Talk:Pseudoscience/Archive 10

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This talkpage has gotten out-of-control. The discussions contained here have drifted so far away from the purpose of talkpages as to be really not worth keeping live. Therefore, I have archived the previous discussion. The issues are still active, but in the spirit of turning over a new leaf, let's begin discussing how to make the article better. To wit, let's have all contributions here be of the sort: "Let's include this in the article" or "Let's remove this from the article". No more arguments about people's behavior, no more discussions about what is and isn't a pseudoscience (except in regards to what to include or remove from the article), and generally no more tangential discussions. If you want to pursue any of these, there are other venues in which to do it. Now let's get back to editting. --ScienceApologist 17:06, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

Am I making sense?

Am I making sense when I say, Pseudosciences make scientific claims but do not follow the scientific method, therefore they behave in certain ways that we list (i.e. Use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims, etc.) In other words, if A then B. But when we try to say a particular field's theory is untestable -> therefore it is a pseudoscience, that would be saying; since B then A, which is not logical. So if we are going to use anything as an example of pseudoscience, we first have to prove they are A, otherwise there are a lot of things that behave like B but aren't A, such as surgery that can't use double blind tests, etc. Agree/Disagree? --Dematt 17:33, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

I disagree. The way pseudoscience is usually determined is through examining all the available evidence, not just pointing to single features. No one would ever claim that something was pseudoscience just because it couldn't be subject to double-blind tests. Subjects are pseudoscience because they make claims that either have been falsified or lack testability. --ScienceApologist 18:39, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

I don't think SA really addresses the point you make Dematt and his last claim is clearly worng (what science hasn't made any claims that have been falsified). In any event, the reasoning in your (Dematt's) claim has gone a bit awry. It is not that fields are psuedoscience therefore they do X. Rather, they do X (and Y and Z, or enough of them) therefore they are psuedoscience. In your example, then, the first A and B are the wrong way round and it should really read "do not follow the scientific method because they behave in certain ways.Davkal 19:06, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

My last point is not wrong. After falsification of an idea has occurred, pseudoscience supporters continue to advocate the idea in spite of its falsification. --ScienceApologist 19:10, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

That's a substantially different point. Davkal 19:14, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

Not it isn't. I stated quite clearly that pseudoscience "makes claims that... have been falsified" as in "already" falsified. --ScienceApologist 19:20, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

Ok, my apologies, the wording was slightly ambiguous but all has been clarified now. Davkal 19:28, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

I think you need to look at Popper and Kuhn; both stress that theories are retained in normal science long after they have been extensively falsified, they are only replaced when a better theory emerges,.... and then the process is complex. Kuhn's account of science is a competitive one - differenct co-existing schools developing competing theories that are mutually inconsistent, neither of which are wholly true, and often "incommensurate".....Gleng 09:56, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
I'm not talking about Kuhn's paradigm shifts here, I'm talking about people who advocate, for example, flood geology even after it's shown that in order for the atmosphere to contain that amount of water vapor, no life could have been supported on the Earth. --ScienceApologist 12:50, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Okay, then that list becomes pretty important. That is where we need to concentrate on verifiable and reliable sourcing. But of course we run into the same problem; if we're going to use examples for each, anything from any field could theoretically go in as an example, i.e. surgery for untestable, etc. right, unless we decide on some kind of line of demarcation? So, either we (1)decide on the line of demarcation, (2)don't use examples, (3)keep doing what we're doing - but keep running into the infighting. Is that a reasonable assessment? --Dematt 20:04, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

It's an almost perfect assesment, since what is missing from the article is a genuine acknowledgement of the way the term "pseudoscience" is actually applied. That is, it is primarily used as a term of abuse bandied about without much restraint and used against certain fields, indivduals, ideas that some consider (for a variety of reasons) to be beyond the pale. It is as if someone calls someone else an idiot (because they don't like them for all sorts of reasons) and we then try to identify necessary and sufficient conditions for the appropriate application of the term "idiot". Anything we say can clearly be shown to be a trait of many people we don't want to call idiots but we want to use the word nonetheless and don't want to admit that it's really just a term of abuse. Davkal 20:13, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

No, no, no. This analysis is almost completely original research. Pseudoscience is evaluated in introductory science courses as a matter of curriculum! It's not merely a pejorative, it's an actual issue in science education. I'm sorry that the pseudoscientists get offended when evidence is shown that blows their ideas out of the water or their methodology is pointed out to be flawed, but Wikipedia is not supposed to be a love-in or a place where criticism is mitigated. We report what is actually done, and in introductory science classes, what is done is, frankly, demarcation -- despite the fact that this task gets muddied amongst various philosophers of science. --ScienceApologist 20:26, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

Yes, yes, yes (or whatever). God forbid that philosphers of science should be taken seriously on a philosophy of science issue. Far better to leave it to the "introduction to science" teachers. And you shouldn't really confuse original research with things you're merely unfamiliar with (a short explanation of almost exactly my point appears currently in the intro but little is made of it later on).Davkal 20:33, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

This is NOT just a "philosophy of science issue". It is also an issue of scientific literacy and as such is relevant to the people actually doing science. You are claiming, falsely, that pseudoscience is used almost exclusively as a put-down. I'm pointing out that while people take offense to the pseudoscience label, there are plenty of examples where pseudoscience is used in other contexts. Your attempt to construct a hierarchy of norms between intro science teachers and philosophers of science is silly. We can report both in this article and they will complement each other well. The article can delve both into philosophical issues while explaining what scientists have said about pseudoscience, and it can do both without claiming an objective value-judgement on the term. --ScienceApologist 20:58, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

I think what we may wish to do is look for which subjects are the easiest to demarcate as pseudoscience and begin by discussing those in the article. The list of pseudosciences is a good place to start. Subjects that find themselves closer to that demarcation line we can evaluate on a case-by-case basis with appropriate, cited discussion and criticism. Using the standard skeptical societies as a guideline is a good start since they have a good claim to "word ownership". What is clear to me, however, is that we need to make sure the mainstream evaluations of pseudoscience and declarations to that effect remain. We should not be held hostage by the post-modernist philosophers who throw the baby out with the bathwater with the cry "Demarcation problem! Demarcation problem!" while being supported by psedoscientific rabble-rousers who are offended that anyone could consider their pet idea to be "pseudoscience". --ScienceApologist 20:22, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

IMO, pseudoscience is a POV term (not "bad", but simply in the sense of WP:POV) and should be treated as such, i.e., in the same way WP treats cult. Many scientists don't even use the term, preferring to comment on evidence, or lack thereof, cf. McNally[1], and Gleng's comment here. best, Jim Butler(talk) 23:08, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

I have no idea how science is taught in American Universities. Over here the principles of scientific method are taught, and in Philosophy courses Popper and Kuhn's ideas are very extensively discussed, and logic is taught. We teach students to evaluate good and bad scientific method, sound and weak reasoning etc. and stress the importance of operational definitions, and here is the problem. Unless the demarcation problem is resolved then there is no agreed operational definition for science, so there can be no objective definition of PS either, hence its use has no "scientific" content. We teach students of science to use strictly definable terms where possible, avoiding potentially vague or ambigious terms with mere emotive content. Gleng 09:52, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

I assure Gleng American Universities of high repute (U.C. Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Yale) at which I teach the scientific method use Popper's falsifiability criterion as indisputable modification of the original standard, which caused physicists to abandon String Theory (for god's sake), because, if, in principle, a proposition cannot be falsified, it cannot be verified (a logical entailment). But don't tell Wiki's referees about this eminently knighted philosopher of science, much less cite Boyle's scientific method, because they retort NPOV, as if, they're oblivious to "social constructionism" (which, I'm quite sure, they are).

Everyone has a POV. No one acts behind a "veil of ignorance." It's impossible. Thus Wiki's NPOV criterion is FALSE. It's not that one has a POV, it's whether that POV is provable, credible, demonstrable, logically coherent, non-fallacious, by standards known as "evidence" (REASON, EXPERIMENTS, EXPERIENCE), which scientists acknowledge, but not Wiki and its referees. That's why we study logic, reason, science, language, and all those other valuable "tools" we humans have. But Wiki's referees divine, and arbitrate on the basis of "publication," notwithstanding, that more books have been published on astrology, religion, and myths than science ever hopes to compete with. Nevermind the phenomenon of "self-publishing." If it's in print, it meets Wiki's NPOV standards. It's pathetic. Maybe junior college is inadequate to the task of making referees, but three or four courses in any J.C. SHOULD do it. Obviously the NEA has failed us. ````dshsfca````

Well, we have verifiable citations to works which criticize pseudoscience in a wide range of introductory textbooks. I'll remind everyone here that while pseudoscience may be a POV, Wikipedia reports notable POVs that are found in the outside world. The job of Wikipedia is not to right perceived wrongs of society. In Europe, the scientific community is somewhat more accomodating to fringe and pseudoscience than we are in the United States. This is probably due to the fact that in Europe the anti-science perspective is looked at as backwards while there is a significant group of people in the US who actively promote "science bashing" and criticize science itself. Different strokes for different folks, of course. We can report this in the article if someone can dig up some sociology of science citations to this effect. --ScienceApologist 12:48, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

But here, I think, matters come to a head. Because what can now be seen is that the term "pseudoscience" finds its place in a political, rather than a scientific, arena. That is, the science bashers bash science and the defenders of science respond with sound-bite distinctions that are politically useful but have little actual scientific merit - convenient brushes to tar opponents with but unsustainable from a neutral perspective. When that point is combined with SA's point above that "the standard skeptical societies [...] have a good claim to "word ownership"", and we look at the ideological foundations of those skeptical societies (here, e.g.,[2]), the point becomes clearer still. That certain educators have become part of this political battle should not be taken as evidence for anything other than they have become involved.Davkal 13:17, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
I agree that you all have deliniated POVs that surface on this page. I think a good up-to-the-minute, progressive, online encyclopedia should spend its valuable time presenting this debate rather than making lists from eitherany POV. Am I wrong? --Dematt 13:31, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Nope, I think you're right on. cheers, Jim Butler(talk) 08:04, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Let's parse this

Can we please parse the sentence below (in bold, presented in the second paragraph of the article) so it accurately reflects any relevant point intended to be made? I think the original intent (from around the time of Jon Awbrey's participation) was to state the obvious for the reader, which was, essentially, that someone calling someone else "a liar or a fool" usually results in a rejection of the label by the person being so called. ... Kenosis 16:53, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

  • The term pseudoscience appears to have been first used in 1843 [1] as a combination of the Greek root pseudo, meaning false, and the Latin scientia, meaning knowledge or a field of knowledge. The term has negative connotations, because subjects so labeled are repudiated by skeptics and scientists as being inaccurately or deceptively portrayed as science when in fact the subjects are not. [2] Accordingly, those labeled as practicing or advocating a "pseudoscience" normally reject this classification. ... 16:53, 3 November 2006 (UTC)


I don't see what was wrong with the way it was written before. That is
"The term has negative connotations, because it indicates that subjects so labeled are inaccurately or deceptively portrayed as science. Accordingly, those labeled as practicing or advocating a "pseudoscience" normally reject this classification."
This seems like a perfectly straightforward and important point made perfectly straightforwardly.Davkal 17:18, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
It also avoids the words "skeptics and scientists" which are weaseling in the sense that they are used here. Taking them out would certainly uncomplicate the issue of which skeptics and how many scientists. --Dematt 19:29, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

Is "repudiated" the best word here? The term has negative connotations, because subjects so labeled are repudiated by skeptics and scientists as being inaccurately or deceptively portrayed as science when in fact the subjects are not. I'm not sure that I like "skeptics and scientists" here either. Something rubs me wrong here grammatically and I can't quite put my finger on it. Anyone else? Levine2112 22:04, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

OK, I'll be blunt: the sentence is shit. Hence I'm reverting it. It is grammatically wrong on several levels, and to ambiguous with the "skeptics and scientists" bit. •Jim62sch• 22:29, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
You gone done and writed it good[3]. -Jim Butler(talk) 01:57, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
Here's roughly how this developed. About 2000 edits ago, the article looked like this. Then in March of this year, about 1800 edits ago, traffic picked up and a significant change was made here. Successive edits of importance to this part of the article's lead occurred here, here, here, and here. I made an adjustment here, which brought the relevant sentence to where it pretty much remained since. Several combinations of the clause that adherents "normally reject this classification" were tried along the way, such as "commonly dispute the claim", "almost always dispute the claim", "typically dispute this classification", "ordinarily reject the classification", etc., and it ended up being stable for about six months with the language quoted by Davkal above. ... Kenosis 22:49, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

Scientific literacy: New minds for a changing world: Paul DeHart Hurd

Hurd's article is available on-line. [4] I think the relevant quote from it is "A scientifically literate person is one who.....Distinguishes science from pseudo-science such as astrology, quackery, the occult and superstition." This is an indication of a rather liberal use of the term pseudoscience to include anything the writer thinks is stupid. Was it meant to include, as superstition, Christianity and other beliefs in the soul?Gleng 17:46, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

Any other source for that article? I am unable to get access with the link provided. Sounds like an interesting point. --Dematt 19:30, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
I'm afraid someone will need to give up their username and password to access that citation (assuming it's not in violation of their user agreement with the website). Alternately, another method of access to this source will be needed. ... Kenosis 02:20, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
Speaking as an IT Manager: Never, ever, give up your password (or uid if it is not your nick). Never. Not ever. •Jim62sch• 17:21, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
Sounds like good advice; my apology. (I've obviously gotten too spoiled with options such as . I also see that as a paid subscription, this would be a stretch of fair-use anyway.) Why not just quote the relevant passages or sections then? ... Kenosis 04:05, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

If someone wants to read a copy of the article, shoot me an e-mail and I'll send it to you. --ScienceApologist 17:30, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

I have no problem in WP:AGF with your interpretation. What does he seem to say? --Dematt 03:02, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

Got a copy! IMO, the article makes an argument for the integration of a "lived science into our school curriculums"(meaning things that students view as useful in their everyday lives - rather than just thereoms and useless facts). He makes the point that science has already changed to be useful by industry, etc., but schools have not kept up. He was assweting the position that schools should adapt there methods to create better scientific literacy. The section that SA and Gleng have referenced is:

"Behaviors associated with the production and utilization of science knowledge in human affairs represent the civic basis of scientific literacy. This perception is a blend of the revolutionary changes in the sciences with dimensions of our democracy, social progress, and the adaptive needs of human beings. The elements of a civic concept of scientific literacy represent a consciousness of behaviors that serve as guidelines for interpreting the functions of science/technology in human affairs and the management of one’s life. These behaviors also serve as guidelines for reinventing science curricula in grades K–12, which has been called for in the education reform movement. The following attributes are among others that enable students to adapt to the changing world of science and technology and its impact on personal, social, and economic affairs. Thus, a scientifically literate person is one who:

  • Distinguishes experts from the uninformed.
  • Distinguishes theory from dogma, and data from myth and folklore. *Recognizes that almost every fact of one’s life has been influenced in one way or another by science/technology.
  • Knows that science in social contexts often has dimensions in political, judicial, ethical, and sometimes moral interpretations.
  • Senses the ways in which scientific research is done and how the findings are validated.
  • Uses science knowledge where appropriate in making life and social decisions, forming judgments, resolving problems, and taking action.
  • Distinguishes science from pseudo-science such as astrology, quackery, the occult, and superstition.
  • Recognizes the cumulative nature of science as an “endless frontier.”
  • Recognizes scientific researchers as producers of knowledge and citizens as users of science knowledge.
  • Recognizes gaps, risks, limits, and probabilities in making decisions involving a knowledge

of science or technology.

  • Knows how to analyze and process information to generate knowledge that extends beyond


  • Recognizes that science concepts, laws, and theories are not rigid but essentially have an

organic quality; they grow and develop; what is taught today may not have the same meaning tomorrow.

  • Knows that science problems in personal and social contexts may have more than one “right”

answer, especially problems that involve ethical, judicial, and political actions.

  • Recognizes when a cause and effect relationship cannot be drawn. Understands the importance

of research for its own sake as a product of a scientist’s curiosity.

  • Recognizes that our global economy is largely influenced by advancements in science and technology.
  • Recognizes when cultural, ethical, and moral issues are involved in resolving science–social problems.
  • Recognizes when one does not have enough data to make a rational decision or form a reliable


  • Distinguishes evidence from propaganda, fact from fiction, sense from nonsense, and knowledge from opinion.
  • Views science–social and personal–civic problems as requiring a synthesis of knowledge from different fields including natural and social sciences.
  • Recognizes there is much not known in a science field and that the most significant discovery may be announced tomorrow.
  • Recognizes that scientific literacy is a process of acquiring, analyzing, synthesizing, coding, evaluating, and utilizing achievements in science and technology in human and social contexts.
  • Recognizes the symbiotic relationships between science and technology and between science, technology, and human affairs.
  • Recognizes the everyday reality of ways in which science and technology serve human adaptive capacities, and enriches one’s capital.
  • Recognizes that science–social problems are generally resolved by collaborative rather than individual action.
  • Recognizes that the immediate solution of a science–social problem may create a related problem later.
  • Recognizes that short- and long-term solutions to a problem may not have the same answer.

These science literacy characteristics are not taught directly but are embedded in a lived curriculum where students are engaged in resolving problems, making investigations, or developing projects. Supporting laboratory and field experiences are viewed as exercises in citizenship. As teachers we need to recognize constantly that public understanding of science is conceptually different from the traditional forms embedded in the structure of science disciplines." --Dematt 18:45, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

That's fine and good, but the edit you put in seriously disrupted the explanation of the context which is why the source is offered. It is clear that Hurd is advocating for scientific literacy in part as a repudiation of pseudoscience. Trying to say what Hurd's main purpose of the paper is incidental to this point. --ScienceApologist 22:04, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure I see where I muddied the water? I agree that Hurd was advocating scientific literacy as a repudiation of pseudoscience. All I did was clarify that it was not a research paper and added the occult. The entire paragraph concerned science education, Hurd fit right in. What was the muddy part? --Dematt 22:34, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
It was a summary of ideas based on research, the paper itself was a review. Adding the occult is unnecessary as it is covered by superstition. Your edit just made the sentence nearly impossible to understand within the context of the introduction and the paragraph. --ScienceApologist 23:36, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
Still, "According to science education research" is overreaching. It makes it sound like there is consensus among scientists and science educators about the meaning of the term "pseudoscience". Perhaps this is an improvement. (I have a graduate degree in chemistry and don't recall ever hearing the term used by my teachers. We talked about stuff like evidence and reasoning instead.) thx, Jim Butler(talk) 00:51, 7 November 2006 (UTC)
I think you're on the right track. --Dematt 01:32, 7 November 2006 (UTC)
Thanks and a clarification: I don't mean to give aid and comfort to those whom I think really are attempting to subvert science and reason a la wedge strategy. (That would be sort of analogous to tolerance taken too far, i.e. tolerating intolerance itself.) In general, my primary quibble with SA's otherwise perfectly fine line of thinking is that pedagogically, it appears easier to find consensus on what science is than what pseudoscience is.
Also, as I've argued before, labelling topics in psychology and medicine as pseudoscience is hazardous territory given the complexity of the variables one must measure. Too often the "conclusions" section of a paper overreaches the "evidence" section, as when failure to replicate a phenomenon is taken to "disprove" that phenomenon (e.g., facilitated communication, where the majority/doubting view has used the dreaded PS-term mostly as an epithet). Excellent article relating to these issues from Harvard Prof. Martha Herbert here. Parsing such nuances requires unrelenting intellectual honesty and rigor. (/soapbox) cheers, Jim Butler(talk) 08:31, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Citing accurately

Because the word PS can be used either indiscriminately (as a pejorative) or with attempted precision (as Popper attempted), and in mutually inconsistent ways, it seems important to be precise in citation. Hurd uses the word PS to embrace, specifically, the occult, superstition and quackery, and not to make that clear would be to miscite him, particularly because elsewhere in the present article it is clear that a precise use of the term pseudoscience would exclude all of these -and to include the Occult as pseudoscience would probably entail including all religion. The Occult is a necessary inclusion in any cite, as this makes clear that Hurd is embracing religious beliefs as pseudoscience. This is Hurd's only use of the word, to stretch his meaning beyond what he said would be a speculative inference.

