(I'm going to create my own examples so as to not make this question an accusation at anybody. Please consider these claims a representation of my own mostly-suppressed quackery, and not representative of any other SE users.)

Suppose someone answers a question about "is there free will" with "there is no free will because aliens extracted it from humanity in 1500 BCE to power their starships".

Now, certainly, I do not believe aliens took free will from us.

But I also might equally disagree that, for instance, we possess a divine soul that enables us to make decisions, or disagree that we are just complicated chemical processes that behave according to the laws of physics. I generally don't downvote answers that rest on assumptions or metaphysics I disagree with, but do often downvote "quackery".

It seems like the things that "quack" answers have in common are:

  • They rest on an uncommon belief system.
  • They do not specify that belief system in the answer. (For instance, I wouldn't consider an answer like "if one subscribes to Gnosticism, then..." quackery, but I would often consider "Yaldabaoth created this world to imprison our free souls and create the illusion of no free will".)

Because the belief system is uncommon and unspecified, the answer seems unlikely to be useful to the OP or to the broader audience. Am I being fair here? I do not generally downvote e.g. a Christian answer for excluding "from the Christian perspective," at the top. Should I be consistent and downvote all answers that do not try to explain their assumptions and groundings? Should I refrain from downvoting things that seem reasonable if I accept the unstated premises the respondent is working from?

(I'm also not sure that my opinion of these answers would change if, for instance, my "aliens stole free will" answer was formatted like "If you believe my aliens stole free will theory [link], aliens stole free will in 1500 BCE to power their starships." It's certainly better, but.. I'm not sure I could ever see myself upvoting it, at least.)

Related: Should we explain downvotes?, Is it ok to down vote an answer because you disagree with something it said?, and the rest of the voting tag.

  • You may not believe in alien-global-free-will-theft, but do you have any evidence debunking it? Also... the aliens in the Jimmy Neutron movie were chickens, and eggs, no ducks. Its not always quackery. May 13 at 5:00

2 Answers 2


I agree, and the more we discuss it, the more there are literally waves of nonsensical posts, both the questions and the answers, and what's really the problem is that most people here, even the old timers, seem to be absolutely fine with it and even enjoying it. I am rather giving up. I am also utterly fed up with SE overall, it's all mostly yet the same "tyranny of the corporate majority" for the triumph of the lowest denominator and the worst sentiments -- and the censorship of any actual criticism or even basic decency, and the corporate interests, and the hijacking, sabotaging, and poisoning of every seed and every meatball... disgusting, especially to the extent that we are fine with it: we deserve our own extinction.


They rest on an uncommon belief system

Uncommon in what frame?

Consider for example views on homosexuality:

  • It is ok, and should not be stigmatized
  • It is an abomination for which the death penalty is ok, less would an aberration or at least an exception

If you determine normal by statistics, I can bet you, your determination will strongly correlate with whether your sample was drawn from the east or the west of the Suez.

Ok the above may not be a very philosophical view one way or other.

A much more central to philosophy question would be on atheism and Christian philosophy.

Here I've referred to Rabbi Sacks calling Richard Dawkins a "Christian atheist". Without stretching it too much the same could be said for much that passes as normal here.

The less confrontational mode of saying the same would be

This site has an inherent western bias

For a more expanded version see my take on the tension Canonicity↔Parochialism

As for downvotes: It may be reasonable to hope that people on superuser or askubuntu or dozens of other technical SE sites should vote on objective quality and not personal views.

To expect the same for phil-SE is simply chimerical.


My view: Vote as you like, that's what most people are doing anyway and is affirmed by your link on Is it ok to downvote an answer because you disagree?

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