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The question "Do spoilers increase enjoyment of a work?" quotes a university website on which recent empirical research from the field of psychology is summarized. The author of the question appears to doubt the reported results based on a common sense argument that he/she invented and which is not backed up by any evidence.

Basically, what the author does is call into question a finding that has been (presumably, the research itself is not easily accessible) produced by applying the scientific method, on grounds of not believing it can be true. To me, it seems that is the exact opposite of applying scientific skepticism.

Are questions of this type, which somewhat exaggeratedly may be paraphrased as "scientists claim something that I, a layperson, don't believe – is it true?", on topic for this website, which hails to be a "Q&A for scientific skepticism"?

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    When a lone study defies my common sense I don't take it at face value. I'd call that skepticism. Get enough studies, then I start believing my common sense is no longer sensible. – fredsbend Jan 27 at 20:50
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    I don't quickly believe any lone study, by the way, because repeatability is a major point in the scientific method. – fredsbend Jan 27 at 20:52
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Yep, we tackle those claims routinely for many reasons:

  1. Many times the reporting is wrong, the quote from the University person is taken out of context, etc.
  2. Researchers themselves have been known to exaggerate, not to say lie, about the results they published
  3. Usually, but not always, there's a context missing and adding it is important. One positive result among 100 negative ones can be a fluke and is at the very least unconfirmed and should not be taken at face value. One positive result among 100 other positive ones is probably much more valid.

Common sense might be a reason to have a doubt for the OP, but a single result is far from the highest level of evidence we consider here, so it's valid to question it.

  • These are all valid points – but why is skeptics.SE the place to ask these questions, and not e.g. psychology.SE? – Schmuddi Jan 27 at 13:05
  • It can be asked in both, but here they will receive exclusively answers based on published research. On psychology.se they can probably also receive speculative answers by experts in the field. Whether that is important is up to the OP. – Sklivvz Jan 27 at 13:07
  • I see. But how does this relate to the notion of "we leave the real questions to the real pros", stated in this FAQ under "Depth"? This particular question is based on a claim made by a website with a general audience. If the asker had referred only the published article, would that change anything? – Schmuddi Jan 27 at 13:18
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    @Schmuddi checking google scholar for similar experiments, reading one paper with intelligence and basic knowledge of statistcs etc are basic life skills for scientific skeptics. It doesn't take a psychologist or a scientist to do so. "Real" questions in the field are way harder. This is literally newspaper-level science. – Sklivvz Jan 27 at 13:31

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