"You can see a lot just by observing." -Yogi Berra
Welcome to the Wikiversity learning project about Pseudoscience.
A pseudoscience adopts some of the forms that are associated with science, but not the scientific method.
How can you recognize pseudoscience?
- Has the subject shown progress?
- Does the discipline use technical words such as "vibration" or "energy" without clearly defining what they mean?
- Would accepting the tenets of a claim require you to abandon any well established physical laws?
- Are popular articles on the subject lacking in references?
- Is the only evidence offered anecdotal in nature?
- Does the proponent of the subject claim that "air-tight" experiments have been performed that prove the truth of the subject matter, and that cheating would have been impossible?
- Are the results of the aforementioned experiments successfully repeated by other researchers?
- Does the proponent of the subject claim to be overly or unfairly criticized?
- Is the subject taught only in non-credit institutions?
- Are the best texts on the subject decades old?
- Does the proponent of the claim use what one writer has called "factuals" - statements that are a largely or wholly true but unrelated to the claim?
- When criticized, do the defenders of the claim attack the critic rather than the criticism?
- Does the proponent make appeals to history (i.e. it has been around a long time, so it must be true)?
- Does the subject display the "shyness effect" (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't)?
- Does the proponent use the appeal to ignorance argument ("there are more things under heaven … than are dreamed of in your philosophy …")?
- Does the proponent use alleged expertise in other areas to lend weight to the claim?
Readings. Read the Wikipedia article on pseudoscience and the List of pseudosciences and pseudoscientific concepts.
List and discuss any examples of pseudosciences that you think should not be on this list.
Are there other pseudosciences the should be added to the list of pseudosciences?
Read and discuss the Wedge strategy.
- A community experiment with fully open and published peer review by Eugene V. Koonin, Laura F. Landweber and David J. Lipman in Biology Direct (2006) Volume 1, page 1.
- Science and fundamentalism by Massimo Pigliucci in EMBO Reports (2005) Volume 6, pages 1106–1109.