MST 101

Math, Science & Technology

Spring, 2006

Characteristics of Pseudoscience

 

 

“A pseudoscience is an established body of knowledge which masquerades as science in an attempt to claim a legitimacy which it would not otherwise be able to achieve on its own terms; it is often known as fringe- or alternative  science. The most important of its defects is usually the lack of the carefully controlled and thoughtfully interpreted experiments which provide the foundation of the natural sciences and which contribute to their advancement.”

Lower, Steven. "Pseudoscience." Chem 1 Concepts . 29 Aug. 2005. 21 Jan. 2006
<http://www.chem1.com/acad/sci/pseudosci.html>.

One of the most confusing things about pseudoscience is the "proof." The practitioners of this fake field claim that they have indisputable "proof" confirming their beliefs. The anecdotal evidence seems to show a 100% success rate. This "evidence" is often so compelling that the average citizen cannot help but believe, and when trusted newspapers and television news programs report this information as fact . . .  

Below is a list of questions you should ask yourself when investigating a new "scientific" topic. These questions will help you to separate the good science from the sham.

Modified from: Moller, Lee, "BCS Debates a Qi Gong Master," Rational Enquirer, Vol 6, No. 4, Apr. 94.

Look for other characteristics of pseudoscience under the “Balloney Detection Page: http://www.physics.smu.edu/%7Epseudo/baloney.html

Another useful site is http://www.chem1.com/acad/sci/pseudosci.html