Suppressing that kind of discussion would make HN a less valuable place, not more valuable.
Crazy claims tend to produce some really interesting stuff.
"Please don't submit comments complaining that a submission is inappropriate for the site. If you think something is spam or offtopic, flag it by going to its page and clicking on the "flag" link. (Not all users will see this; there is a karma threshold.) If you flag something, please don't also comment that you did."
Though, strictly speaking, it was a post and not a comment that was submitted.
Plus, the Bad Astronomy post that is also on the front page probably wouldn't have made it there without the original post. I really enjoyed the follow-up, so I think the whole thing was worth it.
On the other hand, let's consider scenarios where your concern might be totally valid -- say, if the same article was simply link-bait to a spammer's penny stock advertisement. In that case the article might pop fast to the top of HN, but likely just as quickly flagged and removed. So, flagging of articles that are crass advertising, flaming link-bait or just plain inappropriate for HN is the remedy there.
The question is -- is there a case where a story is appropriate for HN and not likely to get flagged, but also is not nearly as worthy or compelling as the title suggests?
I'm having a hard time coming up with that scenario, but in true HN-form I'm willing to be corrected. While I disagree with your statement that "It would be a very interesting result IF it were confirmed to be true," (and that seems to be the emerging consensus), I pose the question back to you and HNers -- what would be the scenario where reading the comments prior to upvoting would help improve the quality of story on HN page one, where flagging is also not the appropriate remedy?
Now, sometimes I will check the comments before upvoting. But not always.
Sometimes the post is very clear and came from a credible source. But in the other case, it's better to read the post and read the information/links provided in the comments and then make your own opinion.
I'm up voting the articles, not their comment thread. (And as such I have no obligation to read the comments at all.)
Btw., your link gives HTTP 404.
So all it really is is a popularity contest, it has nothing to do with validity or value...
(insert some political rage about politicians not being leaders her)
I didn't think the story you mention needed an upvote (it was getting plenty), but I also didn't think it deserved a flag, because the story source is (usually) a reliable source, and the story itself had some balance. I thought the best response to that story was to look up some other information on the same topic and to post that in a comment, and to upvote all of the other comments that were well informed about the topic. (I try to upvote every good comment I find in any thread. The single best way we can improve the quality of HN is by upvoting the good stuff more.)
Because I have read all the comments that were here as I posted this comment, I should perhaps respectfully disagree with some of the ideas expressed in the comments. I asked once soon after I joined HN (probably about early 2009) whether stories should be submitted for disagreement. The consensus then was NO, if a submitter of a story thinks the story is dubious, the story shouldn't be submitted at all. Submitting a story is an endorsement of some aspect of the story's content and its treatment of the topic. I flag stories that are low-quality stories. In my experience, such stories rarely produce good threads of comments. (As above, I thought the story asked about in this thread was good enough to discuss, coming from a reliable source, and I discussed it.)
Other participants here on HN have over the years identified a set of sources that consistently produces lousy stories that generate low-quality discussions. Those are press-release aggregation sites that are just part of the science hype cycle.
PhysOrg appears to have been banned as a site to submit from by Reddit. ScienceDaily is just a press release recycling service, nothing more. I learned from other participants here on HN that there are better sites to submit from.
Comments about PhysOrg:
"Yes Physorg definitely has some of the worst articles on the internet."
"Straight from the European Space Agency, cutting out the physorg blogspam:
http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1116/ (press release),
"PhysOrg: just say no."
"The physorg article summary is wrong, I think."
"Phys.org is vacuous and often flat wrong."
Comments about ScienceDaily:
"Original article (to which ScienceDaily has added precisely nothing):
"Underlying paper in Science (paywalled):
"Brief writeup from Nature discussing this paper and a couple of others on similar topics:
"Everything I've ever seen on HN -- I don't know about Reddit -- from ScienceDaily has been a cut-and-paste copy of something else available from nearer the original source. In some cases ScienceDaily's copy is distinctly worse than the original because it lacks relevant links, enlightening pictures, etc.
" . . . . if you find something there and feel like sharing it, it's pretty much always best to take ten seconds to find the original source and submit that instead of ScienceDaily."
Comments about both PhysOrg and ScienceDaily:
"Why hasn't sciencedaily.com or physorg been banned from HN yet?"
"What ScienceDaily has added to this: (1) They've removed one of the figures. (2) They've removed links to the Hinode and SOHO websites. (3) They've added lots of largely irrelevant links of their own, all of course to their own site(s).
"Please, everyone: stop linking to ScienceDaily and PhysOrg."
"Those sources don't have RSS feeds, and ScienceDaily and PhysOrg have a bad habit of not linking to such things."
"Added value in PhysOrg article: zero.
"Please, everyone, stop submitting links from PhysOrg and ScienceDaily. I have never ever ever seen anything on those sites that isn't either (1) bullshit or (2) a recycled press release with zero (or often negative) added value. (Sometimes it's both at once.) It only takes ten seconds' googling to find the original source."
But a fix might be that an item can only be marked interesting on the item page, not on the overview pages.
P.S. I just upvoted this even though I disagree with you ;)