March 2018 – Science and Pseudoscience

Reference material used during presentation by Joel Kositsky, and discussion:

Here are also some personal thoughts on Science vs. Pseudoscience

Science Tendencies   –   vs.   –    Pseudoscience Tendencies:

Testable (falsifiable)  –  Poorly-tested (or untested)
Quantitative  –  Qualitative
Statistical  –  Anecdotal, testimonial
Predictive  –  After the fact explanations
Objective  –  Subjective
Reproducible Events  –  Unique Events
Public  –  Secretive
Learned  –  Instinctive
Democratic (all equal)  –  Special People (mediums, gurus etc.)
Mathematical  –  Vague
Explanatory  –  Explanatory
Progressive  –  Conservative
Blind testing  –  Confirmation bias
Cogent whole  –  Single topic

Some Dangers of pseudoscience:

  • Political, it has justified atrocities in the name of “racial purity” e.g. Nazism
  • Medical: unnecessary death or suffering. e.g. chiropractic (anti germ theory),
    anti-vaccinations, anti-transfusions, denial of AIDS
  • Societal: e.g. burning of “witches”
  • Environmental: slaughter of rhinoceros for their horns to treat various ailments
  • Communications: it can make it difficult for voters to obtain factual information
  • In educational system, it can replace science;

Some Dangers of Science (and its applied partner, scientific engineering):

Ironically, many of the dangers due to science are a result of science’s efficacy. Examples are

  • Armaments: Production and delivery methods for weapons of mass destruction
  • Spread of Diseases and Invasive Species: Due to ease of transportation
  • Production and dissemination of dangerous chemicals: e.g. PCBs, mercury, CFCs
  • Overuse of Resources: Fossil fuels, water aquifers, destruction of forests/fisheries
  • Production of smog, dust, and greenhouse gases in massive amounts
  • Destruction of biodiversity: Wholesale landscape changes: e.g. Pit mining, Dams,
    Forest clearing, Urbanization, Road construction, Fencing