A recent question can essentially be reduced to "Is the claim made in this BBC article true?" In particular, a BBC article included a claim about something that Linus Pauling allegedly said. An edit by another user updated the question to indicate that Linus Pauling is a Nobel Prize winner "to make the notability clearer".

Now, I don't have any problem with the question in its current form, and I don't think the edit was truly problematic, but to me Linus Pauling's credentials would only be relevant to notability if the question was "Is this claim by Linus Pauling true?" rather than "Is this claim about Linus Pauling true?". In fact, the consensus of notability specifically indicates that the subject of a claim does not need to be notable.

Something that was brought up in comments (if I interpreted things correctly) was that, although Linus Pauling's credentials didn't make the claim itself any more or less believable, it's possible that "notability" is also impacted by whether the truth of a claim matters in some way. If a BBC article made claims about things that happened to the author in a dream, verifying or debunking those claims isn't inherently valuable compared to claims where the veracity or belief thereof impacts the actions of many people. In this case, Linus Pauling's claims have importance because of his status as a Nobel Prize winner, and thus statements about his claims have some value derived from that fact.

In my opinion, a better version of the edit would have indicated the credentials of Linus Pauling only in the question's body rather than in the title, to improve the focus on "things claimed by this BBC article" rather than "things claimed by this Nobel Prize winner", but I wanted to bring it up for discussion.

1 Answer 1


I think we may be overthinking it here. If you want to move the credentials from the title into the body, that seems quite reasonable to me. Go ahead.

The edit appears to have been made by someone who had never heard of Linus Pauling. I think a bit of context is generally helpful, and a lot of my edits on questions include adding a bit of context (and especially a few links to Wikipedia) so people who have never heard of these people, places or things can get a quick idea of why it might be important.

The fact that Linus Pauling was a two-time Nobel Prize winner is relevant context because if he hadn't won those prizes, he would be very likely dismissed as a crank. His claims would be appearing on private blogs rather than in BBC articles. Instead, his words are widely circulated and used to promote pseudoscience.

It is an appeal to false authority to suggest that his expertise in DNA and quantum physics makes him an expert in Vitamin C and HIV. On the other hand, it suggests a proven ability to think scientifically.

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