Tech UPTechnologyThe most famous pseudosciences (and what you should avoid)

The most famous pseudosciences (and what you should avoid)

Climate change deniers are accused of practicing pseudoscience, as are intelligent design creationists, astrologers, ufologists, parapsychologists, alternative medicine practitioners, and often anyone who strays from mainstream science. The problem lies in the boundary between science and pseudoscience; for, in fact, it is notoriously fraught with defining disagreements because the categories are too broad and confusing, and the term “pseudoscience” is subject to adjective abuse against any claim that one dislikes for any reason.


Many scientists recognize that the boundaries between science and pseudoscience are much more diffuse and permeable than many want to believe.

He was the Austrian philosopherKarl Popperwho identified what he called “thedemarcation problem“as an object 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 the theories of Sigmund Freud, whose followers only sought to confirm the evidence by ignoring the cases that were not confirmed. Einstein’s theory could have been falsified if the solar eclipse data did not show the necessary deflection of starlight bent by the sun’s gravitational field. Freud’s theories, however, could never be disproved, because they cannot there was no testable hypothesis open to refutability. Therefore,Popper stated that “falsifiability” is the ultimate demarcation criterion. Scientific theories are not falsifiable.

The problem is that many sciences are not unforgeable, such as string theory, the neuroscience surrounding consciousness, large economic models, and the extraterrestrial hypothesis. Regarding the latter, in the absence of searching every planet around every star in every galaxy in the cosmos, could we ever say with certainty that aliens don’t exist?

According to Princeton University science historian Michael D. Gordin “No one in the history of the world has self-identified as a pseudoscientist. There is no person who wakes up in the morning and thinks to himself: I will go to my pseudo-laboratory and perform some pseudo-experiments to try to confirm my pseudo-theories with pseudo-factors. “

pseudoscience confuses the public about the nature of evolutionary theory and how science develops.

Here, perhaps, there is a practical criterion for solving the problem of demarcation: the behavior of scientists reflected in the pragmatic utility of an idea. That is, does the new idea generate interest from scientists working towards its adoption in their research programs, produce new lines of research, lead to new discoveries, or influence existing hypotheses, models, paradigms, or worldviews? If the answer is no, it is likely a pseudoscience.

Thus, science is a set of methods designed to test hypotheses and build theories. If a community of scientists actively adopts a new idea and if that idea is spread across different fields and incorporated into research that produces useful knowledge reflected in presentations, publications, and especially new lines of research, it is most likely science. .

Determining what pseudoscience is is not discriminatory, but not doing it is harmful to society.



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