Considering the closure of Is magical rapid premature aging painful?

And relating to this meta question and this meta question.

Magic is Primarily Opinion-Based (POB) by definition. Without some idea of how to deal with questions tagged we might as well remove every tag with the word "magic" in it and refuse all questions with magic as a basis.

HDE 226868 commented in the first linked meta question:

It's fine to have questions that are a bit subjective or opinionated . . . . . . but answers to those questions must be supported in some way - they can't just be pure opinions.

Further, Monica Cellio said in the second linked meta question:

Because even though there are often multiple correct answers to a question, we do want to be able to evaluate the correctness of answers.

Which suggests that the POB VTC should only be applied if the voter feels it's impossible to answer the question without some way of evauluating the quality of the answer.

The referenced question was asking about human aging and pain. I believe it fails the POB test because answers can cite actual physiological issues/facts/concepts to support their answers.

However, there are questions where only logic could support an answer. As a secondary to my actual question (happening next): is logic enough to "support" an answer?

Question: Because I believe magic is POB by definition and yet wholly appropriate for this site, am I wrong to assume that a POB VTC for can only apply to whether I believe no answer can possibly be supported by facts or logic?


Based on this question, a proposed alternative definition to "primarily opinion-based" (even though we can't change the SE text) can be found here.

  • 1
    I agree. I voted to reopen. – kingledion Apr 13 at 0:25
  • I have attempted an edit of the question at hand. Please feel free to have a look, and do let me know if it made the question better or worse :) I tried to give some indication on what would be an acceptable answer. Mostly by just roughly explaining what I thought could happen as well as specifying what I knew was outside the scope of the question. – EveryBitHelps Apr 13 at 18:11
  • Consider adding worldbuilding-resources, this post can help new users ask good questions, and the tag will help people find it – John Locke Oct 8 at 11:50
up vote 18 down vote accepted

Magic questions can be answered objectively if:

  1. Rules of magic are stated, and question is about their internal consistency.
  2. Rules of magic are stated, and question is about physical / biological consequences
  3. Magic is taken from existing mythology, and question can be answered using that mythology (warning - this one might fall into off-topic territory)
  4. Desired effect is clearly described and question is about creating magical rules that would allow it, without breaking other clearly stated effects / rules of the world

This list is by no means conclusive, but it should give you a good direction.

My take on opinion-based questions is the following:

A question is "primarily opinion-based" if every reasonable answer would be exactly equally valid.

There are quite a few problems with opinion-based questions, especially in the context of . For a longer discussion about my stance on the small line/ the big blurry region see my answer to The problem with opinion based questions. But for the sake of this question let's examine the most important parts of the above statement.

Let's take a basic example to evaluate the different parts and assume we are talking about a question like:

What could be elements I could add to my magic?

The first part of my analysis for "primarily opinion-based" is to realize that there might be reasonable answers and there might be answers that are unreasonable. Unreasonable answers shouldn't be taken into consideration. An example of an unreasonable answer would be:

Fries and Ketchup!!!

While I am getting hungry reading this it certainly is not a reasonable answer to the proposed question. It's important to realize that this is already a part of my big blurry region - there might be some people who would say that this answer could be valid if it was supported by reasonable explanation.

This is important because the next part of my analysis is whether all answers would be exactly equally valid.

Metal, Wood, Fire, Water, Air - these are typical things that are attributed to magic systems. They are reasonable and they could be supported by citing some references or simply showing that others did that, too.

But what about Light? Or Darkness? Or Void? These seem valid, too. And currently each of these 8 suggestions that I offered would be equally valid. There are no criteria why one of them would be better than the other.

It's not a problem that they are all valid - the problem is that they are equally valid.

The question could be salvaged by giving more information - what is currently existing, what aspects are missing, what was the inspiration, ...? If there is an element for change or strength missing, possibly related to the colour "red" and inspired by eastern, preferrably chinese, mythology or philosophy you could very well support that Fire is the most appropriate answer. While other answers could be supported to be correct by redefining some properties, the existing example is simply better. Now we have a hierarchy - there are many valid answers, but one is clearly better than others. This is of course just a very simplified example.

This aligns with your view that magic questions where answers can't be supported by logic or facts are primarily opinion-based - after all the answers can only state their opinion without any more reference than "I think it would be cool".

We might still disagree on certain implementations of these rules - as I've said, some people might think that the criteria I offered to safe my example question are unreasonably strict or that they are still not enough because there could be multiple answers that are better. There will be disagreement from time to time, but that's what community voting is for.

In my opinion magic is a bit opinion-based, but questions that are not trying to provide any criteria for why certain answers would be better in their specific context should be put on hold.

The specific example you referenced mentions enough parts that make me say that it's not opinion-based - the OP is searching for reality-based information about rapid aging and reasonable problems that might occur. There are many possible answers that are valid, as can be seen by the amount of "This will hurt" and "This will not hurt" answers, but each reasonable one is supported by different science-related facts that can be evaluated.

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