We appear to be getting a splurge of skeptics questions in the form of "My friend says...", "I heard...", etc. where the only evidence that a claim has been made is the person saying they heard it. Some are commonly known claims, but others are definitely things I've never heard before. I strongly suspect it's just an effort in most cases to phrase things properly to get an answer to a question, and has nothing at all to do with skepticism.

So the question:

There are some commonly held "common sense" things which one should be skeptical of, but may be hard to find a claim to link. How do we draw the line?

  • 1
    This one here skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/4426/… outright states that he is giving "I was told since I was a kid" excuse because it worked for another question.
    – user288
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 17:18
  • 4
    Is a friend saying it on twitter sufficient?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 22:52
  • 1
    @Sejanus: I added references to the precedent, so it is no longer a precedent, and chided the OP who tried to get away with insufficient references.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 1:45
  • I'm not trying to be a smart-arse, but you need some references, if just to aid understanding! I am trying to think of a question that might be borderline. Do you consider my question on dental vaccines an example? If so, which side of the line?
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 2:00
  • @Oddthinking -- No you're totally on point. I'll look up some in the morning when I'm more awake. Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 3:38

2 Answers 2


Unless you can delete a terrible question completely, reformulate it.

Otherwise you stumble over poor, closed questions, which doesn't look good.

E.g. "Do teddy bears help you sleep better?" Reformulate it to "Do stuffed animals have a distinct psychological function?"

If too terrible, downvote it.

But, if there is really only a claim from a friend, the questioners should show that they have done some searching for evidence. Otherwise it gets very boring to read here.

I, at least, will not try to falsify prejudices; it is a waste of time.

  • 1
    Werner: I say this purely constructively, but these are things you can do to make your posts a bit more readable. use YOU not U. "done himself" = "himself done" Use verbs. Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 22:22
  • completely deleting a question is possible with sufficient reputation/moderator status. Flag questions you want a moderator to look it.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 1:54
  • (And I don't mind the teddy bear question as it was!)
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 1:55

You can always downvote it. Many of those types of questions can end up with a solid close reason (such as Not A Real Question; Too Narrow; Subjective and Argumentative) but if that fails just give it a -1 for not being a useful question.

  • 1
    Explaining why it was downvoted is probably a good idea too.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 1:46

You must log in to answer this question.

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