In psychology, as in all fields of science, the word pseudoscientific is part of the armamentorium of internal criticism (though seldom in the peer reviewed scientific literature, which generally prefers terms with operational definitions); the holder of one position may say that an alternative is pseudoscientific, meaning variously that the terms are ill defined, or the position is logically unsound, or that the argument is irremedially obscure. Sometimes this is a "straw man" position to delineate the conflicts, sometimes a serious criticism - but just as Medawar declared with rigor and vigor that every scientific paper is a fraud, there is little sense in treating arguments within a field as though they were somehow criticisms of the field, for intelligible external consumption. However, psychology is relevant for one good reason - it was chosen as one of the three canonical examples of unfalsifiable theories by Popper, who was the first to attempt a rigorous use of PS. The University of Maryland curriculum by the way uses PS in the title but the description makes no further use of it.

How any of these arguments can give comfort to those who choose to believe nonsense is beyond me. If nonsense cannot be countered by cool rigor, careful analysis, and clear thinking, but needs to be branded by emotive labels with no intellectual content, then maybe it's not nonsense after all.Gleng 10:16, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Gleng, the problem with your edit is that in attempting to mitigate the use of the term "pseudoscience", you introduced a slant that claims that pseudoscience is poorly considered. While you submit that there is no definition of pseudoscience that is adequate, this quibble has no bearing on the sentences you editted. There is plenty of text elsewhere in the article which deals with this, but you failed to take the cites at their word which is that they are discussing the perils of pseudoscience. Trying to argue against these cites in the fashion you did by saying that they are somehow not giving good enough definitions for what they are fighting against is injecting original research. --ScienceApologist 13:55, 7 November 2006 (UTC)
? How can using the author's own words instead ogf yours be injecting my POV exactly? This is the only use of the term in the article, and at least we should respect the possibility that the author meant exactly what he said. I think it is OR to go beyond that and infer that the author actually meant more than he said. Gleng 16:39, 7 November 2006 (UTC)
I hate to butt in here where I haven't been following the current history of the debate, but using precise quotes is often the best way to avoid accusations of OR and POV editing. When properly sourced, the case stands stronger. FWIW. -- Fyslee 16:53, 7 November 2006 (UTC)
Glad to see I wasn't the only one confused by that. --Dematt 17:28, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Precise quotes are not a good idea for lead. And the selection of precise quotes detracted from the main point of the sentence (which is to say that pseudoscience is to be eschewed in order to gain scientific literacy). Insisting on including the quote because it illustrates the author's definition of pseudoscience is beyond the scope of the article and the reason the quote was included in the first place. Such an analysis would be better placed in an article about the person himself. --ScienceApologist 18:43, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

It may well be that trying to cover science education is a bit too much for the lead. ... Kenosis 19:41, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Precise quotes are better than misquotes; it's only a few words, but their importance seems as clear to SA as to me. I agree with Kenosis; in the UK, science education here focuses on distinguishing good science from bad science, - the reasons not the labels, but I accept it may be different elsewhere. Hurd's inclusion of the occult is telling; where a word can be used to mean different things it seems important to be clear about how it is being used in any report of its use. In particular, it's important to distinguish between the scientific/philosophical issues and populist usage. It may well be appropriate to adopt a populist (pejorative) usage in an introductory science class; but unless the usage is distinguished the serious issues will get muddled. A "scientific" rather than a "pseudoscientific" use of the term requires an operational definition, or it becomes a mere label of distaste. I have a distaste for pseudoscientific arguments of all kinds, as I imagine everyone on this page does, but labels don't do the work of reason for us.Gleng 19:57, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

I agree re the quotes, but I also agree with Kenosis. When I go to a restaurant I want a drink first, not a roast suckling pig slapped on the table. •Jim62sch• 23:34, 7 November 2006 (UTC)
Hmm, drink... pig.... definitely drink. I say drink. --Dematt 01:40, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
Pig... drink.... perhaps a compromise is possible? Seriously, yeah, agree w/ paring the lead a bit and covering more below. -Jim Butler(talk) 06:03, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
P.S. - meant to add, agree w/ Gleng above re operational definitions. - Jim Butler(talk) 17:06, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
So, per the Pork Soda method, 1) put pig in a big blender, 2) empty contents into large vessel, 3) put into centrifuge to sort out bones, intestines, etc., 4) boil contents so no one gets sick, 5) add seasoning so no one throws up from the taste, 6) carbonate; makes 100 eight-ounce servings ... maybe this analogy has reached its practical limit of utility? Actually, in my comment above, I was mainly just wondering whether recent discussion of "pseudoscience" in science education might deserve a separate section in the article rather than attempting to deal with controversial pedagogy in the introduction. In the last half of the 20th Century, in general, scientific method is taught in keeping with whatever the discipline is, while pseudoscience is merely acknowledged as one form of the category of non-science without further qualification in the texts. In general, it hasn't been the educator's job to teach students what pseudoscience is, but rather to stick to teaching students appropriate method in their particular discipline--chemists learn one set of methods, biologists another, phsyicists another, experimental psychologists yet another, each of which is currently accepted in their own area of inquiry based on past successes. And it's left to "philosophers of science" to integrate it all, if they think they can. And as we already know, philosophers of science have been unsuccessful in attempts to arrive at a clear solution to the demarcation problem; though the AAAS has made nice progress in developing guidelines in recent years. So to whatever extent the term "pseudoscience" may be used in any of the recent texts on method, it is relatively very new. Maybe a brief section in the article on recent trends in science education involving the use of the word "pseudoscience" might be appropriate? ... Kenosis 17:13, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
Now we're getting to the marrow of the matter (porcine metaphor exhausted?). Yes, Kenosis, agree with your ideas; cult has some good approaches on presenting POV's. best regards, Jim Butler(talk) 17:24, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
That would certainly make sense and set the stage for the rational debate of the issues. --Dematt 19:16, 8 November 2006 (UTC)


Let's discuss this before adding it. This is what I found... no clear mention of Pseudoscience.

A new study surveyed psychologists and other mental health professionals about their knowledge and views on whether certain treatments have been discredited, and the results are provocative. The subjects rated 59 treatments and 30 assessment techniques on a continuum from "not at all discredited" to "certainly discredited."

The upper tier of discredited treatments included Angel, Orgone, Rebirthing, and Primal Scream therapies. Some techniques that fell into the mid-range included Freudian dream interpretation, catharsis for anger disorders, Scared Straight programs for criminal offenders, and DARE programs for substance-abuse prevention. The bottom tier, which represents more credible treatments included EMDR, behavioral therapy for sex offenders, and psychosocial treatment of ADHD. The most discredited assessments included Graphology, the Szondi test, and the Luscher Color Test for personality.

The authors made sure to note that all of this should interpreted with caution since it is simply an exploratory analysis and that many subjects were not familiar with details of each treatment. However, this does provide fasinating documentation about the status of varoius therapies and treatment approaches in the field, and ideally consumers can gain access to this sort of information to guide therapeutic decision making.

Norcross, Koocher, & Garofalo (2006). Discredited psychological treatments and tests: A Delphi poll. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 37(5), 515-522.

I just don't think qualifies a s agood source of what is a pseudoscience, especially with the author warning to be cautious when interpreting this study. Any other toughts here? Levine2112 06:28, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Levine2112. The whole article is about pseudoscience. They listed 59 or so theories that have been identified by other peer reviewed sources as pseudoscientific, and then they determined using a rigorous empirically sound poll which ones were definitely discredited. Similar to other peer reviewed literature on similar subjects, they use the terms quackery, and pseudoscience. So Gleng, yourself, or anyone else who keeps badgering for a dismissal of those terms or articles has just bit the dust on that argument yet again. Levine2112, contrary to your statements, you have clearly not read the article. You have also not clearly read NPOV policy. Look under the heading - a simple formulation. This article is a survey - published in a peer reviewed journal, published by eminent profs. It will inevitably be included in this article. KrishnaVindaloo 06:46, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Whoa. Take it easy. This isn't a personal attack, so don't turn it on me like that. This is the kind of thing that got you in trouble last time. I am questioning the edit and not the editor, so please don't make this personal.
Now then... no, I haven't read the article. Nor did I claim to. I did find a summary which doesn't mention Pseudoscience. It also mentions a tier system which I think is important.
Can you provide us a link to the article? This way I and others can read it. And/or can you provide us with a direct quote from this source which uses the term pseudoscience so we can see how it is being used... since that is most operative to this article.
And if we decide to reintroduce this, can you please try to be consistent and match the ref footnote method that everyone else has employed here? Thanks again and please don't take this personally. Stay calm and let's discuss this rationally and cooperatively. Levine2112 07:08, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
I found an abstract for this: [5] Note that this study is not about labeling things as pseudoscientific but rather to discredit/credit the value of certain therapies in terms of mental health. I really think it is a stretch to include this here. However, please feel free to defend it being here in an article that is about Pseudoscience. Levine2112 07:18, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Norcross on page 515 says that several authors have attempted to identify pseudoscientific psychotherapies. They site Lilienfeld, Carroll, Sala, Eisner, and Singer. Norcross then says that this present study is an addition to that effort. Of course pseudoscientific and discredited are the same in Norcross et al's judgment in this respect. In the conclusion of the study - page 522, Norcross et al state that "We have made progress in diferrentiating science from pseudoscience". They also say they have made a cogent step in identifying the quack factor of modern mental health practice. Its crystal clear that the article concludes that those 14 listed are very very pseudoscientific. This PS article could do with some information on the issue of the relationship between what is considered pseudoscientific (has PS aspects), and what is considered most definitely discredited. The Norcross article is perfect for this PS article. KrishnaVindaloo 08:16, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Please provide a reference for us to click so we can read this for ourselves. -- Fyslee 14:02, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Hello Fyslee. The ref is in the ref section under Norcross. You will not have much luck clicking on it as it is not linked to anything. Its a fresh reference and it corroborates many of the scientific editors on Wikipedia when we say that sources such as Lilienfeld, Carroll, Quackwatch, Mind Myths, etc, are all about identifying pseudoscience when they say something is dubious, quackery, or discredited. KrishnaVindaloo 14:14, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Since the [abstract is all that we have, this is the pertanent section:
  • Here's the abstract: "In the context of intense interest in evidence-based practice (EBP), the authors sought to establish consensus o­n discredited psychological treatments and assessments using Delphi methodology. A panel of 101 experts participated in a 2-stage survey, reporting familiarity with 59 treatments and 30 assessment techniques and rating these o­n a continuum from not at all discredited to certainly discredited. The authors report their composite findings as well as significant differences that occurred as a function of the experts' gender and theoretical orientation. The results should be interpreted carefully and humbly, but they do offer a cogent first step in consensually identifying a continuum of discredited procedures in modern mental health practice."
  • According to the article: "For the specific purpose listed, experts considered as certainly discredited 14 psychological treatments: angel therapy, use of pyramid structures, orgone therapy, crystal healing, past lives therapy, future lives therapy, treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by alien abduction, rebirthing therapies, color therapy, primal scream, chiropractic manipulation, thought field therapy, standard prefrontal lobotomy, and aroma therapy. Another 11 treatments were consensually designated as probably discredited (mean rating of 4.0 or greater), including Erhard Seminar Training (EST) and age-regression methods, for various specific purposes."
  • Regarding tests, the article states: "Five tests rated by at least 25% of the experts in terms of being discredited for a specific purpose received mean scores of 4.0 or higher: Lscher Color Test, Szondi Test, handwriting analysis (graphology), Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test (for assessment of neuropsychological impairment), eneagrams, and Lowenfeld Mosaic Test."

No mention of pseudoscience, just procedures that were discredited for the use as psychological therapies. No duh. Maybe this can be used under the psychology article. --Dematt 16:02, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Dematt. The article specifically states the term pseudoscience several times and talks about the difference between science and pseudoscience. The research is an important part of the effort to root out what is science and pseudoscience in psychology. I can see why you would not want it in the article though. Is there any particular part of it which you don't like to be mentioned? Would you state it differently? Because articles are composed of more than abstracts. They have abstracts, introductions, literature reviews, methods, results, discussions and conclusions. In this case the conclusion discusses the improvement in distinguishing science from pseudoscience. I am most interested in improving this article, and would like there to be at least some mention of this recent vast improvement in distinguishing science from pseudoscience. Would you like it if the term - chiropractic - was not mentioned? KrishnaVindaloo 16:53, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
I don't think chiropractic is the issue here (though your insistence to include it in this article has been noted). The issue is that Norcross is not calling these 14 disciplines pseudoscience; but rather discrediting their application to mental health by mere survey (asking experts how they feel about something). Drawing a link to how these experts feel and declaring something to be pseudoscience is a slippery slope and it would seem that even Norcross agrees that this survey should be interpreted with caution since it was simply an exploratory analysis and that many of the experts on the panel were not entirely familiar with each treatment. Pseudoscience is a very serious pejorative label to slap on something and therefore we shouldn't be reckless with its application... most especially in this article. Levine2112 17:59, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Krishna, I wouldn't be surprised if they do mention pseudoscience, nor am I questioning whether what is written might apply, it's just a question of verifiability. You have repeatedly expected us to just take your word for what's in a book or other source you're quoting, but we don't always have access to it, and we've become wary of your use of sources. We would like to check the context. I'm in agreement with your basic position, but your use of sources and your manner of expecting us to just believe you is unsatisfactory. If you'd find sources that are available on the internet it would be much easier, and we wouldn't have so many of these discussions. Your edits would also "stick" more often. Another matter is your use of references. Please format them so they become embedded links, and include the URL as much as possible. Just copy the style others use. I'm sure you can learn it. -- Fyslee 18:26, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Fyslee. You are under an obligation to assume good faith. KrishnaVindaloo 04:22, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
Levine2112, "declaring something to be pseudoscience is a slippery slope." Yes, that's true in the Norcross study, and in this context to do so in the article would indeed create an NPOV issue. The issue here at Wikipedia is not what is or is not pseudoscience. We don't "declare something to be pseudoscience" in the article. That isn't the job of the article. It is to provide information about the subject and the principles involved in how to identify pseudoscience, as well as to provide examples of various POV on what are considered pseudoscience by various people, etc.. Providing examples of how people or groups "declare something to be pseudoscience" must be done in an NPOV manner, IOW identify it as their POV. Then it becomes NPOV and can be included. -- Fyslee 18:26, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Exactly, and we have to use verifiable and reliable sources. Discrediting something for a specific use is not the same thing as calling it pseudoscience. Imagine if they would have included Motrin in that list. I'm sure it would be discredited for use for psychological treatments as well, but that doesn't mean we can re-arrange the words to call it a pseudoscience. --Dematt 18:36, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
This PS article is not just about saying who thinks what is PS. We are here to report all relevant views on issues of pseudoscience. The Norcross et al article is a new piece of research in the science and pseudoscience stream. It is relevant because it determines pseudoscientific and very pseudoscientific subjects by looking at whether they are certainly discredited, probably discredited, possibly discredited etc. It states explicitly the pseudoscience term in several places, it lists texts that identify pseudoscientific subjects, and it says that it takes an even more specific line by identifying what people believe are certainly discredited (pseudoscientific subjects that certainly do not work). As you may have noticed, all of the subjects listed in the 14 are recognizably pseudoscientific. It is obvious. Assume good faith. The bottom line: The article is about solving the science pseudoscience problem by looking at what is discredited. It belongs in the PS article. KrishnaVindaloo 04:32, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
But it is all in terms of psychology and we still don't know whether or not the paper actually calls these practices pseudoscientific in relation to psychology. I just don't see how this paper is truly relavent to this article... perhaps tangentially or maybe marginally relavent, but not enough to include it here. Levine2112 04:46, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
Levine2112 and others. It would help if you bothered to look up the research for yourselves before prejudging it or myself (again). As far as I can tell, nobody apart from myself has bothered to do so. I have pretty much already come to the conclusion that the majority of editors here should probably not be editing here at all. Assumption of good faith is a prerequisite according to policy, especially if you can't be bothered to do the research, and especially if you are a proponent of something that is being discredited. I repeat: The Norcross article is the latest in the science pseudoscience psychology stream. They approach the research problem (how to deal with the science pseudoscience problem/demarcation) by identifying subjects that are definitely discredited according to a survey of experts. So it can read something like: "Norcross et al state that Lilienfeld and co have sought to identify pseudoscientific subjects in clinical psychology. Norcross et al take a more specific approach by identifying what is specifically discredited according to experts". The offer to exclude the chiropractic term is still open. For a limited period of 3 hours only. If there are no takers on that offer within 3 hours, I will assume that you are all happy to include the chiropractic term in the list, and it will be presented. After 3 hours, the offer closes permanently. KrishnaVindaloo 07:14, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
And after three hours, three days, or three years, your edits will get deleted and you will have wasted our time once again. I don't doubt that the article is relevant, just provide it for us. We don't all have the ability to access it like you apparently can, and until you provide us with the article so we can check the context, we are skeptical. Your history here is questionable enough to make your attempts to force us to assume good faith rather pathetic. And for you to make demands is even more ludicrous. You, of all people, is in no position to judge who is or is not qualified to be an editor here. Because of you, and you alone, a lot of good things you have presented here have been removed from my possible use as a skeptic, merely because of your misuse and your bad reputation here. I find that quite regretable. You make skeptics look bad. -- Fyslee 07:26, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
Fyslee. I am under zero obligation to you to provide the actual source material in full. Indeed I would probably be contravening laws if I did so. You however, are under absolute obligation to assume good faith. I have been accused of lying so I will redouble my honesty. I do not consider myself a skeptic and I have said so many times. I believe skeptics already have a bad name and I would not be one of them. I do use scientific skepticism though, and I use it properly. It is my conclusion that many here should not be editing. That is my conclusion. I am free to express that conclusion. I come to that conclusion based upon the fact that a lot of editors here choose consensus over NPOV policy, choose not to assume good faith by default, and choose to make up rules concerning the provision of source material. I have provided ample information to prove that Norcross is relevant, as is the list of 14 discredited pseudoscientific subjects. If you think that looks bad, then I question your ability to adhere to NPOV policy. I hereby retract the offer to exclude chiropractic from the list. KrishnaVindaloo 07:45, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
KV, again, I don't think this about chiropractic (however, I do admit that its inclusion alerted me to the edit). But after further research, I feel that the source is still only minimally releavant to Pseudoscience. I certainly can be wrong as I have not read but a summary and excerpts from the source. If you can please explain where we can get it or where you are getting it, then perhaps we can access it lawfully. I certainly wouldn't want you to break the law. Please also explain why this is a legal issue. Do you only have a hard copy? From what publication? Do you have it from an online source which required purchase or membership?
Your latest edit is this: Norcross et al (2006:517) have approached the science/pseudoscience issue by conducting a survey of experts that seeks to specify which pseudoscientific theory or therapy is considered to be definitely discredited, and they outline 14 fields that have been definitely discredited.
From just the limited information you are allowing us to have on Norcross, this statement appears to be a violation of WP:OR. The summary nor the excerpts which I have seen don't mention pseudoscience at all; specifically that don't claim that this survey was used to discredit pseudoscientific theories or therapies. From what I have seen, this survey merely questioned a panel of experts of what they thought about the validity of certain therapies in relation to mental health... nothing more. To interpret more is an OR violation and Norcross itself even warns against interpretation.
There is really nothing else I can say - other than please learn the footnote ref system (your stubborness to comply is really frustrating). Until I can read Norcross in full, I can't accept the conclusions which you are purporting it makes. Levine2112 17:52, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

KV's inability to collaborate with other editors

Like it or not, you are obligated to collaborate with all editors here, including those who (unlike myself) hold opposing POV. If you fail to collaborate, your edits will not stick, no matter how well made, well sourced, NPOV, etc., etc.. Collaborative editing is what makes Wikipedia function, and in practice it takes precedence over all policies. The best NPOV edit will fail to survive if it isn't done in a collaborative manner. That's life. Until you realize that, you are wasting your own and our time. If you don't have the respect of other editors, you may as well play somewhere else. -- Fyslee 10:58, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

