Have retired top US military officials become substantially more outspoken and cited on political issues in the last decade? sits at -4/+0. Somebody edited it, removing a key bit of the question then left what I think is a bit of faulty logic in the first comment which suggests the premise of the question is not good:

Do you mean more outspoken than, Colin Powell, or Ike Eisenhower?

suggests that if an example of a single individual was outspoken in the past, then retired top US military officials are not likely to be more outspoken now.

In my response I point out that how spoken an individual is is less relevant as I'm talking about an entire group; to me (and to the answer authors) it seems a lot more of them are speaking out in the last decade. I think the comment was gratuitous (i.e. sounds clever) but distracting and unhelpful.

@TedWrigley's answer suggests why this might be so, but so far we don't have an authoritative supporting link with some quantitative evidence. I'll agree my question is challenging because it will require some research to find such a link, but we shouldn't down-vote questions because they are hard.

How does US Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton (ret) get to a "Look, you're attacking NATO... and we're going to consider our options to attack" scenario? is currently at -4/0 votes and has been closed as

is likely to be answered with opinions rather than facts and citations. It should be updated so it will lead to fact-based answers.

That the Black Sea has been mined (see my comments under @o.m.'s well-received answer) in such a way that it blocks shipping in and out of several countries, @o.m.'s answer does not seem primarily opinion-based any more than perhaps a third of all well-received answers are here in Politics SE.

In the face of good answers to both questions and the facts available or the situation in the case of the "primarily opinion-based" closed question, I'm curious why all the down- and close-voting in these cases?

I'd like to see the closed one reopened so that answers are not blocked and improvement of the existing answers is not discouraged, but until I can understand this better I don't know what action to take here, if any.

  • There should never be a need to add a section to your question about factual answers and that is just noise on a question that should be removed
    – Joe W
    Apr 5, 2022 at 23:56
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    @JoeW I disagree. if we look at the body of answers here in Politics SE we can see a large number of non-fact-based answers that are still well-received and sometimes accepted. Many can be called "plausible explanations" and while they draw from knowledge of facts, the answers are constructs. In this case I did not want explanations, I wanted a boolean yes/no supported by factual information, so it is an integral part of the question. Try asking 100 questions here first, you'll then get a better idea of the challenges to getting fact-based answers!
    – uhoh
    Apr 5, 2022 at 23:59
  • You are free to vote on an answer how you see fit but you shouldn't be dictating how people answer your question and that is just noise that doesn't add any value to your question.
    – Joe W
    Apr 6, 2022 at 0:06
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    @JoeW I disagree again. A Stack Exchange question author defines the scope question and explains what it is they want to know. That's why they have the "accept" control. Question authors must spell out the criteria by which they will choose to accept an answer. That's being honest and fair and providing full disclosure and just the opposite of dictating. Again, with more experience asking...
    – uhoh
    Apr 6, 2022 at 0:11
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – uhoh
    Apr 6, 2022 at 13:17
  • 1
    This question: politics.stackexchange.com/q/72359/28554 should be reopened as it has not just 1, but 2 fact-based answers. So I voted to reopen. I gave my general reasons here: politics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/6234/28554 , so I do not want to repeat myself. This type of closure does not agree with the policy of this site to be mostly objective and friendly; the closure is both subjective and unfriendly. Apr 6, 2022 at 17:19
  • First Q seems like an ok Q to me, but exceedingly difficult to answer with data rather than impressions. Which is what you've got in the answers so far. There isn't a lot of incentive to survey the media activities of former generals. And the amount of media has definitely increased since Ike's time, due to tech progress. So it's hard to say what would have happened in isolation. Apr 7, 2022 at 9:34
  • @Fizz Thanks for your input! For the first question, it sounds to me like "closed for being too hard for us" but I'm not sure that's an accurate paraphrase. I'd hate to think the community was "dumbing-down" questions by downvoting and vtc-ing questions that aren't easy.
    – uhoh
    Apr 7, 2022 at 9:48
  • @Fizz "There isn't a lot of incentive to survey the media activities of former generals." Perhaps; perhaps not. But there are a lot of academic researchers out there doing all sorts of obscure research, so it should surprise nobody if such a survey does exist.
    – cjs
    May 22, 2022 at 9:29

1 Answer 1


In your first question you are asking if they are becoming more outspoken but you also mention that they are on tv more often as paid commentators. I would counter this question with a different one. Are they becoming more outspoken or are we just hearing them more because they are being paid to be on TV more often? I would wager the advance of the 24 hour news cycle has a lot to do with it.

As for your second question I think it suffers from an issue of wanting to know what someone is thinking. That question already has two different answers of possibilities of how Russian actions in the Black Sea could be considered an attack and I am sure there are plenty of others that can be considered as well. Unless he himself gives more details about why got to that opinion we can't be sure which of the different possibilities is what he considered.

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    I can see that the second question can be conflated with "what are they thinking" but when I ask how a decorated military official gets to a conclusion about a military situation based on verifiable facts (those mines and where they are placed) it really asks for a fact-based answer, and o.m.'s is likely the beginnings of one. However I can see that it should be reworded to avoid that conflation and I'll be more careful with similar wording in the future to avoid triggering the "we can't get inside their head" close votes. Very helpful, thank you!
    – uhoh
    Apr 6, 2022 at 0:37
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    And as I said there are two different reasons already stated in answers to your question and there are likely several if not many others that can be added. The problem is which of those many reasons are what the general saw? We don't know and at best we can speculate as to the reasons. You ask for a fact base reason but unless the general says why we are just making educated guesses.
    – Joe W
    Apr 6, 2022 at 2:46
  • Yes I see what you mean and I understand, but of course most SE questions have several answers, a few may have as many as ten. That there is more than one answer does not mean a question should be primarily opinion-based. Imagine if we started closing questions based on too many different answers. Yikes!
    – uhoh
    Apr 6, 2022 at 3:34
  • @uhoh I think you are missing my point, it isn't about a question having multiple answers but a question having multiple different answers. As it stands there are 2 different reasons on the question and if it was open we could have half a dozen different reasons or more. Once that happens how is anyone supposed to know which of those reasons are what the general used unless he specially said what his reasons was? All anyone would be doing is taking all the various possible reasons and making an educated guess and likely you would be selecting the one you liked the best to accept.
    – Joe W
    Apr 6, 2022 at 12:13
  • Well I rarely see multiple same answers, perhaps you can find some examples of questions with multiple answers that are not different? Anyway I have taken away something positive and helpful from your answer and that can't be undone. For that I will than you again!
    – uhoh
    Apr 6, 2022 at 15:42
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    @uhoh There is a difference between multiple answers that are related and multiple answers that give different answers. In your question the answers are two distinct different reasons and as I have stated multiple times we could get many other different reasons for what he said. Since the person in question has given no information on his reasoning that would mean you would have to make an educated guess as to which of the many different possible answers it is.
    – Joe W
    Apr 6, 2022 at 16:44

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