In a comment on the accepted answer to this question about non-mainstream physics, @jdm said:

+1, I'd add two things: 1) Questions about non-mainstream physics should be ok, e.g. ("Have Podkletnov's antigravity experiments been independently reproduced?", "Why do we believe cold fusion can't work?"). Questions in fringe physics aren't ok ("Where does the square root come from in this mass-formula?"). 2) We should be careful about "questions that propose a new concept or paradigm". Those can be very useful, and generate research-level content, but they can also invite half-baked speculation (like "Are all particles the same string weaving the fabric of the universe"?)

The author of the answer replied:

@jdm afaict (1) is not allowed, but I'm not sure. Regarding (2) That's actually OK. While the "one string to rule them all" question wasn't worded too well, it didn't fall afoul of the current non mainstream policy.

Then @jdm replied and said:

Regarding (1), sometimes I come along something in a paper or a pop-sci article, and would like to know whether it's legitimate or not. Say, the Woodward effect, Mallet's "Time machines", and so on. I'd like to be able to ask "Is this mainstream science?" and if it's not, "Where's the author's mistake, why can't this work?". Do you think that's OK?

Both comments by @jdm have been upvoted, but the middle comment by @Manishearth has not. However, since @Manishearth is the original author of the answer, I am a bit confused about whether questions of type (1) are allowed on the site, and for that matter, questions of type (2) as well.

What is the site policy regarding the two question types noted by @jdm in their comment?


1 Answer 1


There is currently no official site policy other than the one you already linked.

Many of the questions of the first kind seem to tread over the line into requests for peer-review, which are off-topic here, see this meta post. If you manage to ask a question about "Why can X not work?" without effectively asking us to perform peer-review on a paper that claims X can work, then it's probably on-topic, but for many non-mainstream claims that will not be possible. We are not Skeptics, our mission is to teach accepted science, not to fact-check or peer-review spurious statements.

The second type of questions about "proposing a new paradigm" is clearly off-topic by the current policy.

  • $\begingroup$ You mention Skeptics in relation to peer-review; would a question that effectively asks for peer-review on a paper or similar writing about non-mainstream physics be on-topic on that site, or would it be disallowed there for other reasons? $\endgroup$
    – Sam Estep
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 13:53
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @SamEstep I can't rightly tell, I mentioned their site mainly because they get many questions asking for the evaluation of correctness of specific claims but I don't know much more about their scope. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ OK. Thank you for the clarification for this site! $\endgroup$
    – Sam Estep
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 14:08

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