Unreal -- I walked away from this article a month ago and the same issues are still here(?!?). KV has still not learned to play well with others, I see. And I note that he keeps on espousing AGF even though he'd given ample reason to suspend AGF in his case months ago. Unreal. •Jim62sch• 11:07, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
Jim62sch. Neither you, Fyslee, or anyone else has ever shown any evidence of me lying. The only evidence presented showed people attacking me using the term "pathalogical liar" using racist slurs, and generally refusing to accept my edits were supported by peer reviewed sources. Those sources and edits can still be presented according to NPOV policy. You have no choice but to assume good faith. KrishnaVindaloo 11:57, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
Fyslee. I made every attempt to discuss and was met with a failure on your part to assume good faith, and a strange non-NPOV requirement to provide full source material. I have fulfilled NPOV policy on providing sources and explaining the research, and I have compromised way beyond what is normally required. If you don't like me telling the truth about you making up rules as you go along, or you failing to assume good faith, then don't push the point. I am always ready to collaborate with other editors and have shown a consistent effort to discuss. If you have a problem with me personally, then feel free to contact me on my talk page and stop wasting editor's bandwidth complaining about me here. KrishnaVindaloo 11:42, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
KV, if you are ready to collaborate then please provide us with Norcross in full. Or if this is not legally feasible, then please tell us how we can access it legally. Further, you would approach collaboration better if you were to follow the footnote ref format which this article employs. We have been asking you to do this for months upons months now. At this point I can assume you are being stubborn - not collaborative - with this very minor formating issue.
Two simple requests for you to fullfill. The ball is in your court to now show us your collaborative spirit.Levine2112 17:56, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
Of course, I am happy to help you out. Simply deal with it in the same way that all other editors deal with this kind of issue. Assume good faith and accept the fact without reading anything, or go to a library and look up the information for yourself. Any other questions? KrishnaVindaloo 20:32, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
Yes. Why are you being purposefully difficult? Clearly you have access to this material, so what's the problem with showing it to us or point us to it? This is not cooperative/collaborative behaviour you are demonstrating. Levine2112 20:37, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
I have cooperatively given you the source reference. If you want to find it for yourself, go right ahead. I am not standing in your way. I do not expect you or any other editor to supply me or anyone else with source material for all the things you want to write in articles of interest to you. You obviously don't have enough information from your web search of Norcross. It is pathetically lacking. So to remedy that you will have to do some legwork and look it up for yourself. Sorry, but thats just the way it is done. Stick to NPOV policy and assume good faith. I have already logged a lot of instances of people not assuming good faith here. That will all be very useful for arbitration applications. Thank you. KrishnaVindaloo 21:14, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
By making others go through the legwork when you already have the source, you are demonstating your lack of desire to be cooperative. We have simply asked you to provide us with the source material or the means to access it ourselves. You have refursed to do so. Your attitude has been noted. So don't be surpirsed if others treat you with the same courtesy you have demonstrated here time and time again. Levine2112 21:17, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
I already said that I didn't expect any such thing. I will explain something very helpful about Wikipedia policies on verifiability. Verifiable means that it can be verified. It does not mean that you have to verify it. I provided reliable and verifiable information. That is all I need to do. I don't mind spoonfeeding you info on Wikipedia policy, but you cannot demand that other editors spoonfeed you source material and then expect them to take you seriously. KrishnaVindaloo 21:22, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
Why are you being stubborn about this? I am simply making a request. I would very much like to read this research. You have access to it and I am asking you in the spirit of cooperation to provide me with the means to do so. Why won't you be helpful? Levine2112 21:31, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
It is not at all within my power to scan the document and send it to you. I have neither the capability, nor the need. You can go and get it for yourself very easily. Now stop badgering and stop pretending that it is a requirement to send other editors texts that they should be looking up themselves. KrishnaVindaloo 04:11, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Just asking for a little help, man. No badgering nor pretending. Which publication did you get it from? That's all. In the meantime, can you provide us with a direct quote here that verifies the statements about its relevancy to this article? Thanks. Levine2112 04:44, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Levine2112. You are badgering. I have provided all the information you demand already on the article. You just deleted it. KrishnaVindaloo 06:31, 1 December 2006 (UTC) BTW, Levine2112. This information will also help improve the chiropractic, psychology, and many other articles. In fact I have a lot of NPOV compliant details from other reliable and verifiable sources that I can add to the chiropractic article to help you out. You have absolutely no need to go into the consensus issue over that either because like the Norcross information, it is NPOV compliant, and NPOV policy trumps consensus. Would you like me to go into detail about those facts? I am happy to spend years maintaining those facts to help improve Wikipedia. KrishnaVindaloo 06:57, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Why are you dodging this simple request? Levine2112 17:31, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Missing information

I've added a missing information tag on the "pseudoscience in psychology" this is missing a reply from those who feel that they have been inappropriately marginalized by evidence-based academics and psychologists. There seems to be some tension between practitioners in the field and the researchers. I believe it is referred to as the widening research-practitioner gap. There is also a tension between the more directive behavioral approaches (eg. CBT) and the humanistic (soft) approaches to research in psychotherapy. It appears that proponents of the more behavioral psychotherapies have referred to underpinnings of the softer psychotherapies. Proponents of these softer approaches would proabably say their methods are too complex to be studied using a scientific reductionist logic. These are significant disagreements that should be described in the article. --Comaze 14:28, 26 December 2006 (UTC)

Orthorexia nervosa

I added this earlier today and it was removed; I would simply have reverted the deletions, but other people have since changed this article, so there was a bit of double work on my part. Let me explain why the wiki link belongs here so this doesn't happen again, unless the majority believes I'm clearly off the mark on this one.

Orthorexia nervosa is an "eating disorder" in which the "victim" only eats healthy foods.

ON ( for short ) was invented by an MD in Colorrado, never put to any type of experimentation, or any type of peer review process. The theory ( which states that 6.9 % of the public suffers this disorder ) is based on personal observation, and nothing else. There is in fact some evidence that the idea's founder cointed the term to mock the concept of the workaholic, but this is debated.

In other words, the notion claims to be scientific, and may fool the layman, but there's no basis in the scientifc method.

FireWeed 05:55, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

This seems to be OR. If you can find a citation claiming ON is pseudoscience, fine (though it sounds pretty damned obscure and not particularly worth noting in an article on pseudoscience). If not, then clearly it should be omitted. Phiwum 12:27, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
I put a similar note on this user's talk page about this. And you are right, Phiwum, it does seem too obscure to be placed here. Levine2112 18:23, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Bad Spelling in "Boiler-Plate"

There is a "caution" blob on this page "" with which the word "counselor" is misspelled with 2 "l"'s, but I cannot find a way to edit that text. Maybe some more agile wiki-editor can do so. Carrionluggage 01:37, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Done. Good catch, thanks! BTW, did you know you spelled "carry on" wrong? :) --Dematt 03:59, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Counselor/counsellor —they are alternate spellings and both correct. Julia Rossi (talk) 08:12, 7 December 2007 (UTC)


Popper maen Karl Popper, the edit has wikilinked reference. Do we have to quote what is already in here ? Nasz 12:10, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Pseudoscience in Religion and Ideology

I added George W. Bush, but I feel slightly inconvenient putting him in the same paragraph as Nazi Germany and Stalin Sovjet. Whatever the qualities of GWB, I dislike seeing USA mentioned in the same paragraph as Nazi Germany and Stalin Sovjet. If anyone can make a better formulation, I would be the first to agree. Rursus 10:09, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

Probably would be good just to add more examples to avoid too appearance of "guilt by association"; haven't got time but sectstub'd it. thx, Jim Butler(talk) 06:04, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

I have removed this section because it is too biased against religion and politically charged for an encyclopedic article. However, by all means if someone can try it again without it being so biased, by all means do so. Olorin0222 16:57, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

What's the problem here? I assume you are only objecting against the Bush part. But which part of that statement you doubt? --Pjacobi 17:05, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Bizarre use of this page

Regulars at this page are invited to comment on what I consider a bizarre use of its definitions at Scientific data archiving. This page has been started by a naive enthusiast and defended by... well. It needs help, anyway. The core is perhaps in this revert [6] - does failure to archive data automatically make a paper psuedoscienc? William M. Connolley 19:29, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

That is partly the fault of the way this article on pseudoscience is written. The definition doesn't address the heart of the concept and is too broad. As a result, there are those who want to use the term to include anything they disagree with - and this article is so broad it lets them do that. The objects of study in psychology and in philosophy are often not visible - so the choice is to throw out any lines of inquiry in that area or be labeled as dabbling in pseudoscience. This term, pseudoscience, should be reserved for clear cases of attempting to dress up beliefs as if they are science when they clearly are not - like astrology. And all the close calls should be considered demarcation issues where the argument should be "good theory vs bad theory" and not get into name-calling that just diminishes the integrity of the term "pseudoscience".
For example, suppose there was a lot of bad research on the issue of climate change (which appears to be the case and not a surprise given the political intensity and money involved). Some of the bad research could be sloppy, some could be dishonest, but none of it pseudoscience. Pseudoscience would be the claim that astrology had the true answer to the future of climate all along. Steve 21:19, 22 March 2007 (U
Hear, hear! There is a difference between bad science and pseudoscience. Of course, there are gray areas (intelligent design might plausibly be called either), but this is the viewpoint that we should adopt. It is also the usual use of the term in philosophy of science. Phiwum 15:49, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

It appears some of the editors here need to read the definitions and citations more closely. If a researcher acts like he is doing science but refuses to provide the information needed for others to test or reproduce the study, that cannot be called "bad science," because it cannot be called science at all. Here is a quote from a commonly used textbook:

Publically Verifiable Knowledge
The second principle involves the public nature of scientific knowledge. Knowledge gathered empirically does not exist solely in the mind of the scientist. In fact, it does not exist at all until the person disseminates it to the scientific community for critique, testing, and replicating of results. Knowledge or findings limited to one person or group and not verified can never have the status of scientific knowledge (Dawes, 2001). The person or group must present such findings to the scientific community in a way that others can achieve the same results. This process ensures that a particular finding is not the result of bias or error. [7]RonCram 00:51, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Hugh Gauch, following the AAAS in his book Scientific Method in Practice (2002), also rightly empasizes the importance of full disclosure in scientific method. No "wizards behind the curtain" allowed, at least not without being excluded from consideration as practicing science in any reasonably modern sense of the word. ... Kenosis 02:28, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Kenosis, yes - openness is important to keep science advancing. I have written the first draft of an article Scientific data withholding which discusses the policies of the research funding institutions and journals. It also discusses some of the studies of the problem and some claims of data withholding. I hope you will take a look and make the article better.RonCram 00:57, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

Kenosis, William Connelly has nominated Scientific data withholding for deletion. The main reason seems to be the way the article treats the data withholding case of Michael Mann. William and Michael are both contributors or partners in a website called RealClimate. According to WP:COI, I have asked William to consider if he is too close to Mann and the subject climate science to objectively consider the facts. All of the facts around the Mann case are accurate and well-sourced. William cannot say they are not, so he had to resort to an attempt to delete the article. Please take a look and cast your vote as well.RonCram 15:27, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

Accupunture and chiropractic

Should not they also be included in pseudoscience? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by ProtoCat (talkcontribs) 19:12, 10 May 2007 (UTC).

Shhhhhh! Don't let accpuncturists and chiropracters hear you say that.Bubba73 (talk), 15:56, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

Psychological explanations

Hello. I'm new to this article. I think its written very well. I did come across this published article though, by a social psychologist called Pratkanis [8]. Its actually in the peer reviewed journal Skeptical Enquirer. It seems to be very relevant to explaning as Pratkanis puts in the "holy cow!" problem (how do some people believe pseudoscience?". From a science and psychology perspective it seems to be strongly relevant to this article. It actually seems relevant also to the characteristics of pseudoscience, but I think the perspective is more towards explanation. I see there are some quite experienced editors here. So does anybody have a suggested line or two for introducing the main concepts into the psychological explanations section? Newtonspeed 05:00, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Hi again. Here is an interesting pdf link to an example that helps distinguish sci from pseudosci [9]. Its framed in the same sort of ways as the above, though perhaps more in terms of techniques of persuasion. Newtonspeed 08:43, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

According to Popper, individual psychology, and psychoanalysis are good examples of pseudoscience. Proponents of both theories held onto them for their explanatory power, but they failed in terms of falsification. That is, they did not actively look for contradictions in their hypnotheses. --Comaze 08:11, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes but they are not good examples because there are secondary sources qualifying them with more specific points. There are only some aspects of Freud's ideas that are PS. He's not totally PS. Psychoanalysis nowadays isn't total PS. Though there do seem to be some problems with some actual pseudosciences being used in some areas of psychotherapy. So those specific pseudosciences are far better examples than psychotherapy or psychoanalysis per se. Newtonspeed 15:38, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
Ok, I'll check my lecture notes and get back to you with some specific examples. It might be a few days. Freud's psychosexual stages (development model) are problematic because he offers the opposite/reverse explanation if someone does not fit in the model. ie. repression, denial, and especially, reaction formation... If someone acts in a way that does not fit Freud's model the client must have reaction formation. On the positive side Freud was responsible for making major contribution to psychology, the unconscious is probably the most important contribution that remains in psychology. Best --Comaze 10:34, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
Oh sorry, I meant that Freud isn't a good example in relation to psychological explanations of why pseudoscience ideas stick to people. Newtonspeed 10:54, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
Are you talking about why pseudoscience sticks to ordinary people? It seems that Freud's theories have stuck to psychology for years. There are attempts, however, to integrate it into the scientific psychology. Second, Freud's theories have not been easily replicated by other scientists. Also, I don't understand why you think that Popper is reliable? His views on falsification is necessary for good science and his views are widely regarded in both philosophy of psychology and philosophy of science. --Comaze 11:09, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I think you misunderstand the subject of this section. Its about explaining why people get fooled, and what sort of methods of psychological persuasion are used. I'm sure some aspects of Freuds ideas are pseudoscientific, but that really doesn't seem to be core to the issue of this section. It may be relevant elsewhere in the article and I'm sure we'd be happy to have any very reliable and relevant information included as usual. You'd need to discuss with others most likely though. Newtonspeed 11:44, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
Are you looking for something like The Barnum effect? --Comaze 12:17, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
No presently I'm looking for explanations that are mentioned by sources. If the Barnum effect is mentioned then fine. But so far I think its mostly confirmation bias, and some social psychology methods that are applied by pseudoscientific groups. Pratkanis seems to be backed up by other sources, but I want to ok it with others here before adding anything in. Still trying to sort it out. Newtonspeed 03:16, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
PS, I ran a search on the author above (Pratkanis and pseudoscience and psychoanalysis) and couldn't find much. But then ran it on pratkanis and pseudoscience and there are other good references, one by a researcher called Grant Devilly (Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry). That reference may have something you are looking for. I'll have a check myself though. Newtonspeed 11:58, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Phrenology a precursor to neuroscience?

Just to encourage healthy discussion. Was it really considered an important precursor? [10] That seems to imply that its a protoscience and any pseudoscience can be seen as protoscientific. It seems to be quite wrong. Its down to sourcing though I guess. If there are a good weight of sources for the assertion then it could be acceptable. Newtonspeed 07:07, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Phrenology was the first known attempt at localisation of brain function. See any neuroscience text. On second thought, maybe precursor was not the right word. My point is that to say phrenology is a classical example of pseudoscience without mentioning its importance in the development of biopsychology and neuroscience is not in line with wikipedia policy. --Comaze 07:10, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

I'm not intending it to be dismissed out of hand. I understand you are allowed to be bold and edit, but you are to respect a reversion with discussion. With respect, I can see from your contributions that your particular bias (we all have biases and I admit mine are quite towards testability and empiricism) may be towards the presentation of pseudoscience as protoscience. Though some have your view its not the majority of science thinking. I'm just following procedure with regards discussion on good sourcing for a particular view. Any range of peer reviewed sources will be fine, and of course reliable books and websites are to be taken into account as per NPOV on reliable sources. Either way, it remains that if any specific part or assertion of a phrenologist being turned into science will need to be mentioned at least somewhere else in the article. Its most likely just not specific enough to imply that one fringe subject was important for the development of neuroscience. From my understanding, the sciences of biology and physiology are the main precursors to neuroscience. I would imagine that any distortion of that view would be unacceptable. Input from other editors here may be helpful. Newtonspeed 07:40, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Localisation of brain function is the main research technique in cognitive neuroscience. I can understand and agree with your requirement for sourcing. I need to do a search later. If you feel the need to revert in the meantime go for it. I'll post it again when I have the sources or remove the assertion if my memory has failed me. --Comaze 08:09, 21 June 2007 (UTC) I've posted that reference to Friston2002. It mentions that some researchers refer to neuroimaging techniques as neo-phrenology. There were hundreds of hits in my neuroscience database. I don't have much time to go through the rest of the records. Is that source acceptable to you? Do you have access it to? The assertion is implied by neo-phrenology rather than stated directly. Can you have a go at rewording it in a way that is acceptable to you. Best --Comaze 08:36, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes I understand that issue. Neuroimaging is often used (pictorially) by pseudoscientific concerns in order to promote a particular product. You can see this to a lesser degree in some pseudoscientific self help manuals which depict a head or brain with particular mechanisms in place (usually totally unsupported by science). I still feel it would be misleading to imply that neuroscience was pseudoscientific in some way. You would need to be very specific in any case. Newtonspeed 08:42, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. --Comaze 08:47, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
PS, could you paste the actual statement by Friston, concerning others mentioning it as neo-phrenology - together with the context of that line? We would need to determine what they are actually getting at. Its sounds like a criticism. If so, it would need to be placed in a critical line in the article with reference to actual statements in relation to pseudoscience. Newtonspeed 08:51, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Friston was a review paper. I think it would be better to reference a neuroscience or psychology text book if you want more context. --Comaze 08:58, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, is that a no? By context, I mean the paragraph, rather than just the line or line fragment. Newtonspeed 09:01, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
The abstract gives some context. Click on the DOI link I provided in the reference. --Comaze 12:30, 21 June 2007 (UTC) I'll have some better quotes / references when I complete my search. --Comaze 12:31, 21 June 2007 (UTC)


I think this article would be greatly improved if we could work on that Etymology section. There is an excellent section in the OED on pseudo-science. A good place to start? --Comaze 14:18, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

I put it back into the lead, also reversing some accumulated entropy of the lead section. I also removed the NPOV tag associated with that section. Of course it could theoretically be turned into a genuine etymology, but it would be quite brief and unnecessary, so I wouldn't know how to do that, offhand, without messing excessively with the content and flow of the lead. ... Kenosis 14:49, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
That's fine. --Comaze 12:21, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Removed section

I removed the section titled "Medicine and health care". Given that it was focused solely on the issue of shark cartilege, it's useless and misleading as it was. With approprate material and some reasonable breadth of WP:NPOV perspective, and with WP:V and WP:reliable sources of course, this appears to me to have potential as a section in the future. Immediately below is the content I removed: ... Kenosis 14:56, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

  • Shark cartilage is falsely promoted as a cancer cure on the basis of an alleged lack of cancer in sharks. According to Ostrander et al (2004) this practice has led to a continuing decline in shark populations, and, perhaps more importantly, patients have been diverted from otherwise effective cancer treatment.[3] They suggest that "the evidence-based mechanisms of evaluation used daily by the formal scientific community should be added to the training of media and governmental professionals". ... 14:56, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Removed fact tags

I removed the "fact" tags for Thagard and Bunge. Both of their works are already in the footnotes, Thagard (1978) is there in at least two footnotes. ... Kenosis 15:02, 22 June 2007 (UTC) ... Footnotes provided for both of these as requested. We could still use a citation in the Bunge footnote to Bunge 1984. Presently it's to his 1983 work, and I recall a 1984 follow-up by him, but can't find it right now. Presently it's footnote #18. ... Kenosis 22:48, 22 June 2007 (UTC)


