From the current HNQ darling of the echo bunnies

Why does the new green deal push for green energy but not for nuclear energy?
(united-states / environmental-policy / nuclear-energy)
It seems strange to me that that the new green deal wants clean and renewable power from solar and wind energy yet oppose nuclear energy. I have been googling experts consensus on nuclear energy and even tried to google experts against nuclear energy and so far all the results say nuclear is the greenest and most efficient power source that will reduce carbon emissions. So, as far as quick search shows, nuclear energy seems to be by far our best option for green energy. The new green deal seems like a huge investment on inefficient technologies.

I'd like to know how this is not a push question? And that's just one of the quality problems of this question. The wording, the lack of documented research, the host of assertions without proof. It's a terrible question and has a ton of upvotes. Not a single close vote. If the push-character is not evident from the question itself, or a previous one: a quickly accepted answer of mediocre quality is all the proof that's needed? That answer with a single "it's the truth"-reference was criticised with

Peer review was not kind to Calabrese, and Jenkins is hardly qualified to talk about what environmentalists do or do not believe. -1 for promoting conspiracy theory and junk science, again. sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001393511630038X

and of course again connecting quick accept answer with quality of question:

The very first word of that quotation is already reason enough to ignore it as axe-grinding, yet here we are, with this accepted. Hard to accept that the question was an honest inquiry asked in good faith when the querent jumped straight to the answer that confirmed their preferences. And I am pro-nuclear power. This just isn’t the way to go about making the case.

And the quality of most of the answers is not that good either. Even the highest upvoted answer, which has now 99, outperforming the accepted one with 36 votes, was commented on by the author of that answer with:

It's a broad question (it was even broader when I wrote this answer), so I use wikipedia to provide an overview. For more focused questions, I use proper sources. If you doubt any of the facts in my answer, please be specific.

I do not want to criticise that specific answer, but the author admitting to posting a somewhat deliberately sloppy answer based on a single Wikipedia link to a sloppy question is quite telling for the perceived quality here.

Below the question is a mod comment:

Lots of comments deleted. If you would like to answer the question, please post a real answer. Also please keep in mind that Politics Stack Exchange is not a discussion forum. Question&Answer sites like Stack Exchange are not a good medium for political debates. The question is asking for anti-nuclear arguments made by proponents of the new green deal. It is not asking for counter-arguments or for arguments they should be making. If you would like to debate the pro's and con's of nuclear power, please do so on a more discussion-oriented website.

Compare the interpretation the mod liked to read into the question and the expectations of possible answers. Does the accepted answer operate in any way "for anti-nuclear arguments made by proponents of the new green deal" or is it denying a clear answer and instead opts to denounce all possible answers as "scientific fraud" of "dishonest people"? Is this 'argument one, two three, comparison' or "us and them"?

Now consider this:

Why do people believe nuclear power is dangerous? [on hold]
(public-opinion / nuclear-energy / energy-policy)
According to this table published in Forbes, nuclear is the safest way to generate electricity. If this is the case, why is it that so many people believe not just that nuclear is not the safest, but that it the most dangerous?

Energy Source Mortality Rate (deaths/trillionkWhr)
Coal – global average 100,000 (41% global electricity)
Coal – China 170,000 (75% China’s electricity)
Coal – U.S. 10,000 (32% U.S. electricity)
Oil – 36,000 (33% of energy, 8% of electricity)
Natural Gas – 4,000 (22% global electricity)
Biofuel/Biomass – 24,000 (21% global energy)
Solar (rooftop) – 440 (< 1% global electricity)
Wind – 150 (2% global electricity)
Hydro – global average 1,400 (16% global electricity)
Hydro – U.S. 5 (6% U.S. electricity)
Nuclear – global average 90 (11% global electricity w/Chern&Fukush)
Nuclear – U.S. 0.1 (19% U.S. electricity)

This was downvoted, put on hold and even deleted despite having an answer. In short some thuggish killers shot it down in flames? How else can this be interpreted.

The reasons were given as

"The primary purpose of this question appears to be to promote or discredit a specific political cause, group or politician. It does not appear to be a good-faith effort to learn more about governments, policies and political processes as defined in the help center." – Joe C, Philipp

Also, nuclear safety is not within the field of political science. Explaining and estimating the dangers of nuclear power is a topic for physicians, physicists, ecologists and engineers. So this isn't the right website to answer this question anyway. – Philipp ↵♦ 2 days ago ↵

How is this not a double standard compared to the other dreck that currently clogs the HNQ lists?

To the last comment I replied:

@Philipp Not that this a perfect Q, but: This is not primarily about the 'real danger' (which pro-nuke physicists underestimate routinely, and cannot calculate to the level of "therefore this policy follows, by expertocracy and formula", so tough luck for such a Q on PhysicsSE as well?), it is tagged public opinion and energy-policy. Therefore it is at the core of politics: public debate, 'reasoning' and communication. How is risk/benefit estimated, 'calculated', communicated and how are decisions based on that? If that's not on-topic then what is?

All the reasons cited for shooting down the deleted question apply even more so to the uncriticised and upvoted. How crazy is that? Quite.

The flying Q is pushy, badly researched, claims unreferenced assertions, attracts bad answers, is per mod opinion not on-topic, yet is per top-anwser too broad, is per top-answer solved with a single Wikipedia link, accepts a very questionable answer. Bueller?

It seems that the better question got shot while a worse one was for more than a week the official representative of PoliticsSE on the network list.

Not that this is perhaps really representative of this site? But certainly not a shining example.

For this dynamic, I'd like to have an explanation. Why and how did this happen?

