Example: Is there any health risk in cellular phones?

Is there any health risk in cellular phones?

Cellular phones are taking ever increasing part in our lives, and I keep hearing people saying they are harmful to our health.

Are there any scientific researches so far proving or disproving those claims?

If harmful, what factors are in place e.g. cellular phone model, signal strength, etc?

There is a +10-page Wikipedia article on this exact question: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone_radiation_and_health

What to do? Pointing to the Wikipedia page, or paraphrase the page?

I tried to add an answer pointing to the Wikipedia page while giving the most salient information to my opinion but the answer got deleted by admin Shog9:

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This is a problem I've been observing in quite a number of answers... Someone finds an answer to the question on an existing website somewhere, and either just links to it or links and quotes the relevant portion of the article.

Why is this a problem?

  1. It looks bad. On a well-established site, the occasional answer that consists primarily of a reference to an answer elsewhere doesn't do much harm... But this early on, it's a big red flag that we're lacking sufficient expertise to do more than use Google. Indeed, Google itself will tend to de-rank pages that do this extensively, as they add nothing to the originals and are a source of frustration for searchers.

  2. It offers little hope if the answer doesn't fully answer the question. If something is lacking in the article you quote, do you possess the knowledge to address it yourself? Perhaps you do - but there's little indication of that in the answer.

  3. It leaves all the leg work of verification to the reader. That Wikipedia article has 119 references. Your answer has one - the Wikipedia article; it even strips the reference links from the original text. If I want to dig into the conclusions offered there, I have to first click through to the original article, find the text being quoted, bring up the references cited there, and then repeat the process for each.

Nothing wrong with using Wikipedia as a starting point, but don't stop there - dig into the references yourself, ensure they're reliable, try to get as close as you can to original sources and reference those in your answer... Then use what you've learned to answer the question itself.

  • 1
    Thanks. I guess my approach is that if I want to improve a Wikipedia page, I would simply contribute to it directly. Apr 21 '15 at 2:31
  • 1
    If you don't want to improve a Wikipedia page, then what's the point of answering? Drop in a link to Wikipedia and suggest that the asker should've done a tiny bit of research on their own. If we're gonna do this, we should be adding to what's already out there, making the Internet a little bit better for our presence... Not just adding another layer of indirection.
    – Shog9
    Apr 21 '15 at 19:17
  • 2
    IMHO SE is just one layer of indirection in such situation, or to phrase it a bit more positively an aggregator of interesting references, which isn't necessarily useless. Apr 21 '15 at 21:21
  • 2
    About #3, I am not an expert and do not have time to create an expert answer. If my quick, yet correct ( imho ), gets downvoted, it doesn't create an inviting place for me to answer people. My downvoted answer, which is a link farm.
    – Carl
    May 1 '15 at 1:47
  • If a question asks for a list of anything how do we form an answer that is not just a list with links to research? For example: health.stackexchange.com/questions/780/… This question asks something that every expert on the subject a massage therapist or researcher could answer off the cuff because they were taught it in school, but here they are not accepted as experts and so must cite any claim that they make. If you claim anything you must back it up.
    – Dr. Duncan
    Aug 24 '15 at 19:50
  • 1
    If the citation is already out there and all we are doing is providing citation then this site is no better than lmgtfy.com
    – Dr. Duncan
    Aug 24 '15 at 20:03
  • 1
    All we are doing with this site is saying trust us we verified our citations to make sure they are good according to our definition. Who verifies that we verified who sets our definition? That "leaves all the leg work of verification to the reader." Seriously at some point this gets really silly.
    – Dr. Duncan
    Aug 24 '15 at 20:06
  • 1
    If a question is answered really well somewhere else, why clutter the google search with another answer. Just point to that answer or if you're worried about dead links quote it.
    – Dr. Duncan
    Aug 24 '15 at 20:09
  • Could you post this as a separate meta question, @dr.Duncan? Kinda hard to answer all that in comments. Thanks!
    – Shog9
    Aug 24 '15 at 20:43

You should re-edit your question by adding your own interpretation, introduction text and expand your answer further more. Once you think it's ready for the publication, flag the post for the moderation so he they can undelete your answer or address further issues.

See also: How to reference material written by others?


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