I replaced the newly changed illustration, which was nicer but annotated in German, with the previously included illustration that is annotated in English. This allows the interested English-speaking reader to get a sense for how speculative early phrenology was and why it has been long regarded as pseudoscience. I left the new caption stand as is, trusting that the reader interested in further inquiry can get a sense for just how far off the phrenologists were compared to, e.g. Brodmann's areas (which also was arguably pseudoscientific because of its lack of testability in humans at the time, and lack of supportive data used to arrive at the conclusions). In due course I suppose we'll get a sense for how other editors may think about the new illustration caption. I wonder whether the new illustration caption is too focused on aspects of phrenology that may have been protoscientific, as it was unverifiable even at the time it was first developed and put into use in some horrid ways back in the 19th century. Personally i have no objection to the approach, since the topic of pseudoscience and the issue of the demarcation problem isn't nearly as simple as many people may think at first. ... Kenosis 19:13, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes, Kenosis. The current illustration is preferable as its in English. I feel the caption (about phrenology contributing to modern medical ideas still needs some support from a source. As it stands it looks a little unspecific and vaguely promotional towards pseudoscience as protoscience. Newtonspeed 02:57, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
I'll see if I can find an better quality image. There should be a better quality one in english. --Comaze 03:25, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Totally agreed that a nicer quality image with English annotations would be very nice, tautological as it may be for me to have said this. I'm more concerned about necessarily implying to the reader that protoscience, or perhaps more accurately, proposed science, necessarily qualifies as empircially based science today. ... Kenosis 04:34, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Hi Comaze. I reverted you concerning the illustration [11] because the added complexity of the assertions/edits really does look to me like it makes a one sided view that pushes the "benefits" of pseudoscientific thinking. I think simplicity is the answer in this case. That way there is no argument one way or the other. One could say that phrenology contributed more to the study of pseudoscience than any particular science. I think it best if there is no particular argument at all in the caption. If there is a debatable issue then it should be in the article somewhere else - after good sourcing with clear statements and page numbers discussion on the talk page with a group of editors and so on. Newtonspeed 07:08, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

What can I say, sometimes pseudoscience stumbles on discoveries. I've added the page numbers for the Fodor reference. I assure you this is generally not disputed in cognitive psychology. Did you see the page on Modularity of mind? --Comaze 07:24, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
Well you reverted my edits without any sort of discussion on the issue (which I prompted both here and on my edit summary) of who thinks what about phrenology's contributions to anything in particular. A simple caption with no argument one way or another (sourced or not) would really simplify the issue. The article is more about pseudoscience such as phrenology, rather than neuroscience or neuroimaging or contributions and one sided influences. I read the page on modularity of mind and its only one view out of many on the subject of phrenology. Newtonspeed 07:38, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
Let's work with Wikipedia:Captions. --Comaze 09:16, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Definition – length and breadth

I reverted to the broader definition of pseudoscience, from user Comaze’s addition[12]. Judging by the history of this article, I understand that the previous briefer definition would have been reached via consensus and discussion. My reasoning for the briefer broader definition is that if pseudoscience is so based specifically upon scientific method, then it may distort ideas away from consideration of scientific community behavior and pseudoscientific behavior. Its accurate to say that scientific method is a part of behavior, but the scientific community also generally behaves in a way that doesn’t promote or argue in the pseudoscientific way. The article contains information about “communities” of pseusoscientific thinkers so I think a focus purely on scientific method will make the definition to narrow and take the emphasis away from behavior. Comaze, I’m not trying to imply that you are trying to narrow the definition away from any particular interest you may have, but I would like to point out a possible bias you may have in your use of unsourced assertions [13]. I feel such assertions shouldn’t go unsourced, especially when other editors have pointed out a problem with them. I’m assuming good faith based upon what seems to be your particular perspective. Again, my particular perspective (bias) is towards empirical testing and I am open to other editor’s interpretation of my own biases, though I think its important to understand how the scientific community works as a social phenomenon rather than just as a group that operates the scientific method. Newtonspeed 09:33, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Personally, I have no objection to using both definitions in the footnotes of the first paragraph, so long as we don't clutter up the body text with multiple definitions. Seems to me that combined, they might give an opportunity to the reader who chooses to check the notes to get a slightly better perspective at the outset of the article. ... Kenosis 12:42, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

I'm posting various definitions to show that the one I chose was representative. I didn't pick and choose to support a particular view. Here are a number of definitions from various dictionaries. --Comaze 04:37, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

  1. "A pretended or spurious science; a collection of related beliefs about the world mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method or as having the status that scientific truths now have." (OED 2e 1989).
  2. "pseudoscience - A derogatory term for studies and their results based on dubious or spurious science; slipshod methods; false premises, axioms, and assumptions; sensational presentation of findings; predetermined outcomes; and various combinations of the above. Examples include claims for cures of incurable conditions, such as muscular dystrophy and advanced cancer, for human cloning, etc.""pseudoscience" A Dictionary of Public Health. Ed. John M. Last, Oxford University Press, 2007. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. [14]
  3. pseudo-science. "A term of epistemic abuse of variable and disputed content." Prof. Frank Cioffi "pseudo-science" The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford University Press 2005. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. [15]
  4. "a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.""pseudoscience n." The New Oxford American Dictionary, second edition. Ed. Erin McKean. Oxford University Press, 2005. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. [16]
Pseudoscience (or pseudo-science) is a group of beliefs mistakenly thought of as scientific.[4] The body of knowledge, methodology, or practice may appear scientific, but it fails to adhere to the basic requirements of the scientific method.[5][6] --Comaze 07:14, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Hi. I'm informed that I am supposed to show this notification on the relevant pages [17]Newtonspeed 08:04, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

I'm going to ignore the side issues. This is really a content dispute about phrenology and whether or not the image caption should say something about its influence on modern neuro-imagining technique (or modularity of mind, etc.). Pseudoscience is not an easy topic, especially since philosophers of science have not yet reached consensus on a definition of pseudoscience. The closest we have is falsification and even then mosts scientists would agree that pseudoscience has a prototypical rather than categorical definition [18] --Comaze 12:00, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
I have also replied to you on the COI article linked above. The issue is not philosophy or content; its conflict of interest and the general push of your contributions. Newtonspeed 13:28, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
See WP:AGF,please. --Comaze 04:28, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
I believe they've pretty much settled on the definition of pseudoscience being "That which claims to be science but isn't." What they haven't settled on is the precise definition of science (which is where falsification and the whole demarcation problem comes in). Perhaps we should describe it this way? --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 12:16, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Good point. But it is getting a little over my head now. I need to check with my professor. Do you think that prototypical v. categorical is relevant to demarcation problem (and this article)? See eg. Herbert et al. --Comaze 12:29, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Reverted the new lead paragraph

I brought the lead paragraph back to the longstanding language (used since about late 2006) here, and combined the two existing sentences here, as they were somewhat redundant and didn't require two sentences. The issues I had with the worthy attempt to rewrite the first paragraph a couple days ago were grammatical and contextual. The attempt at a new lead, aside from being unilateral thus far (Comaze, I think), both unduly narrowed the context of psuedoscience in the first sentence and made a needless statement "about the world". Yes, of course the beliefs are about the world or some aspect of it, and it needn't be said in the lead. And without that extra clause, all that information, specifically "... any body of knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that claims to be scientific but does not follow the scientific method", can fit easily into the first sentence. And there was also room for "or made to appear scientific" without an excessively long or confusing sentence, so I eliminated the second sentence, which previously had read: "Pseudosciences may appear scientific, but they do not adhere to the basic requirements of the scientific method." Since the first sentence already mentions the failure to follow scientific method, there appears to be no need for the second sentence. Also, the use of "That is" in the second sentence of the proposed replacement lead unnecessarily postponed the definition for the second sentence, and was grammatically incorrect. ... Kenosis 14:44, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Thank you Kenosis. I think a longstanding edit that has obviously had a lot of work on it already should stand especially against what seems to be a particular POV agenda. I would err towards conservative editing in this article's case as there seems to have been quite a problem with tendentious and disruptive editors in the past. Newtonspeed 15:32, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Kenosis, Your merging was good step forward. I still have a problem with the phrase "body of knowledge". What exactly does "body of knowledge" cover that is not covered by beliefs or practice? The phrase does not seem to be epistemologically sound. --Comaze 16:12, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
This is not an article solely about philosophy of science or epistemology, although the demarcation problem quite plainly is central. A body of knowledge, such as, say, the knowledge how a person of average strength can hit a golf ball 320 yards, or, say, a detailed knowledge of phrenology or of the city of Glasgow, Ireland, if it is put forward by its proponents as being scientific but does not follow scientific method, is according to the definition given in the article eligible to be termed pseudoscientific. The word "belief" is too easily misinterpreted in its various applications to dependably sit on its own, and the added words "or practice" do not settle the issue of this addditional range of things eligible to be termed pseudoscience if they are asserted to be scientific but aren't consistent with what the scientific community regards as scientific. This is why, after going through various stages such as "alleged knowledge", previous participants in this article, including myself, agreed that, in light of the WP:reliable sources consulted about pseudoscience, "body of knowledge, belief or practice" reasonably covered the range of things which could potentially fall under the rubrick of pseudoscience. ... Kenosis 17:44, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes Kenosis, epistemology is often used as a pivot to push pseudoscientific ideas. Basically its used as a fancy way of saying epistemology holds more weight than scientific method. I read this argument by a preacher/phd who was propounding teleological concepts of evolution. Basically, its the idea that everything is connected (and relevance is thrown out the window) - so also is cause and effect. The "epistemology shift" is also used by the "quantum" movement in alternative medicine. So epistemology can be science oriented, or even totally anti-science. If science doesn't support your product, just go to a more philosophical level and say philosophical things. If you end up concluding something unscientific, nobody is any the wiser anyhow! Newtonspeed 18:08, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Newtonspeed, I think your post is off-topic. Please keep your posts related to the article. --Comaze 20:02, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
My post is about pseudoscience and epistemology. Its on topic. You are being disruptive by objecting to criticism of pseudoscientific concepts that you profit from. I believe your COI [19] [20] is making editing with you impossible and I ask you to refrain from editing on pseudoscience and NLP related articles. Newtonspeed 02:52, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
See WP:AGF. --Comaze 03:32, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Newtonspeed. You are the one causing trouble here. Its fine to run a company and make money. It has nothing to do with editing. Comaze is one of the best editors I have seen and has obviously a lot more knowledge about this subject than some. It should be kept in mind that NLP is only considered pseudoscience by the more cynical skeptics and that should be taken into account. I notice the cynical attitude is spread through this article including the opening. Its illogical and needs some work to bring it into line with progressive modern thinking. Steve B110 04:57, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
I begin to get the picture. Let's be clear, please, on at least one thing. Underlying the concept of pseudoscience is an assumption that scientists have some degree of credibility at stake when summarizing the results of their hard work and research to the public, to policymakers, or to any person or set of persons who are not themselves scientists. The word "pseudoscience" is applied in order to succinctly state an opinion, in one word, that purveyors of a body of knowledge, belief, or practice say their concepts or methods are scientific, but either simply don't understand what constitutes currently accepted scientific method, or are otherwise mistakenly holding that the set of ideas, methodology or practice is in accordance with accepted scientific method. This also presumes that there is an attempt by those advocating a particular body of knowledge, belief or practice to persuade an audience to attach extra credibility to what's being put forward above and beyond the level of credibility that might be given if the proponents of the body of knowledge, belief or practice said instead, for instance, "Here's the way we see it", or "We think this is great", etc.-- in order to get extra credibility attached to the idea(s) or practice(s) by calling it "science" or "scientific". Thus, the proponent of a pseudoscience is unjustly capitalizing on the accumulated reputation of science that results from the immense efforts and diligent application of scientific method by many scientists and researchers. The application of words like "unscientific", "pseudoscience", "junk science", etc., are, then, attempts to protect the range of application of the words "science" and "scientific". Hence, since the boundaries are not hard-and-fast, arguments will happen, and occasionally emerging fields will be called pseudoscience, some of which may later turn out to be accepted, but which must follow scientific method if they are to be accepted as scientific.
Regarding contemporary scientific method, see, e.g., Hugh Gauch's Scientific Method in Practice (2003), which explains AAAS guidelines for contemporary scientific method, guidelines that place extreme importance on openness to scrutiny ("full disclosure"), recordkeeping of experimental methodology, operational definitions, statistical analysis of the data points obtained through study, etc. ... Kenosis 03:25, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
My main point is that the opening sentence is not an accurate paraphrase of the citations given. It is subtle but the current interpretation does not strike me as logically sound. My main problem is in the term knowledge. Maybe we should get an WP:RFC on that point? --Comaze 04:26, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Comaze's point was, in essence, one that was previously disagreed with, and remains disagreed with, AFAICT. I think what would be needed to change the approach of the article lead, in some possible way that it has a reasonable chance to remain at least somewhat stable, is an articulation of how and why the substantive aspects of the lead paragraph would better serve the reader by changing those substative aspects of the lead, and an agreement or consensus that it would be an improvement, consistently of course with WP policy and pending, of course, possible feedback by yet other participants who may choose to weigh in now or in the future. ... Kenosis 04:38, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Here is some feedback. I also think you are being illogical. There are other views that should be introduced to the opening, especially with the epistemological side. There are also some major problems with bias in the article. It needs fixing. A cooperative attitude would help. Steve B110 05:00, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

<unindent>Regarding the facts that User:Newtonspeed called out, see: [21]. I think I begin to get the picture here. ... Kenosis 05:07, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Don't jump to conclusions. I also reverted that contribution but the edit conflicted with yours. --Comaze 05:18, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
What conclusions? I merely observed that, following User:Newtonspeed's observation called to the attention of participants in this discussion, that apparently two WP users who according to thier edit histories are closely involved with neuro-linguistic programming, are presently involved with the article on pseudoscience. ... Kenosis 05:40, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Kenosis. Look at the findings of the COI on Comaze. Theres nothing wrong with us editing with an expert practitioner knowledge of an admittedly misunderstood subject. Part of the problem with the NLP article is due to misunderstandings with pseudoscience and protoscience. Thats a widely held view in NLP circles and in psychology. So please keep your and Newtonspeeds unsupported opinions on other editors to yourselves and assume good faith. Steve B110 06:00, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
I'm open to getting reverted Comaze, but I could do without Kenosis' cynical attitude. These guys just don't seem to get that we are into cooperative editing. I think the Wikipedia tutorial could do with some NLP presups, especially "behind every behaviour is a positive intention" I second your concern. Kenosis (and your friend Newtonspeed), stop jumping to conclusions. Steve B110 05:26, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Excuse me, but Kenosis is what? Sounds a bit uncivil to me. Orangemarlin 05:35, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Try to see that we are working on helpful suggestions here. For example the clinical psychology section is actually quite biased towards skepticism. There is a lot more to add to the last paragraph there from sources who are concerned about the tyranny of scientific experimentation. Observation starts with the practitioner. I think the article is being quite unfair to a lot of constructive subjects by taking such a sweeping approach. Other views need to be heard and until they are the article is being kept in a very biased state. Steve B110 05:42, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
What I see is someone trying to pawn NLP off as "science". It isn't -- it's reliance on a wide range of subjective experiences, feelings, beliefs etc., take it outside the realm of science. How is NLP quantifiable? How can one do any kind of study on its efficacy? Would a double-blind study even be possible? (The correct answer is no).
As a linguist, I find NLP to be an insult to linguistics, and a misrepresentation of the function of language.
Now then, from the perspective of the article: NLP is considered by a majority of scientists to be a pseudoscience and as such needs to be mentioned as one. From a "proof-of-NLP's-value" standpoint, I don't particularly care that some corporations try to program their employees using NLP -- corporations also gobbled up the "Who Moved My Cheese" nonsense a few years back (which book was a derivation of some of NLP). As a human, however, I find the use of NLP as a tool for social engineering to be repugnant.
Finally, your comments about opinions does not belong here. And a nota bene for you: the people who most often cite AGF are those least likely to be acting in good faith. •Jim62sch• 10:24, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
The lead paragraph needs to be improved because there are some big misconceptions. I don’t want you to feel guilty about it, the misconceptions in the science pseudoscience field are easy to make. To answer your misconceptions on NLP and editing: Just because an editor makes a living from offering the benefits of NLP to others, it doesn’t mean we are trying to palm you off. The conflict of interest issue was blown up to make it a problem. I think a strong attitude change is needed from some editors here. Just stop jumping to conclusions and think about how we are trying to give you some more information to help.
First off, NLP is known as an epistemology. It’s a whole way of thinking. Second, NLP is unvalidated. Yes I can be honest about that. That means not completely validated yet. Neuroscientists don’t yet understand the mechanisms of NLP and they can’t measure them, just as they can’t measure certain balances of energy in the human body. The effects are subtle yet powerful.
Third: NLP isn’t pseudoscience and only the most cynical scientists believe that it is pseudoscience. For one thing its far more progressive than linguistics. What has linguistics offered to personal effectiveness? Nothing! I think you would benefit from NLP yourself. Social reengineering is not the core of NLP. Its empowerment. It can make you more persuasive and helps you to succeed in life. I'll look around for more to add to the suggested changes. Steve B110 11:42, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
NLP is hive-mind thought that uses social engineering to fool people into thinking they are more than they are. Admittedly, one can argue that feeling "empowered" is beneficial in that the person feels better. On the other hand I've dealt with the "empowered" -- fools who have proven the Peter Principle ten fold: they talk a good game, move up in the organisation and then succeed in being some of the most benighted fools anyone has ever seen. So, no thank you, I don't need your "power of positive thinking" bullshit: I know what my capabilies are and in what I'm deficient, and that has seen me rise nicely through my organisation and receive performance awards every year since 1992. In addition, as I refuse to lie to others, I will not lie to myself, and as self-delusion is one of the basic requirements of NLP I think I'll skip it.
BTW, as for this, "What has linguistics offered to personal effectiveness?" -- Given that a large part of NLP deals with linguistics (semantics, syntax, expression of thought) I'd say you wouldn't be making a profit from self-deluded fools with inferiority complexes absent linguistics. •Jim62sch• 22:14, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Sorry Steve, but NLP is a pseudoscience. It has a sciency sounding name and claimed to be based on science. Hardly anybody (except Dilts a bit) has done any research and it doesn't develop like science. You can still get mainstream NLP handbooks with that silly PRS picture in it! It may be difficult to conduct scientific experiments on bits of brain function but there is nothing wrong with properly conducted, randomized controlled trials on outcome - but they don't do them. They're not interested. (This doesn't mean its all rubbish. A huge number of its techniques are refined versions of techniques from other therapies, some of which are validated - hypnotherapy in particular - but in itself its a pseudoscience). EMDR has a much greater claim to be removed from that paragraph as a considerable amount of research has been done on it and still is. The jury's still out as to whether the finger wagging does anything or not. There is very little research going on for NLP, and, if seem to recall, it was you that removed what little I did find from the NLP page.

