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What is Pseudoscience? 
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Post What is Pseudoscience?
Good brief article from Scientific American by Michael Shermer.

What is Pseudoscience?
published September 2011 |

CLIMATE DENIERS ARE ACCUSED OF PRACTICING PSEUDOSCIENCE, as are intelligent design creationists, astrologers, UFOlogists, parapsychologists, practitioners of alternative medicine, and often anyone who strays far from the scientific mainstream. The boundary problem between science and pseudoscience, in fact, is notoriously fraught with definitional disagreements because the categories are too broad and fuzzy on the edges, and the term “pseudoscience” is subject to adjectival abuse against any claim one happens to dislike for any reason. In his 2010 book Nonsense on Stilts (University of Chicago Press), philosopher of science Massimo Pigliucci concedes that there is “no litmus test,” because “the boundaries separating science, nonscience, and pseudoscience are much fuzzier and more permeable than Popper (or, for that matter, most scientists) would have us believe.”

It was Karl Popper who first identified what he called “the demarcation problem” of finding a criterion to distinguish between empirical science, such as the successful 1919 test of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and pseudoscience, such as Freud’s theories, whose adherents sought only confirming evidence while ignoring disconfirming cases. Einstein’s theory might have been falsified had solar-eclipse data not shown the requisite deflection of starlight bent by the sun’s gravitational field. Freud’s theories, however, could never be disproved, because there was no testable hypothesis open to refutability. Thus, Popper famously declared “falsifiability” as the ultimate criterion of demarcation.

The problem is that many sciences are nonfalsifiable, such as string theory, the neuroscience surrounding consciousness, grand economic models and the extraterrestrial hypothesis. On the last, short of searching every planet around every star in every galaxy in the cosmos, can we ever say with certainty that E.T.s do not exist?

Princeton University historian of science Michael D. Gordin adds in his forthcoming book The Pseudoscience Wars (University of Chicago Press, 2012), “No one in the history of the world has ever self-identified as a pseudoscientist. There is no person who wakes up in the morning and thinks to himself, ‘I’ll just head into my pseudolaboratory and perform some pseudoexperiments to try to confirm my pseudotheories with pseudofacts.’” As Gordin documents with detailed examples, “individual scientists (as distinct from the monolithic ‘scientific community’) designate a doctrine a ‘pseudoscience’ only when they perceive themselves to be threatened—not necessarily by the new ideas themselves, but by what those ideas represent about the authority of science, science’s access to resources, or some other broader social trend. If one is not threatened, there is no need to lash out at the perceived pseudoscience; instead, one continues with one’s work and happily ignores the cranks.”

I call creationism “pseudoscience” not because its proponents are doing bad science—they are not doing science at all—but because they threaten science education in America, they breach the wall separating church and state, and they confuse the public about the nature of evolutionary theory and how science is conducted.

Here, perhaps, is a practical criterion for resolving the demarcation problem: the conduct of scientists as reflected in the pragmatic usefulness of an idea. That is, does the revolutionary new idea generate any interest on the part of working scientists for adoption in their research programs, produce any new lines of research, lead to any new discoveries, or influence any existing hypotheses, models, paradigms or world views? If not, chances are it is pseudoscience.

We can demarcate science from pseudoscience less by what science is and more by what scientists do. Science is a set of methods aimed at testing hypotheses and building theories. If a community of scientists actively adopts a new idea and if that idea then spreads through the field and is incorporated into research that produces useful knowledge reflected in presentations, publications, and especially new lines of inquiry and research, chances are it is science.

This demarcation criterion of usefulness has the advantage of being bottom up instead of top down, egalitarian instead of elitist, nondiscriminatory instead of prejudicial. Let science consumers in the marketplace of ideas determine what constitutes good science, starting with the scientists themselves and filtering through science editors, educators and readers. As for potential consumers of pseudoscience, that’s what skeptics are for, but as always, caveat emptor.

http://www.michaelshermer.com/2011/09/w ... doscience/


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Post Re: What is Pseudoscience?
DWill wrote:
many sciences are nonfalsifiable, such as string theory, the neuroscience surrounding consciousness, grand economic models and the extraterrestrial hypothesis


Honest proponents of these ideas do not claim for them more than the evidence warrants. The distinction is that pseudoscience claims access to knowledge where independent observers fail to find it.

