Did you hear about the scam called ‘pseudoscience’?
I don’t mean things we call pseudoscience, I'm refering to the scam of ‘calling things pseudoscience’. I'm referring to the science of pseudoscience, and the witch-hunts that result from claiming something is a pseudoscience. It's the latest fashion, and it's a big scam.
If you don’t want anyone to think about something, to discuss something, if you want them to ignore reality, just call it a pseudo science. There is no science of pseudoscience.
The science of pseudo science is a pseudoscience.
How does the 'science' of pseudo-science work? Start with an authoritative sounding website or company. Something with 'science based' in the name. Calling yourself a 'skeptic' is a common technique. But don't worry, you don't need to be a skeptic, you don't even need to know what a skeptic is, to become a 'pseudoscience buster'. Calling something a pseudoscience works best if you cloak yourself in the guise of a critic. No one will notice that your pseudo scientist has no clothes.
Next, pick something you'd like to criticize or dismiss. You can start with few common examples to get some experience. Pick something you can poke fun at (pick things you don't understand - probably nobody else understands them either) and poke fun at it. It's easier if you start with things that someone else has already said are pseudoscience. There is no shame for plagiarism in the science pseudosciences. Next take out a wide brush and paint the entire field with your criticism. Call it a pseudo-science. Get serious about it. The wider you can extend your 'criticisms' the better.
If you need a list of pseudosciences to get started. Simply punt the word pseudoscience into Google where you'll find examples like: Welteislehre, N rays, Lawsonomy, Laundry balls, Specified complexity, Holocaust denial, Rumpology, Scientific racism, brainwashing, and more.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "What is he talking about? I thought pseudoscience was about medical things like homeopathy, and chiropractic and stuff like that." Well yes, they are included, but the bar for being declared a pseudoscience is not nearly so high. In fact it's so low that "searching for Noah's Ark" is considered a pseudoscience, according to Wiki. Seriously. I'm sure there are people out there searching for Noah's Ark, but is there a science called 'searching for Noah's Arc? Nope. But there's a pseudoscience called 'searching for Noah's Ark'. No one has to think it's a science to be declared a pseudoscience.
Pseudoscience is often used to dismiss medical systems and technologies. But take care. It's not considered kosher to use pseudoscience science to dismiss 'western' medical technologies - only so called 'alternative' medical technologies. For example, even though scientific meta-studies of cancer research studies have found that the 20 foods that 'prevent' cancer are also the same 20 foods that 'cause cancer' in different studies - that's science, not pseudoscience.
Honestly, how then are pseudosciences defined? You just call yourself an expert in something, and pick something you don't believe, and get started. There's no qualifications required. You might have a PhD of arachnology, or a grade school education from Afghanistan. It makes no difference. There are no qualifications required to pseudoscience. And me? I don't need any qualifications to pseudoscience pseudoscience either. There is no PhD of pseudoscience, not even a Bachelor's degree.
What is the science used to define a pseudoscience? Faith. That's it. If you want to believe something is a pseudoscience, you only need to believe. You only need to say "X is a pseudoscience" and then start convincing people. The larger X is, the more ground X covers, the easiest it is to call it a pseudoscience, because you can find more things to criticize. You simply make a claim that whatever you name has no scientific basis, and proceed from there.
Don't worry, there is no need to 'prove' anything is a pseudoscience. That's good, because it's generally impossible.
There are no standards to prove something is a pseudoscience - and as we've noted, you don't even need to prove someone thinks it is a science, to prove it's a pseudoscience.
The most obvious examples of pseudo-pseudo-science are in the medical fields. Anything considered 'alternative' is fair game for a claim of pseudoscience.
One of the most famous, often cited ‘pseudosciences’ is homeopathy. Pseudo-scientists (typically geeks with high opinions of themselves and low opinions of everybody else) argue that homeopathy cannot work "because it cannot work".
When you look closely at the arguments claiming homeopathy is a pseudoscience, they are simply pseudo-scientific. First of all, there is the ‘logic’ argument. That homeopathic medicines (a part of homeopathy) can’t work because of the dilution factor. But in real life, scientific tests, they work some of the time. What’s up? “Oh," the argument changes, "but they don’t work better than a placebo.” But there are clinical studies demonstrating that homeopathic medicines do sometimes work better than a placebo. “Oh, those clinical studies were not valid…” When practicing pseudoscience, it's important to be able to accept the research that supports your position, and dismiss any that is contrary to your argument. That way - the science always supports you.
Self proclaimed pseudo-scientists then leap to a second mistake. They say homeopathy should be banned, because the medicines can’t work. Duh. This is clearly a mixing of lines. If we want to know if homeopathy works, we need to test homeopathy, not their medicines. Surely you have met someone who claims to have been helped, or healed, or even cured, by homeopathy. Are these claims investigated by so called pseudo scientists? Nope. Nothing to see here.
