Why do we have to take irrational questions seriously in GQ?

Here, the OP asks how to exorcise her house of ghosts. Tomndebb jumps in immediately and says only factual answers are allowed (even though no factual answers are possible), and no one is allowed to say there is no such thing as ghosts. On a message board devoted to fighting ingorance, why are we compelled to take woo seriously and prohibited from stating facts? What is this board for if not to knock down bullshit?

ETA do we also have to take other forms of woo seriously? If someone asks about homeopathic remedies, do we have to pretend that homepothat is real and refrain from debunking it? If someone asks about 9/11 theories do we have to pretend that they are legitimate? If someone asks for advice about an etenal motion machine, are we forbidden from saying they are impossible? What is the difference between saying there is no such thing as ghosts and saying there is no such thing as an eternal motion machine?

Colibri has already…and correctly…punted that thread elsewhere.

Here’s a tip that will help you immensely around here: Stop taking everything so seriously.

I think you allowed to dispute the premise of a question. For example, in Why are pharmaceutical sales staff all attractive women?, some posters are saying that they know of unattractive males working as pharm reps. However, it’s probably not productive to argue about whether ghosts exist – but since they don’t, objectively exist, that thread probably ought to be in IMHO.

(ETA: And I see that it has been.)

Are we allowed to say there’s no such thing as ghosts in the forum it was moved to? Why should we have to refrain from posting factual information in any forum?

I think you should, because you just might convince everyone this time.

I think “There is no such thing as a ghost” is a factual answer and should have been permitted under tomndebb’s guidelines. I have no idea why he would say that only factual answers are permitted and then specifically disallow the one answer that is actually factual.

I agree with the move to IMHO, of course.

Whether I can convince them is not relevant. I don’t understand why we should be forbidden from giving a factual answer to a question in any forum.

This is not complicated. Tomndebb fucked up. Colibri fixed it. The end.

Because otherwise any time someone asked a question that presumes the Bible is true, someone would denounce it as superstition and we’d get into another round of debate over respecting religious belief.

I would still like some clarification about whether we can debunk woo in other forums.

Of course we can. No one has ever said otherwise. This molehill just ain’t got mountain potential.

What’s wrong with that? If someone asks a a question which presumes the literal history of Noah’s Ark, why should it ever be inappropriate to reject that premise?

This is tricky. I suspect tomndebb is trying to balance the needs of the participants. On the one hand is the skeptic/woo-fighting respondents wishing to share their perspective, on the other is the OP in a desire for helpful information.

I think he’s probably putting this in the context of “don’t hijack the thread”. Starting an argument over the existence of ghosts in a thread asking for information would be a hijack, and so he’s preemptively stating it will be treated as such.

As he said, start a new thread “Ghosts don’t exist”, and post a link in the existing thread. Not completely satisfactory, but I guess balances the issues as reasonably as can.

You can have factual questions about religion, e.g., “Do any Christians other than Roman Catholics believe in the trans-substantiation of the bread and wine in Holy Communion?” However, it would be unhelpful in such a thread to argue about whether the bread and wine really do become the body and blood of Christ: the question does not have that as a premise, and debating that issue does not help answer the question.

Sometimes it is not what you say, but how you say it.


  1. OP, you’re a fuckwit. There is no sky fairy, there was no world flood, and there is no God. And go fuck yourself with a broom handle for even suggesting it.

  2. Given the reputed dimensions of the Ark, the time allotted for building, and the amount of provisions required for the supposed number of passengers/livestock, it seems highly unlikely to have occurred as described.

Example #1 gets you a warning. Example #2 does not.

There is no other possible factual answerr to the question, though, so why even leave the thread open if the one factual answer is forbidden?

You know, I’m not satisfied with my answer. I think I understand the issues at play, but I still sympathize with Diogenes. It definitely was an error to send to GQ, demand only factual answers, and then bar the only factual answer from the responses.

And I kinda still sympathize even if it is in IMHO. If it is my opinion that ghosts don’t exist, I should be able to share that in the opinion thread.

Arguably, factual answers about such things as practiced by believers are possible. Something like “according to the Church of Woo, to raise a ghost one must dance naked in the light of the moon while spanking oneself with a banana” could be a factual description of the ritual without comment on whether such a thing would work–which is obviously won’t, because there are no ghosts.

  1. I do not “believe in” ghosts, or even have serious suspicions that ghosts might exist.

  2. That said, your opinions are still not facts. Even when they’re quite reasonable opinions to hold.

Fact: There is insufficient evidence of the existence of supernatural/woo-woo phenomena such as ghosts to convince a consensus of rational skeptics of their existence, nor even, in most cases, to convince them to keep an open mind on the question.

Rational conclusion from above fact: Ghosts almost certainly do not exist, at least in any perceivable form or in reproducible circumstances.

Opinion: Ghosts don’t exist. Period.