  • 3
    The lack of sources in the question, and the uncertainty of the wording actually works in that question's benefit. It looks less like someone telling you what you should think and more like a, well... question. – Sam I am Feb 5 at 22:49
  • 1
    Luck also plays a big part. That question looks like it was on the Hot Network Questions list, which causes more traffic and attracts usually more upvotes – Sam I am Feb 5 at 22:54
  • @SamIam Yeah, 6 days on the list, not a single CV. But wasn't it obvious to not be a genuine headscratch inquiry? "Experts", "seems to be by far our best option for green energy."? The 'accepted' A in contrast to what Philipp commented (on deleting comments) as he thought the content of the Q to be? (Seems obvious to me that taht was a friendly, genuine, fundamental error!) / The other started just from one well-known source and wonders… yet the user ran away or was destroyed. That's just strange – LangLangC Feb 5 at 23:24
  • 3
    This was downvoted, put on hold and even deleted – Deletion was automatic, probably caused by the removal (self-removal?) of the asking user. – chirlu Feb 5 at 23:32
  • @chirlu Intransparent to me (see only Community♦). If true it explains only a tiny puzzle piece here. But nevertheless I'd like to know whether mod-info prompted user destruction (for, dunno, "track-record suspicion of posting push"?) or user alienation. In any case the 'problem discrepancy' between Qs doesn't explain the community behaviour variance that much. It looks odd. – LangLangC Feb 6 at 15:28
  • TL:DR: HNQ sucks and is highly detrimental to this specific SE site. – user4012 Feb 16 at 14:01
  • @user4012 The strangest thing here is that once this sth was HNQ it seemed somewhat immune to further improvement & criticism, especially in form of possible CVs? – LangLangC Feb 16 at 14:26
  • @LangLangC - yes. Now you know how I feel on this site most of the time (you just randomly picked one of the very few topics where SO HNQ crowd aligned against not in predictable left/right split, because they are all techies and more likely to be pro-nuke. But in large mass, they vote mostly left wing on most HNQ questions). But yeah, outside of partisan bias, HNQ rewards poor quality content in general - and not just on this site; but it's worse here :( – user4012 Feb 16 at 15:53

For better or worse, sometimes pushing an agenda works out in the "doesn't get closed/deleted forever" arena.

For one reason why: It takes 5 votes to close, but then 5 votes can reopen it. It takes a new set of 5 votes to close it again (previous close voters can't vote to close it again). On this particular site the dynamics work out that you're unlikely to get that second set of close votes: the question's visibility drops off noticeably by the time it's reopened, and there aren't a ton of people with close/vote privileges that are eager and invested enough to go to task on these things. So why does this help you when pushing an agenda? Because you only need 5 people (with moderate site rep) who subscribe to that agenda and want it pushed to reopen it; or less, as if there's a decent case made that the question has been sufficiently altered, or sufficiently dubiously closed in the first place, then other people may vote to reopen.

A second reason why: big numbers are intimidating. I can speak from personal experience that when I see a question has 40 upvotes I feel like the community has already spoken on the suitability of the question. This is of course fallacious reasoning, but it's my immediate emotional reaction, and I don't always care or want to invest the time and effort to surmount it. And what attracts a storm of voters? Being big and flashy and appealing to such immediate emotional reactions to gather attention and the appearance of importance.

A third reason: it's the thrill of the fight! Some people coughcoughwhyyoulookingatmecough are eager to point out fallacious arguments and assumptions. There's a weird dynamic with this on this particular SE: fallacious arguments and assumptions, or simply the assertion that someone is using them, are hallmarks of politics and political discourse, so the (perceived) use of them can actually make the question feel more appropriate here! So you have people spoiling to debunk/support something who are encouraged by the feeling that this is definitely on topic because it totally feels like politics.

A fourth reason: what is "politics", and what is "not-politics", anyway? The deleted question you linked seems to have a lot of this one going on. It can be hard to decouple technical and scientific aspects of technologies (such as nuclear power) from their political dimensions. The science can be relevant, and it can be irrelevant. It can be a confusing and at times fascinating thing to see how science can vary from critical to outright irrelevant to how it plays out in the political theater. This results in there being no universal and clear line on what the border between them is, even as regards what is on-topic here. A cut-and-dry question with "too much science" may be deemed "not a politics question" as a result, while a suitably dressed-up version of much the same question may be held as on topic, simply because it is clearer where the "political" aspect of the matter comes in.


Ultimately, I think this is not really an issue of double standards, but is intrinsic to the nature of the site. We're about politics. But we're not supposed to be about actively engaging in politics. Like much of the rest of the StackExchange network the goal is to provide factual questions and answers on a subject matter (politics here). But trying to be distant from actual politics and addressing things in factual and objective terms leaves the distinct impression that you're not really talking about politics at all! Because hard and dry facts are at best a tool of convenience in actual politics.

So we aspire to be a factual and verifiable Q&A site/forum, but the subject matter at hand is almost wholly inimical and foreign to this. This is especially pronounced on questions like the two you bring up, which are less about specific and concrete events but rather about long-term political trends across huge populations, which are hard to address and explain in any succinct and definitive way. A dizzying array of factors feed into how political trends develop and arise within populations.

I don't think we've found any clear way to resolve this problem, and it is just kind of accepted as the nature of the beast in the site's own help pages. It's basically analogous to the human condition: sometime's it's not great, and that's just the way it is and will always be, and we deal with it as best as we can.


A few possibilities for strange voting patterns and double standards:

  1. A partisan hypocrisy might be rampant for any given faction. Oblivious partisans might incorrectly believe themselves objective, yet habitually vote with unintended bias.

  2. Covert Info-warrior groups, (i.e. propagandist trolls, whether paid or amateur), who by hook or crook work to lower the scores of questions and answers they're organized to oppose, and raise the scores of whatever's approved.

  3. Both.

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