I opened this question a couple of days ago. I am not psychologist. I am mathematician, my fields of research are probability theory and statistics, and I am an applied statistician too.

I got some comments, answers or downvotes, from persons who didn't get the flaw I expose in my post. How to prevent that ? Is there a way to get the support of another specialist in probability theory ?

Each time I got such an answer or comment, I edited my post to include more details. So this was useful, but my post was already downvoted.

I have just added this warning at the beginning of my post :

  • As a mathematician, probability theory is my field of research; please do not answer/comment just to refer to a course on probability theory.

  • I expose below an erroneous application of probability theory. It is summarized at the end, in the Summary section. The two probabilities $\Pr$ and ${\Pr}^\ast$ are explained just before. If you are not a bit specialist in probability theory, please do not downvote if you disagree with this point.

Is it ok to proceed like this ? I don't like to underline my skills like this. This sounds a bit like argument of authority. By the way I'm far to be a perfect English speaker, and I am not sure to get the tone of my warning. But I don't know what else could I do.

  • 1
    I think it's best not to do this, especially because you grossly misread the psychological contents of the paper you took issue with. The mathematics you posted aren't wrong, they just don't have anything to do with the material you were quoting because you thought the authors saying "people violate the sure thing principle in the PD" meant "classical probability has been violated by the PD." Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 9:21
  • @ChristianHummeluhr I have just replied to your comment below my post. Why didn't you wait for my answer before posting a similar comment here ?
    – stla
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 9:37
  • They're about different topics. This isn't a personal conversation between the two of us. Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 9:38
  • You claim I misread the psychological contents. Assuming this is true, I don't see the link with my post here. I get some remarks from persons who didn't understand the mathematics I point out.
    – stla
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 9:41
  • You did misread the psychological contents, and as a result, you posted meaningless mathematics, which people, charitably assuming they were in fact meaningful, then misunderstood. This is not surprising. Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 9:46
  • Incidentally, I upvoted your question because it is interesting, but implying that "non-specialists" are ruining your question or wasting your time when you yourself bungled the question something fierce is pretty tactless. You were hardly being bombarded; a little humility goes a long way. Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 9:48

1 Answer 1


Thank you for following up on your question and updating it! Such actions are generally very well received, as you might have experienced by now; currently there is only one down vote left and your question has received five up votes. I believe you thus partially answered your own question "How to prevent that"?

As to underlining your own skills, it is not appeal to authority when you do so to highlight your background and to motivate your question as in your case.

Great work on the question, and welcome to Cognitive Sciences!

  • Thank you. I don't really mind the downvotes for myself. Anyway I don't expect to achieve a large reputation score here (because as said before, this is not my field). The first time I added my warning at the top of the post, just before I asked the question here on meta, I called it warning. But I finally replaced this name with To read before, and it sounds better.
    – stla
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 8:24
  • 1
    I believe it would be even better to call it by the purpose that it serves "My background", but that's really just a personal preference.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 9:15

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