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Encyclopedia > Fringe science
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Fringe science is, by definition, at the fringes of a mainstream academic discipline.[1] Fringe science is a phrase used to describe scientific inquiry in an established field of study that departs significantly from mainstream or orthodox theories. While there are examples of mainstream scientists supporting maverick ideas within their own discipline of expertise, many fringe science ideas are advanced by individuals either from outside the field of science, or by scientists outside the mainstream of their own disciplines. Another use of the term is in describing fields of knowledge which are not, for lack of evidence or confirmability, recognized as bona fide sciences, though such fields are generally subsumed by the term pseudoscience. Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ... Shortcut: WP:NPOVD Articles that have been linked to this page are the subject of an NPOV dispute (NPOV stands for Neutral Point Of View; see below). ... Contents   Overviews   Academia   Topics   Basic topics   Glossaries   Portals   Categories // This is a list of academic disciplines. ... Part of a scientific laboratory at the University of Cologne. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... // What is science? There are different theories of what science is. ... Look up mainstream in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Separate articles treat Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Orthodox Judaism. ... The word theory has a number of distinct meanings in different fields of knowledge, depending on their methodologies and the context of discussion. ... Phrenology is regarded today as a classic example of pseudoscience. ...



Traditionally, the term "fringe science" is used to describe unusual theories and models of discovery that have their basis in established scientific principle. Such theories may be advocated by a scientist who is recognized by the larger scientific community (typically due to publication of peer reviewed studies by the scientist), but this is not always the case. Mainstream science is likely to fail or make errors but broadly the field is in accord with accepted standards and its character of resistance to change forms a mark of sound judgment as a reaction.[2] Some of today's widely-held theories (such as plate tectonics) had their origins as fringe science and were held in a negative opinion for decades.[3]) It is noted that: Scientific modeling is the process of generating abstract or conceptual models. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Peer review (known as refereeing in some academic fields) is a scholarly process used in the publication of manuscripts and in the awarding of funding for research. ... The tectonic plates of the world were mapped in the second half of the 20th century. ...

The confusion between science and pseudoscience, between honest scientific error and genuine scientific discovery, is not new, and it is a permanent feature of the scientific landscape [...] Acceptance of new science can come slowly.[4]

The categorical boundaries between fringe science and pseudoscience are widely disputed. Fringe science is seen by most scientists as rational but unlikely. Scientific consensus may delay the acceptance of valid fringe science for a variety of reasons, including incomplete or contradictory evidence.[5] Fringe science can be a protoscience that is not yet accepted by the vast majority of scientists. A fringe scientist may make observations through the scientific method. Whether a fringe science is accepted by mainstream scientists has largely been based on the quality of the discoveries made by that science. The phrase "fringe science" is sometimes considered pejorative. For example, Lyell D. Henry, Jr. wrote that "'fringe science' [is] a term also suggesting kookiness."[6] This belief may be inspired by eccentric, groundbreaking researchers on the fringe of science (colloquially known as mad scientists). Phrenology is regarded today as a classic example of pseudoscience. ... Logic (from Classical Greek λόγος logos; meaning word, thought, idea, argument, account, reason, or principle) is the study of the principles and criteria of valid inference and demonstration. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with pejoration. ... In popular usage, eccentricity refers to unusual or odd behavior on the part of an individual. ... A colloquialism is an informal expression, that is, an expression not used in formal speech or writing. ... Caucasian, male, aging, crooked teeth, messy hair, lab coat, spectacles/goggles, dramatic posing, beaker with strange colored liquid — one popular stereotype of a mad scientist. ...

Contemporary examples

Cases belonging to the present include:

  • Aubrey de Grey, featured in a 2006 60 Minutes special report, is working on advanced studies in human longevity.[2] Many mainstream scientists believe his research constitutes "fringe science."[3] In an article released in a 2006 issue of the magazine Technology Review (part of a larger series), it was written that, "SENS [De Grey's hypothesis] is highly speculative. Many of its proposals have not been reproduced, nor could they be reproduced with today's scientific knowledge and technology. Echoing Myhrvold, we might charitably say that de Grey's proposals exist in a kind of antechamber of science, where they wait (possibly in vain) for independent verification. SENS does not compel the assent of many knowledgeable scientists; but neither is it demonstrably wrong."[7]
  • A nuclear fusion reaction called cold fusion occurring near room temperature and pressure was reported by Fleischmann and Pons in March 1989. Numerous research efforts at the time attempted and were unable to replicate these results.[8] Since then, many scientists with a variety of credentials have contributed to the field or participated in the international conferences on cold fusion. In 2004, the United States Department of Energy (USDOE) decided to take another look at cold fusion to determine if their policies towards cold fusion should be altered due to new experimental evidence and so set up a panel on cold fusion.

Aubrey David Nicholas Jasper de Grey, Ph. ... Not to be confused with a BBC news magazine program of the same name. ... Longevity is a term that generally refers to long life or great duration of life.[1] Reflections on longevity have usually gone beyond acknowledging the basic shortness of human life and have included thinking about methods to extend life. ... Technology Review is an innovation and technology magazine affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ... Doctor Who novel, see Cold Fusion (Doctor Who). ... ICCF-11 - The most recent International Conference on Cold Fusion (ICCF) ICCF of Years Past A thorough listing of all ICCF conferences from years past. ... In 2004, the US Department of Energy (DoE) has set up a panel of 18 scientists to review the status of cold fusion research. ...

Historical examples

Cases of historical note include:

  • Wilhelm Reich's work with "orgone," a physical energy he claimed to have discovered, contributed to his alienation from the psychiatric community and eventually to his jailing.
  • Linus Pauling's belief that large amounts of vitamin C functioned as a panacea for a whole host of diseases, a claim that has largely been refuted.

Wilhelm Reich (March 24, 1897 – November 3, 1957) was an Austrian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. ... Linus Carl Pauling (February 28, 1901 – August 19, 1994) was an American quantum chemist and biochemist. ... This article is about the nutrient. ... The panacea (IPA ), named after the Greek goddess of healing, Panacea, was supposed to be a remedy that would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely. ...


Fringe science can be distinguished from some similar-sounding, but pejorative in nature, categories as follows:

  • Pseudoscience - Pseudoscience is notoriously lax in rigorous application of the scientific method. Reproducibility is typically a problem. This is not so in fringe science.
  • Junk science - Junk science is used to describe agenda-driven research that ignores certain standard methodologies and practices in an attempt to secure a given result from an experiment. Fringe science, as in standard methodology, proceeds from theory to conclusion with no attempt to direct or coax the result.

Phrenology is regarded today as a classic example of pseudoscience. ... Junk or bunk science is a term used to describe purportedly scientific data, research, analyses or claims which are perceived to be driven by political, financial or other questionable motives. ...


Towards the end of the 20th century, religiously inspired critics of certain fields of scientific research attempted to brand as "controversial" a host of scientific fields which contradicted literal or fundamentalist readings of certain ancient religious texts,[citation needed] taking ongoing scientific exploration on certain aspects of those topics as evidence that those findings were not conclusively valid. [dubious ] This was claimed to have left open a window for divine intervention and intelligent design.[citation needed] Among these fields were paleo-anthropology, human sexuality, evolution, geology, and paleontology.[citation needed] Divine intervention is another term for a miracle. ... For other uses, see Intelligent design (disambiguation). ... Paleoanthropology, which combines the disciplines of paleontology and physical anthropology, is the study of ancient humans as found in fossil hominid evidence such as petrifacted bones and footprints. ... This article is about human sexual perceptions. ... This article is about evolution in biology. ... This article includes a list of works cited but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ... Paleontology, palaeontology or palæontology (from Greek: paleo, ancient; ontos, being; and λόγος, logos, knowledge) is the study of prehistoric life forms on Earth through the examination of plant and animal fossils. ...

However, such attempts are dismissed by epistemologists as being the result of a misunderstanding of the scientific process, understood by scientists to be akin to a dialogue which has no conclusion, despite the public's desire for ultimate winners and losers. As Dr. Donald E. Simanek, Physics professor at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania asserts, Too often speculative and tentative hypotheses of cutting edge science are treated as if they were scientific truths, and so accepted by a public eager for answers, ignorant of the fact that As science progresses from ignorance to understanding it must pass through a transitionary phase of confusion and uncertainty.[citation needed] It has been suggested that Meta-epistemology be merged into this article or section. ...

The media also play a role in the creation and propagation of controversies and the view that certain fields of science are controversial. In "Optimising Public Understanding of Science: A Comparative Perspective" by Jan Nolin et al., the authors claim that From a media perspective it is evident that controversial science sells, not only because of its dramatic value but also since it is often connected to high-stake societal issues.

See also

It has been suggested that Meta-epistemology be merged into this article or section. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This is a list of protosciences. ... A minority-opinion, or unpopular, scientific theory is a scientific theory which has not gained wide-spread acceptance in the scientific community, usually because of lack of supporting evidence, or because it challenges a well-established current theory or scientific assumption. ... Phrenology is regarded today as a classic example of pseudoscience. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into pseudoscience. ... This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims. ... Scientific misconduct is the violation of the standard codes of scholarly conduct and ethical behavior in professional scientific research. ... An obsolete scientific theory is a scientific theory that was once commonly accepted but (for whatever reason) is no longer considered the most complete description of reality by mainstream science; or a falsifiable theory which has been shown to be false. ... Paradigm shift is the term first used by Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions to describe a change in basic assumptions within the ruling theory of science. ...


  1. ^ Dutch, Steven I. (1982). Notes on the Nature of Fringe Science. Journal of Geological Education, v30 n1 p6-13 Jan 1982 ERIC EJ260409 (ed. Identifies three classifications of scientific ideas (center, frontier, fringe) and defines fringe as a region where ideas are highly speculative or weakly confirmed.)
  2. ^ Friedlander, 172.
  3. ^ Friedlander, 5.
  4. ^ Friedlander, 161.
  5. ^ Friedlander, 183.
  6. ^ Henry, Lyell D. (1981) "Unorthodox Science as a Popular Activity", Journal of American Culture 4 (2), 1-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1542-734X.1981.0402_1.x
  7. ^ Pontin, Jason. "Is Defeating Aging Only A Dream?", Technology Review, July 11, 2006 (includes June 9, 2006 critiques and rebuttals). 
  8. ^ APS Special Session on Cold Fusion, May 1-2, 1989 [1]
  • Friedlander, Micheal W. (February 1995). At the Fringes of Science. Boulder: Westview Press. ISBN 0813322006. 

Westview Press was founded in 1975 in Boulder Colorado by Fred Praeger. ...


  • Controversial Science: From Content to Contention by Thomas Brante et al.
  • Communicating uncertainty: Media coverage of new and controversial science by Sharon Dunwoody et al.
  • Friedlander, M. W. (1995). At the fringes of science. Boulder: Westview Press.
  • Frazier K (1981). Paranormal Borderlands of Science Prometheus Books ISBN 0-87975-148-7
  • CSICOP On-line: Scientifically Investigating Paranormal and Fringe Science Claims
  • Dutch SI (1982). Notes on the Nature of Fringe Science. Journal of Geological Education
  • Brown GE (1996). Environmental Science under Siege: Fringe Science and the 104th Congress.

Further reading

  • MC Mousseau, Parapsychology: Science or Pseudo-Science? Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2003. scientificexploration.org.
  • C de Jager, Science, Fringe Science, and Pseudo-Science. RAS Quarterly Journal V. 31, NO. 1/Mar., 1990.
  • Cooke, R. M. (1991). Experts in uncertainty: opinion and subjective probability in science. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • SH Mauskopf, The Reception of Unconventional Science. Westview Press, 1979.
  • Marcello Truzzi, The Perspective of Anomalistics. Anomalistics, Center for Scientific Anomalies Research.
  • N. Ben-Yehuda, The politics and morality of deviance: moral panics, drug abuse, deviant science, and reversed stigmatization. SUNY series in deviance and social control. Albany: State University of New York Press 1990.

Marcello Truzzi (September 6, 1935-February 2, 2003) was a professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University and director for the Center for Scientific Anomalies Research. ...

External links

  • The National Health Museum / Activities exchange: Teaching Controversial Science Issues Through Law Related Education

  Results from FactBites:
Fringe science - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (379 words)
Fringe science is a phrase used to describe scientific inquiry in an established field that departs significantly from mainstream or orthodox theories.
Fringe science can be a field of inquiry which is not yet considered a real "science" (known as a protoscience), but which nevertheless bears some resemblance to the norms of the scientific method.
The phrase "fringe science" is considered by some to be pejorative; there are few examples of the term "fringe science" being used in peer-reviewed journals, and no examples are known of an individual having used the phrase to describe her own work.
Fringe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (261 words)
A fringe is an ornamental appendage to the border of an item, such as a flag.
Americans refer to a fringe as "bangs"; however, they are the only people to use this nomenclature, which is often not understood by native English speakers elsewhere as having anything to do with hair.
The fringe is a term used to refer to non-mainstream or "fringe" theatre, where experimental forms of stagecraft are performed.
  More results at FactBites »



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