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Pseudoscience

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Pseudoscience, literally "fake science", is something that is presented as science but that is unworthy of that title. Though some philosophers of science have argued about the "demarcation problem" between science and pseudoscience, one can nevertheless interpret pseudoscience as shoddy science or failed science or fatally-flawed science. There are several features that are typical of pseudoscience:

  • Unwillingness to revise or self-correct
  • Experimental results continually being borderline without improvement
  • Special pleading, like claiming that normal scientific methods cannot be used in the field
  • Theories that are vague and/or unfalsifiable
  • Concern with confirmation at the expense of falsification
  • Unwillingness to accept the burden of proof
  • Casual approach to evidence, like collecting anecdotes instead of more systematic approaches
  • Research by literary interpretation, like interpreting myths and legends, and quote-mining mainstream scientists
  • Claiming to restore old theories
  • The revolutionary nature of the theory and its advocates being scientific revolutionaries
  • Claiming that the mainstream scientific community is closed-minded and hostile to new ideas, even that it is trying to suppress the theory or persecute its advocates
  • Lack of understanding of standard terminology and notation in technical fields, and misleading uses of it
  • In heavily mathematical fields, disdain for mathematics as either unnecessary or something that can be worked out later
  • Bypassing the scientific community and appealing outside of it for vindication
  • Having some religious or ideological motivation

Of the various pseudosciences, the one that PZ Myers runs into the most is creationism, and it is easy to see that it satisfies several of these criteria.

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