With regards to this question on "insanity", initially, I was inclined to vote to close because:

  • it used terminology that implied a lack of understanding of the medical and scientific knowledge about psychiatry and clinical psychology.
  • the question did not make sense to me because it was asking for a scientific definition of a term which is generally not considered scientific.

However, I also then saw Ben's answer which is very good. It answers the question, and corrects the assumptions of the person asking the question. And in a very general sense, there is the kernel of an interesting question.

So my questions here are:

  • Should this question be permitted?
  • What can we learn from this question about what is permitted/not permitted, encouraged/discouraged? (e.g., what questions are too easy? what questions lack sufficient research? How welcoming should we be to outsiders? etc.)
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Initially I didn't feel this meta post warranted a separate question and it could be discussed under "What level of initial research is expected on questions?". However seeing how you and Ben Brocka reacted so differently on the 'insanity' question, it might be worthwhile discussing this particular example and digest it's responses into the more general question. –  Steven Jeuris Jan 24 '12 at 11:09

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I answered the Insanity question because it:

  • Was going to be asked. It's one of the few terms most people apply to the field of psychology even if it isn't actually used.
  • It has a concrete answer, one that promotes understanding of the field as a whole.

Even if the question doesn't benefit experts and doesn't require an expert to answer, it's something that clears up a major source of confusion for non-experts and it's very easy to do.

If it were subjective, didn't have an answer or was unlikely to help anyone I would have voted to close it, but I feel it was acceptable and deserving of a simple answer.

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Great answer! I think that Even if the question doesn't benefit experts and doesn't require an expert to answer, it's something that clears up a major source of confusion for non-experts is an excellent rationale for why this question should be allowed to exist and be answered. And your answer was excellent! –  Josh Gitlin Jan 24 '12 at 13:11

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