It is not right to call a "grand economic model" a science. It contains scientific content, but it always involves assumptions which are not purely evidentiary, especially those resting on human motivation and incentive.
DWill wrote:
scientists (as distinct from the monolithic ‘scientific community’) designate a doctrine a ‘pseudoscience’ only when they perceive themselves to be threatened

This is a surprising comment, and one that looks rather insulting towards scientists. I don't accept that scientists see pseudoscience as a threat to them; the threat is more about deluding innocent victims into believing falsehoods.

I would like to comment on two areas listed as pseudoscience, astrology and UFOs. There is no doubt much discussion in these fields is pseudoscientific. This has created the situation where anyone who suggests there may be some real basis for any of their claims is viewed with suspicion, to say the least. With astrology, the failure to find any reliable convincing statistically measurable evidence is a serious blow. But this only proves that planetary effects are too weak for existing methods to measure, not that they do not exist. Similarly with UFOs, the sporadic nature of claimed sightings makes evidence very hard to come by.

There is a need to distinguish between claims that are possible and claims that are impossible. If a claim is physically possible, we should be more careful about condemning the entire subject as fake. There is a tendency in the scientific community to jump to pronounce guilt by association, seeing a subject as cranky and so assuming that all research on the topic is equally tainted.


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Post Re: What is Pseudoscience?
Robert, you should replace your "DWill wrote" with "Michael Shermer wrote," though I'd be happy to be able claim the piece as my own. I also was surprised at first that Shermer cited threat as the spur to scientists deciding to battle against pseudoscience. But then it made sense to me. They see themselves as engaged in a pursuit with others who uphold common standards of methodology and evidence. Pretenders who try to hitch a ride on science can do various kinds of damage, but only if they gain influence. As Shermer can tell us as well as anyone, humans always have believed in weird things and always will.

I believe you have expressed a degree of distrust of the scientific community's ability to screen out, fairly, those findings and would-be theories that are scientifically weak or bogus. Shermer says that confidence in the community to do this is justified. He says that the best detector of pseudoscience is the very lack of any significant response to a contribution, and that the inability of that contribution to engage with current work and thinking is a good indicator that it is scientifically wanting. This mechanism isn't perfect, but it has seemed to work well. What truths about our world has it conspired to exclude? Regarding astrology, whereas you would cite prejudice (I think) as a cause of lack of attention, Shermer would say that collectively the community has rightly judged that there are many more promising areas in which to spend limited resources.

What Shermer doesn't mention as pseudoscience is the misapplication of science that can range from sloppy to fraudulent. I have trouble seeing this as essentially different from pseudoscience. Neuroscience is all the rage now, for example, so it seems that anyone wanting to make a name in self-help can pepper his discourse with jargon and tentative findings on neurotransmitters, etc., and make money. Another common misuse is to apply scientific findings in a broader context than that in which they were first presented.


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Post Re: What is Pseudoscience?
Pseudo science doesn't have to be tied to any subject.

After all, you can do real science about UFO's, bigfoot, auras, telekinetics and astrology.

Pseudo science is claiming to have done science, and claiming the verifiability, demonstrability, repeatability and success of the scientific method when in fact no effort has been undertaken to adhere to those standards.

Pseudo science is claiming to have proof of things which you merely have faith in, or finding a foot print and claiming that as irrefutable proof of the sasquatch.

It's dangerous because it gleans the edges of science. So vocabulary, the white lab coats, the "Dr. and Prof." at the beginning of a name and uses the people's trust in the widespread success of actual science to piggy back wild speculation and wishful thinking into the public realm as though it had been vetted the way actual science has been vetted. It's a dupe. A con-job. It's the difference between biology and creation "science". putting science on the end of something does not make it so, and that is the problem of pseudo science.


