The title is incorrectly spelled. Please correct from "Psuedoscience" to "Pseudoscience".
- Done. Thanks for the note. --HappyCamper 19:59, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
can of worms
Long standing revert wars and other editorial conflicts arose on Wikipedia over this topic. Studying the topic of pseudoscience (i.e, non-science masquerading as science) is appropriate on Wikiversity, but this topic is often dogmatically approached, by "debunkers," whose focus is on discrediting what they disagree with. See w:Pseudoskepticism and our resource Pseudoskepticism for some balance.
"Pseudoscience" is sometimes loosely used to refer to any non scientific belief or practice, including religion or quasi-religious belief.
The tag gets applied to, for example, the w:Paranormal. Consider w:CSICOP, the "Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal." At least some of the founders of CSICP were true skeptics, who did not forget to be skeptical of their own beliefs as well, hence "scientific investigation," which is, by definition, open-minded. It proceeds through testing of claims, and never settles on a particular test result as utterly and finally conclusive. Science is not about forming belief, but about forming predictive theory and testing it. When a test confirms a theory, the theory progresses toward acceptance or further acceptance, normally, and when it disconfirms a theory, the theory regresses, that's all. It is always possible that the theory wasn't exactly wrong, but incomplete, the test encountered a not-understood exception, etc.
This is all well-known to genuine scientists and sociologists of science, but not necessary well-understood by contemptuous debunkers.
Many "paranormal" claims can be scientifically tested. Some might not be. That does not make the paranormal itself pseudoscientific, because the paranormal is an asserted class of exceptional phenomena, and is not a specific theory or body of belief. A specific theory of the paranormal may be pseudoscientific, taking on the trappings of science, but the judgment of "pseudoscience" is often simply subjective polemic.
We will study pseudoscience as a topic here. We may study the application of that label to various fields and social practices, including "debunking," which often makes pseudoscientific claims.
Carl Sagan wrote wikiquote:Carl Sagan,
- It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas … If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you … On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones. --"The Burden of Skepticism" in Skeptical Inquirer Vol. 12, Issue 1 (Fall 1987)
Richard Dawkins is reported as having written:
- There's this thing called being so open-minded your brains drop out.
He was quoting someone else, obviously. I have seen the comment attributed to Carl Sagan, but have also seen a story that someone said it to Sagan when he made some friendly, open-minded approach or comment on those investigating UFOs. I.e., they were warning Sagan. I.e., there are obviously ideas that are so dangerous that we should not be open-minded about them, lest our minds rot and our brains drop out.
Interesting idea, eh? There is such an idea, and it's very simple: "You are wrong, I'm right." It definitely rots the brain, causing it to become highly dysfunctional, serving only the cause of uncovering "the proof" that I'm right and you are wrong. All other evidence is discarded as misleading or irrelevant.