As for your somewhat aggressive and ill-mannered attitude towards other editors here, coupled with the fact that you made a big hoohah about getting sources showing how wonderful NLP was for the NLP page but have produced none, I'm beginning to wonder whether you are also a sock of Headley Down like NewtonSpeed, designed to embarrass Comaze on this page with the kind of support he probably neither wants nor needs, and generally mess up the NLP page. You've become active at about the same time and have followed Comaze onto this page. You've played this double sock game before Headley.Fainites 20:37, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Just highlighting a problem Fainites [22]. The comments above from Steve B are pretty much Comaze to a T. Keep vouching for carpetbaggers and you'll end up getting noticed for being one of the global NLP meatpuppet ring[23]. Headley
Comaze left the building. •Jim62sch• 01:53, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
Well at least with Comaze you know who he is and where he's coming from - unlike multiple socks. 59 is it now Headley? The 'global meatpuppet ring' doesn't seem to have achieved much. Fainites 12:49, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes, that's true. Socks bug the crap out of me, hence I walk barefoot.  ;) Uh, no, wrong kind of sock. Seriously though, all socks do is waste everyone's time. •Jim62sch• 12:54, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
Oh huge amounts of time. Headley used to invent citations! SteveB110 e-mailed me with false information for a quote I'd asked about on the talkpage in the hope I'd then argue it on the talkpage and presumably look bent. Fainites 12:59, 30 June 2007 (UTC)


It's recently been revealed that Newtonspeed (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · nuke contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log) is a sockpuppet of long-term banned editor HeadleyDown (See [24]). Given the nature of HeadleyDown's past abuse, it would be a good idea to check back over Newtonspeed's past edits on this article to make sure the same thing hasn't been going on here. If it's bad enough, we may even want to do a revert to a far past version - though let's not take this option lightly. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 14:08, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Just to let you know that SteveB110 has also just been blocked as another sockpuppet of HeadleyDown. Cheers! Fainites 23:31, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Let's not take the option overly-seriously, either. Let's actually look at the edits. This page is an ugly one. •Jim62sch• 01:56, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
In other words, the admins' judgment is that Newtonspeed and Steve110B are alter-egos who've been arguing with one another? If true, what an odd situation indeed. ... Kenosis 02:21, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
Hello Dr Jekyll, I'm Mr Hyde; Hello Mr Hyde, I'm Dr Jekyll. Ugh. •Jim62sch• 02:42, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
Steve was just a Comaze mimic. He basically pushes NLP the NLP way. Probably highlights the problem better than an ANI note. I knew you guys would correct any dodgy NLP/pseudoscience biased edits. You focus strongly on straight facts above all. Cheers. HD
Smoke. Headley also followed me onto the attachment pages where I'm trying to edit against unvalidated therapy. (Without much success as yet but that's another story). He retains spiteful grudges against those who have opposed him. Enough of this. I'm off. Good luck guys! Fainites 12:55, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
Just to warn you guys in case he comes back in a new form, I kindly e-mailed him some sources on a different page as a different sock before he was spotted. Now I'm getting spiteful e-mails. Take care chaps. Fainites 21:56, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
Final post. R.I.P. [25]

Popper's view

What is insufficient about these edits? They are well sourced. --rtc 06:38, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

This is an English wiki for one, and while some of us can read German, most probably can't. For another, as has been explained to you ad nauseum, Popper is not the be all and end all. Also, that edit was an absolute mess. •Jim62sch• 11:01, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Popper is just one philosopher of science. Lots of others disagree with him. I would contend that nonempirical science is not really science. And as I explained to you on another page, Einstein definitely was doing empirical science. He primarly personally focused on another part of the scientific enterprise, as do I. That does not mean that the resulting science, done by a team of which Einstein formed a part, was nonempirical. The complaint about M-theory is that it is, so far, nonempirical in a sense. Once we start to trust our own ideas and our own calculations too much, we often make mistakes without the checks and balances provided by experimental results and real-world observations. However, even if we have not properly represented Popper's views, you have to build a case for it, patiently and carefully with copious quotes and references. If you are unable to get anyone to agree, then you do not have consensus and you will be reverted. Clear enough?--Filll 12:11, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not about consensus, it's about sources and correct representation of them. I have brought sources, many good sources, and simply arguing with consensus without giving any real argument at all is not valid. I certainly agree that Popper is not the be all and end all, but, if Popper's views are described, then they should be described correctly. I'm really sorry about the need to bring the German quotation, but the book has only been published in German, to the best of my knowledge. Here's a translation by me (source [26]): "The aim of the demarcation has been misunderstood completely and it was assumed that I wanted to characterize the currently accepted theories of the empirical sciences; while it was my intention to demarcate all theories that can be discussed scientifically [see *remark], including the obsolete or refuted ones, so all true and false empirical theories from the pseudo-scientific theories, but also from logic, pure mathematics, metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy in general." (*remark: The German Wissenschaft is the broad meaning of science, so assuming the narrow sense of science is the default, I translated empirisch-wissenschaftlich as scientifically, but note that it clearly says empirisch in German) Contributing copious quotes and references about the issue, that's exactly what I am doing. Yet, that seems to be ignored completely. Nonempirical science is not really science? What is mathematics, computer science and all other theoretical sciences then? There's nothing wrong to Popper if a theory is not empirical. Only if something includes certain strategies ("reinforced dogmatisms"), it becomes a pseudoscience in his view. The word "science" has two meanings. The narrow meaning is that of empirical science, and that lead to the wrong impression that Popper proposed falsifiability for science in the broad sense. Since the distinction is important for this article, we should be explicit about it. --rtc 13:55, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

I beg to differ. Mathematics is NOT a science. It is the language of science, but it has its own complicated culture and agendas as well. There are some who would claim that there is such a thing as "mathematical science" which is more akin to applied mathematics, and which can overlap with real sciences and engineering etc. But category theory is not a science. Topology is not a science. Mathematical logic is not a science. And so on. There are "experiments" that can be done in mathematics, but these are of a different nature than the experiments in the physical sciences, which most take as a gold standard for science. Computer science is NOT a science either, at least not in the same way as physics or chemistry. Computer science is more akin to engineering in most cases (although one can do engineering science, since these fields do overlap on occasion). That is not to say that there are not some aspects of computer science that are similar to real science, but these are definitely in the minority of activities that go under the rubric of computer science. In fact, according to my reading, even Popper distinguished between the natural sciences (including physical sciences like chemistry and physics and life sciences like biology) and activities which he deemed still useful like mathematics and logic, but which were beset with tautologies. Do I have this wrong? Just because something is not a science or a pseudoscience even, does not mean it is without merit. Polygraphy and accupunture might very well have some aspects of pseudoscience, but still might have some value, even if they are quite weakly supported empirically. --Filll 14:56, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
You use the term science in the meaning of empirical science. That's okay, and if everyone would understand the term like that, it wouldn't be an issue. But it's not understood that way by everyone, just look at terms like "computer science". So what's the issue about calling it empirical science to make that clear? I did that in my most recent version ([27]) Unfortunately it was reverted. --rtc 15:21, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
First of all, Wikipedia:Consensus is an official policy, and is very much part of "what Wikipedia is about." Secondly, there is such a thing as building consensus on the correct interpretation of sources and which sources should be included or mentioned.
Finally, I'm sorry if this seems rude to say, but my guess as to why no one's giving you detailed replies is that it simply takes vastly more work to debunk an incorrect theory than it does to come up with one, and no one is willing to spend the time. People are likely just applying the duck test and treating your interpretations as one person's offbeat theory (and yes, interpretations of what sources say can qualify as original research) as that's what it looks like. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 14:04, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
These allegations are ridiculous. Did you ever hear about WP:AGF? What have I done wrong that you are now all harassing me, reverting my edits, not taking me serious, claiming I am someone spreading incorrect offbeat original research theories that don't even need to be debunked? What do you expect from me to get my edits done? Or do you simply expect me to leave Wikipedia? --rtc 14:13, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
There's a big difference between assuming what you're putting in the article is probably untrue and assuming you're putting it in in bad faith. It's completely consistent to believe that you believe this is true (which I do) and are putting it in in a good faith attempt to improve the article. We just disagree that this amounts to an improvement. Also, I'll paste my comments about types of sources on your talk page here so others can follow this discussion. I believe this is actually the main problem with your edits:
One other point that's important here: Wikipedia is primarily a tertiary source. The facts in articles should, when possible, be based on reliable secondary sources. Popper's original writing counts as a primary source. What we want is some other reliable source who has review what he's said and drawn interpretations from it, and then we report those interpretations. Interpreting ourselves amounts to original research. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 14:29, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
That's right, what I say is "probably untrue" given the primitive heresay prevalent on the web. Yet it is actually true. Popper's works are so clear and consistent that interpretations are hardly necessary, and that you should rather avoid secondary sources for all the misinterpretation that has happened. If you want to do so, anyway, please use the sources by Hacohen, Maggee, Bartley, Keuth, Niemann, Corvi, since these are the only ones that have a good understanding of Popper. Apart from that, the article currently cites primary sources, so please don't expect me to first come up with secondary sources instead of correcting what these primary sources say. If Popper writes a clear disclaimer as introduction in one of his works published later, which I quoted (and translated above), how can anyone seriously say that this disclaimer needs interpretation? If Popper says clearly that falsifiability has been misunderstood completely and demarcates empirical theories from pseudoscience, but also mathematics, philosophy and all the rest, which interpretation do you want to make about that? If Bartley writes that Popper has two demarcation criteria, falsifiability as the first, and only the second one, reinforced dogmatisms, demarcating pseudoscience, and that these have incorrectly been taken as one, what interpretation do you want to make about that? Really, it's ridiculous. Have you actually even read one of these sources yourself? --rtc 15:09, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Rtc, quit edit warring. Slow edit warring is no different than technically violating WP:3RR. No one agrees with your points. And don't even consider insulting any of us with your comment, " Have you actually even read one of these sources." I have. Orangemarlin 17:22, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Then explain what is wrong and what you don't agree with. --rtc 17:38, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
(ri) rtc: two points: first, you are interpreting what Popper wrote, thus violating WP:NOR; second, how many times do you need to be told that Popper is not the be all and end all? Her was a philosopher. Big whoops.
What is "heresay"? Did you mean hearsay or heresy? And if you meant the latter, your POV becomes all the more apparent, and your attempts to try to gain consensus for your "offbeat theory " are practically nil. •Jim62sch• 21:20, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
I'm sorry, yes, I mean hearsay. That's a mistake I do often, and I apologize. I already said above that "I certainly agree that Popper is not the be all and end all, but, if Popper's views are described, then they should be described correctly"; I can only repeat it. I am not interpreting Popper; I am only quoting what he says. And if we can speak of interpretation, then the article certainly also interprets Popper, however it does so incorrectly. I also cited a secondary source by Bartley that points out these things clearly: "Contained within Popper's theory of demarcation are two separate problems and two separate demarcations, both of which are discontinuous with the traditional, and which, nonetheless, are frequently treated as if one demarcation and as if responding to the traditional problem. Popper's first demarcation, [...] defines scientific theories as those which, when embedded in a context which maximizes critical scrutiny, are subject to, exposed to, empirical argument or refutation or falsification by the production of an empirical counter-example. [...] Popper's second demarcation -- historically the older of the two (Unended Quest, p. 41) -- is different. He also wished to exclude from science those theories (often ones which claim or aspire to scientific status) which have built-in devices for avoiding or deflecting critical arguments -- empirical or otherwise. [...] When defensive strategems are built into theories, such as versions of those of Freud, Adler, and Marx, which purport to be especially scientific, it may be appropriate to label them pseudo-scientific (since pseudo-critical)." (W.W. Bartley: Rationality, Criticism, and Logic. Philosophia 11:1-2 (1982), section XXIII) So please stop claiming that I am doing Original Research. --rtc 07:45, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
I here you say something? Hmmm. Anyways thanks for dealing with this Popper issue. You know I keep reading about how important Popper is. Let's see, yes, right here. Orangemarlin 00:32, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
My main issue with Rtc's interpretation is that it was placed into the Background section of the article. Reinforced dogmatism is a specific criterion that should be added to the characteristics already included farther below, if anywhere. It's a small passage from Popper, not widely cited. On the other hand, the famous passage from Science:Conjectures and Refutations is not presently used in the body text of the article. Popper says: “…[T]he criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.” Perhaps we should consider using it. The source is: Karl Popper (1963) “Science: Conjectures and Refutations”, p. 37. ... Kenosis 03:24, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
Please don't take that out of context. The last paragraph of the chapter says "Thus the problem that I tried to solve by proposing the criterion of falsifiability was neither a problem of meaningfulness or significance, nor a problem of truth or acceptability. It was the problem of drawing a line (as well as this can be done) between the statements, or systems of statements, of the empirical sciences, and all other statements — whether they are of a religious or of a metaphysical character, or simply pseudo-scientific." (emphasized by me) That's exactly what my sentence "The first one is falsifiability, which distinguishes theories of the empirical sciences from other theories"[28] says. Popper uses the word "science" in the narrow meaning of "empirical science" and he uses scientific simply to mean the same as empirical. See "Some twenty five years ago I proposed to distinguish empirical or scientific theories from non-empirical or non-scientific ones precisely by defining the empirical theories as the refutable ones and the non-empirical theories as the irrefutable ones. [...] And since we should call 'empirical' or 'scientific' only such theories as can be empirically tested, we may conclude that it is the possibility of an empirical refutation which distinguishes empirical or scientific theories." (On the status of science and metaphysics, Conjectures and Refutations) Here's a popular source in context of Intelligent Design, [29], which says correctly: "Popper's concern with testability focused on distinguishing between theories that are empirically testable and those that aren't." (emphasized by me) --rtc 07:45, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
Are you trying to imply that the article doesn't use the word "empirical" enough? --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 12:47, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
At least it doesn't use it enough when describing Popper's view. --rtc 13:05, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
I really don't think that's necessary. When we say "science" in the article, we mean exactly what Popper meant when he said "empirical science." Words and definitions change over time, and this is one of them. If we were to extend the logic that we should use exactly what he said, shouldn't this then lead us into writing in German? Surely not; we're expected to use English here. Similarly, we're expected to use modern English meanings, which is what has been done. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 13:13, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
Science, in common use, is broader than empirical science. The current version is inherently wrong and misleading. For example, a metaphysical statement is not automatically non-scientific for Popper. They are non-scientific only if they appear on their own. However, they cannot be removed from science, since each falsifiable statement has metaphysical content. For example, the metaphysical statement that each human dies at some point is a logical consequence of the falsifiable and hence scientific statement that each human dies before his 150th birthday. So it's wrong that "[metaphysical] statements [...] may be true or false, but [...] they are not scientific; they lie outside the scope of science" Apart from that, Popper wrote in English after WWII. --rtc 13:20, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
From Empiricism#Scientific usage: "A central concept in science and the scientific method is that all evidence must be empirical, or empirically based, that is, dependent on evidence that is observable by the senses. It is differentiated from the philosophic usage of empiricism by the use of the adjective "empirical" or the adverb "empirically". Empirical is used in conjunction with both the natural and social sciences, and refers to the use of working hypotheses that are testable using observation or experiment. In this sense of the word, scientific statements are subject to and derived from our experiences or observations." (bold emphasis mine, italics original)
The implication here is that in common usage, being "empirical" is an implied part of being science, and "empirical science" is thus redundant. As for the German/English thing, that's just quibbling. Just pretend it's an analogy with someone who never wrote in English and the point stands. I was just using the Popper example as it was topically appropriate. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 13:32, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
What you quote talks about evidence, not about theories. Apart from that, it speaks about the empricist view, and Popper's view, which we are talking about, is anti-empiricist. We certainly don't need to use exactly what Popper said, but we need to remain consistent with his view and unambiguous. --rtc 13:36, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
What's more important is remaining consistent within the article. If we jump around between "science" and "empirical science" and "empiricism," people are going to get confused. The concept of science has never been perfectly defined, and it's drifted over time. This doesn't mean we have to put in a special adjective for every particular person's interpretation of science (assuming it's reasonable close to the norm); different interpretations of what science is are expected. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 13:55, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

What do you think about "In the mid-20th Century Karl Popper suggested two demarcation criteria. The first one is falsifiability, which distinguishes scientific from non-scientific theories. Popper subdivided non-scientific theories into philosophical, mathematical, mythological, religious and/or metaphysical formulations on the one hand, and pseudoscientific formulations on the other. He distinguished such pseudoscientific ones by his second demarcation criterion, which he called reinforced dogmatisms, and which characterizes them by built-in strategies for automatic immunization against criticism. He gave astrology and psychoanalysis as examples of pseudoscience, and Einstein's theory of relativity as an example of science."? --rtc 14:01, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

I have a bit of a problem with the sentence, "He distinguished such pseudoscientific ones by his second demarcation criterion, which he called reinforced dogmatisms, and which characterizes them by built-in strategies for automatic immunization against criticism." This actually sounds like a perfect description for religious beliefs, which are generally not considered to be pseudoscience. In general, I support what Kenosis said about the "reinforced dogmatisms" part - it's not a widely cited passage, so as a tertiary source we shouldn't make a big deal of it if secondary sources don't. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 14:09, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
It has been taken from the secondary source by Bartley, which I already quoted above. Bartley says that, if it purports to be science, but contains reinforced dogmatism, it is a pseudoscience. If it doesn't purport to be science, it's pseudorationality. --rtc 14:14, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
Popper's a famous guy when it comes to philosophers of science. Really famous. He's going to be quoted and interpreted by a ton of people. Not all of them are going to have notable opinions of him and what he said. We have to go by which interpretations comprise the mainstream view, and you've admitted yourself that this isn't one of them - even if you think the mainstream is wrong. If these views are still significant enough to warrant inclusion, then we can include them in a different place (not necessarily in this article, maybe in Popper's own article for instance). --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 14:21, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
The public opinion or hearsay (or "mainstream view", as you call it) is not of interest to Wikipedia. If Popper's views are to be described, it's solely Popper's views that count, and I have cited a secondary source by Bartley, who worked together with Popper for years, wrote his quasi-official biography and edited some of his works. In contrast to the nebulous public hearsay about Popper, that's a "reliable source" (as they call it). I suggest "He distinguished such pseudoscientific ones by his second demarcation criterion, which he called reinforced dogmatisms, and which characterizes them by built-in strategies for automatic immunization against criticism. A theory is pseudoscientific if it purports to be scientific, but contains such reinforced dogmatisms." Falsifiability doesn't really say anything about pseudoscience. Theories can be falsifiable, yet be pseudoscience. Marxism is the example that Popper used: It was falsifiable, even contradicted reality at some point, but it included these reinforced dogmatisms that permitted the proponents to explain away that easily, such as claiming the criticisms were from middle-class. --rtc 14:27, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
This, of course, begins to illustrate just how muddy the waters got for Popper when he analyzed the situation beyond his primary statement that a scientific theory is characterized by "falsifiability, or refutability, or testability", three words he used intentionally in succession as terms for a single concept. While he uses the idea of "reinforced dogmatism(s)" regarding Marxism and race-theories and such, he uses other criteria as well, particularly for his classic example of astrology (which Thagard would later attribute to "lack of progress"). By Popper's count, astrology is an example of pseudoscience mainly because of its lack of testability and its overemphasis on confirmation rather than refutation, and on induction rather than deduction. "Reinforced dogmatism", although Popper formulated and applied the term, explains little here and creates unnecessary difficulties in the WP article section on "Background", because to the reader of the WP article, if I'm guessing right, to the unfamiliar layperson it sounds like what scientific theories do all the time, repeating the mantra of "universal gravitation", "relativity", "electromagnetism", "quantum mechanics" "evolution", "global warming", the "big bang", etc. To most people, in my experience, these scientific theories tend to seem like "reinforced dogmatisms". Why confuse the issues in the "Background" section of the article by using such an obscure passage that very few published writers have emphasized in their references to Popper's work? when a basic recitation of Popper's main theme will do just fine.

That said, I agree the example of "the theory that God created the universe" could be replaced with something else. Although, it does illustrate the point in a very basic way that virtually all types of readers can understand, even most kids. ... Kenosis 15:01, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Do you have any suggestions for a better example? Would it be better, for instance, to use some parody example that no one actually believes in order to avoid needlessly offending people? (Or is this better because it's a belief many readers hold and thus it sticks out at them more that it can't be falsified?) --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 15:20, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
I grappled with that a number of months ago, and decided to leave it so as not to step on whoever first put it in there, and apparently other participants were OK with the basic illustration too. But if Rtc's assertion is that the example is inappropriate, I would go along with it for the reason that the theory that God created the universe is not often called scientific. Possible alternatives that come to mind are the theory that people have "past lives", and that the stars can be used to predict future events for individual people. The latter sometimes does get called scientific or is implied to be, even today. If presented as one of several brief illustrations, it would fit with Popper's example of astrology as a pseudoscience. It also fits with Thagard's analysis and that of others under the criterion of lack of progress, being the common origin of both astrology and astronomy, as well as other criteria such as overemphasis on confirmation rather than refutation (recall the studies of a group of people where almost all characterized their astrological profile as "extremely accurate" when in fact the entire group had received exactly the same profile, picked randomly from twelve sign-characteristics widely used by astrologists). Anyway, that's one or two additional basic possibilities that conceivably could be useful in the section of Background. ... Kenosis 16:23, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
Past lives may work, though it too is religious in many cases (Buddhism to name one). Astrology actually isn't a good example of this particular point in that it actually is falsifiable in that you can test its predictions in comparison to what happens to people or what they're actually like (Astrology's big problem is that it has actually been falsified). --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 16:41, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

NP, then, so we're back to ... to what? The issue was brought up by Rtc, one of several he brought up. As to astrology, it has not been falsified as a field, nor have most of its "theories" or assertions about predicting individual events in persons' lives or "predicting" their personality profiles, because it's an ever shifting target (another criterion for pseudoscience). The very beauty of it, so to speak, lies in its ability to say just about anything its practitioners want it to mean. So it's been falsified only in a very broad and informal sense, in that it meets the criteria for pseudoscience, to the satisfaction of most persons who've chosen to look into it from a scientific standpoint. The concept of falsifiability, or testability, or refutability, is that the assertions are falsifiable, which in astrology they are not. That is not the same as having studies to illustrate that it's a moving target with no correlation, which is what the above-mentioned studies have succeeded in revealing. To the extent that the field is asserted to be or implied to be scientific, it's classic pseudoscience. Your point is taken about "past lives", especially in that the concept is rarely if ever referred to as scientific, but rather is generally considered mystical. Every now and again, though, someone claims to be showing some kind of proof or other of it, and the point is that it's not falsifiable, or testable, what's purportedly being shown as evidence of past lives (typically it's anecdotal). This, of course, is the kind of minor quagmire that I, and others too I presume, are trying to avoid by just leaving that particular example in the article ("the theory that God created the universe") more-or-less the same as it's been for about the past year or so. ... Kenosis 17:09, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Orphaned reference?

Anon recently changed a direct quote on line 71 attributed to Bunge (1999). However, I can't verify this one way or another since that reference seems not to exist. Would anyone mind adding it back in? Silly rabbit 03:02, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

"See Also"

ConfuciusOrnis, don't you think you might just be starting an edit war by putting those two in? It's glaringly obviously POV. Let's focus on bigger things. Thanks. --profg 19:51, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Look at the edit history. He was reverting an edit which took them out from a version which had had them for quite a while. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 21:06, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

I was reviewing the Talk history, and didn't see any discussion leading me to believe there was "consensus" that it should be left there. I'd like to see discussion about it here, to see if the consensus just might be that these two "see also's" are obviously POV additions, and shouldn't be in a truly encyclopedic article. --profg 02:43, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

ConfuciusOrnis's edit summary, specifically stating that these two entries are "the most notable, best know, best referened forms of pseudoscience we hav" [sic], is so glaringly POV I didn't think it would even need to be discussed in order to revert. Nevertheless, I see that Infophile believes otherwise, stating in his edit summary that "Consensus version had them in", so let's examine them together and actually arrive at a consensus rather than bogging down in edit wars. Thanks. --profg 02:43, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

No. We have a vast array of expert opinion that Creationism, including ID, is pseudoscience, including the collective opinions of an enormous number of scientific associations & organisations, as well as individual prominent scientists. That it is notable & prominent can be seen from a number of high-profile events, including the Kansas evolution hearings, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District‎, the construction of the Creation Museum & its mention in a Republican presidential candidate debate. I can't think of another breed of pseudoscience whose profile comes even close. Hrafn42TalkStalk 03:10, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

If Creationism, ID and Scientology are to be included, then so too should most other religious beliefs, perhaps even just the umbrela topic of religion? And Hrafn42, surely Christianity, Islam, Judeism, Hinduism, Sihkism etc. etc. have higher profiles? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Alexx16x (talkcontribs) 01:08, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

The difference between Creationism, ID & Scientology and other religious beliefs is that the former three make purportedly-scientific claims. Stating something as a matter of faith isn't pseudoscience -- falsely claiming scientific support for them is. HrafnTalkStalk 02:28, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
That's a very good point, however on a technicality, I would probably specify the specific claims rather than the group themselves as I guess you are refering to the 'test' part of scientology not the whole belief system, similarly for Creationism, you are refering specificaly to the presentation of 'scientific' evidence for creation rather than the belief in it. Thanks for the response. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Alexx16x (talkcontribs) 02:14, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

What form of alternative medicine is NOT pseudoscience?

I am not sure that any exists. As soon as they are proven, they are used in regular medicine, right?--Filll 00:44, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

And of course as the proving process would involve science, to say that altmeds have no pretense to science is just silly. •Jim62sch• 17:05, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
University and Hospital level research has been and is being conducted. It is, usually, pseudosceptics who, without much proof, if any,ascribe the label of pseudoscience to most subjects they dislike or cannot understand. (RichardKingCEng 20:50, 6 October 2007 (UTC))
Yes, and the research has found either that it doesn't work, or that it surprisingly does work for something and it stops being alternative. Here's the kicker though: Alties take the studies with results that argue against the efficacy of a certain therapy, and then twist it around to argue that they actually argue for it. The net result is that they're trying to use science to support a therapy that science doesn't support.
Also, remember that just because something is being scientifically studied doesn't mean the field is scientific. I can scientifically test for the existence of Hoofsnargles, but that doesn't make Hoofsnargology a science. Same thing with Alternative Medicine. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 22:00, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Do you have any examples in mind when you say that proponents of alternative medicine twist scientific results and claim success when there was failure? Thanks. Phiwum 22:09, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Acupuncture comes to mind. Studies comparing it to sham acupuncture and no treatment show little to no difference between "actual" acupuncture and sham acupuncture. However, the benefit of both over no treatment is touted as a victory for acupuncture. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 04:23, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
The real quandry is not about real and sham over 'no treatment', but that both were better than 'conventional therapies'[30].
  • "Low back pain improved after acupuncture treatment for at least 6 months. Effectiveness of acupuncture, either verum or sham, was almost twice that of conventional therapy."
While I am sure this research needs to be repeated a few times, you have to admit it says something important about treatments for low back pain at the very least, both conventional and 'alternative'. For the purposes of this discussion, it begs to question whether all research relating to alternative medicine is pseudoscience. -- Dēmatt (chat) 04:44, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Right, my mistake there. I should have done some quick research rather than relying on memory. Anyways, this might not be the best place to debate the merits of the study and interpretations of it, but it's roughly on topic here, so I'll continue for the time being. What I'd like to emphasize about this study is the inclusion/exclusion criteria:
  • Main inclusion criteria were as follows: age 18 years or older, clinical diagnosis of chronic low back pain for 6 months or longer, mean Von Korff Chronic Pain Grade score7 of grade 1 or higher and a Hanover Functional Ability Questionnaire score of less than 70%, no previous acupuncture for treatment of chronic low back pain, and signed informed consent. Primary exclusion criteria were previous spinal surgery; previous spinal fractures, infectious, or tumorous spondylopathy; and chronic pain caused by other diseases.
The key point here is that these are people who have suffered from chronic back pain for 6 months or more. Presumably, most if not all of these patients had been trying conventional therapy. So, the subsection of the population that is being studied here is the group that has shown not to respond to conventional treatments. In effect, the group who kept on the conventional treatments had nothing new being done for them. They knew nothing new was being done, so there's no possible placebo effect.
The real/sham acupuncture groups, however, would be expected to show a placebo result. In fact, the purpose of the sham group was to be the placebo control - remember that acupuncture is defined as sticking needles into the right places in the body, not just randomly sticking needles in (or using retractable needles). When compared against the control that was intended as a placebo, real acupuncture did only a little better (though not statistically significant), so you can't infer from this that acupuncture works. If you compare these to the conventional group, all you see is that the placebo effect is real. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 18:02, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree with your basic conclusions, with a few clarifying points being that these patients had a mean of 8 years of low back pain rather than 6 months, so I think we can assume they know their pain status pretty well. Also, the pain decreased for 6 months, which is a significant time period for pain patients overall suggesting that this was not a temporary effect. And we can't just discount that the 388 (the other group) did get conventional therapy, a combination of drugs, physical therapy, and exercise (n = 388). With patients that have had 8 years of low back pain, we can't assume that they have been doing this for 8 years.
Again, I agree that this is not the end all research for acupuncture and it is quite likely that the next test will adjust for some of the factors that we mention and different results will be seen. Call it unscientific, but not pseudoscientific. It will be many years before we have some more definitive answers about most of our health interventions, including exactly what the placebo effect is and whether this is a permanent and beneficial phenomenon. But we are overstepping our bounds as editors to attempt to interpret any of this stuff. Really we are just supposed to find a resource that says that acupuncture is pseudoscience or not pseudoscience. -- Dēmatt (chat) 18:51, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Actually, my point wasn't to show that this study wasn't scientific - it was, though it had its flaws (I haven't even discussed those). The problem here is that my explanation is how the authors themselves presented the study. From their conclusions:
  • The comparison of sham vs verum acupuncture was intended to differentiate the physiologic (specific) from the psychologic (nonspecific) effects of acupuncture. Among the nonspecific effects for both forms of acupuncture are positive patient expectations about acupuncture paired with negative expectations about conventional medicine, more intensive physician contact, and the experience of an invasive technique (needling). Given that the 2 forms of acupuncture are indistinguishable to the patient, any differences in outcomes between the 2 forms must be attributable to specific treatment effects. However, the 2 forms did not differ insofar as the primary outcome. This cannot be explained solely by positing the existence of additional,previously unknown acupuncture points or regions because in the sham acupuncture, needles were inserted only very shallowly and without elicitation of Qi. Several other hypotheses must be considered instead: (1) there are no specific acupuncture effects at all; (2) the specific acupuncture effect is very small and is overlaid by nonspecific effects; and (3) there exist specific acupuncture effects, the nature of which is still unknown,that lead to symptom improvement independent of point selection and depth of needling.
A bit different wording, and maybe some of their bias seeping in, but the essence is that the authors themselves agree that the study shows no significant benefit to real ("verum" as they call it) acupuncture over the sham control. The part where pseudoscience comes in is where others start interpreting this as a success for acupuncture. In essence, they're misrepresenting what the study says when they say that it supports acupuncture, and this misrepresentation of scientific results is one of the hallmarks of pseudoscience. I understand that in the end, it comes down to sourcing. My goal here was really just to illustrate an argument of how one could plausibly make the case for acupuncture being pseudoscience, and thus lower the bar for the quality and explicitness of the source we'll need. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 19:43, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

If there is no scientific basis for it, it is not science. It is pseudoscience. So ...--Filll 20:59, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

"Alties take the studies with results that argue against the efficacy of a certain therapy"; no but "Alties" is of the general "Scientific" terms "Quack" and "Woo-Woo" often used. We are not in a mature discussion area, let alone a scientific one.

"The net result is that they're trying to use science to support a therapy that science doesn't support." On the other hand I have read research papers and reports that make sense and concur with my experiences and those of others.

There are positive results; hence Angie Buxton-King (no relation) and other Healers working at University College London Hospital, and paid to do so, welcomed by medical staff, more research being set up there. Research at the University of Southampton, as well as various other Universities in Britain and the U.S.A. that I heard about at today's Conference.

Pseudoscience is "A theory, methodology, or practice that is considered to be without scientific foundation" There is nothing unscientific about the theories, methodology, or practice I have seen applied in the fields of complementary therapy, alternative therapy, or integrated medicine.

"If there is no scientific basis for it, it is not science. It is pseudoscience." That is not proof it is opinion.

Besides, the "logic" if it is not A it must be B does not have much going for it.

With my academic background and four decades in professional engineering I take lessons in science from no-one.

I have not got around to finishing the draft for a Wikipedia User page I have been writing but at least I declare my professional background and involvements to justify my ability to comment on certain matters. Though I doubt anyone would bother they are also, ultimately verifiable via Brunel University and the Council of Engineering Institutions. However, here the amateur and the pseudo-sceptic rule.

Tracts of Wikipedia are written by non-specialists or amateurs with an amateur axe to grind. I do not expect it to improve. Regrettably, Wikipedia, in its present form, is irredeemable in that sense Which is why what my research on auras on the Internet, mentioned elsewhere, will be published on one of my Web Sites, and/or a pseudo-sceptic free Site, though I have my involvement in Barbara's book to promote and my own book to finish; both of which have to take priority.

“Do you have any examples in mind when you say that proponents of alternative medicine twist scientific results and claim success when there was failure? Thanks.” You are asking for proof from those who oppose. That is not usually their style. They demand proof from others but rarely provide much themselves. (RichardKingCEng 22:45, 6 October 2007 (UTC))

"(Undid revision 162733267 by RichardKingCEng (talk) get consensus first)" As I said, the rules on numbers of reversions are clearly one way. (RichardKingCEng 22:48, 6 October 2007 (UTC))

Holy cow...--Filll 23:07, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

RichardKingCEng, please put some effort into getting the hang of policies here, including in particular WP:3RR. It can take a bit of time and experience, and cooperating to achieve desired improvements by reaching WP:CONSENSUS may take you a bit of getting used to, but that's the way you'll achieve something here. Your remarks unfortunately suggest you're despairing before starting, please be aware that expertise is valued if it can meet rules such as WP:NPOV, but it just won't work to announce credentials and expect that to overawe anyone. ... dave souza, talk 23:21, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't think it is RichardKingEng's job to prove anything. It is our job to find reliable and verifiable sources that call alt med pseudoscience, right. Do we have any? -- Dēmatt (chat) 02:17, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

There's this book: [31] ScienceApologist 02:19, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
So with that source (if we considered it to be a reliable one), we could add Distance Healing and Vitamin O to the list. I'm not sure that those are even considered alt med at all, but I haven't ever looked into them. Are those alt med or just quackery? I didn't see Alternative medicine. The confusion is probably about oversimplifying the list and lumping everything into alt med. We need something that mentioned alt med specifically, but it might be in the book. Williams Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience has a section on Alt Med and talks about how some are pseudoscience and others are scientifically proven to be beneficial in some cases, ie acupuncture and biofeedback. It talks about herbalist medicine ranging from worthless to "perhaps do you some good". I suppose we could find some sources on all forms of therapy that fit these categories. But nonetheless, Williams does not outright call alt med pseudoscience either. -- Dēmatt (chat) 02:40, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Certainly taking herbal supplements is not always part of alternative medicine. Certain herbal supplements are not considered "alternative" since their efficacy and use is taught in medical curricula. However, there is a general principle at work here: medical practice that is outside the mainstream medical community is not subject to the scrutiny of the scientific method inasmuch as the medical community is itself rooted in medical science. While there are certainly aspects to medicine which are not scientific, I believe that it is safe to say that medical curricula incorporate all that is scientific since the curricula are designed with that in mind. This leaves alternative medicine as pseudoscientific by definition. ScienceApologist 03:32, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree with most of that, though your last step requires a leap of faith. Ultimately, though, we have to find a reliable source that says it. -- Dēmatt (chat) 04:17, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
This does it ScienceApologist 04:32, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
This one is an opinion piece on alternative medicine and pseudoscience, noting that some alternative medicine is based on pseudoscience. We all agree on that. Let me keep reading. -- Dēmatt (chat) 05:05, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
and this ScienceApologist 04:33, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
This one is an opinion piece calling alt med all kinds of things.
  • "Modes of alternative medicine lack—arguably by definition—a scientific evidential basis, and most alt-med methods lack even a scientific theoretical basis. Thus, those who promote such methods do so in mythological, spiritual, subjective, and/or pseudoscientific terms. In the United States, those who promote alt-med methods especially as treatments for specific or alleged forms of organic disease* tend to frame "scientifically"—i.e., pseudoscientifically—how the methods supposedly work." -- Dēmatt (chat) 05:18, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
and this ScienceApologist 04:38, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
This one is an opinion piece calling chiropractic pseudoscience and calling it the flagship of the alternative 'fleet'. -- Dēmatt (chat) 05:22, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
(EC)[32],[33] For starters.  –  ornis 04:37, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
The first one doesn't mention pseudoscience. Neither does the second one, but it is interesting. -- Dēmatt (chat) 05:25, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
here's another ScienceApologist 04:41, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Gathering of like minds. Doesn't call alt med pseudoscience, though sounds like they would. -- Dēmatt (chat) 05:35, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
and another ScienceApologist 04:44, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
This one seems to support alt med and reject medicine's accusation of pseudoscience.
  • "Alternative medicine, especially homeopathy is often labeled as pseudoscience by medical science while medical science is less critical on itself as the examples of Some FACTS of the WHO on DMPs and the Report overview antidepressants prove. Research is always biased by the personal view of the researcher but recent clinical trials on homeopathy give science a rather bad name when this bias will be proven." -- Dēmatt (chat) 05:45, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
If we are looking for evidence that someone calls alt med pseudoscience, then it sounds like the above will do. It doesn't matter that the source itself disagrees with the label. It only matters that there is a clear citation either (a) calling alt-med pseudoscience or (b) claiming that someone calls it pseudoscience. (I support your asking for references and checking them, but this one seems a suitable reference.) Phiwum 14:00, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Thank you, Phiwum. The very fact that alt med advocates feel the need to respond to the criticism that they are practicing pseudoscience should be evidence enough that people label their practices as pseudoscience. ScienceApologist 19:52, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
[34] Actually that whole journal.  –  ornis 04:45, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Again, a good opinion piece on alternative medicine, but doesn't call it pseudoscience. -- Dēmatt (chat) 06:10, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Are you having fun Dematt? Ctrl+f is great isn't it? Completely frees you from having to read or think. I mean obviously if you don't find the exact phrase your looking for, you can confidently ignore the fact that they all describe it as pseudoscience. God forbid we'd actually use our brains, and notice that a writer ascribes to alt-med all the characteristics of pseudoscience, even if he chooses words like "absurd", "postmodernist irrationality" or "anti-science".  –  ornis 05:52, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
That is interesting Ornis, isn't it. Why is it that these guys don't come right out and call something pseudoscience if they are willing to call it quackery, fraud, absurd, postmodern... I think that is what Richard was trying to say; we can't call all of alt med pseudoscience, because some is not. Some is quackery. Some is prescientific. Some actually is using scientific methods to determine its value. Some is pseudoscience. -- Dēmatt (chat) 06:10, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Now your just wasting time, playing semantic twister, and being wilfully obtuse for the fun of it, I suggest you stop it.  –  ornis 06:16, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
WP:AGF. I'm okay with waiting to see what others think tomorrow. Sorry, if I tend to dig a little deep into these things, just trying to get it right. -- Dēmatt (chat) 06:24, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Assuming good faith is not a free pass for you to obstruct the good faith research of others. Ornis is right to point out that you are playing semantic games by not actually reading the substance of the sources but instead searching them for what you have arbitrarily decided is a definitive phrase. It is very much like other pseudoscience POV-pushers I have come in contact with in the past who have demanded absurd precision in all criticism of their pet ideas. I shouldn't have to remind you that there is a policy at Wikipedia involving conflict of interest which seems to indicate that you should tread lightly in these areas. There are plenty of citations above that indicate the pseudoscientific labeling of alternative medicine if not explicitly then at least by the definitions we have verifiably offered here. As such, a statement such as "many in the medical community and skeptics have labeled alternative medicine pseudoscience" seems to be a sentence that is well supported by reliable sources. ScienceApologist 19:49, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
I suppose you are suggesting that we accept your sources without regard to your interpretation of them. I'm not sure that there is anything that requires that we do so. If you consider my participation in this as POV pushing or contentitious, then I would suggest that it is a two way street. As for COI, that assumes that your POV is accurate, which is not necessarily the case. Not to mention you apparent COI. But anyway, I'm okay with you here. I'll keep looking for sources that support your position. Meanwhile, I still don't see anything giving a lot of weight to your argument concerning inclusion of alt med in a list under See Also, yet. By the way, your sentence above; "many in the medical community and skeptics have labeled alternative medicine pseudoscience" seems accurate enough and as far as I am concerned could go into the article where it can be viewed along with it's sources. It is placing it into a list without explanation that causes the problem.---- Dēmatt (chat) 12:18, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
(RI)another.  –  ornis 05:56, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Oh look another one [35].  –  ornis 05:59, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
And another.  –  ornis 06:14, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

<undent> This is ludicrous. It is verging on trolling. Clearly, alternative medicine is pseudoscience. Give me a break. To argue otherwise in the face of all this evidence is to demonstrate that you have no business being in Wikipedia as an editor.--Filll 19:53, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Who are the experts we are supposed to consult in deciding if "alternative medicine is pseudoscience"??? Scientists can certainly determine if something is scientific, but you need more than that to decide something is pseudoscience, which means it pretends to be science when it isn't. I would think that to call a practice pseudoscience one must show that acknowledged proponents for the field habitually claim scientific proof when mainstream scientists deny it. Most alternative medicines are traditional and so have never made any claims of being scientific. Some scientisticists want to paint a whole loose umbrella term with the broad stroke of a word that is highly condemning. It doesn't work that way. According to this guideline "Alternative theoretical formulations which have a following within the scientific community are not pseudoscience, but part of the scientific process." Many, if not most, of the components of "alternative medicine" have a following within the scientific community. And this tendency is GROWING, not shrinking. A campaign to label alternative medicine as generally pseudoscience, in terms of the directions medicine is going these days, is ultimately regressive and out of touch with trends in medicine. Friarslantern 20:52, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

You have a lot of assertions but very little to back up your statements. As was pointed out above, there are plenty of sources which report that alt med is pseudoscience. What's more, I dispute your claims that a) traditional alt meds have never made any claims of being scientific, b) many, if not most, of the components of alt med have a following within the scientific community, and c) this tendency is GROWING. I think all those statements are arguable and my claim is that they are false. I'll also note that determination of whether or not such labels are "out of touch" is beyond the job description of editors at Wikipedia who simply report verifiable statements and are not to worry themselves with how those statements are perceived by the peanut gallery. ScienceApologist 20:57, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
No, I have a lot to back up my statement, just not citations for the moment. I have common sense and common experience. As one who, for various reasons, has seen numerous doctors over my 40 years of life, I have noticed more and more an openness of MD's to take alternative therapies seriously. More and more integrative MD's are advertising for business. It is becoming more and more accepted that other ways of healing exist and may be the easiest and fastest and simplest way to get better for some people: medicine is not just the science but also the intuitive art of healing, of making people better whatever it takes; to receive acceptance by mainstream science, a therapy must not only undergo expensive testing (where there is no source of funding since there are likely no patents that can come of it!)it must also overcome the machinations of a drug industry determined to own the answer to every problem. If you genuinely believe that the influence of alternative medicine is NOT growing take a look at the Mayo Clinic Guide to Alternative Health (I believe that's the title). They run down numerous therapies and give each one a red (dangerous and or unproven) light, a yellow light, or a green light (scientific trials seem to be showing effectiveness and safety). Manuals on herbs RARELY refer to the presence or absence of scientific trials, they simply list the herb and its (anecdotal, traditional) effects, side effects, doses, and cautions, NEVER claiming anything's been scientifically proven. There are books coming out, just recently, that mention trials reported on each of the techniques, but these are new and rare and very conservative in their statements. Again, "Alternative theoretical formulations which have a following within the scientific community are not pseudoscience, but part of the scientific process." I don't think you can show that the popularity of integrative or complementary medicine is getting smaller by any means among MD's, but feel free to try. Friarslantern 00:56, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
The question is, are there citations which show alt med to be pseudoscience? The answer is yes. If you want to provide verifiable and reliable sources that show otherwise, be my guest. We are not in the business of editing to suit the "common sense and common experience" of editors. ScienceApologist 01:04, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

It does not support the sentence.

Lack of suitable controls. This is particularly common of some alternative medicines, particularly homeopathy where a demonstration of an effect above and beyond that of a placebo is often absent [13].

The metanalyses on homeopathy do not support exaclty that. [36] The sentence is not supported by the cited source. You have to give another one or remove the sentence. best. --Sm565 07:54, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

It doesn't belong in that section anyway, so I removed it. That sentence was added in this edit in August, and the cite was to a blog. ... Kenosis 14:47, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

It is still there. Maybe the user who reverted did not see that the cited source does not support the sentence. Also the studies here [37] do not support the statement "homeopathy where a demonstration of an effect above and beyond that of a placebo is often absent". "Often" is not accurate. "Lack of suitable controls" does not apply to homoepathy - there are studies again here. [38] . --Sm565 21:20, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Sm565: Or, in the interest of neutrality, you could actually rewrite the sentence so that the meta-analysis "supports exactly that". You're not contesting the actual results are you? — DIEGO talk 21:36, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Not really. all the major sources currently listed in the Homeopathy article report the the subject is controversial [39] and more of the metananalyses find Homeopathy positive and promising asking for more research. --Sm565 00:22, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Identifying pseudoscience: Another characteristic of pseudoscience advocates — Attempting to refute insignificant details in well-designed critical research and parse language down to the word in order to avoid the big-picture, plain-as-day conclusion that it just doesn't work any better than a sugar pill or a lullaby. — DIEGO talk 21:43, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Studies show different results.Plus the sentence is not supported by the current citation --Sm565 00:26, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I've removed it again here, now that it's been called to attention. We worked very hard over a year ago to remove people's favorite "poster child for pseudoscience" from the criteria section, and on top of the meandering language, it was cited to this blog. I replaced it with "Lack of effective controls in experimental design." It could still use a citation. If one or more participants in the article want to mention placebo effect in that criterion, I support it, as long as favorite "examples" are left out. One more thing: "Alternative medicine", while obviously a suitable link from this article, is a very poor definition and a very loose classification. "Alternative medicine" runs the gamut from evidence-based to completely-off-the-charts wacko quackery and even fraud in some instances. Please let's keep this presentation as credible as possible and the language tight and accurate as reasonably possible.

If there's to be a section on alt med, then let's find the citations and put it in its own section-- with appropriate sourcing, and being prepared to factor in some degree of experimental support for certain specific classifications of "alternative medicine"... Kenosis 00:04, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Thanks Kenosis, I know you have been working hard on this article for some time and are a big factor for why it has evolved so well in the last year. How do you suggest we handle Altenative medicine in the See Also section? ---- Dēmatt (chat) 02:44, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

See also link to Alternative Medicine

Please leave the external "see also" link to alternative medicine as it is -- it needn't be totally inclusive of pseudoscientific pursuits to merit inclusion as a "see also" link. Our main job in this particular article is to tell it like it is and stick to the basics of "pseudoscience", within the three core WP content policies (WP:NPOV, WP:V and WP:NOR), as well as on WP:RS and other applicable guidelines, via the main procedural policy of WP:Consensus to the maximum achievable extent. If the reliable ources are adequate to merit a separate section on "alternative medicine", then it can be parsed a bit more finely in keeping with the sources, and we'all can argue accordingly. If the sourcing isn't adequate, such a separate section is not very likely to become stable in this article. That's as best I can figure it at the moment. ... Kenosis 06:03, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Sounds like a plan and I totaly understand. If it ever looks like we need to work it out, I'll be glad to see if I can help with the details. It probably is something that could be worked out, but it would take a lot of effort to get it NPOV. Until then, maybe we can all be thinking about the alternatives. -- Dēmatt (chat) 00:45, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
I think that's a wise decision. Enough of so-called "alternative" medicine is pseudoscientific enough that it warrants inclusion. The rest of it is a combination of various things such as traditional medicine, religious ideas, new age, mysticism, speculation, wishful thinking, quackery, disproven and nonsensical methods, and of course some are outright frauds and scams. OTOH we have modern medicine that stretches all the way from scientifically plausible but as yet unproven experimental medicine, to fully accepted and well-proven methods that fulfill all the dreams of every EBM fan. In earlier days of great ignorance there was no real difference between quackery and mainstream, and as time has gone by a number of things have made the transition from alternative to fully accepted methods. At the same time far more methods have been rejected as worthless or dangerous. As time goes by the transition from "alternative" to mainstream is becoming increasingly rare and will become even more rare with time. The things that currently continue to be classified as "alternative" are with few exceptions unlikely to ever become proven or accepted as mainstream (except possibly some elements in them, but not the therapies or professions themselves). They are basically what's left in the garbage heap of previously discarded and disproven methods, or methods that have been rejected as nonsensical and totally implausible. -- Fyslee / talk 06:46, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
That's a pretty close-minded view of science and medicine, very much akin to pseudoskepticism. This only goes to make the continued existence of the label "Alternative Medicine" possible and neccessary. -- Levine2112 discuss 07:13, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Hehe, well, you have to admit, that's the Fyslee we all know and love:) -- Dēmatt (chat) 00:49, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
Part of the problem is that the term Alternative medicine is vague. A reasonably broad interpretation of the term would include e.g. herbal therapies which have empirical basis. Another part of the problem is that many of us assume that medicine as practiced today in modern hospitals in the developed world is grounded only in science. I am afraid that there is wishful thinking, ignorance of the evidence, beliefs held in opposition to overwhelming evidence, true believer syndrome, etc. in modern clinical practice. NuclearWinner 17:38, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, alternative medicine is a vague term, but vague terminology isn't exactly uncommon in pseudoscience. Simply listing the alternative medicine article in the see also section does not automatically mean that every alternative medicine ever developed is necessarily pseudoscience just as labeling a subject with Category:Pseudoscience doesn't mean that there is 100% consensus amongst the entirety of humanity that the subject is pseudoscience. All we're doing is pointing out that alternative medicine has been considered and criticized by many as pseudoscience. Whether there is pseudoscience going on in modern hospitals is beside the point. ScienceApologist 18:12, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree that the "see also" link to Alternative medicine should stay. I read it as meaning no more than "if you are interested in this subject you will also find relevant material at Alternative medicine" - with no implication whatever that alternative medicine = pseudoscience. Snalwibma 19:50, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I understand what you are saying regarding "for more reading, you might find this interesting". However, that is not what "see also" is used for. read more here. -- Levine2112 discuss 22:12, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Looks like it's what see also is used for to me. ScienceApologist 22:14, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I just don't see how "Alternative Medicine" is related to "Pseudoscience" other than by a POV judgement. Essentially, this is equivilent to having an article called "Bad" and adding one religion there but not another or one political party there but not any others. If Alternative Medicine is added here then why not "Medicine". Certainly there are pseudoscientific elements found in Medicine. It seems like we've had this discussion many times before and the consensus always sides with not labelling, grouping or insinuating anything that is only subjectively associated with or labelled pseudoscience. "Pseudoscience" is being used here as a POV pejorative weapon rather than a neutral term with some scientific semantic merit. Let's stay on the ball here folks. This article has progressed tremendously. Let's not get bogged down with POV pushing. That's my take on it anyhow. -- Levine2112 discuss 01:49, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

(outdent) I don't think that listing Alternative medicine in the "see also" section of the Pseudoscience article is making a POV judgement. The vast majority of pracitces that are labeled Alt. Med fit the identifying characteristics of pseudoscience listed in the article. Even if the actual practices can stand up to experimental rigor, the theoretical foundations of most Alt. Med. systems are still pseudoscientific. For example, spinal manipulation could very well be an effective treatment for a number of ailments, but attributing its effectiveness to the relief of subluxations is a pseudoscientific claim (I am not implying that all or most chiros still believe in subluxations, it's just an example). Accupuncture could be clinically effective, but saying that the needles are redirecting Qi or relieving symptoms of a "hot liver" is making a pseudoscientific claim. It is the underlying philosophy that makes a practice pseudoscientific, not the validity of its particular practices. Does EBM endorsement of meditation as effective for stress relief necessarily imply an endorsement of Buddhism as a belief system? No. Theory and practice are distinct. That is why spinal manipulation, accupuncture, and well-researched herbal treatments (which are essentially just pharmaceuticals, right?) could very well be incorporated into EBM, while chiropractic, TCM, and herbalism (as theoretical constructs) will probably never be fully accepted. For this reason I don't think it is POV pushing to acknowledge that Alt. Med, although far from being a unified "field", is largely pseudoscientific. It seems that many (most?) Alt. Med. systems acknowledge that their theories are not grounded in EBM (in fact some make that claim proudly, alluding to the "ancient mystique" of their field), but they still make claims regarding the efficacy of their practices (otherwise they would have no patients). The claims can be tested, but the theory can't. The claims may be scientifically valid, but the theory will probably never be (at least not until we can identify and measure concepts like Qi, healing energy, etc.) Therefore, Alt. Med systems are generally pseudoscentific. I don't think that is necessarily a pejoritive in this case, especially since so many Alt. Med. practices seem promising. But I won't revert the link again. It would be nice to see some sort of consensus, though. — DIEGO talk 17:14, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

The question is not whether alternative medicine includes a degree of pseudoscience (somewhat more than medicine). This issue is that placing it in a list portrays all of it as 100%pseudoscience. If we take our emotions out of the discussion, I think we would all agree that the subject should be discussed rather than listed, but in the interest of consensus and out of respect for those who have brought this article out of the dark ages, I think it is fine the way it is. -- Dēmatt (chat) 02:04, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

disputed edit on psychiatry

I added the following under the "Clinical Psychology" subsection and it was subsequently removed for the reason "Uncited OR":

Clinical psychiatry and biological psychiatry also fall under scientific criticism for the lack of testable evidence for mental disorders and the lack of scientific rigor in determining their etiology. Disagreement over the nature of emotional distress and its relation to changes in the brain and body fuels an ongoing controversy. Psychiatrists continue to struggle to define psychiatry as a hard science, while competing against alternative approaches to treating mental distress. A political movement known as anti-psychiatry has arisen which advocates alternatives to biological psychiatry.

Please explain how this is original research. A criticism of biological psychiatry is that it is a pseudoscience and this is a notable POV mentioned in the articles Biological psychiatry, Biopsychiatry controversy, and Anti-psychiatry. To whit, the claims of biopsychiatry cannot be falsified by biological evidence and so neither can biological evidence verify the claims of biopsychiatry. Biopsychiatry is portrayed as a science but fails the criterion of falsifiability. Perhaps this criticism of biopsychiatry does not belong under the section titled "clinical psychology" or perhaps it should be detailed in some manner besides my own. But I argue that the criticism that elements of psychiatry, not just psychology, fail the scientific method deserves mention in this article. Oneismany 04:39, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Biological psychiatry#Criticism is appallingly badly sourced. Biopsychiatry controversy appears to have major WP:NPOV problems, in that it appears to be written entirely from the anti-biological psychiatry perspective. Neither amounts to a credible basis for inclusion in this article. HrafnTalkStalk 05:07, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Is Biopsychiatry controversy a POV-fork?

Could people take a look at Biopsychiatry controversy and tell me if there's any reason to consider it to be anything other than a pure WP:POVFORK of Biological psychiatry, and a gross violation of WP:NPOV & WP:UNDUE? HrafnTalkStalk 06:37, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Biological psychiatry describes the discipline, biopsychiatry controversy describes the minor, but arguably significant, movement among certain mental health professionals that challenges the validity of biological psychiatry as a scientific discipline. In the same manner we have articles on climate change denial and climate change, Al Gore and Al Gore controversies, splitting off the reliably documented discussion and/or criticism of something from the article describing said thing is not a POV-fork unless it promotes the criticism rather than describe it. Moreover, the creation of this article was a consensus outcome from a RfAr on this very subject (in which, for full disclosure, I was a participant on the "pro-psychiatry" side - so i'm hardly an advocate of this particular article). The subject of the article is a minority viewpoint (as is made clear in the lead), so its not undue weight to focus on such a viewpoint. However, if you consider the minority viewpoint to lack significance, XfD exists for this very reason. Why don't you nominate and let the community decide? Incidentally, I agree that the use of a minority viewpoint such as this to justify describing bio-psychiatry as a "pseudoscience" is invalid per WP:UNDUE. Rockpocket 07:17, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
No Rockpocket, the biopsychiatry controversy article describes only the minority opinion in this minor controversy -- in your own words "it promotes the criticism rather than describe it", rendering it, by your own admission, a POV-fork. This is a gross violation of WP:UNDUE. It is the equivalent to creating an article on the "Shape of the Earth controversy" that states only the view that the Earth is flat. Where a controversy is notable (not "minor") and is described without undue weight to the minority viewpoint, it is legitimate. This is neither. HrafnTalkStalk 09:30, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Except it doesn't, which you appear to have overlooked per your talk page. Plus, misquoting me isn't particularly helpful. Rockpocket 02:34, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm skeptical regarding psycoanalysis per se, however I agree with this edit [40]. If psychoanalysis is included here it would have to be in another section, and the specifically accused parts of psychoanalysis would have to be clear within the text. Otherwise it is unclear as to what is actually being criticized or specified as pseudoscience. Docleaf (talk) 15:43, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 04:23, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

The title of this article does not meet NPOV requirements

NPOV is a fundamental Wikipedia principle. NPOV has requirements for both the body and the title of an article, and the title of this article is not NPOV. Actually, the body of this article even claims that "those labeled as practicing or advocating a pseudoscience normally reject this classification", thus it just asserts by itself that the title is not NPOV.

The title should be changed to be "Parascience", defined by MS Encarta as "the study of phenomena that cannot be explained or tested by conventional scientific methods", which is almost what this article is about.

--Achillu (talk) 09:24, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

No. There is a well-recognised concept called pseudoscience. Look in any dictionary. There should therefore be a wikipedia article on that subject. This is it, and it refers to numerous reliable sources in defining the term and the scope of the article. Whether the article itself is NPOV is a different question (though the consensus is clearly that it is) - but there is certainly nothing wrong with the title. Snalwibma (talk) 10:09, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Ok. That's clear. Thank you.
Anyway, what about those disciplines listed in the Category:Pseudoscience? Assuming that "pseudoscience" is a POV term, listing any discipline in the Category Pseudoscience is POV, correct? Those disciplines should be listed in a possible Category:Parascience...
In my opinion, this category should only list those articles related to "pseudoscience" as defined in this article, and should not list those disciplines that do not consider themselves as a "pseudoscience". What about your opinion?
--Achillu (talk) 13:07, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Achillu: read WP:NPOVFAQ#Pseudoscience. Your assumption that "pseudoscience" is a POV term is unfounded, so any conclusion you draw from that assumption is invalid. HrafnTalkStalk 13:25, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Certainly a bone of contention, but one that has been thoughtfully discussed at length on the category talk page. Ultimately it is felt that inclusion in the pseudoscience category should not be viewed as meaning that the article is a pseudoscience. Jefffire (talk) 13:30, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for all clarifications. I still hope that the readers of Wikipedia will have this feeling, too, i.e. they will not consider pseudoscience a discipline listed in that category.
--Achillu (talk) 20:05, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Back to testability...

I really think the topic of testability is too large to be included as it is in the intro statement. Although it is true that "they do not adhere to the testability requirement of the scientific method", that is certainly not one of the defining features. As SA has pointed out, it's not the testability that's the problem, it's the response to the tests, when carried out, that generally defines a pseudoscience.

More to the point, I think the statement below is a much clearer set of definitions: "Pseudosciences may be characterised by the use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims, over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation, lack of openness to testing by other experts, and a lack of progress in theory development."

I propose moving that statement up to the intro para, removing the current statement, and covering the testability requirements in the existing section, one paragraph down. I really don't think we're doing anyone a service by putting this potentially misleading statement so early in the document where it cannot be properly explained.

Markbassett (talk) 03:14, 29 September 2008 (UTC) I think the quest for identification re testability is diverting the article too much. It would be better to stick to simply talking pseudoscience, defining it ("A system of theories, assumptions, and methods erroneously regarded as scientific" [7]); and listing past examples; and talking to the root causes in mysticism, misapplication or persistent misunderstanding (e.g. Pythagoreanism or Social Darwinism) and financially motivated or politically motivated studies. (Too many examples of "lies, damn lies, and statistics", but famously Tobbacco vs Cancer arguments 40+ years, Nazism re genetic superiority, and Lynshenko serve as examples of "suitable" science being publicized.) This definition tied to "testability" is trying to provide means to infallibly identify pseudoscience, which seems beyond infallible identification anyway. Is this defining science as the thinking, the process, or the knowledge ?