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Have you tried that? Looking for answers?
Or have you been content to be terrified of a thing you know nothing about?

Are you pushing your own short comings on us and safely hating them from a distance?

Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?

Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?

Confidence being an expectation built on past experience, evidence and extrapolation to the future. Faith being an expectation held in defiance of past experience and evidence.


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Post Re: What is Pseudoscience?
In two words Evolutionary Theory no matter what the Materialist reductionist claim they are just holding onto an ideology:


When Walter Elsasser, a nuclear physicist accustomed to the mathematical rigor of Boltzmann, Einstein and Schrödinger, decided to find out for himself if biology can be brought under the disciplined yoke of physics, he ran head first into what can only be described as Mount Impossible.

Small-scale physics depends on the fact that elements of a given type are identical. Quantum mechanics works because electrons, for example, are all interchangeable, as are protons, neutrons, photons and so on. The same goes for each type of atom and molecule. But biological compounds are classed together on the basis of similarity, not identity. Examine blood, bone, muscle, brain, gland, etc., and the ratios of its chemical constituents will vary wildly from person to person, including genetically
identical twins. In the face of infinite shades of sameness and difference, the methodology of physics is useless. We are real. We cannot be abstracted. Such is life.

No living creature will ever be reduced to physics. There will never be a nice set of equations to solve in order to predict the overall workings of a cell, much less the vast structures it weaves as it duplicates during development. Though biophysics can account for a variety of discrete cellular processes, a point-to-point causal explanation of how DNA builds bodies is beyond the reach of physical analysis. By making the safe assumption of a strictly chemo-mechanical emergence of the body from its DNA, biologists placed themselves beyond testability and therefore beyond science. It’s not so much that reductionist theory is dead but that there was never a theory to begin with. From the day it hatched from the positivist mind of August Weismann, mechanistic biology was a chimera.
Ted Dace



Last edited by Mr Erickson65 on Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:58 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:58 am
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Post Re: What is Pseudoscience?
Mr Erickson65 wrote:
No living creature will ever be reduced to physics. There will never be a nice set of equations to solve in order to predict the overall workings of a cell, much less the vast structures it weaves as it duplicates during development. Though biophysics can account for a variety of discrete cellular processes, a point-to-point causal explanation of how DNA builds bodies is beyond the reach of physical analysis. By making the safe assumption of a strictly chemo-mechanical emergence of the body from its DNA, biologists placed themselves beyond testability and therefore beyond science. It’s not so much that reductionist theory is dead but that there was never a theory to begin with. From the day it hatched from the positivist mind of August Weismann, mechanistic biology was a chimera.
Ted Dace


I'm not sure who you are arguing against, but this is a misunderstanding of reductionism and science. No one is trying to reduce biology to physics, and that is certainly not what evolutionary theory is doing.

In order to explain the evidence for whale evolution, for example, do you really think scientists are trying to do it at the atomic, or quantum level? That would be pointless, if it was even possible. They are looking at DNA and fossil evidence, there is no reason to reduce it any further.

It would be like saying, I've got a good explanation for why interest rates have increased. Lots of atoms have moved from here to there. No one thinks that would be a good explanation, even though everything involved is made of atoms.



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Post Re: What is Pseudoscience?
I'm not sure who you are arguing against,

I am not arguing against anyone I am merely pointing out that evolutionary theory is pseudoscience it cannot be falsified and like Dace stated its just a chimera no matter how much people want to believe its all true. Its no more than the projection of mind, these guys see what they want to see believing is seeing and the paradigm shift which is taking place is going to show the pseudoskeptics exactly that.

“Scientists who go about teaching that evolution is a fact of life are great con-men, and the story they are telling may be the greatest hoax ever. In explaining evolution, we do not have one iota of fact.”
Dr. T. N. Tahmisian



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Post Re: What is Pseudoscience?
"evolutionary theory is pseudoscience it cannot be falsified."

Oh my.


