCLC Feb 8 '16 at 19:50
  • ' whether the question is appropriate depends on what the answer is' vs 'We can't possibly close questions based on answers before we know them' ? I find it a little weird that the on-topic-ness of the question may depend on its answer. like if it's yes then keep the question but if it's not then close/delete the question? – BCLC Mar 8 at 5:00

There are a few things that make me uncomfortable about the question, but also about the solutions proposed here. Here are a few thoughts - maybe it's not a full solution, but I think these points should be included and considered in any solution we choose:

  • Questions shouldn't be covert accusations or slandering. All questions should be genuine questions, not rants or blatant advertisements for a position.

  • Being about a notable individual does not make a question automatically notable. This should go without saying but one thing is asking for clarity on something which a bunch of people already believe -- another is asking for gossip about a notable person.

  • Medical conditions are not special. They are protected by an expectation of privacy, but so are a bunch of other pieces of information. It's not enough to just protect those.

  • We can't possibly close questions based on answers before we know them. Even in the case of "current news" close reason, we require conditions which are specific to the question (it must be a news question, with a single news source).

  • We can't protect only some social categories based on their perceived "utility". I strongly disagree with with any "actress no, politician yes" kind of rules, because they simply shift the problem: deciding if something is "useful" is ultimately arbitrary and a bad metric for a rule.

  • Our answers should do no damage. This is intrinsic to our methodology. One thing is to answer with gossip, personal opinions and slandering -- these would be damaging, but those answers are already forbidden. Answers should only be based on already publicly known facts.


Questions about medical conditions of specific people are fine as long as they are strictly notable. They are not automatically notable because they are about a famous person. They need to be specifically believed by a bunch of people. Questions should be neutral in tone and describe the claim, not take a position with respect to it.

Answers should be based on publicly verifiable information, not on gossip, innuendo or hearsay. Answers should not take the form of "Doctor Smith, expert on condition, but not the person's doctor, said that the claim is true/false", however answers of the form "Doctor Young, expert on condition, after examining the patient, says the claim is true/false" are good.

  • EXACTLY!!!!!!!! – BCLC Feb 8 '16 at 10:50
  • Sklivvz♦, do you think my question should be off-topic? – BCLC Feb 12 '16 at 17:13

The Guardian and many other sources claim that Emma Watson has ADHD.

If she does not, that deserves debunking.

If she does, so be it. It's not a bad thing, and it wouldn't be us making this info popular. The Guardian (and others) have already done that.

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    By joining in this investigation we are joining in the game of the hack journalists. If Ms Watson wanted the truth to be found she would have said something. If some newspaper is trying to pry into people's personal details we don't make things better by joining in. – DJClayworth Feb 7 '16 at 4:08
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    @DJClayworth Maybe she has said something but such interview is not easily found? Maybe the interview was deleted unintentionally because of server problems? What do you mean prying? I am just wondering if a particular claim made by The Guardian and other sources is true. – BCLC Feb 7 '16 at 4:32
  • @DJClayworth So asking if will.I.am has ADHD would be off-topic for the same reason? – BCLC Feb 8 '16 at 7:27
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    Following up @DJClayworth's comment: This is a dual-edged sword. If she has not it would be good to debunk it. But if the outcome of 'our' investigation is that she has, we would be doing the same things as the journalists. It's exactly what Dawn says under the question: whether the question is appropriate depends on what the answer is. Since we do not know beforehand what the answer is, I feel we'd better stay out. – user22865 Feb 8 '16 at 8:28
  • @JanDoggen Can I just revise to ask if any of the claims made have basis or if she is reported or has stated to have ADHD? FYI Not everyone chooses words correctly – BCLC Feb 8 '16 at 10:31

I agree with Nate's meta-question: This line of questioning makes me uncomfortable.

I agree with @DJClayworth's answer. I have suggested before I would love a "None of our damned business" as a close reason.

However, the difficulty is that this could lead to inappropriate censorship - or even just the appearance of inappropriate censorship, which I want to avoid.

