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Flashcards in Identifying pseudoscience Deck (12)
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Hostility towards scientific criticism

claiming that criticism of their theories is a personal attack


Trying to move the 'burden of proof' away form themselves

- Those who make claims have to bear the burden of proof for those claims
- Pseudoscientists shift burden of proof, hasn't been proven wrong, so accept it till I can definitely prove it wrong
- We don't know that I'm wrong, therefore I'm right
E.g. proving ghosts


Claims easy solutions for complex problems

- Pseudoscience: often some of the appeal of pseudoscience is that it has easy answers for hard questions. Complicated phenomena are often presented as having one simple cause.
- Good science: presents the cause and effect relationships as accurately as possible, which is often quite complex (but not always)
- E.g. Eating organic and all your health problems will go away. Unlikely to be true.


Fundamental principles are often based on a single case

- Pseudoscience: some entire belief systems that masquerade as science, base all their fundamental principles of an uncontrolled observation or anecdote
- Good science: will sometimes use an interesting anecdote as the spark for a theory, but will rigorously test whether this anecdote is representative of the world at large


Making a virtue of ignorance

- Pseudoscience: often pseudoscientists lack formal training, and present this as a virtue (capitalise on message of "oh I haven't been indoctrinated so my theories are right"
- Good science: usually from scientists who are specialised and have technical training to affirm the validity/reliability of there claims (hard for non-scientists to make contributions)
- Pseudoscientists often take the approach of elitist, that you have been indoctrinated if you believe common science


Working backward from conclusions

- Good science: is a genuine search for what is true. Scientists will often have preferred theories, but they design experiments to test these and accept even contradicting outcomes
- Pseudoscience: beings with a desired conclusion and the only attempts to prove this cherished conclusion


Cherry picking data

- Good science: experiments designed to look at a complete set of data
- Pseudoscience: relies heavily on anecdote. Also manipulate data to 'discover' effect where in fact there is none.


Failure to engage with scientific community

- Good science: publishes data in large peer reviewed journals and lets people pick it apart
- Pseudoscience: opposite (echo-chambers)
E.g. chiropractors regulate themselves, not the medical board


Utilising scientific sounding but ultimately meaningless language

- Good science: use technical jargon that means what it means
- Pseudoscience: uses pseudo-jargon (fancy sounding phrases poorly used/don't mean anything)


Claiming to be many years ahead/decades ahead of the current research community

- Good science: usually slow
- Pseudoscience: too quick, claims to have made huge leaps forward


Pseudoscience predominantly relies on...,

Anecdotal evidence


Demarcation problem

How to distinguish between science and non-science