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I remarked that many questions in this forum are closed as unverifiable (e.g., this one). I am aware that this is the standard policy, since Stack Exchange is intended to be Q&A community. However, when it comes to politics, such questions are often requests for a fact-based political analysis - if such analysis is not permitted in the Politics community, it risks to become rather boring.

No offense to anyone is intended - I will simply appreciate clarification and explanation about requests for fact-based political analysis - whether they are allowed here and in which form.

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    How can we answer what someone is thinking when they are not making it public?
    – Joe W
    Feb 24 at 13:54
  • @JoeW by providing a pertinent analysis and not interpreting every phrase literally, when it is clear what is really meant (E.g., "Is Putin trying to shore up his regime with a war?" is not really about what Putin thinks, but about whether the war shores up his power.) Feb 24 at 14:04
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    What facts can we use to make that answer or are you expecting someone's opinion of what they think the reasons are? How can anyone know for sure that is the reason for the war? I have heard many different possible reasons for the war including wanting to gain back territory lost with the fall of the Soviet Union.
    – Joe W
    Feb 24 at 14:09
  • @JoeW Here we go: you heard of many reasons for teh war and you are capable of evaluating, which are likely to be true, and which are bogus. This is called political analysis - it is done all the time in the media or by political advisers to presidents and prime ministers. Feb 24 at 14:15
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    We are capable of making an opinion on what we think the reasons are but in the end it is still an opinion.
    – Joe W
    Feb 24 at 14:40
  • @JoeW There is a clear difference between opinion and analysis Feb 24 at 14:42
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    No, not really. Analysis are just expert opinions. Which people might disagree with, or which might later turn out to be completely false.
    – Philipp Mod
    Feb 24 at 14:44
  • @Philipp No, real-world analyses are opinions supported by facts, and also by statistical analysis or modeling. Feb 24 at 14:46
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    What facts do we have about what Putin is thinking? The only thing we have are guesses.
    – Joe W
    Feb 24 at 16:00
  • @JoeW You are insisting on the literal interpretation of a phrase - I have addressed this issue more than once. Feb 24 at 16:09
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    I am saying the question you are referring to is asking for the motivations of a person and only that person would know them.
    – Joe W
    Feb 24 at 16:40
  • @JoeW this is explicitly addressed in my very first comment above. Let's move on Feb 24 at 16:53
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    And any analysis that others provide is still guesses and opinions
    – Joe W
    Feb 24 at 17:01
  • @JoeW I have commented above about difference between opinion and analysis. If you read nothing, no wonder that you are stuck guessing - but speak for yourself, and stop offending the experts!. I am sure some users here are professional analysts or have degrees in political science. Feb 25 at 20:05
  • And I think we will continue to disagree on being able to know what motivates Putin.
    – Joe W
    Feb 25 at 21:16

1 Answer 1

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I often think question that get closed in this way were asking for "too much".

Getting to know "why" something happens is important, we want to understand the world. The urge to ask for that is understandable. But if in the end we only get an opinion poll, we have missed our goal to build a knowledge repository. Every question must be posed so that everyone could answer it based on sufficient search of available information. We don't want answerers just to present their prior beliefs on the matter, we want to present solid information instead.

The pitfall to avoid here is clearly too much speculation. Some political analyses will include some speculation, let's say educated guesses, which might be interesting. But we must be careful to keep the level of speculation low in answers, otherwise Q&A here will simply be an as unreliable source as any other discussion board on the Internet.

My impression is that these questions could often be rescued if they were aimed differently (asking for less, the part that actually can be answered). Askers are of course free to try to make their closed questions ontopic and get them reopened.

For the example you give Is Putin trying to shore up his regime with a war? - we simply don't know what Putin's internal motivation is beyond his stated goals (and he might lie there), so we cannot answer it. But in this question there is the assumption that the reign of Putin in Russia might be in danger. Asking about that (something like "How secure is the position of Putin in Russia?") would be ontopic. And if you ask me that would also be more useful to know. I personally think of information as interesting and speculation as boring.

In some comments you suggest some kind of Bayesian inference to be able to make some wider statements about political issues. However some warnings there: Bayesian analysis requires a prior belief, so the answer would then unfortunately depend on who wrote it (everyone might give a different answer). But also the error would be huge if the underlying data is not good or not complete. And the data in politics is never really that well existing (there might be exceptions). Additionally statements in politics are frequently biased or wrong. A Bayesian analysis that by itself is reliable, would be extremely difficult, next to impossible.

Summary: Too much speculation doesn't result in good Q&A. Closed questions with this close reason should be reworded to ask for more factual issues (like the underlying assumptions). The interpretation of the available pieces of information should be left to everyone him/herself.

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