Science and Ideology

Detecting Pseudoscience

astrology-chartPseudoscience is often characterized by the use of vague, contradictory, exaggerated or unprovable claims, an over-reliance on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by other experts, and a general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories.

Indicators of pseudoscience:

  1. Use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims – paranormal activity, ESP, intelligent design
  2. Over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation – acupuncture, alchemy
  3. Lack of openness to testing by other experts – cold fusion, acupuncture, intelligent design
  4. Absence of progress – astrology, acupuncture
  5. Personalization of issues – astrology, acupuncture, gun control, intelligent design
  6. Use of misleading language – homeopathy, intelligent design
  7. Misrepresentation of data – fracking, nuclear power, gun control

‘It becomes pseudoscientific when science cannot be separated from ideology, scientists misrepresent scientific findings to promote or draw attention for publicity, when politicians, journalists and a nation’s intellectual elite distort the facts of science for short-term political gain, when powerful individuals in the public conflate causation and cofactors (for example, in the causes of HIV/AIDS) through a mixture of clever wordplay, or when science is being used by the powerful to promote ignorance rather than tackle ignorance. These ideas reduce the authority, value, integrity and independence of science in society.’ (Wikipedia)

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