What is Pseudoscience?
A Nurturing Potential report
are some quotations lifted from the Internet
1. Science is having an interesting idea about something, then going out of your way to prove yourself wrong. Pseudoscience is having an interesting idea about something, then going out of your way to prove yourself right.
is an established body of knowledge that masquerades as science in an
attempt to claim a legitimacy that it would not otherwise be able to achieve.
3. Some people consider some or all forms of pseudoscience to be harmless entertainment. Others, such as Richard Dawkins, consider all forms of pseudoscience to be harmful, whether or not they result in immediate harm to their followers.
4. The word "pseudo" means fake. The surest way to spot a fake is to know as much as possible about the real thing -- in this case, about science itself. Knowing science does not mean simply knowing scientific facts (such as the distance from earth to sun, the age of the earth, the distinction between mammal and reptile, etc.) It means understanding the nature of science -- the criteria of evidence, the design of meaningful experiments, the weighing of possibilities, the testing of hypotheses, the establishment of theories, the many aspects of scientific methods that make it possible to draw reliable conclusions about the physical universe.
a. Pseudoscience displays an indifference to facts.
b. Pseudoscience "research" is invariably sloppy.
c. Pseudoscience begins with a hypothesis -- usually one which is appealing emotionally, and spectacularly implausible -- and then looks only for items which appear to support it
d. Pseudoscience is indifferent to criteria of valid evidence.
e. Pseudoscience relies heavily on subjective validation.
Pseudoscience depends on arbitrary conventions of human
culture, rather than on unchanging regularities of nature.
g. Pseudoscience always achieves a reduction to absurdity if pursued far enough.
h. Pseudoscience always avoids putting its claims to a meaningful test.
i. Pseudoscience often contradicts itself, even in its own terms.
Pseudoscience deliberately creates mystery where none
exists, by omitting crucial information and important details.
Pseudoscience attempts to persuade with rhetoric, propaganda, and
misrepresentation rather than valid evidence
l. Pseudoscientists often appeal to the ancient human habit of magical thinking.
SOME CRITICAL COMPARISONS OF SCIENCE AND PSEUDOSCIENCE
1. The primary goal of science is to achieve a more complete and more unified understanding of the physical world.
Pseudosciences are more likely to be
driven by ideological, cultural, or commercial goals
2. Most scientific fields are the subjects of intense research which result in the continual expansion of knowledge in the discipline.
The field has evolved very little since
it was first established. The small amount of research and experimentation that
is carried out is generally done more to justify the belief than to extend it.
3. Workers in the field commonly seek out counterexamples or findings that appear to be inconsistent with accepted theories.
In the pseudosciences, a challenge to
accepted dogma is often considered a hostile act if not heresy, and leads to
bitter disputes or even schisms.
Observations or data that are not consistent with current scientific
understanding, once shown to be credible, generate intense interest among
scientists and stimulate additional studies.
Observations or data that are not
consistent with established beliefs tend to be ignored or actively suppressed.
Science is a process in which each principle must be tested in the crucible of
experience and remains subject to being questioned or rejected at any time
The major tenets and principles of the
field are often not falsifiable, and are unlikely ever to be altered or shown to
Scientific ideas and concepts must stand or fall on their own merits, based on
existing knowledge and on evidence
Pseudoscientific concepts tend to be
shaped by individual egos and personalities, almost always by individuals who
are not in contact with mainstream science. They often invoke authority (a
famous name, for example) for support
Scientific explanations must be stated in clear, unambiguous terms
Pseudoscientific explanations tend to be vague and ambiguous, often
invoking scientific terms in dubious contexts.