Category talk:Obsolete scientific theories

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Obsolete or not?[edit]

At the moment Geocentric model is in the Category:Obsolete scientific theories while Bohr atom is not. Both are now commonly held to be ontologically deficient but both are still useful for computation and pedagogy. Surely we should be consistent but which way? Cutler 20:41, July 11, 2005 (UTC)

Is "Obsolete" a Dismissive Point of View Term?[edit]

The definition of Obsolete scientific theories in this category: "...a scientific theory that was once commonly accepted but (for whatever reason) is no longer considered the most complete description of reality by mainstream science; or a falsifiable theory which has been shown to be false" appears to interject an absolute dismissive and "point of view" tone to evolving science theories.

Some theories included in this category have not in fact been shown to be false even though they may not be considered "the most complete description of reality by mainstream science." The evolution of science theory has shown mainstream science to be repeatedly capable of supporting prevailing scientific models which did not stand the test of long-term scrutiny. It is too early to close the door on some theories in this category because the prevailing models used to falsify them have themselves not been proven beyond the reasonable doubt needed to uphold them as absolute and exclusive explanations of the reality that science explores. I note Aether theories and Expanding earth theory as examples of such misappropriation.

There exists a rigorous debate amongst many scientists today who challenge mainstream science's shutting out of viable scientific models in favor of the exclusive adoption of the one prevailing model supported by the mainstream scientific community. The following cosmology statement at this link is but one example of such discontent.

It would indeed behoove the Wikipedia Foundation to categorize scientific theory in a more unbiased fashion rather than appear to lend a priority to mainstream consensus by dismissing scientific theories which remain viable, though perhaps errantly considered to have been falsified. The sciences are an evolving study and there remains much more unknown than proven within the range of the present consensus scientific model. Wikipedia's science theory categories should reflect this evolving reality and not present such an absolute classification of still viable theories as obsolete, as has been done here. MichaelNetzer 12:10, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

I also think this should not be a category. It's definitely POV. For instance newton's theories have been superseded by relativity but they are not listed here.Tstrobaugh (talk) 18:56, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Obsolete Scientific Theories are Pseudoscience?[edit]

Based on arbitration and clarification on same, the Pseudoscience category, which has been applied to this category, requires a reliable source indicating that it is in fact pseudoscience to sustain its application. Can you point out some reliable source that will settle the matter? If not, we'll need to remove the Pseudoscience category tag from this category. Thank you.-- self-ref (nagasiva yronwode) (talk) 23:11, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

This is fatuous. Categories are navigational tools. Having the category "Pseudoscience" associated with "Obsolete scientific theories" makes sense--there's a clear relationship between these topics. Thus, there's no reason to remove the category. — Scientizzle 00:11, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
Can you cite a reliable source to support your position please?-- self-ref (nagasiva yronwode) (talk) 00:18, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
What position am I supposed to support? "Categories are navigational tools"? Here's my source. In that source: "Categories are mainly used to browse through similar articles. Make decisions about the structure of categories and subcategories that make it easy for users to browse through similar articles." Can you make any valid argument that there's no relevant relationship between obsolete scientific theories, as a general class, and pseudoscience? (Particularly considering that a number of these obsolete theories still have adherents.) — Scientizzle 00:31, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
This looks like progress to me. Would you agree that obsolete scientific theories are good examples of what WP:PSCI describes as

Obvious pseudoscience: "Theories which, while purporting to be scientific, are obviously bogus, such as Time Cube, may be so labeled and categorized as such without more [justification]."

If so, that helps me to set up a standard by which to evaluate other similar types, because by definition an obsolete scientific theory must be a bogus scientific theory. This seems to be what you are saying. The other "obvious pseudosciences" are going to be the greater trouble to evaluate.-- self-ref (nagasiva yronwode) (talk) 02:16, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
Granted this, btw, the issue then becomes whether the contents of this category are actually obsolete scientific theories or if they are something else (mystical methods, for example, or symbolism for magic, or something else which isn't necessarily something scientific or, in a universal sense, obsolete, just scientifically obsolete).-- self-ref (nagasiva yronwode) (talk) 02:20, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
If there is anything in Category:Obsolete scientific theories that can't be reasonably understood to be "scientific", or is/was not plausibly associated with science, that seems to be a valid reason to challenge categorization as such.
As to whether this fits into the ArbCom ruling...what makes sense is that these topics, ostensibly (though I have not reviewed them all), were once viewed as valid theoretical interpretations of the natural world and have been superseded or discarded through scientific progress. Thus, modern adherents to any of these topics are likely to "purport" scientific support while rejecting actual evidence: i.e., obvious pseudoscience.
More importantly, the navigational linkage of the subjects within this category (which include genuinely scientific ideas that were proven wrong, gray area pre-science & proto-science thought, and and array of disciplines that may be characterized as "softer" science) to a general category of pseudoscience is a useful connection. Through this, an intrepid reader may broaden his or her understanding of the nature of scientific exploration, in particular by comparing the process of testing and discarding unsupported hypotheses with the anti-science work of pseudoscience adherents. Including Category:Pseudoscience in this category does not label Category:Obsolete scientific theories articles as pseudoscience, but it does allow them to get from point A to point B. — Scientizzle 21:52, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
Well that sounds as if you don't think this is 'obviously pseudoscience' at all, but want, for a separate reason (because they are 'usefully connected'), to use the Pseudoscience category tag here. I would ask whether, since it doesn't qualify for the one criteria specifically allocated for the tag, it qualifies for the other, namely

