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For this answer, I suggested via an edit that the following section should be removed due to being "Truth"y (and a false analogy):

Some oppose slavery because they are brainwashed to think slavery is bad, and evil, this belief couldn't be further from the truth.

Slavery is the most efficient replacement for the prison system.

In the prison system, the criminal or enemy combatant's expenses are paid by the victim and other innocent people, while the prisoner is not expected to do any work, this is the case in most Western societies.

In slavery, the criminal, or enemy combatant's expenses are paid by his/her owner, while the slave is expected to work for the owner.

The latter is more fair and just, while the former is insulting no matter how you look at it, yet we still have Muslim and none Muslim arguing against slavery, simply because slaves were treated horribly by some societies.

The answer also has a distinct flavor of being apologetics.

My edit was declined, and the only reject vote I could see before my edit suggestion disappeared declined the edit suggestion with the reason that the intent of the author should be preserved.

I'm confused by this. If the section I quoted I above is Truthy or apologetics, it should be removed according to the referenced meta-posts; the author's original intent should not be a reason to keep them, since that intent is exactly what we want to see less of.

Therefore my question:

  • what qualifies as "Truth" or apologetics?
  • is the quoted section Truthy, or apologetics?
  • are Truthy and apologetics sections in answers supposed to stay and be voted down, or is editing/flagging those answers the preferred way to deal with them?
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You're sorta missing the forest for the trees here: We are a Q&A site. People ask questions, people get answers.

Capital-T Truth claims are problematic because they're typically dishonest: They present one opinion as if it is the only opinion. In other words, it's misrepresenting subjective opinions as objective facts. Not only is this disrespectful of those who hold opposite views — and on sites dealing with religious topics, this is very significant — it rarely helps the questioner get his answer because Truth claims that are presented as answers are typically no more than items.

In the cases where they actually are answers in and of themselves, Truth claims can easily be fixed by proper scoping so that it actually does represent objective facts. For example:

  • Slavery is bad. ← OPINIONS BAD!
  • According to such-and-such school of fiqh, slavery is discouraged. ← FACTS BETTER!

Apologism, on the other hand, is problematic because it's typically unsolicited: It's less concerned about answering the question than it is about promoting a theological position. Language is often loaded and in many cases tangential to what was actually asked, if not explicitly opposed to it.

If it does answer the question, simply reworking the loaded language but leaving the points intact is probably sufficient. If, on the other hand, it doesn't do anything to answer the actual question asked, it should probably be excised entirely.

Excessive use of apologism and Truth is common in arguments, which often just makes them noise since argument and debate do not answer questions; they may be an important step to finding the answers, but they are not answers in and of themselves. The whole point of the Stack Exchange model is to cut through the noise and just give people the answers. If a question as-written is attracting more noise than actual answers, chances are it's either a bad question or the community itself is encouraging noisy behaviour.


As for the exact example you bring up, you need to look at the question. Since the questioner already presupposes (a) Islam permits slavery, and (b) Islam preaches equality, having an answer that follows these assumptions is not Truth; it's answering the question in the scope that the question was asked. And when the question is explicitly asking "Why does Islam permit slavery", it obviously wants pro-slavery arguments, so apologism here is, again, giving the questioner exactly what they want.

Is it a great question? Probably not; it shows approximately zero effort and has been asked many many times before. Is it a great answer? Probably not; this sort of loaded language and weak rhetoric is unlikely to convince many people of the merits of slavery. But as-written, the answer is a direct answer to the question asked.

  • Here's my disconnect: "the questioner already presupposes (a) Islam permits slavery, and (b) Islam preaches equality, having an answer that follows these assumptions is not Truth" I would have thought that pointing out that a question makes false assumptions is a much better answer than anything that agrees with false assumptions will get you. That's why I commented on your answer there "When someone asks "what are the four elements that make up water", the correct answer is "water is made up of two elements, hydrogen and oxygen". How is that polemic?" – G. Bach Mar 27 '17 at 14:52
  • @G.Bach "I would have thought that pointing out that a question makes false assumptions is a much better answer than anything that agrees with false assumptions will get you" Agreed. If the question is actually making any objectively false assumptions, those should be tackled, either in comments to clarify the question or in the answer. This is not an excuse to shoehorn in alternate points of view just because you disagree with those assumptions. – goldPseudo Mar 27 '17 at 17:44
  • @goldPseudo "If the question is actually making any objectively false assumptions, those should be tackled, either in comments to clarify the question or in the answer." An assumption of "Islam preaches equality" is false by any reasonable measure of evidence I can think of (as is the claim "the belief that slavery is bad/evil couldn't be further from the truth."). How do I figure out if an assumption is objectively false in the sphere of ethics? If "Islam preaches equality" is not objectively true, would it then be an acceptable question to ask "Why does Islam preach subjugation of group X?" – G. Bach Mar 28 '17 at 12:17
  • @G.Bach "How do I figure out if an assumption is objectively false…" Again: Keep opinions out of it. Stick to facts. – goldPseudo Mar 28 '17 at 16:00
  • <comments deleted> Please keep comments relevant to the actual topic of this thread (i.e. What qualifies as Truthiness and apologetics and how to deal with it). If you want to discuss something else, take it somewhere else. – goldPseudo Mar 28 '17 at 22:37
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I'm probably the one who rejected it (it looks like the kind of thing I reject). Whether or not it was "Truthy" or "apologetics" didn't enter into the decision. Why? It's an edit war waiting to happen. To my eyes, the comments read:

