Not even wrong

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For other uses, see Not even wrong (disambiguation).

The phrase not even wrong describes any argument that purports to be scientific but fails at some fundamental level, usually in that it contains a terminal logical fallacy or it cannot be falsified by experiment (i.e. tested with the possibility of being rejected), or cannot be used to make predictions about the natural world.

The phrase is generally attributed to theoretical physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who was known for his colorful objections to incorrect or sloppy thinking.[1] Rudolf Peierls documents an instance in which "a friend showed Pauli the paper of a young physicist which he suspected was not of great value but on which he wanted Pauli's views. Pauli remarked sadly, 'It is not even wrong'." [2] This is also often quoted as "It is not only not right, it is not even wrong," or "Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch!" in Pauli's native German. Peierls remarks that quite a few apocryphal stories of this kind have been circulated and mentions that he listed only the ones personally vouched by him. He also quotes another example when Pauli replied to Lev Landau, "What you said was so confused that one could not tell whether it was nonsense or not."[2]

The phrase is often used to describe pseudoscience or bad science, and is considered derogatory.[3]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Shermer M (2006). "Wronger Than Wrong". Scientific American. 
  2. ^ a b Peierls, R. (1960). "Wolfgang Ernst Pauli, 1900-1958". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 5: 186. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1960.0014. 
  3. ^ Oliver Burkeman (September 19, 2005). "Not even wrong". The Guardian.