3

We currently allow questions about product claims in advertisements.

Would questions about claims made in product warnings be similarly acceptable if they are otherwise reasonably clear and notable?

I am thinking about "warnings" of the following types:

  • Warning: This Super Microwave 9000 XL (R) cooking equipment product may cause cancer.
  • Warning: Chew-O-Gum is hazardous to domestic dogs.
  • Warning: Happy Fun Ball may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.
  • Warning: Taking more than 200mg of Nicedrugx may cause cirrhosis of the liver.
  • Warning: To prevent harm to children, replace cap when storing SprayPaintX.

These warnings imply the following underling claims which should be sufficiently clear and testable to be subject to skeptical inquiry:

  • Super Microwave 9000 XL (R) causes cancer.
  • Chew-O-Gum causes medical harm to dogs in some specific way(s) that can be detected and documented by veterinarians.
  • Happy Fun Ball physically wounds people through blunt force trauma.
  • Taking more than 200mg of Nicedrugx has (or can be) scientifically linked with cirrhosis of the liver.
  • Containers of SprayPaintX that are stored without the cap in place are harmful to children in some way that can be defined and/or quantified.

Now, I know that many people are likely to jump in and say that most product warnings today are written by lawyers and not scientists. That doesn't detract from my question, but rather enhances it - claims written by non-scientists are more likely to lack a scientific basis, have methodology issues, or rely on junk sources or erroneous math. In other words, these questions are likely to consider an underlying question of "Is this claim just some lawyer being overly cautious in trying not to get their client sued or is there actual scientific research backing it up?".

Answers to these questions are likely to take one of the following patterns:

  • The claim is true, the danger is real and demonstrable.
  • Evidence for or against the claim is dubious or nonexistent, but the warning is made "out of an abundance of caution" or on the advice of lawyers to reduce legal risk.
  • The claim is demonstrably false, but the warning is legally mandated or otherwise compelled speech on the part of the manufacturer or seller.

1 Answer 1

2

I can't see any reason why questions like these wouldn't be acceptable here.

Here are some example existing questions that I think fall into your category, and have been reasonably well-received:

Here are some related ones, that almost do:

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .