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Encyclopedia > Pseudoscience
A typical 18th century phrenology chart. Phrenologists claimed to predict personality traits from reading "bumps" in the head. Phrenology was first considered a pseudoscience in 1843 and continues to be widely considered pseudoscience.
A typical 18th century phrenology chart. Phrenologists claimed to predict personality traits from reading "bumps" in the head. Phrenology was first considered a pseudoscience in 1843 and continues to be widely considered pseudoscience.[1]

Pseudoscience is any body of knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that claims to be scientific or is made to appear scientific, but does not adhere to the basic requirements of the scientific method.[2][3][4][5] 19th century Phrenology chart, from Fowlers&Wells This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... 19th century Phrenology chart, from Fowlers&Wells This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... A 19th century phrenology chart. ... For the scientific journal named Science, see Science (journal). ... Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. ...


The term pseudoscience is based on the Greek root pseudo- (false or pretending) and science (derived from Latin scientia, meaning knowledge). The first recorded use was in 1843 by French physiologist François Magendie[1] considered a pioneer in experimental physiology. For other uses, see Latin (disambiguation). ... François Magendie (1783 - 1855), French physiologist. ...


The term has negative connotations, because it is used to indicate that subjects so labeled are inaccurately or deceptively portrayed as science.[6] Accordingly, those labeled as practicing or advocating a "pseudoscience" normally reject this classification. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with pejoration. ...


As it is taught in certain introductory science classes, pseudoscience is any subject that appears superficially to be scientific or whose proponents state is scientific but nevertheless contravenes the testability requirement, or substantially deviates from other fundamental aspects of the scientific method.[7] Professor Paul DeHart Hurd[8] argued that a large part of gaining scientific literacy is "being able to distinguish science from pseudo-science such as astrology, quackery, the occult, and superstition".[9] Certain introductory survey classes in science take careful pains to delineate the objections scientists and skeptics have to practices that make direct claims contradicted by the scientific discipline in question.[10] This page is a candidate to be copied to Wiktionary. ... Hand-coloured version of the anonymous Flammarion woodcut (1888). ... Pietro Longhi: The Charlatan, 1757 Quackery is a derogatory term used to describe questionable medical practices. ... The word occult comes from the Latin occultus (clandestine, hidden, secret), referring to knowledge of the hidden.[1] In the medical sense it is used commonly to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e. ... For other uses, see Superstition (disambiguation). ...


Beyond the initial introductory analyses offered in science classes, there is some epistemological disagreement about whether it is possible to distinguish "science" from "pseudoscience" in a reliable and objective way.[11] It has been suggested that Meta-epistemology be merged into this article or section. ... It is proposed that this article be deleted, because of the following concern: Limited information sources, article is object for nothing but original research If you can address this concern by improving, copyediting, sourcing, renaming or merging the page, please edit this page and do so. ...


Pseudosciences may be characterised by the use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims, over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation, lack of openness to testing by other experts, and a lack of progress in theory development.

Contents

Background

The standards for determining whether a body of knowledge, methodology, or practice is scientific can vary from field to field, but involve agreed principles including reproducibility and intersubjective verifiability.[12] Such principles aim to ensure that relevant evidence can be reproduced and/or measured given the same conditions, which allows further investigation to determine whether a hypothesis or theory related to given phenomena is both valid and reliable for use by others, including other scientists and researchers. It is expected that the scientific method will be applied throughout, and that bias will be controlled or eliminated, by double-blind studies, or statistically through fair sampling procedures. All gathered data, including experimental/environmental conditions, are expected to be documented for scrutiny and made available for peer review, thereby allowing further experiments or studies to be conducted to confirm or falsify results, as well as to determine other important factors such as statistical significance, confidence intervals, and margins of error.[13] Fulfillment of these requirements allows others a reasonable opportunity to assess whether to rely upon the reported results in their own scientific work or in a particular field of applied science, technology, therapy, or other form of practice. This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Methodology is defined as the analysis of the // == Headline text == principles of methods, rules, and postulates employed by a discipline or the development of methods, to be applied within a discipline a particular procedure or set of procedures. [1]. It should be noted that methodology is frequently used when method... Look up practice, practise in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Intersubjective verifiability is the core principle of scientific investigation or empiricism as a joint activity by individuals. ... Look up Hypothesis in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The word theory has a number of distinct meanings in different fields of knowledge, depending on their methodologies and the context of discussion. ... A phenomenon (plural: phenomena) is an observable event, especially something special (literally something that can be seen from the Greek word phainomenon = observable). ... In psychology, validity has two distinct fields of application. ... The mathematical foundations of statistical reliability are probability and statistics. ... Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The Double blind method is an important part of the scientific method, used to prevent research outcomes from being influenced by the placebo effect or observer bias. ... 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. ... In the scientific method, an experiment (Latin: ex- periri, of (or from) trying) is a set of observations performed in the context of solving a particular problem or question, to support or falsify a hypothesis or research concerning phenomena. ... This page discusses how a theory or assertion is falsifiable (disprovable opp: verifiable), rather than the non-philosophical use of falsification, meaning counterfeiting. ... In statistics, a result is significant if it is unlikely to have occurred by chance, given that a presumed null hypothesis is true. ... In this diagram, the bars represent observation means and the red lines represent the confidence intervals surrounding them. ... The top portion of this graphic depicts probability densities (for a binomial distribution) that show the relative likelihood that the true percentage is in a particular area given a reported percentage of 50%. The bottom portion of this graphic shows the margin of error, the corresponding zone of 95% confidence. ... For the song by 311, see Grassroots Applied science is the exact science of applying knowledge from one or more natural scientific fields to practical problems. ... By the mid 20th century humans had achieved a mastery of technology sufficient to leave the surface of the Earth for the first time and explore space. ... Generally, remediation means giving a remedy. ...


In the mid-20th Century Karl Popper suggested the criterion of falsifiability to distinguish science from non-science.[14] Statements such as "God created the universe" may be true or false, but they are not falsifiable, so they are not scientific; they lie outside the scope of science. Popper subdivided non-science into philosophical, mathematical, mythological, religious and/or metaphysical formulations on the one hand, and pseudoscientific formulations on the other—though without providing clear criteria for the differences.[15] He gave astrology and psychoanalysis as examples of pseudoscience, and Einstein's theory of relativity as an example of science. More recently, Paul Thagard (1978) proposed that pseudoscience is primarily distinguishable from science when it is less progressive than alternative theories over a long period of time, and the selective and or lack of attempts by proponents to solve problems with the theory.[16] Mario Bunge has suggested the categories of "belief fields" and "research fields" to help distinguish between science and pseudoscience.[17] Sir Karl Raimund Popper, CH, FRS, FBA, (July 28, 1902 – September 17, 1994), was an Austrian and British[1] philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics. ... Falsifiability (or refutability or testability) is the logical possibility that an assertion can be shown false by an observation or a physical experiment. ... Hand-coloured version of the anonymous Flammarion woodcut (1888). ... Psychoanalysis is a family of psychological theories and methods based on the work of Sigmund Freud. ... Two-dimensional analogy of space-time curvature described in General Relativity. ... Paul Thagard is Professor of Philosophy, with cross appointment to Psychology and Computer Science, and Director of the Cognitive Science Program, at the University of Waterloo, Canada. ... Mario Augusto Bunge (born September 21, 1919, Buenos Aires) is an Argentinian philosopher and physicist mainly active in Canada. ...


Philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend has argued, from a sociology of knowledge perspective, that a distinction between science and non-science is neither possible nor desirable.[18][19] Among the issues which can make the distinction difficult are that both the theories and methodologies of science evolve at differing rates in response to new data.[20] In addition, the specific standards applicable to one field of science may not be those employed in other fields. Thagard also writes from a sociological perspective and states that "elucidation of how science differs from pseudoscience is the philosophical side of an attempt to overcome public neglect of genuine science." Paul Karl Feyerabend (January 13, 1924 – February 11, 1994) was an Austrian-born philosopher of science best known for his work as a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked for three decades (1958-1989). ... The sociology of knowledge is the study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises, and of the effects prevailing ideas have on societies. ...


Both the skeptics and the brights movement, most prominently represented by Richard Dawkins, Mario Bunge, Carl Sagan and James Randi, consider all forms of pseudoscience to be harmful, whether or not they result in immediate harm to their adherents. These critics generally consider that the practice of pseudoscience may occur for a number of reasons, ranging from simple naïveté about the nature of science and the scientific method, to deliberate deception for financial or political gain. At the extreme, issues of personal health and safety may be very directly involved, for example in the case of physical or mental therapy or treatment, or in assessing safety risks. In such instances the potential for direct harm to patients, clients, the general public, or the environment may be an issue in assessing pseudoscience. (See also Junk science.) To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Symbol of the brights The brights movement was started by Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell in 2003 to provide a positive-sounding umbrella term, bright, to describe various types of people who have a naturalistic worldview, without casting that worldview as a negative response to religion (as the terms atheist... Clinton Richard Dawkins (born March 26, 1941) is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and popular science writer who holds the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. ... Mario Augusto Bunge (born September 21, 1919, Buenos Aires) is an Argentinian philosopher and physicist mainly active in Canada. ... Insert non-formatted text here Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer and astrobiologist and a highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics, and other natural sciences. ... James Randi (born August 7, 1928), stage name The Amazing Randi, is a stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. ... Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. ... 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. ...


The concept of pseudoscience as antagonistic to bona fide science appears to have emerged in the mid-19th century. Among the first recorded uses of the word "pseudo-science" was in 1844 in the Northern Journal of Medicine, I 387: "That opposite kind of innovation which pronounces what has been recognized as a branch of science, to have been a pseudo-science, composed merely of so-called facts, connected together by misapprehensions under the disguise of principles". Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Identifying pseudoscience

A field, practice, or body of knowledge might reasonably be called pseudoscientific when (1) it is presented as consistent with the accepted norms of scientific research; but (2) it demonstrably fails to meet these norms, most importantly, in misuse of scientific method.[21] It has been suggested that Convention (norm) be merged into this article or section. ... Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. ...


Subjects may be considered pseudoscientific for various reasons; Popper considered astrology to be pseudoscientific simply because astrologers keep their claims so vague that they could never be refuted, whereas Thagard considers astrology pseudoscientific because its practitioners make little effort to develop the theory, show no concern for attempts to critically evaluate the theory in relation to others, and are selective in considering evidence. More generally, Thagard stated that pseudoscience tends to focus on resemblances rather than cause-effect relations. Hand-coloured version of the anonymous Flammarion woodcut (1888). ... Paul Thagard is Professor of Philosophy, with cross appointment to Psychology and Computer Science, and Director of the Cognitive Science Program, at the University of Waterloo. ...


Science is also distinguishable from revelation, theology, or spirituality in that it claims to offer insight into the physical world obtained by "scientific" means. Systems of thought that derive from divine or inspired knowledge are not considered pseudoscience if they do not claim either to be scientific or to overturn well-established science. Revelation of the Last Judgment by Jacob de Backer Revelation is an uncovering or disclosure via communication from the divine of something that has been partially or wholly hidden or unknown, which could not be known apart from the unveiling (Goswiller 1987 p. ... Theology finds its scholars pursuing the understanding of and providing reasoned discourse of religion, spirituality and God or the gods. ... Spirituality, in a narrow sense, concerns itself with matters of the spirit. ...


Some statements and commonly held beliefs in popular science may not meet the criteria of science. "Pop" science may blur the divide between science and pseudoscience among the general public, and may also involve science fiction.[22] Indeed, pop science is disseminated to, and can also easily emanate from, persons not accountable to scientific methodology and expert peer review. This article is not about the magazine, Popular Science Popular science is interpretation of science intended for a general audience, rather than for other scientists or students. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. ... 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. ...


If the claims of a given field can be experimentally tested and methodological standards are upheld, it is not "pseudoscience", however odd, astonishing, or counter-intuitive. If claims made are inconsistent with existing experimental results or established theory, but the methodology is sound, caution should be used; science consists of testing hypotheses which may turn out to be false. In such a case, the work may be better described as ideas that are not yet generally accepted.


The following have been proposed to be indicators of poor scientific reasoning.


Use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims

  • Assertion of scientific claims that are vague rather than precise, and that lack specific measurements.[23]
  • Failure to make use of operational definitions. (i.e. a scientific description of the operational means in which a range of numeric measurements can be obtained).[24]
  • Lack of suitable controls. This is particularly common of some alternative medicines, particularly homeopathy where a demonstration of an effect above and beyond that of a placebo is often absent [12].
  • Failure to make reasonable use of the principle of parsimony, i.e. failing to seek an explanation that requires the fewest possible additional assumptions when multiple viable explanations are possible (see: Occam's Razor)[25]
  • Use of obscurantist language, and misuse of apparently technical jargon in an effort to give claims the superficial trappings of science.
  • Lack of boundary conditions: Most well-supported scientific theories possess boundary conditions (well articulated limitations) under which the predicted phenomena do and do not apply.[26]

An operational definition of a quantity is the description of a specific process, or set of validation tests, accessible to more persons than the definer (i. ... Homeopathy starring at the horrors of Allopathy by Alexander Beydeman, 1857 Homeopathy (also spelled homœopathy or homoeopathy), from the Greek words όμοιος, hómoios (similar) and πάθος, páthos (suffering, disease),[1] is a highly controversial type of alternative medicine that aims to treat like with like. ... For other uses, see Placebo (disambiguation). ... Look up parsimony in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For the House episode, see Occams Razor (House episode) Occams razor (sometimes spelled Ockhams razor) is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. ... Obscurantism is a vehement opposition to extention of knowledge beyond certain limits and to questioning dogmas. ...

Over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation

  • Assertion of scientific claims that cannot be falsified in the event they are incorrect, inaccurate, or irrelevant (see also: falsifiability)[27]
  • Assertion of claims that a theory predicts something that it has not been shown to predict[28]
  • Assertion that claims which have not been proven false must be true, and vice versa (see: Argument from ignorance)[29]
  • Over-reliance on testimonials and anecdotes. Testimonial and anecdotal evidence can be useful for discovery (i.e. hypothesis generation) but should not be used in the context of justification (i.e. hypothesis testing).[30]
  • Selective use of experimental evidence: presentation of data that seems to support its own claims while suppressing or refusing to consider data that conflict with its claims.[31]
  • Reversed burden of proof. In science, the burden of proof rests on those making a claim, not on the critic. "Pseudoscientific" arguments may neglect this principle and demand that skeptics demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that a claim (e.g. an assertion regarding the efficacy of a novel therapeutic technique) is false. It is essentially impossible to prove a universal negative, so this tactic incorrectly places the burden of proof on the skeptic rather than the claimant.[32]
  • Appeals to holism: Proponents of pseudoscientific claims, especially in organic medicine, alternative medicine, naturopathy and mental health, often resort to the “mantra of holism” to explain negative findings.[33]

Falsifiability (or refutability or testability) is the logical possibility that an assertion can be shown false by an observation or a physical experiment. ... The argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam (appeal to ignorance [1]) or argument by lack of imagination, is a logical fallacy in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false, or that a premise is false only because... Skepticism (Commonwealth spelling: Scepticism) can mean: Philosophical skepticism - a philosophical position in which people choose to critically examine whether the knowledge and perceptions that they have are actually true, and whether or not one can ever be said to have absolutely true knowledge; or Scientific skepticism - a scientific, or practical... Whole redirects here. ...

Lack of openness to testing by other experts

  • Evasion of peer review before publicizing results (called "science by press conference").[34] Some proponents of theories that contradict accepted scientific theories avoid subjecting their ideas to peer review, sometimes on the grounds that peer review is biased towards established paradigms, and sometimes on the grounds that assertions cannot be evaluated adequately using standard scientific methods. By remaining insulated from the peer review process, these proponents forego the opportunity of corrective feedback from informed colleagues.[35]
  • The science community expects authors to share data necessary to evaluate a paper. Failure to provide adequate information for other researchers to reproduce the claimed results is a lack of openness.[36]
  • Assertion of claims of secrecy or proprietary knowledge in response to requests for review of data or methodology.[37]

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 term science by press conference describes a public relations strategy for publicizing results of research in the media. ... Data sharing is a requirement in the science community. ... This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...

Lack of progress

  • Failure to progress towards additional evidence of its claims.[38] Terrence Hines has identified astrology as a subject that has changed very little in the past two millennia.[39]
  • Lack of self correction: scientific research programmes make mistakes, but they tend to eliminate these errors over time.[40] By contrast, theories may be accused of being pseudoscientific because they have remained unaltered despite contradictory evidence.[41]

Personalization of issues

--Bokonon A granfalloon, in the religion of Bokononism invented by Kurt Vonnegut in his 1963 novel Cats Cradle, is defined as a false karass. That is, it is a group of people who outwardly choose or claim to have a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is... The concept of authoritarian personality denotes a number of qualities, which according to the theories of Theodor Adorno predict ones potential for fascist and antidemocratic leanings and behaviors. ... In any debate, sometimes the more powerful opponent will try to silence the other rather than trying to defeat their arguments. ... Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. ... It has been suggested that Myside bias be merged into this article or section. ... Look up ad hominem in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Use of misleading language

  • Creating scientific-sounding terms in order to add weight to claims and persuade non-experts to believe statements that may be false or meaningless.
  • Use of uncommon terms for common substances can also be misleading. For example referring to water as dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) and proclaiming that it is the main constituent of most toxic compounds.

Water is made from 2 hydrogen and one oxygen atom, giving the name dihydrogen monoxide. ...

Demographics

The National Science Foundation stated that, in the USA, "pseudoscientific" beliefs became more widespread during the 1990s, peaked near 2001 and mildly declined since; nevertheless, pseudoscientific beliefs remain common in the USA.[44] As a result, according to the NSF report, there is a lack of knowledge of pseudoscientific issues in society and pseudoscientific practices are commonly followed. Bunge (1999) states that "A survey on public knowledge of science in the United States showed that in 1988 50% of American adults [rejected] evolution, and 88% [believed] astrology is a science'". The logo of the National Science Foundation The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. ...


Commentators on pseudoscience perceive it in many fields; for example Pseudomathematics is a term used for mathematics-like activity undertaken either by non-mathematicians or mathematicians themselves which does not conform to the rigorous standards usually applied to mathematical theorems. Pseudomathematics is a form of mathematics-like activity that does not work within the framework, definitions, rules, or rigor of formal mathematical models. ...


Clinical Psychology

Neurologists and clinical psychologists are concerned about the increasing amount of what they consider pseudoscience promoted in psychotherapy and popular psychology, and also about what they see as pseudoscientific therapies such as Neuro-linguistic programming, EMDR, Rebirthing, Reparenting, and Primal Therapy being adopted by government and professional bodies and by the public.[45] They state that scientifically unsupported therapies used by popular or folk psychology might harm vulnerable members of the public, undermine legitimate therapies, and tend to spread misconceptions about the nature of the mind and brain to society at large. Norcross et al.[46] have approached the science/pseudoscience issue by conducting a survey of experts that seeks to specify which theory or therapy is considered to be definitely discredited, and they outline 14 fields that have been definitely discredited. Psychotherapy is an interpersonal, relational intervention used by trained psychotherapists to aid clients in problems of living. ... Psychology (from Greek: ψυχή, psukhē, spirit, soul; and λόγος, logos, knowledge) is both an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. ... This article is not about the academic discipline of neurolinguistics which investigates the brain mechanisms underlying language. ... Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing , also known by its abreviation EMDR, claims to relieve the symptoms of Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems using originally only movements of the eyes similar to those which occur naturally in REM sleep. ... Rebirthing is a branch of alternative medicine which postulates that human birth is a traumatic event (see birth trauma) and that a discipline consisting of a combination of connected breathing techniques, relaxation and focused awareness can have therapeutic benefits. ... Primal Therapy is a trauma-based psychotherapy created by Arthur Janov, Ph. ...


A typical concept used in some fringe psychotherapies is orgone energy. "There is an increasing degree of overlapping and blending of orgone therapy with New Age and other therapies that manipulate the patient’s biofields, such as Therapeutic Touch and Reiki. 'Biofield' is a pseudoscientific term often used synonymously with orgone energy. Klee states that there is even small minority of psychiatrists that promote orgone therapy, though such organizations are frowned upon by the general psychiatric community.[47] Orgone energy is a concept of a universal life energy that physician and psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich said he had discovered in the late 1930s. ... Therapeutic touch (TT) is a mostly secular variant of faith healing, started by Dolores Krieger in the early 1970s. ... A Reiki treatment in progress Reiki IPA: ) is a form of spiritual practice,[1] used as a complementary therapy,[2] proposed for the treatment of physical, emotional, and mental diseases. ... Psychiatry is a branch of medicine dealing with the prevention, assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of the mind and mental illness. ...


But there is also grave concern that a rush to evidence-based practice in psychology will ignore the evidentiary validity of the clinicians observations as well as ignoring the fact that neither research nor clinical practice are theory-free. And at this point in history there is no single model or theory in the body of knowledge we call psychology.[48] This, combined with the subjective nature of the phenomena under study makes it more difficult to separate out bad theories attempting to explain actual results from bad theories claiming results that don't exist.


Psychological explanations

Pseudoscientific thinking has been explained in terms of psychology and social psychology. The human proclivity for seeking confirmation rather than refutation (confirmation bias),[49] the tendency to hold comforting beliefs, and the tendency to overgeneralize have been proposed as reasons for the common adherence to pseudoscientific thinking. According to Beyerstein (1991) humans are prone to associations based on resemblances only, and often prone to misattribution in cause-effect thinking. Psychology (from Greek: ψυχή, psukhē, spirit, soul; and λόγος, logos, knowledge) is both an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. ... The scope of social psychological research. ... It has been suggested that Myside bias be merged into this article or section. ...


Some transitions from pseudoscience to science

There are examples of presently accepted scientific theories that were once criticised as being pseudoscientific. The transition is marked by increasing scientific scrutiny and specificity within the field and an increased level of evidence to support the theory. Continental drift theory was once considered pseudoscientific (Williams 2000:58), but is now part of mainstream science especially since the paleomagnetic evidence was discovered that supported plate tectonics. Plates in the crust of the earth, according to the plate tectonics theory Continental drift refers to the movement of the Earths continents relative to each other. ... Paleomagnetism refers to the study of the record of the Earths magnetic field preserved in various magnetic minerals through time. ... The tectonic plates of the world were mapped in the second half of the 20th century. ...


Atwood (2004) suggested that "osteopathy has, for the most part, repudiated its pseudoscientific beginnings and joined the world of rational healthcare."[50] This article discusses osteopathy, a type of alternative medicine practiced worldwide. ...


The field of physical cosmology is a futher example.[51] Currently, string theory has been criticized by certain researchers as suffering from the same problems[52] This article is about the physics subject. ... Interaction in the subatomic world: world lines of pointlike particles in the Standard Model or a world sheet swept up by closed strings in string theory String theory is a model of fundamental physics whose building blocks are one-dimensional extended objects called strings, rather than the zero-dimensional point...


Criticisms of the concept of pseudoscience

Pseudoscience contrasted with protoscience

Protoscience is a term sometimes used to describe a hypothesis that has not yet been adequately tested by the scientific method, but which is otherwise consistent with existing science or which, where inconsistent, offers reasonable account of the inconsistency. It may also describe the transition from a body of practical knowledge into a scientific field.[53] By contrast, "pseudoscience" is reserved to describe theories which are either untestable in practice or in principle, or which are maintained even when tests appear to have refuted them. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


It is disputed (notably by Feyeraband, see above) whether meaningful boundaries can be drawn between pseudoscience, protoscience, and "real" science. Especially where there is a significant cultural or historical distance (as, for example, modern chemistry reflecting on alchemy), protosciences can be misinterpreted as pseudoscientific. For other uses, see Chemistry (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Alchemy (disambiguation). ...


Demarcation problem

Main article: Demarcation problem

After over a century of dialogue among philosophers of science and scientists in varied fields, and despite broad agreement on the basics of scientific method,[54] the boundaries between science and non-science continue to be debated.[55] This is known as the problem of demarcation. The demarcation problem in the philosophy of science is about how and where to draw the lines around science. ... Philosophy of science is the study of assumptions, foundations, and implications of science, especially in the natural sciences and social sciences. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Part of a scientific laboratory at the University of Cologne. ... Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. ... Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. ...


Many commentators and practitioners of science, as well as supporters of fields of inquiry and practices labeled as pseudoscience, question the rigor of the demarcation[citation needed], as some disciplines now accepted as science previously had features cited as those of pseudoscience, such as lack of reproducibility, or the inability to create falsifiable experiments.[citation needed]


It has been argued by several notable commentators that experimental verification is not in itself decisive in scientific method. Thomas Kuhn states that in neither Popper's nor his own theory "can testing play a quite decisive role."[56] Daniel Rothbart said that "the defining feature of science does not seem to be experimental success, for most clear cases of genuine science have been experimentally falsified."[57] The latter proposed that a scientific theory must "account for all the phenomena that its rival background theory explains" and "must clash empirically with its rival by yielding test implications that are inconsistent with the rival theory". A theory is thus scientific or not depending upon its historical situation; if it betters the current explanations of phenomena, it marks scientific progress. "Many domains in ancient Greece, for example, domains that today are called superstition, religion, magic and the occult, were at that time clear cases of legitimate science." This is an explicitly competitive model of scientific work; Rothbart also notes that it is not a completely effective model.[58] Thomas Samuel Kuhn (July 18, 1922 – June 17, 1996) was an American intellectual who wrote extensively on the history of science and developed several important notions in the philosophy of science. ...


Kuhn postulated that proponents of competing paradigms may resort to political means (such as invective) to garner support from a public which lacks the ability to judge competing scientific theories on their merits. Philosopher of science Larry Laudan has suggested that pseudoscience has no scientific meaning and mostly describes our emotions: "If we would stand up and be counted on the side of reason, we ought to drop terms like ‘pseudo-science’ and ‘unscientific’ from our vocabulary; they are just hollow phrases which do only emotive work for us".[59] Richard McNally, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, states: "The term 'pseudoscience' has become little more than an inflammatory buzzword for quickly dismissing one’s opponents in media sound-bites" and "When therapeutic entrepreneurs make claims on behalf of their interventions, we should not waste our time trying to determine whether their interventions qualify as pseudoscientific. Rather, we should ask them: How do you know that your intervention works? What is your evidence?".[60] The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions. ... A bitter and injurious term of insult. ...


See also

Bad science usually refers either to substandard scientific methods or to findings that have been arrived at by such methods. ... The Bogdanov Affair is an academic dispute regarding a series of theoretical physics papers written by French twin brothers Igor and Grichka Bogdanov (or Bogdanoff). ... Cargo cult science is a term used by Richard Feynman in his 1974 Caltech commencement address to describe work that has the semblance of being scientific, but is missing a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty. The speech is... The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), formerly known as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) is a U.S. nonprofit organization whose stated purpose is to encourage the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view and... Creationism is the belief that humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe were created in their original form by a deity or deities (typically God), whose existence is presupposed. ... Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience book cover The Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience (2000), edited by Dr William F. Williams, identifies, defines and explains all the terms and concepts related to the murky world of almost science.[1] It includes over 2000 entries, covering phenomena, people, events, topics places and associations. ... For other uses, see Intelligent design (disambiguation). ... 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. ... This is a list of fields of endeavor and concepts that have been regarded as pseudoscientific by: Organizations that are representative of the international scientific community, and/or Skeptical organizations They may have explicitly called a field or concept pseudoscience or used words to that effect: instances of the latter... 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. ... Irving Langmuir coined the phrase pathological science in a talk in 1953 Pathological science is the process in science in which people are tricked into false results . ... // Paranormal is an umbrella term used to describe a wide variety of reported anomalous phenomena. ... Early parapsychological research employed the use of Zener cards in experiments designed to test for possible telepathic communication. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Pseudohistory is a pejorative term applied to texts which purport to be historical in nature but which depart from standard historiographical conventions in a way which undermines their conclusions. ... Marcello Truzzi founded the Zetetic Scholar journal, in which he analyzes the term pseudoskepticism in the mid 1980s The terms pseudoskepticism (sometimes pseudo-skepticism) and pathological skepticism are used to denote the phenomena when certain forms of skepticism deviate from objectivity. ... Pietro Longhi: The Charlatan, 1757 Quackery is a derogatory term used to describe questionable medical practices. ... Doctrine Practices Concepts People Public outreach Organization Controversy Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices created by American pulp fiction author L. Ron Hubbard in 1952 as an outgrowth of his earlier self-help system, Dianetics. ... The Sokal Affair was a hoax by physicist Alan Sokal on the editorial staff and readership of a leading journal in the academic humanities. ... The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience is a collection of articles that discuss the Skeptics Societys scientific findings of investigations into popular pseudoscientific and supernatural claims. ... Michael Shermer Michael Shermer (born September 8, 1954 in Glendale, California) is a science writer, historian of science, founder of The Skeptics Society, and editor of its magazine Skeptic, which is largely devoted to investigating and debunking pseudoscientific and supernatural claims. ... The Skeptics Society is a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting scientific skepticism and resisting the spread of pseudoscience, superstition, and irrational beliefs. ... True-believer syndrome is a term coined by M. Lamar Keene in his 1976 book The Psychic Mafia referring to an irrational belief in paranormal events, even after direct confession or evidence that the events were fraudulently staged. ... The title given to this article is incorrect due to technical limitations. ...

References

  1. ^ a b Magendie, F (1843) An Elementary Treatise on Human Physiology. 5th Ed. Tr. John Revere. New York: Harper, p 150. Magendie refers to phrenology as "a pseudo-science of the present day" (note the hyphen).
  2. ^ "Pseudoscientific - pretending to be scientific, falsely represented as being scientific", from the Oxford American Dictionary, published by the Oxford English Dictionary.
  3. ^ "A pretended or spurious science; a collection of related beliefs about the world mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method or as having the status that scientific truths now have.", from the Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition 1989.
  4. ^ For example, Hewitt et al. Conceptual Physical Science Addison Wesley; 3 edition (July 18, 2003) ISBN 0-321-05173-4, Bennett et al. The Cosmic Perspective 3e Addison Wesley; 3 edition (July 25, 2003) ISBN 0-8053-8738-2
  5. ^ See also, e.g., Gauch HG Jr. Scientific Method in Practice (2003)
  6. ^ However, from the "them vs. us" polarization that its usage engenders, the term may also have a positive function because "[the] derogatory labeling of others often includes an unstated self-definition "(p.266); and, from this, the application of the term also implies "a unity of science, a privileged tree of knowledge or space from which the pseudoscience is excluded, and the user's right to belong is asserted " (p.286) -- Still A & Dryden W (2004) "The Social Psychology of "Pseudoscience": A Brief History", J Theory Social Behav 34:265-290
  7. ^ For example, Hewitt et al. Conceptual Physical Science Addison Wesley; 3 edition (July 18, 2003) ISBN 0-321-05173-4, Bennett et al. The Cosmic Perspective 3e Addison Wesley; 3 edition (July 25, 2003) ISBN 0-8053-8738-2
  8. ^ Memorial Resolution: Paul DeHart Hurd. www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/cubberley/collections/memorial.html retrieved 6 November. 2006
  9. ^ Hurd, P. D. (1998). "Scientific literacy: New minds for a changing world". Science Education, 82, 407–416.. Abstract online at www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/32148/ABSTRACT; retrieved 6 November. 2006
  10. ^ For example, a course is offered at the University of Maryland entitled "Science & Pseudoscience" [1]
  11. ^ The philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend in particular is associated with the view that attempts to distinguish science from non-science are flawed and pernicious. "The idea that science can, and should, be run according to fixed and universal rules, is both unrealistic and pernicious. ... the idea is detrimental to science, for it neglects the complex physical and historical conditions which influence scientific change. It makes our science less adaptable and more dogmatic:"[2]
  12. ^ e.g. Gauch HG Jr. Scientific Method in Practice (2003) 3-5 ff
  13. ^ Gauch (2003), 191 ff, especially Chapter 6, "Probability", and Chapter 7, "inductive Logic and Statistics"
  14. ^ Popper, KR (1959) "The Logic of Scientific Discovery".
  15. ^ Karl R. Popper: Science: Conjectures and Refutations. Conjectures and Refutations (1963), p. 43–86;
  16. ^ Thagard PR (1978) "Why astrology is a pseudoscience" (1978) In PSA 1978, Volume 1, ed. Asquith PD and Hacking I (East Lansing: Philosophy of Science Association, 1978) 223 ff.
  17. ^ Bunge M (1983) "Demarcating science from pseudoscience" Fundamenta Scientiae 3:369-388
  18. ^ Feyerabend P Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge (1975)[3]
  19. ^ For a perspective on Feyerabend from within the scientific community, see, e.g., Gauch (2003) at p.4: "Such critiques are unfamiliar to most scientists, although some may have heard a few distant shots from the so-called science wars."
  20. ^ Thagard PR (1978) "Why astrology is a pseudoscience" (1978) In PSA 1978, Volume 1, ed. Asquith PD and Hacking I (East Lansing: Philosophy of Science Association, 1978) 223 ff. Thagard writes, at 227, 228: "We can now propose the following principle of demarcation: A theory or discipline which purports to be scientific is pseudoscientific if and only if: it has been less progressive than alternative theories over a long period of time, and faces many unsolved problems; but the community of practitioners makes little attempt to develop the theory towards solutions of the problems, shows no concern for attempts to evaluate the theory in relation to others, and is selective in considering confirmations and non confirmations."
  21. ^ Cover JA, Curd M (Eds, 1998) Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues, 1-82
  22. ^ [4]
  23. ^ e.g. Gauch (2003) op cit at 211 ff (Probability, "Common Blunders")
  24. ^ Paul Montgomery Churchland, Matter and Consciousness: A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind (1999) MIT Press. p.90. "Most terms in theoretical physics, for example, do not enjoy at least some distinct connections with observables, but not of the simple sort that would permit operational definitions in terms of these observables. [..] If a restriction in favor of operational definitions were to be followed, therefore, most of theoretical physics would have to be dismissed as meaningless pseudoscience!"
  25. ^ Gauch HG Jr. (2003) op cit 269 ff, "Parsimony and Efficiency"
  26. ^ Hines T (1988) Pseudoscience and the Paranormal: A Critical Examination of the Evidence Buffalo NY: Prometheus Books. A Skeptical Inquirer Reader
  27. ^ Lakatos I (1970) "Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes." in Lakatos I, Musgrave A (eds) Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge pp 91-195; Popper KR (1959) The Logic of Scientific Discovery
  28. ^ e.g. Gauch (2003) op cit at 178 ff (Deductive Logic, "Fallacies"), and at 211 ff (Probability, "Common Blunders"). e.g. [5] Macmilllan Encyclopedia of Philosophy Vol 3, "Fallacies" 174 ff, esp. section on "Ignoratio elenchi"
  29. ^ Macmillan Encyclopedia of Philosophy Vol 3, "Fallacies" 174 'ff esp. 177-178
  30. ^ Bunge M (1983) Demarcating science from pseudoscience Fundamenta Scientiae 3:369-388, 381
  31. ^ Thagard (1978)op cit at 227, 228
  32. ^ Lilienfeld SO (2004) Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology Guildford Press (2004) ISBN 1-59385-070-0
  33. ^ Ruscio J (2001) Clear thinking with psychology: Separating sense from nonsense, Pacific Grove, CA: Wadsworth
  34. ^ Peer review and the acceptance of new scientific ideas (Warning 469 kB PDF)*Peer review – process, perspectives and the path ahead; Lilienfeld (2004) op cit For an opposing perspective, e.g. Peer Review as Scholarly Conformity
  35. ^ Ruscio (2001) op cit.
  36. ^ Gauch (2003) op cit 124 ff"
  37. ^ Gauch (2003) op cit 124 ff"
  38. ^ Lakatos I (1970) "Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes." in Lakatos I, Musgrave A (eds.) Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge 91-195; Thagard (1978) op cit writes: "We can now propose the following principle of demarcation: A theory or discipline which purports to be scientific is pseudoscientific if and only if: it has been less progressive than alternative theories over a long period of time, and faces many unsolved problems; but the community of practitioners makes little attempt to develop the theory towards solutions of the problems, shows no concern for attempts to evaluate the theory in relation to others, and is selective in considering confirmations and disconfirmations."
  39. ^ Hines T, Pseudoscience and the Paranormal: A Critical Examination of the Evidence, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1988. ISBN 0-87975-419-2. Thagard (1978) op cit 223 ff
  40. ^ name=Ruscio120>Ruscio J (2001) op cit. p120
  41. ^ The work Scientists Confront Velikovsky (1976) Cornell University, also delves into these features in some detail, as does the work of Thomas Kuhn, e.g. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) which also discusses some of the items on the list of characteristics of pseudoscience.
  42. ^ a b Devilly GJ (2005) Power therapies and possible threats to the science of psychology and psychiatry Austral NZ J Psych 39:437-445(9)
  43. ^ e.g. archivefreedom.org which claims that "The list of suppressed scientists even includes Nobel Laureates!"
  44. ^ [6] National Science Board. 2006. Science and Engineering Indicators 2006 Two volumes. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation (volume 1, NSB-06-01; NSB 06-01A)
  45. ^ e.g. Drenth (2003) [7]; Herbert JD, et al. (2000) Science and pseudoscience in the development of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: implications for clinical psychology. Clin Psychol Rev. 20:945-71 [PMID 11098395])
  46. ^ Norcross J.C. Garofalo. A. Koocher.G.P. (2006) Discredited psychological treatments and tests: a Delphi poll. Professional Psychology. Research and Practice, 37: 515-522.
  47. ^ Klee GD (2005) The Resurrection of Wilhelm Reich and Orgone Therapy The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice (Vol. 4, No. 1)" | available online
  48. ^ Gerald C. Davison, PhD, President of the American Psychological Association's Clinical Psychology Division [8];Davidson is reporting to the APA's clinical members on the Presidential Task Force's report on Evidence-Based Practices in Psychology (EBPP).
  49. ^ (Devilly 2005:439)
  50. ^ Atwood KC (2004) Naturopathy, pseudoscience, and medicine: myths and fallacies vs truth. Medscape Gen Med6:e53 available online
  51. ^ Stephen W. Hawking, Hawking on the Big Bang and Black Holes (1993) World Scientific Publishing Company, Page 1 See also [9] and [10].
  52. ^ For example: Smolin L The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next. Houghton Mifflin Company. (2006) ISBN 0-618-55105-0
  53. ^ Popper KR op. cit.
  54. ^ Gauch HG Jr (2003)op cit 3-7.
  55. ^ Cover JA, Curd M (Eds, 1998) Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues, 1-82
  56. ^ Kuhn TS "Logic of Discovery or Psychology of Research?" in Grim, op. cit. p. 125
  57. ^ Rothbart D "Demarcating Genuine Science from Pseudoscience", in Grim, op. cit. pp.114.
  58. ^ Rothbart, Daniel, op. cit. pp. 114-20.
  59. ^ Laudan L (1996) "The demise of the demarcation problem" in Ruse, Michael, But Is It Science?: The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy pp. 337-350.
  60. ^ McNally RJ (2003) Is the pseudoscience concept useful for clinical psychology? SRMHP Vol 2 Number 2 Fall/Winter[11]

The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is the most successful dictionary of the English language, (not to be confused with the one-volume Oxford Dictionary of English, formerly New Oxford Dictionary of English, of... The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is the most successful dictionary of the English language, (not to be confused with the one-volume Oxford Dictionary of English, formerly New Oxford Dictionary of English, of... The University of Maryland, College Park (also known as UM, UMD, or UMCP) is a public university located in the city of College Park, in Prince Georges County, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C., in the United States. ... Paul Karl Feyerabend (January 13, 1924 – February 11, 1994) was an Austrian-born philosopher of science best known for his work as a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked for three decades (1958-1989). ... The Logic of Scientific Discovery is a 1959 book by Karl Popper. ... Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge is a book written by philosopher Karl Popper. ... “PDF” redirects here. ... Thomas Samuel Kuhn (July 18, 1922 – June 17, 1996) was an American intellectual who wrote extensively on the history of science and developed several important notions in the philosophy of science. ...

Literature

  • Bauer, Henry H. (2000) Science or Pseudoscience University of Illinois Press
  • Beyerstein BL (1990) Brainscams: Neuromythologies of the New Age. Int'l. J. of Mental Health, 19(3):27-36.[13]
  • Georges Charpak (2004) Debunked!, Johns Hopkins University Press [ISBN 0-8018-7867-5]
  • Derksen, AA, (1993) The seven sins of pseudo-science J Gen Phil Sci 24:17-42. [14]
  • Derksen AA (2001) The seven strategies of the sophisticated pseudo-scientist: a look into Freud's rhetorical toolbox,J Gen Phil Sci 32:329-50
  • Gardner M (1983) Science – Good, Bad and Bogus Oxford University Press, Oxford
  • Gauch Jr Hugh G (2002) Scientific Method in Practice, Cambridge University Press [ISBN-13 978-0521017084]
  • Hansson SO (1996) Defining pseudoscience Philosophia naturalis 33:169-76
  • Joseph J (2002) Twin studies in psychiatry and psychology: science or pseudoscience? Psychiatric Quarterly 73:71-82[15]
  • Martin M (1994) Pseudoscience, the paranormal, and science education Science & Education 3:1573-901 [16]
  • Ostrander.G.K, Cheng,K.C, Wolf.J.C. WolfeM.J. Shark Cartilage, Cancer and the Growing Threat of Pseudoscience. Cancer Research 64, 8485-8491, December 1, 2004
  • Sampson W, Beyerstein BL (1996) Traditional medicine and pseudoscience in China Skeptical Inquirer Sept-Oct
  • Sagan, Carl (1996) The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle In the Dark
  • Shermer M (2002) Why People Believe Weird Things – Pseudoscience, superstition, and other confusions of our time New York
  • Wilson F (2000) The Logic and Methodology of Science and Pseudoscience, Canadian Scholars Press [ISBN 1-55130-175-X]

Georges Charpak (born August 1, 1924) is a Polish-French physicist and Nobel Prize in Physics winner. ... is the 335th day of the year (336th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark is a 1997 book by Carl Sagan. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Pseudoscience and pseudoskepticism, biomorph fallacies, james randi, randi's $1 million,fallacious aircrashes, shc (386 words)
Pseudoscience is a term often used by those describing themselves as skeptics and attacking those who investigate new and anomalous phenomena.
This first kind of pseudoscience, the most common kind, is harmless, because it is in the nature of scientific debate that bad science is driven out by good.
The second kind of pseudoscience is far more dangerous because it is promulgated by professional scientists who should and do know better, and hence is likely (indeed is intended) to be widely believed by lay people.
Pseudoscience - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (4602 words)
Critics of pseudoscience such as Richard Dawkins, Mario Bunge, Carl Sagan, and James Randi consider almost all forms of pseudoscience to be harmful, whether or not they result in immediate harm to their adherents.
Proponents of a pseudoscience frequently neglect this principle and demand that skeptics demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that a claim (e.g., an assertion regarding the efficacy of a novel therapeutic technique) is false.
Dianetics (The pseudoscience of Scientology.) (EOP 2000:82-83; Carroll 2003:99-102)
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