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My name is Ankit and I joined Skeptics Stack Exchange yesterday. I want to preface this by saying that I’m not trying to vent anger or rant about a problem, I legitimately want to get this fixed so the community as a whole can learn and so others don’t go through the same frustration.

I recently posted a question on Skeptics.SE in regards to my skepticism towards the commonly held notions that low testing rates show several countries (most notably India and Japan) have failed at responding to coronavirus, and that the actual amount of cases are significantly higher then the confirmed cases. These ideas are commonly spread through the news media, and I had even found a fellow Skeptics.SE member use this logic. I was skeptical.

So I did my research, investigating epidemiology and the actions taken by the respective governments and spent over an hour writing a post. I started by stating what I was skeptical about, explaining why I was skeptical (refuting the commonly mentioned arguments) and then clearly asked my questions:

“Is there any evidence to prove that India and Japan are severely under tested for corona, or is this entire argument solely based on a hypothetical, possible situation? ...Can we really state confidently, armed with actual data, that the Indian or Japanese responses to the coronavirus have been ‘botched' or 'a prime example of what not to do?' Can we really say that '[Confirmed cases] isn't a good comparative measure of actual cases' or that actual numbers are 'likely multiple times this number?’”

The question was deleted by a diamond moderator within less than 3 minutes. There is no way that he/she could have physically read my question in so little time; it took up my entire screen. He/She stated that I didn’t ask a question. English isn’t my first language, but I’m pretty sure “Is there any evidence to prove that India and Japan are severely under tested for corona, or is this entire argument solely based on a hypothetical, possible situation?” is a question. He/she also said Skeptics.SE is not for debating, to which I say, isn’t expressing skepticism by definition debating? Ironically enough, the same moderator tried debating me literally hours later (which I don't mind, civilized, informed debates makes the world less ignorant) They further marked it off topic, which said that it doesn’t challenge a claim, which again it clearly does. I am including the moderators comment below:

"W come to Skeptics. This is not a debate site and this is not a question."

Not only was the post closed but it was deleted, leaving me with no way to contact the moderator. I couldn’t even post on meta for multiple hours as I am new and didn’t have the minimum 5 reputation. (Since they deleted the post, I couldn’t ask regarding my post and surpass the 5 rep bar.) He/she never told me how to improve, they just deleted it. If they just told me what was wrong and let me fix it, I would have done so immediately without minding.

I was lucky that one of my answers were upvoted giving just enough reputation. To this I ask, why does someone hold this much power, that one (not me i got lucky) can’t even state something for days? These kind of things would be quick to deter users from Stack Exchange and are hurting the community from spreading ideas and therefore I request that this issue is further looked into so others don’t experience the same. Thank you.

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    Are you looking for specific help on your question (the first half of your post here), or do you want a finer explanation on why and how guidelines and mod powers are the way they are (your last paragraph)? I think it would be far more fruitful for you that we work on the specific question.
    – fredsbend Mod
    Apr 28 '20 at 20:44
  • @fredsbend Yes, I would really appreciate help. I understand how mod powers work, and the reasoning behind them, I am simply stating my opinion that this much power is not justified.
    – Ankit
    Apr 28 '20 at 21:00
  • By the way, you can ask about your own posts even if they are deleted: just supply the link to the deleted post in the box. Was that not working for you for some reason?
    – gparyani
    Apr 28 '20 at 21:44
  • @gparyani , Hi I did try this, but it didn't work
    – Ankit
    Apr 28 '20 at 21:46
  • Were you by any chance deleting or typing above the text that the question asking form was adding? That is known to cause issues.
    – gparyani
    Apr 28 '20 at 21:47
  • @gparyani I'm not sure
    – Ankit
    Apr 28 '20 at 21:49
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Welcome to Skeptics! Sorry your initial experience wasn't satisfactory.

Also sorry for the typos in the comment. I was using a tablet rather than my normal browser, so I didn't have the normal set of tools I use to provide standard replies, including links to policies.

Your post opened:

This question is partially in response to @LioElbammalf's answer to a previous question, but I have heard similar things all over the media as well that I am skeptical about and wanted to refute.

So, there is no notable claim, it is presented as a response, and it is something you want to refute.

The post wasn't structured as a question. It was structured as a debate. The Stack Exchange sites, including Skeptics.SE are deliberately not structured for debates and discussions. This site is not a place for exercising your ideas and rhetoric. This is a site for linking to a doubtful widely-believed claim about the world, and asking people if it is true. They, in turn, must answer using empirical evidence, not rhetoric.

With a bit of digging, the claim being disputed in the first half of the question was that the count of confirmed cases of COVID-19 isn't a good metric to compare between countries.

It was then followed by a series of unreferenced claims and arguments. I don't want to rip apart the arguments here because... this is not a site for debates and discussions. However - and this becomes relevant later - the arguments were both flawed an inflammatory.

Later the claim started shifting around.

is there any evidence to prove that India and Japan are severly under tested for corona

No-one made that new claim. The linked answer merely said they were noted for their limited testing, and gave references to support that view. That new claim is subjective and and off-topic here.

Can we really state confidently, armed with actual data, that the Indian or Japanese responses to the coronavirus have been "botched" or "a prime example of what not to do?"

I can't see who you might be quoting here. These are subjective claims and off-topic here.

Can we really say that "[Confirmed cases] isn't a good comparitive measure of actual cases"

Perhaps this is could just be a comment on a previous answer asking this line to be justified.

or that actual numbers are ""likely multiple times this number?"

If that is the real question, we should start all over again. Quote someone making the claim and ask if it is true.


I closed it. (I am a reasonably fast reader, and it really didn't take that longer than a minute to evaluate it.)

Then I paused paused before deleting the question. It isn't the normal process.

However, I saw how inflammatory the arguments being made were: suggesting that there are few asymptomatic carriers in the middle of a pandemic where the epidemiologists are reporting many asymptomatic carrier is practically fighting words.

I knew that even if I simply closed it, it was going to lead to savage critiques in the comments, which I would then have to clean up. I gave some thought to whether it could be saved with a "heroic" edit, and couldn't see any chance.

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  • Hi. Thanks for your response. When I said "This is a response to" I meant that it was something I found and that I was skeptical about. Also all of those quotes that I had was stuff from the media including reputable sources from NYT and Washington Post. I guess that was misunderstood. Would it be good if I switched to starting with the media's claim, then explaining my throught process, and then asking is the media's claim really true?
    – Ankit
    Apr 28 '20 at 22:55
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    @Ankit: I'm no expert here, but generally, SE works best when you focus your question around a single claim/question and trim out stuff irrelevant to the issue. I think if you focus on one claim and make it clear, then you'll have a greater chance of success in the future. Apr 29 '20 at 16:35
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    @ankit Yes, start with one of those media claims, quote it exactly, explain in a few sentences why you're skeptical, then ask for verification.
    – fredsbend Mod
    Apr 30 '20 at 15:25
  • Btw, "deletion" is actually just hidden here. It can be undeleted. Edit your original post, then flag it or ping oddthinking here.
    – fredsbend Mod
    Apr 30 '20 at 15:26
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    @fredsbend OP has instead just reposted the question. I didn't see the original so I can't tell how much it's been changed or approved, if at all.
    – F1Krazy
    Apr 30 '20 at 19:38
  • @Oddthinking I edited it. changed it to be more like other questions, and reposted. Is this better?
    – Ankit
    Apr 30 '20 at 20:02

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