So, I invite people to suggest what the rule should be - what our community standards are - that allows us to relatively objectively decide/agree on what crosses the line and what is acceptable.

Some things to think about:

I guess my answer is: I don't like the status quo, but it is a challenging area to fix.

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    How is the status quo inadequate to deal with this? If she's addressed it herself, we can write an answer. If she hasn't, it will likely go unanswered, and that is okay. People can down vote the question if they don't like it to make it less visible. No special rule needed. – user30557 Feb 8 '16 at 5:31
  • So asking if will.I.am has ADHD would be off-topic or make you uncomfortable for the same reason? No one is asking anyone to break into her place, follow her to her clinic, break into a clinic or hack into a database. All for which I'm looking is internet articles. I don't see how this could be harmful, whether done individually or collectively so long as Emma Watson isn't annoyed eg spamming her twitter account – BCLC Feb 8 '16 at 7:27
  • @BCLC: 1) Yes, the will.I.am would make me uncomfortable. I understand that he has (reportedly) reported that he has ADHD. But that's not good evidence. We would need to see some sort of evidence that he received such a diagnosis. – Oddthinking Feb 8 '16 at 8:44
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    @BCLC: 2) When you say "All I'm looking for is Internet articles", what I hear is "All I am looking for is gossip, which is either based on spurious and/or malicious speculation, diagnoses by unethical psychologists based only on public behaviour, by an agent of the paparazzi breaking into a clinic/hacking a database, or by an unsubstantiated claim by the subject herself." Even speculating about someone's mental health is hurtful, and it isn't hard to find celebrities unfairly dogged by unsubstantiated rumours. – Oddthinking Feb 8 '16 at 8:48
  • @Oddthinking Wait so my question would be on-topic if it was instead asking if Emma Watson has ever stated to have ADHD? So this meta question and the 5 downvotes is because of my poor choice of words? – BCLC Feb 8 '16 at 10:26
  • @Dawn EXACTLY. clap clap clap – BCLC Feb 8 '16 at 10:28
  • @Oddthinking Did someone happen to ignore Dawn's comment? – BCLC Feb 8 '16 at 10:29
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    @BCLC: I am interested in discussing the general case, not getting bogged down with your question which is currently being treated exactly as Dawn describes. – Oddthinking Feb 8 '16 at 10:55

Nate you are absolutely right.People's mental conditions and history are personal. If the person in question does not chose to reveal anything from their medical history, and it's not relevant to them doing a job we are selecting them for, then it is what is technically called NONE OF OUR DAMN BUSINESS!

  • So asking if will.I.am has ADHD would be off-topic for the same reason? – BCLC Feb 8 '16 at 7:26
  • Is this a point about the question or the (eventual) answers? The question is ultimately about stuff that people already believe. I agree that violating her privacy is NONE OF OUR DAMN BUSINESS, but that's a point about some specific answers not the question. – Sklivvz Feb 8 '16 at 12:53

Notable people have their private live, and often want to keep some personal things (like health issues) private. But sometimes when you are famous, some people around you (whether it's a former teacher, a friend, a former classmate, your neighbour or even a paparazzi could find out, etc etc) will tell these private informations to journalists (who are sometimes unscrupulous), which publishes them. As they can not deny it, they just ignore such claims to minimize the impact of leaks. This could very well be Emma Watson's case with having ADHD. The worst thing that could happen to someone trying to keep something that has been leaked once or twice as private as possible, is that some people investigate on it and force the person to admit it. That could cause the person a prejudice and this is exactly playing the journalists/leakers/paparazzis game.

Also, as it was written in theguardian, Emma Watson has (almost certainly) heard about it. Many times. She did not comment on it, so there's the answer : she decided not to comment.

I strongly recommend this question to be closed ASAP and that every question about sensitive claims that are not of public notoriety about a specific person be closed.

  • So what about will.I.am? – BCLC Feb 8 '16 at 19:49
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    The same logic applies whoever it is. – Cass Feb 8 '16 at 21:46

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