  • "This is apologetics" (written in an unnecessarily patronising and wordy style).

  • Fraid not.

  • Fraid so.

  • Fraid not. And I'm not going to debate. (+user upvoting the comment)

  • Fraid so. And I'm not debating.

  • ...

  • Fraid so, and now I'm going to edit this answer.

  • [reject]

This behaviour is harming the site; it's unprofessional and will deter experts from participating.

I repeat what was requested in the comments: please stop debating here. (You even linked to the "not for debates" meta post in your question, so you know this behaviour is unwelcome and holding back the site.) Please use this question and answer site for questions and answers.

How to give good feedback


As for the questions:

  • My idea of Truth are those posts which are manipulative. These posts use (or invite others to use) salesmanship to push a particular point of view over another. Other viewpoints are offered only for the purpose of debunking them (and if the author is incapable of debunking them, they would have omitted it). It's like learning about North Korea from the North Korean government; expect it to be wildly one-sided.

  • Apologetics is defined at Wikipedia as: "the religious discipline of defending or proving the truth of religious doctrines through systematic argumentation and discourse." It doesn't seem nearly as harmful as Truth-iness; as long as it's not also Truthy, we can (respectfully) ignore someone else's rationalizations.

    The Islam—Stack Exchange is not for debates or apologetics meta post contains a lot of material, and it's unclear if the upvotes were about apologetics or "not for debates". I upvoted the post because of the "not for debates" part.

    Apologetics doesn't seem fundamentally off topic to me. We can do without "conspiracy theories", random people making up stuff, and the like. However, discussing the relationship between Islam and science, etc., seems well received by the community as a whole. (In fact, the top question at this site Is evolution compatible with Islam? has the flavour of apologetics.)

What to do about them? Downvote and upvote (and vote to close) accordingly. A single (succinct and polite) comment to highlight Truthiness to warn future readers would be reasonable. Apologetics is usually quite obvious, though.

I don't think we need to worry too much about bad answers. Provided good answers are upvoted, bad answers end up and the bottom of the answer page (what I call the "answer graveyard") due to how the site is designed (see the tour page), and largely go unread and ignored. This even provides motivation for writing better answers.

  • Re "Apologetics ... doesn't seem nearly as harmful as Truth-iness" and "Apologetics doesn't seem fundamentally off topic to me." That suggests apologetics arguing against Islam are also on-topic, however posts of that kind are almost always downvoted into oblivion, sometimes even deleted. Only one side of the debate is happening - apologetics is inherently a matter of debating and discussing, you even quoted a definition saying so. I don't see why a site dedicated to accurate knowledge (as opposed to arguing positions) should tolerate this; it's an echo chamber for the user base's bias. – G. Bach Mar 22 '17 at 13:40
  • "as long as it's [= apologetics] not also Truthy, we can (respectfully) ignore someone else's rationalizations." Apologetics seems inherently Truthy since the whole point is to argue for your position, and as good as always facts get wildly distorted in the process. Learning about the superiority of slavery from someone who endorses slavery because his religion endorses it seems exactly analogous to "learning about North Korea from the North Korean government; expect it to be wildly one-sided." – G. Bach Mar 22 '17 at 13:51
  • "please stop debating here" Let's make this concrete: given the above, could an answer arguing explicitly against the rationalizations of the referenced post and ultimately concluding "Islam does not preach equality" be non-Truthy enough to be allowed to stay as opposed to being deleted for being Truthy or offensive to Muslims? – G. Bach Mar 22 '17 at 13:53
  • And regarding your picture: I genuinely don't know how to give positive feedback on a post that praises slavery - maybe this bit you can help me out with. – G. Bach Mar 22 '17 at 13:54

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