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Post Re: What is Pseudoscience?
Mr Erickson65 wrote:
these guys see what they want to see believing is seeing and the paradigm shift which is taking place is going to show the pseudoskeptics exactly that. [/b]


I won't bother trying to tell you about the evidence for evolution -- it's out there if you're really interested -- but I'm curious, what is this paradigm shift?



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Post Re: What is Pseudoscience?
I won't bother trying to tell you about the evidence for evolution -- it's out there if you're really interested -- but I'm curious, what is this paradigm shift?

That is your problem you claim its out there, hence its being projected.

The paradigm is being changed and has been since the advent of quantum physics. They now know that Consciousness not matter is the primary substance of the universe. The Universe is one giant thought and the Newtonian mechanistic paradigm is breaking down.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Self-Aware-Univ ... 0874777984

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mind-into-Matte ... 160&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Waning-Mate ... 198&sr=1-1



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Post Re: What is Pseudoscience?
Quote:
They now know that Consciousness not matter is the primary substance of the universe.


The only people who "know" this are whackjobs. What evidence can you show of this consciousness?

Since the only vessel we have to understand the universe contains our consciousness, many mistakenly become blind to the threshold between their mind and their reality.

Quote:
That is your problem you claim its out there, hence its being projected.


What do you mean when you use the word "projected"? Use your own words, don't copy/paste.


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Post Re: What is Pseudoscience?
Evolution is not psuedoscience. In fact it is the bedrock of biology, has been put to the test and is put to the test on a daily basis consciously for the last two hundred years, and subconsciously for the last 40,000 or so since the beginning of domestication.

It is readily apparent in the study of genetics, taxonomy, farming, geography, paleontology, embriology, livestock breeding, and ancestry.


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In the absence of God, I found Man.
-Guillermo Del Torro

Have you tried that? Looking for answers?
Or have you been content to be terrified of a thing you know nothing about?

Are you pushing your own short comings on us and safely hating them from a distance?

Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?

Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?

Confidence being an expectation built on past experience, evidence and extrapolation to the future. Faith being an expectation held in defiance of past experience and evidence.


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Post Re: What is Pseudoscience?
If you are having trouble understanding evolution, or have specific questions, i will be happy to try to answer them.

Check out this thread for a running discussion on evolution.

yes-evolution-t8939.html


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In the absence of God, I found Man.
-Guillermo Del Torro

Have you tried that? Looking for answers?
Or have you been content to be terrified of a thing you know nothing about?

Are you pushing your own short comings on us and safely hating them from a distance?

Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?

Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?

Confidence being an expectation built on past experience, evidence and extrapolation to the future. Faith being an expectation held in defiance of past experience and evidence.


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Post Re: What is Pseudoscience?
This is a fascinating discussion and topic. I have always viewed pseudoscientests as those who make claims they have absolutely no evidnece for, and when chanllenged, rebut with someting like "They laughed at (Pastuer, Einstiein, etc.)."

On many of these subjects, I have a opinion, but am open to persuation otherwise. My problem is with those who assert "My mind is made up; don't try to confuse me with facts."

I will close with a brief comment on UFOs. I believe in extraterrestrial life; the universe is just to big to think otherwise. However, I also do not believe we have been visisted, for precisely the same reason. I also know the debate will not be settled until a 'flying saucer' lands in Central Park (spot picked at random), and E.T. steps out and says "I come in peace."



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Post Re: What is Pseudoscience?
Interbane wrote:
Quote:
They now know that Consciousness not matter is the primary substance of the universe.


The only people who "know" this are whackjobs. What evidence can you show of this consciousness?

Since the only vessel we have to understand the universe contains our consciousness, many mistakenly become blind to the threshold between their mind and their reality.

Quote:
That is your problem you claim its out there, hence its being projected.


What do you mean when you use the word "projected"? Use your own words, don't copy/paste.


I thought I just answered this but maybe it was on another thread. The word projected was written by me it is my own word. and its explained here by scientists and philosophers in some detail which is well worth reading. The old saying seeing is believing is back to front:


http://www.selfdiscoveryportal.com/Conquest.htm



Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:27 am
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