The pseudo-science claimants don’t dare look too closely, because they might be forced to acknowledge a fundamental truth about most of today's medicines - which includes homeopathy.
Most medicines don’t cure. Most clinical studies, the Gold Standard of Medical Sciences, test medicines that don’t cure, to see which one ‘does not cure’ better. Sometimes homeopathic medicines do better. Sometimes prescription medicines do better. Sometimes placebos do better.
What difference does it make if they don’t cure?
One clinical study that tested a homeopathic medicine vs a placebo, and reported that the homeopathic medicine worked better, but not by a ‘statistically significant amount’. Conclusion: the homeopathic medicine did not work better than the placebo. The catch? According the published research, the homeopathic medicine cured five patients (of 9) - the placebo cured only one (of 9). Duh.
Study conclusion: The homeopathic medicine showed no statistical difference in ability to ‘not cure’ warts. Of course they didn't use the word 'not cure', they used the word 'shrink'. There was no statistical difference between the placebo and the homeopathic medicine to shrink warts (when you ignore the cures).
When the research was repeated 32 years later, the ‘does not cure’ results were identical. The conclusions of the researchers was identical. The only difference? In the 1998 study, ‘cured’ was not counted. Pseudo-scientists creates new pseudoscience to support nonsense pseudoscience.
Now, let me be honest, I don’t know if homeopathy works. I don’t know if homeopathic medicines work. But I do know that the pseudo-scientific geeks calling homeopathy a pseudoscience, don’t know what they’re talking about. And they don't want to know, to understand, they just want to be right. The goal of a pseudo-scientist is not science, it is simply to convince you to agree with their position.
Acupuncture is often claimed to be a valid medical treatment, but many pseudo-scientific geeks refer to it as a pseudoscience. What’s happening here?
Acupuncture does not cure. It makes no attempt to cure. In a true scientific test, acupuncture can only be compared to other treatments that do not cure.
As a result, all of the scientific studies comparing acupuncture to other treatments is simply a test of which treatment “does not cure better”. Pseudo-scientific pseudoscience. If you punt ‘acupuncture pseudoscience’ into google, you will get statements like
- acupuncture doesn’t work because acupuncture results are only placebo effect.
The truth about placebos are that pseudo scientists don't even read the dictionary definitions, much less attempt to understand them. Pseudoscience pseudoscience. Pull out your dictionary. Turn to P. Scan down to ‘placebo effect’. It says “an improvement in the condition of the patient”. Does it work? Or not.
Placebo effects by definition, are real, positive effects on the patient’s condition that as a result of the treatment, that could not be caused by the treatment. Eg. We do not understand them. If we do not understand them, how can we call them ‘pseudoscience’?
When we find 'placebo effects', we need to work harder to understand, not stop trying to understand. We need to study and learn what really happened, not dismiss the evidence. Claiming ‘placebo effects’ is just an excuse to not investigate further.
But of course that's the goal of the pseudoscience of pseudoscience. To shame. To halt discussion. To halt learning. To halt any attempts to understand.
Some pseudo-scientists cast the net wide, attempting to capture any unconventional belief in their net. Others stick to more strict guidelines, but all make serious mistakes in their analysis. Once something is declared a pseudoscience, the need for rational thought, for scientific thought disappears and the tone changes from science to witch hunt. Pseudoscience is an excuse to ignore real science.
Science, true science is about questions, not about truth. Science asks questions, attempts to understand. The answers found are seldom, if every ‘truths’. They are rather ‘interesting’, leading to different, more complex, perhaps more important. Scientific answers lead to more questions. That’s the way of science. That’s how science works.
Pseudoscientific questions and answers are designed to stop scientific investigation. They make nonsense measurements, using limited, nonsense assumptions, and produce nonsense results, which are often re-interpreted to create higher and higher levels of nonsense. The second homepathic wart study, in 1998, for example, was called “” Is this science? No. Is it an attempt to learn? No, it’s a blatant attempt to dismiss what we do not understand. It’s nonsense. But it’s scientific sounding nonsense, published by JAMA, available in PubMed, and often cited by other researchers.
Calling something a pseudoscience is not about science. It is a witch hunt.
When we look closely at many ‘scientific’ treatment claims vs so called 'pseudoscience treatment' claims, we can see that both have some value, some danger, and some nonsense. We need to value the value, to avoid the risk and to dismiss the nonsense. Branding an entire practice as pseudoscience is simply a scam, an unscientific scare tactic, and a failure of science.
Calling things pseudoscience is a pseudoscience. We can do better.
to your health, tracy