I've been looking at the question What brain resources are needed per limb? The OP originally included the tag, but there's since been some disagreement about its use. Someone removed the tag in an edit, then I rolled the edit back, then there were some flags asking for its removal, then the OP flagged the question saying the tag was justified, then the text from that flag was edited in, and now the tag has been edited out. Throughout all of this, the question received five answers, four of which have the post notice.

I'm going to try to list the arguments for and against having the tag:

Keep the tag because . . .

  • The OP had it there originally and clearly wants it to be used.
  • I don't think the question cannot yield answers (though others disagree).
  • Even if there is no answers, one should be able to write such an answer explaining why. This is kind of in line with the idea of challenging the premise of a question - which is generally acceptable.
  • Just because an answer ignores the tag doesn't mean that that's okay.

Remove the tag because . . .

What are people's thoughts on this specific case? I'm currently kind of on the fence.

Related meta discussions: Identifying incorrectly tagged [hard-science] questions, Is the use of the [Hard-Science] tag acceptable in questions with a non-hard premise?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If the OP specifically wants hard-science and understands what the implications are then it is his responsibility to choose the tag and live with the answers he receives. I'd say keep the tag and let the author have his will. It's his question after all. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 13:56

2 Answers 2


Question itself does not adhere to quality I would expect from .

  • OP asks about "average animal" without explaining what's average for him. Between wasp and monkey differences are enormous. Average mammal? Average animal, overall? What about animals without real brain? Or without limbs? And what about hands/legs/wings differences?

  • OP asks for neuron count and percentage, quite ignoring fact that it is not that simple.

And so on.

I believe that action most usable for future readers would be to leave this question as and encourage OP to ask new one when he will read and understand answers he already got.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I upvoted for your first bullet point, but would downvote for the second. You can't blame someone for not knowing something, even if its algebra. If that is the case, you certainly can't blame them for not knowing neuroscience. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 18:32
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    $\begingroup$ @kingledion I can blame for not knowing very basics and asking for HARD science. If someone asks for hard neuroscience and does not know basics, full answer would require at least introductory course and that's way too much. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I think that that question is an example of getting good lessons in the neuroscience basics in some answers that don't run to introductory course length. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 19:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @kingledion only because these answers are not hard science - and that's the point I'm trying to make. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 20:53

There is, in fact, a lot going on in this question. In increasing order of importance (in my mind):

  • There is a good non-hard-science answer (Schwern's). Deleting good answers with good information probably isn't the right solution.

  • Those good non-hard science answers were placed when the hard-science tag was still on the question.

  • The question, while valid for hard science, is too broad if it is a hard-science one, for the reason that Molot points out: different orders of animal have widely divergent processing requirements for their limbs based on vastly different anatomies and neurosystems. As science based, it would be fine, and Schwern's answer would be good.

  • The users that deleted hard science and threw in science based were not correct in doing so. If you like the question, but don't want it hard-science you should make a new question, don't edit tags, violating authors intent. The tag change was basically done as a response to the 'hard-science' note, which is super bad form. The author wanted hard-science; it should stay that way whether open or closed.

  • Schwern's answer is a false assumption answer that is well explained (CortAmmon's is similar). It is not easy or even possible to cite scientific literature to refute assumptions, since scientists may have never tested those assumptions since they are obviously wrong.

I think the final judgement should be that the question was asked hard-science and should stay that way. However, it is based on false assumptions (pointed out by Schwern and CortAmmon) and so a negative answer is appropriate. The negative answer doesn't have good citations, but that might not be possible.

So the question should stay hard-science, and the answers should stay as they are.


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