...generally considered pseudoscience by the scientific community....

Could you support that, or do you think that a third category should be allowed by the Arbcom ruling per some interpretation of their text that i don't yet understand?-- self-ref (nagasiva yronwode) (talk) 22:30, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm not convinced you understand what categories are for. Categorizing an article on Wikipedia creates a collection of related topics that, in some way or another, are plausibly organized under a particular descriptor. The functionality of categories is not to be prescriptive of an article's content, but to "reflect the significant (useful) classes to which the subject of the article belongs, or topics to which it relates, under which readers are likely to look", facilitating navigation from one topic to related topics. Moreover, by design the categorization system is neither linear nor a classic hierarchical structure, and categories can be nested to provide further navigational functionality to topics that are more tangential. The ArbCom case clearly states that categorizing an article as "pseudoscience" requires demonstrable evidence that it is generally rejected by the scientific community. The case did not address categorization of categories. (Not to mention, there is no practical way in which to cite a source that "Category:Obsolete scientific theories" is a pseudoscientific topic.)
Here's the deal: there is a common-sense linkage between the general topics of "obsolete scientific theories" and "pseudoscience", and a clear specific linkage between some of the subjects of this category and pseudoscience (i.e., Phrenology). Thus, it seems self-evident that nesting the two categories is a perfectly relevant organization. — Scientizzle 23:32, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for trying to help me understand better the meaning and use of categories. What you have presented to me doesn't convince me that these were not dealt with by the Arbcom ruling. Its 15th through 18th parts seems to clearly relate to "categorization and characterization" that applies to categories and this is why these were restated as part of WP:PSCI and placed on the Pseudoscience category talk page's top portion. It is my understanding that the use of categories is to what "categorizing an article" precisely refers. How else might one "categorize an article as pseudoscience" except to apply the category to it? What you are saying so far doesn't make sense to me, especially given what so many others have helpfully explained to me about the meaning of categories and the Arbcom ruling's significance.-- self-ref (nagasiva yronwode) (talk) 17:17, 18 October 2008 (UTC)
This is not an article. This is another category. If a reader of an article about an obsolete scientific theory clicks on the Category:Obsolete scientific theories link that takes them to a listing of related topics. From there they can access Category:Pseudoscience, which is a related topic. I don't understand your objection to this navigational arrangement. — Scientizzle 01:39, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
So you are saying that the Arbcom doesn't apply to the categorization of categories, only of articles? Why would that be the case? Why wouldn't the direct relationship exist between articles and categories such that the Talk pages of articles are the central decision point for whether a category applies to it and also whether a category applies to its correlating category page? That's what it seems i was being told in Category_talk:Pseudoscience.-- self-ref (nagasiva yronwode) (talk) 21:29, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
Your first template message, the first one in this thread, asked for a "reliable source indicating that it is in fact pseudoscience"...the bolded "it" presumably means the subject of this talk page: Category:Obsolete scientific theories. There are a few responses to this request, mostly covered above:
  • The topics are, to me, obviously related subjects (blindingly so). Related subjects are supposed to be organized such that "categories and subcategories...make it easy for users to browse through similar articles".
  • This is not an article. Articles in this category are not tagged with the pseudoscience category unless that category is applied separately within that article.
  • Any attempt to shoehorn the variety of article in this category into one of the four ArbCom criteria is stupid, because there are easy examples to meet each of the four...
  • ...and doubly stupid because the clear intent of the ArbCom decision is to control the destructive and excessive battles over the linking of said category within individual articles. It was not meant to limit common sense navigational arrangements.
Do you honestly assert that the two topics are unrelated and should therefore not be linked within the category architecture? — Scientizzle 01:28, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

Incorrect reference[edit]

The "Passing Star Hypothesis" link does not point to an article that discusses the passing star hypothesis. It should perhaps point to the "Tidal Theory" section of the article History_of_Solar_System_formation_and_evolution_hypotheses (talk) 20:24, 27 January 2014 (UTC)