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Old 03-25-2009, 03:59 PM   #1
Vaelastraz
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Science and Pseudo-science!

Hi,

I thought it'd be interesting to have a thread on science and pseudo-science and how to distinguish the former from the latter.

I guess one popular approach to this problem of demarcation is Popper's account of falsifiability, ie a hypothesis is scientific if and only if its falsity can be shown by observation or empirical evidence.

But there are differing opinions among philosophers and scientists, and this is probably also true in this forum. I'd be interested in reading them.
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Old 03-25-2009, 04:20 PM   #2
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It's easy. What I say is true, and what someone else that disagrees with me says is false.

lol, jk. I want to see some responses first before I make some comments. *sits back and props up feet*




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Old 03-25-2009, 06:22 PM   #3
Vaelastraz
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It's easy. What I say is true, and what someone else that disagrees with me says is false.
I know you didn't mean that seriously but perhaps it's best to clarify something. A hypothesis can be perfectly scientific and false.
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Old 03-30-2009, 01:29 AM   #4
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Meh. As far as I'm concerned there is science and then there is everything else. I think the term "pseudo-science" is redundant. If people are practicing science, then it's science and if they are not then they are not. Why make things more complicated than they need to be?

P.S. Point of Inquiry???
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Old 03-30-2009, 02:08 AM   #5
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I've always considered pseudoscience to be that which pretends to be science. Good examples are 'intelligent design,' cold fusion (for the most part), perpetual energy, ufology, homeopathy, and so on.

Each of these make liberal use of scientific sounding jargon and give the pretense of doing "science," but their methodologies ultimately fail. Often because of the conclusions the begin with and the subsequent cherry picking of data (and, often, just making data up) that fits the conclusions -completely ignoring data that doesn't.


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Old 03-30-2009, 02:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Often because of the conclusions the begin with and the subsequent cherry picking of data (and, often, just making data up) that fits the conclusions -completely ignoring data that doesn't.
Which means that it isn't science
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Old 03-30-2009, 02:19 AM   #7
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Which means that it isn't science
Definitely not, but there's a lot of utility in defining something as a fake-science (i.e. pseudoscience) when it comes to educating the public. With a term like pseudoscience, you can both declare a concept as not-science and also explain that it is an attempt at deception. This for the price of a single term.

That, and if we do away with "pseudoscience," that means I'll have to go back and edit a lot of posts on my blog!


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Old 03-30-2009, 02:28 AM   #8
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I can see the reasoning behind your argument, but that doesn't mean I have to like what you're saying.

While I can see how having a "fake term" can help to distinguish for the layman, I think that we also have to be aware that it can also lend credibility for another subset of layman. Where does the discussion go if we were to introduce the analogy of "pseudo-breathing" or "pseudo-being pregnant"?

If our purpose is to pander, then I guess I should just get over it and accept that the term serves some use. If our purpose is to educate, then I think we hurt ourselves by slipping into bad habits which make the task ultimately more difficult. I really do think "It's either science or it's not" should be simple enough for everyone to understand ("should" is such a dangerous word).

My 2 cents.
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Old 04-09-2009, 08:38 AM   #9
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I've always considered pseudoscience to be that which pretends to be science. Good examples are 'intelligent design,' cold fusion (for the most part), perpetual energy, ufology, homeopathy, and so on.
Hm.. I'm not awfully familiar with homoeopathy, for example, but if proponents claim that their medicine works, state a hypothesis to that effect, deduce a necessary fact from the hypothesis and test for it..

I don't see why a hypothesis like "unbelievably diluted substances cure this and that" can't be a scientific hypothesis.
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Old 04-09-2009, 11:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelastraz View Post
I don't see why a hypothesis like "unbelievably diluted substances cure this and that" can't be a scientific hypothesis.
It can be, it just very frequently isn't.
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