What is Pseudoscience?


The Skeptic's Dictionary response and others



Pseudoscientists claim to base their theories on empirical evidence, and they may even use some scientific methods, though often their understanding of a controlled experiment is inadequate. Many pseudoscientists relish being able to point out the consistency of their theories with known facts or with predicted consequences, but they do not recognize that such consistency is not proof of anything. It is a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition that a good scientific theory be consistent with the facts. A theory which is contradicted by the facts is obviously not a very good scientific theory, but a theory which is consistent with the facts is not necessarily a good theory. For example, "the truth of the hypothesis that plague is due to evil spirits is not established by the correctness of the deduction that you can avoid the disease by keeping out of the reach of the evil spirits" (Beveridge 1957, 118).

[From the article in the Skeptic's Dictionary http://skepdic.com/pseudosc.html 

Ronald L. Park in the Chronicle Review of January 31, 2003, identifies seven warning signs of bogus science.  These are:

1.  Pitching the claim directly to the media.

2.  Claiming that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.

3.  The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection, e.g. there is no really clear picture of the Loch Ness monster.

4.  Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.

5.  The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries.

6.  The discoverer has worked in isolation.

7.  The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.

[The entire article will be found at http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i21/21b02001.htm]