I will also voice a question of -- is testability really appropriate? Seems like there are two flaws to that. First, that early science predates the concept, much of the key discoveries based on observation and calculations, and the modern form of scientific method is dated only after 1878. Second, seems like most of the fields of science are not easily subject to quantified results and reproducible tests so that only the areas of chemisty and limited physics pass muster as real science. Markbassett (talk) 03:14, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Maury 20:29, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Most of Astronomy has the same problem of testability. A young n***a from da street 01:57, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
Although MAury says that testability is not the problem, it actually is one of the biggest problems in pseudosciences in most disciplines (See How to Think Straight About Psychology (Stanovich) for a more thorough explanation. FAlsifiability is so important in evaluating claims and also in just plain straight thinking. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Zonbalance (talkcontribs) 03:14, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

According to the definition of 'falsifable' then String Theory should be considered pseudoscience, most of modern Physica theory cannot be tested , then how could we make the difference between them and pseudoscience ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:20, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

That is something of a gray area, but those subjects are generally better classified as protoscience. The difference is mainly that those theories haven't been refined to the point where they can be tested yet. On the other hand, pseudoscientific theories show no signs of ever being testable, or, if they are, contradictory test results are ignored or handwaved away. Sometimes it is hard to judge, though. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 21:44, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Quite right Infophile. With regards to string theory it is unfalsifiable at the moment, but does not meet the other criteria for pseudoscience (for example string theorists have a continuity between their theories and the rest of physics, they don't think everybody else in their field are idiots (as some pseudoscientists do), and they will move on to other work if there theory is falsified - unlike pseudoscientists, etc etc). But even with string theory, one can see the importance of the falsifiability, it helps us understand that although string theory explains everything, we should still take it with a grain of salt until we can test it (many religions explain everything, but are untestable). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Zonbalance (talkcontribs) 02:08, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Pseudosciences that became sciencies

Did some pseudosciences, like the continental theory, turn into real sciences? Let me doubt this statement. An hypotethical theory, which still has not been verified nor refuted, doesnt mean it is a pseudoscience: pseudoscientific theories and statements , actually, cannot be verified nor refuted. And theories such as the continental derive can be eventually proved to be true or false.

pseudoscience is a term of abuse used by the establishment to disparage new ideas and as a barrier of entry to new scientists. Think Galileo - an obvious psuedo-scientist! A young n***a from da street 01:55, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
Yes, indeed it can happen, if only rarely; continental drift is probably the most famous case of a theory almost universally thought to be nonsense by mainstream scientists that was eventually accepted into the canon of scientific belief. Continental drift earned its acceptance in the traditional way; by the presentation of compelling experimental evidence of its reality.
For every theory such as continental drift that is later demonstrated to be a valid hypothesis, there are hundreds that are not, and they share one thing in common; an inability to present convincing evidence that meets the criteria of the scientific method.
Implausibility, of itself, has never been a barrier to eventual scientific acceptance -- consider quantum mechanics and general relativity, both of which violate the assumptions of normal human common sense. Even today, the theory of evolution struggles to find universal acceptance outside of the scientific world -- again, for the reason that it offends many people's "common sense", based on their observations in everyday life that cats never turn into dogs and monkeys never turn into people. All of these theories initially met resistance within the scientific community, but did not have the same problems as continental drift.
The remarkable thing about science is not that it is closed to new ideas, but how open it is to them.
You might want to follow the recent developments in cold fusion research to see this in action; new experimental results have recently re-opened the debate on cold fusion, after many years of cold fusion being a pariah theory.
-- The Anome 08:55, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Galileo (or Einstein's or Newton's, or Pasteur's etc etc etc etc) early work on their testable and logical theories were NOT pseudosciences, and they did not meet criteria for a pseudoscience. Although they were criticized by the church, does not mean fellow scientists did not help them develop and improve, and yes... test their original ideas. This "galileo argument" is very popular with people with unfalsifiable new ideas that they have a financial stake in. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Zonbalance (talkcontribs) 03:21, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Wikiquote EL

Wikiquote external link, that is reverting to retain, contains only the following example:

Does anybody really think that, as it stands, this provides the reader with significant additional useful information? HrafnTalkStalk 16:42, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

  • q:pseudoscience also has a quote by Adnan Oktar who "scientically" explains how "Darwin is responsible for global terrorism"[41].-- (talk) 17:19, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
    • A recent addition, and just as tangential. And what's with the repeated links? HrafnTalkStalk 17:31, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
One link is to the transcript while the other is for the video clip.-- (talk) 17:42, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
Overkill. HrafnTalkStalk 17:50, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
I concede.-- (talk) 17:53, 1 January 2008 (UTC)


Hi. I'm curious. This article is written mainly from the positivist/critical rationalism angle which is widespread in America. Many of the examples of pseudoscience follows other kind of scientific philosophies or other post-modern approaches. While it may be tempting to use the popular science "scientific method" as a basis for criticism, there are a lot of scientists that allows hypothesises and unprovable things to be discussed without sinking to sling the perojative pseudoscience at it. While I am not terribly good at post-positivism approaches (which are popular here in Norway) it is clear that pseudoscience as defined here is defiend from an anglocentric perspective. --Benjaminbruheim (talk) 21:11, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

Interesting. I either wasn't aware or didn't recall that these ideas (Positivism, Postpositivism) had a name. And yet there they are in Wikipedia! I think your point is a very good one, and it deserves to be considered as the article is edited. Please feel free to make edits that occur to you. NuclearWinner (talk) 23:28, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Conservationist physics

I was doing a cull on Category:Creationism stubs for articles that were either no longer stubs, or needed further attention & came across this article. Has anybody heard of this topic/its founder? Does anybody know of any sources that might substantiate its notability? Should it simply be redirected to Pseudophysics? It's been wholly unsourced for a year, so probably should have something done about it. HrafnTalkStalk 17:48, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Removed protoscience sentence from user Vapour

It is redundant. NuclearWinner (talk) 22:43, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

See also section

So as not to edit war, let's discuss this section here. Levine, I checked the link you provided before making the initial revert. I also checked WP:SEEALSO, and it didn't mention anything related to this issue there. I felt that it didn't actually appear to be a characterization in light of the other items currently on the list. Certainly, some of them are obvious pseudoscience, but many are also simply related topics. We have Protoscience in there even though it's specifically called out by the policy you cite as not being pseudoscience, for instance. In the end, the relevant question I see is simply: Would somebody reading this possibly also be interested in reading about the subject of alternative medicine? Since it seems obvious they would; it should go in.

However, I do see a problem with the section becoming too listy. We've already got an article for that. I'm going to go and trim it down some after posting this, get rid of the items that are more like listing pseudosciences. I might leave in a couple really prominent examples though, such as Intelligent Design. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 18:23, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Overall, I agree with your edits. Please read WP:NPOV/FAQ#Pseudoscience (if you haven't already). I think it sets a good bar in terms of how to deal with characterizing subjects as examples of Pseudoscience. And I get how "See also" works, but in a sense it is arbitrary - leaving it up to us to guess at what another reader might be interested in. It is too easy for See Also to be abused for a WP:POVPUSH. I totally agree with your "too listy" rationale - as you say, We've already got an article for that. Thanks! -- Levine2112 discuss 18:32, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I seem to remember a while back we had both evidence-based and alternative medicine in this list (though I might be thinking of another article), after a similar discussion. That seemed to be a good solution at the time. I don't have time to go history diving right now, but I'd be interested to see why that was changed. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 18:37, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I'd just as soon leave them both out or anything else where its appearance in this list could be construed as being presented as an example of Pseudoscience, thereby violating WP:NPOV/FAQ#Pseudoscience. -- Levine2112 discuss 19:03, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I really don't think there's much threat of that as long as we keep the section from being too much of a list, but it's hard to make that call definitively. Perhaps we could see what some other editors think to get a feel for consensus on this. (I'm fine with leaving it out until that time.) --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 19:13, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Sure. And again, I can understand the logic train getting to the assumption that someone reading about Pseudoscience might also be interested in reading about Protoscience. I don't however see such a clear logic train for Alternative Medicine. -- Levine2112 discuss 19:29, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, the way I look at it at least, Alternative medicine is a mix of "pseudomedicine," "protomedicine," and a few cases of typical medicine which has been co-opted under the label of being alternative (I'm using the prefixes there like with -science, in case my meaning isn't obvious). Seeing as we have links to other pseudo- topics (Pseudohistory, for example), alternative medicine seems to fit under this banner. Or, in another way of looking at it, alternative medicine is to evidence-based medicine as pseudoscience is to science (it's the closest parallel at least, even if, as I noted before, not all of alt-med is "pseudo"). That's my logic, at least. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 19:35, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
And yet, mainstream medicine also includes pseudo-medicine and protomedicine (as well as EBM). I know you think that "alternative medicine is to evidence-based medicine as pseudoscience is to science", but that is simply a POV and a mischaracterization of a general term. You are saying to include "Alt Med" in the See Also section because is is equivalent to pseudoscience - a logic train which violates WP:NPOV/FAQ#Pseudoscience. I am not denying that Alt Med does have some pseudosciences lumped in with this general categorization, but I also acknowledge that it has much scientific-based practices in its composition as well - similar to Mainstream Medicine. Alt Med is not generally considered pseudoscience as a whole, but more along the lines of comprising some topics which are "Questionable Science" and some which are "Alternative theoretical formulations" (as well as some which are very much EBM). Accordingly (by the policies set forth by WP:NPOV/FAQ#Pseudoscience, we would be in violation by including Alt Med in the See Also section using the logic you have outlined. Make sense? -- Levine2112 discuss 20:16, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Hmm, well I think I see where our impasse comes from, at least. We seem to have different pictures of what Alternative Medicine is (and for that matter, mainstream and evidence-based medicine), and I can understand how your view of it leads to your conclusion here. Now, we could try to hash all that out, but I just don't see it being worth the effort that would necessarily entail. I think the most reasonable solution here is to just wait for/seek out the opinion of a third party. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 01:00, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Some (popular) definitions or usages of "Atlernative medicine" include biologically based therapies that have definite theoretical, experimental and/or clinical bases for Science but are not (yet or again) accepted as (FDA approved or class 1 EBM) mainstream Medicine (including substances that are categorically exempt, such as nutrients recognized as foods). There are several structural economic, social and scientific problems that both maintain and create the classification of valid, science based therapies as "Alternative medicine". This also means that medicine of yesteryear, now old and generic, with valid evidence acceptable for its time, and still useful with biochemically measurable results, can be (has been) disparaged (publically attacked) in some (commercially and scientifically) trivial way, and become deprecated as "Alternative medicine" simply because there is no automatic economic mechanism to support and "defend" it. Hypothetically there are (or were) cumbersome mechanisms institutionally to *possibly* address this, but these very same institutions often are in hostile (economic & political) opposition in practice, as well as simply not functioning. Furthermore there are a number of historical medical controversies with economic and political dimension that are simply scandals awaiting recognition as scientific bias, incompetence, and/or fraud. This applies to "mainstream" drugs that are more dangerous and less beneficial than their captive documentation claims, and to cheap biologically based therapies (some biochemically measurable) abandoned, severely delayed (decades or major fractions of a century), or murdered disparaged aborning. In this latter category, are historical cases that continue to drive major public controversies. In the former category, a number of the recent drug scandals fit. Automatically confuting (complementary and )"alternative medicine" as pseudoscience furthers errors, and for some, an agenda of non-scientifically based disparagement, all too common at WP. Altmed categorization as PS appears to directly violate WP:NPOV, and, by overgeneralization, WP:V.--TheNautilus (talk) 23:50, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

(de-indent) Hola Infophile - I'm not sure about the "see also", but for some excellent (and varying) V RS's on the definition of alternative medicine, check out the lead at Complementary and alternative medicine. Some notable folks do define alt-med as the set of things outside evidence-based medicine, but the Institute of Medicine doesn't (and they're certainly the strongest source there and the only sci-consensus one). Under their definition, and in the view of others as well like Edzard Ernst, it is certainly possible for a modality to be both EBM and CAM. Even so, the overlap is not huge, and there will be within CAM a significant amount of all different categories of pseudo- and questionable science that the ArbCom talked about (top of page). In what proportions, no idea; I guess one might look at CAM's by economic precedence, and see how they would be classified under our pseudoscience rubric.

I just noticed that at quackery there is a "see also" for (sic: all on one line) Conventional medicine, alternative medicine and evidence-based medicine, so if it's fine there (and I think it certainly is), it should be fine here: healthcare is a major focus of science. I'll try that, and if it isn't good, someone just revert and we'll take it from there. (Am somewhat flummoxed as to why we haven't merged the articles on alt-med, comp-med and CAM all together, but those discussions always get hung up with a few highly opinionated folks with, imho, tenuous logic.) regards, Jim Butler(talk) 09:36, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm not thrilled about it, but as you have listed it does seem to balance out any POV claims about any one of these subjects. -- Levine2112 discuss 21:04, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, exactly; trying for something that "mildly unrevolting" to all parties. :-) cheers, Jim Butler(talk) 22:36, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Ah, thank you for catching that on Quackery. I knew I remembered coming to that compromise somewhere, just got mixed up as to which article it was (though I got shot down when I mentioned it, and it's accepted now. Interesting. Analyzing the source more than the arguments, perhaps?). Anyways, quick note on the definitions of C/A/EB Medicine: Yeah, I realized not long after my post on what I see AltMed as that my two different analogies don't really say the same thing. I consider the first to be more accurate (and it matches up quite well to most of the definitions there); the second just benefits from simplicity, and I thought using it would make a clearer case for why we should have the link to AltMed here. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 23:04, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Category:Pseudoscience up for deletion ... again

As you will notice from the cfdnotice I've just posted above (as the nominator didn't bother to do so), Category:Pseudoscience is up for deletion again. You can find discussion at Wikipedia:Categories for discussion/Log/2008 January 27#Pseudoscience. HrafnTalkStalk 02:27, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

KEEP, KEEP, KEEP. Knowing the difference between science and pseudoscience is an essential part of everybody's education. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Zonbalance (talkcontribs) 01:09, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
Wrong place to express the opinion, and the CfD has already been closed as a "keep". HrafnTalkStalk 03:05, 31 January 2008 (UTC)


I prefer the original simple definition to the now much more complicated one diff. I find that there is virtually no difference in the various definitions given in the sources aside from slight differences in wording, and it is important for this article to be firm and precise in the scope of its applicability. Rather than simply reverting, what are the opinions of other editors around here regarding the recent changes to the first sentence of this article? Silly rabbit (talk) 00:42, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Thank you for pointing out the downside of my first edit. But it's important to have a wider definition because there is, outside natural sciences, well accepted research which doesn't adhere to the natural scientific method, within social sciences and other disciplines studying human beings also qualitative research is used. So the earlier definition would have made some of the existing research "pseudoscientific". Your new arrangement was ok, but I'll edit a bit more for grammatical reasons. Of course other ideas are welcome too, but what used to be there was too much a simplification, and it also looked a bit misleading to have many sources for one definition when in fact those sources do not give the same definition. Best regards Rhanyeia 07:09, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for the explanation. Now that I know your mind, I am much more comfortable with the changes to the first sentence. Silly rabbit (talk) 14:32, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

article of interest

Could people who watch this article check out Psychohistory - I am not sure if it counts as a pseudoscience or not. Judging from the article it seems to be the invention of one guy, Lloyd deMause (try googling him) and his students/disciples. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:26, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Good eye, Slrubenstein. It looks like a borberline case of pseudoscience because of the untestable premise, circular arguments and focus on confirmational evidence and ignoring vast swaths of disconfirming evidence. It is similar to Alice Miller's bleak and blinkered view of childhood and history, and deMause may have influenced by others like Arthur Janov and similar proponents that say that ALL children were abused and that frames history and explains politics and EVERYTHING. There is a lack of boundary conditions too, another sign of pseudoscience, because de MAuse applies psychoanalytic theory (which is suspect to begin with) to the whole history of mankind. Also, a lack of continuity from other areas of science (social aspects, evolutionary, and genetic factors are ignored; or at least do not mesh with the 'theory') is another sign of pseudoscience.Zonbalance (talk) 01:54, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Creation Science and IT

New Shortcut

In my current holding pattern, I have created a link that I think you and others might find useful. WP:PSCI Cheers. Anthon01 (talk) 00:32, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Template:Infobox Pseudoscience up for deletion

Discussion is at WP:TFD#Template:Infobox_Pseudoscience. This seems to be "try to delete anything connected with the topic of pseudoscience" month. HrafnTalkStalk 03:13, 4 February 2008 (UTC)


As regards my now reverted edit here, I'd like to discuss the matter here. I think the reversion is improper because of a misunderstanding of my meaning, or I'm just plain wrong. (Maybe I'm just too tired!) Falsifiability is generally considered basic to whether a claim is considered within the scientificly testable realm. Homeoapathy is probably the most egregious pseudoscience around, and it makes obviously falsifiable claims. If it didn't, it would be a pseudoscience.

Basically any idea that is pseudoscientific must either

  1. Claim to be scientific, but not adhere to the scientific method.
  2. Be made to appear scientific, but not adhere to the scientific method.
  3. Make falsifiable claims, but not adhere to the scientific method.

But not necessarily all three.

If it doesn't make falsifiable claims, appear to be scientific, or claim to be scientific, then it's possibly a metaphysical idea or something else, but not a pseudoscience. If it makes unfalsifiable claims, it probably wouldn't appear to be scientific, and therefore would not be a pseudoscience.

Basically any idea that is not pseudoscientific (IOW be scientific) must either

  1. not make claims to be scientific, but not adhere to the scientific method.
  2. not be made to appear scientific, but not adhere to the scientific method.
  3. make unfalsifiable claims, but not adhere to the scientific method.

Am I just too tired to realize I'm tripping over my own tongue here? -- Fyslee / talk 01:57, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

My first thought is that none of the sources assembled even mention falsifiability as part of the deal at all. Instead, all sources available indicate that the putative pseudoscience must in effect claim to be a science (or be made to appear scientific). Find sources which include falsifiability as part of the basic definition, and we might have grounds for inclusion here.
However, I think I can directly address the issue of falsifiability without resorting to the sourcing problem. Simple charlatans and confidence artists make falsifiable claims all the time, do not adhere to the scientific method, yet are not pseudoscience. Homeopathy is pseudoscience, not because it makes falsifiable claims, but because it claims to be scientific while refusing to adhere to the scientific method. Silly rabbit (talk) 02:54, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
I think there is some confusion, psuedoscientists make UNfalsifiable theories, theories that cannot possibly be proved wrong. (see work by Scott Lilienfeld, Karl Popper, Kieth Stanovich). And yes, falsifiability is essential to the pseusoscience definition. Good Scientific theories are both falsifiable (can possibly be proved wrong) yet tested many times and not found to be false (not falsified). Hope that doesn't give anyone a headache. Zonbalance (talk) 03:04, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
As I mention below, some pseudoscientists and scammers actually make falsifiable claims, but fail to adhere to the scientific method. The making of UNfalsifiable claims isn't always a factor. -- Fyslee / talk 07:19, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
I think you have caught the confusion bug as well Zonbalance. Fyslee was saying, or seemed to be saying, that disciplines which are falsifiable, yet do not adhere to the scientific method, are pseudoscience. I agree that falsifiability, as it generally is thought of as figuring in the scientific method, is often vital to the demarcation between science and pseudoscience. That fact is in no way at odds with my reversion. Silly rabbit (talk) 03:17, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
Then why revert it? Maybe reword it a bit better? -- Fyslee / talk 07:21, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
Anyway, to incorporate falsifiability into the first line of the article is going to be difficult. Really it falls into the "scientific method." If you are an astute reader, you should be able to pick out the falsifiability bit in the NSF reference, as a part of their description of the scientific method. However the author they cite is quite careful not to overplay the falsifiability card (he doesn't even specifically use the word), and I don't think it should be in the first sentence of the article. The most important thing is the scientific method. Silly rabbit (talk) 03:26, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
I think we basically agree. The lack of adherence to the scientific method is the main thing, and other things can be tacked on in varying degrees. Some pseudosciences make unfalsifiable claims, yet claim to be scientific, and on the basis of their false claims are considered to be pseudosciences. Others make falsifiable claims, while disavowing any pretense to be scientific, and on that basis (their claims get falsified) are also pseudosciences. We actually have some editors here playing that game. They think that because their favorite pseudoscience doesn't make overt claims to be scientific, that it can escape being listed at the List of pseudosciences and pseudoscientific concepts. Well, it can because it both makes falsifiable claims that are falsified and fails to adhere to the scientific method. So as regards falsifiability, it can go both ways. It isn't an absolute requirement, but is often a major factor when combined with other factors. The making of a falsifiable claim involves an attempt to appear scientific, whether the one making the falsifiable claim admits or disavoys any attempt to claim to be scientific. They are trapped on the basis of their falsifiable claim. Smooth conmen are careful to fly under the radar by making claims that are unfalsifiable, but still pretend that their scams are scientifically proven, when they are actually unproven anecdotes. They are failing to adhere to the scientific method. Are you confused now? It's really not that bad. There is simply more than one way to cut this cake and pronounce a method or idea to be pseudoscientific. Although falsifiability is mentioned several places in the article, it doesn't have to be mentioned in the first sentence. Neither does the definition have to be a precise quote from one or more sources, but can be written following the principles for writing the LEAD, IOW a summation of the places in the article that involve definitional matters, and thus the definition can include falsifiability as a possible factor, if we so choose. -- Fyslee / talk 07:17, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
Interesting, I have yet to come across a pseudoscience that didn't make UNfalsifiable claims, because even if they are testable the proponents dismiss the evidence as bogus or very often as further confirmation (believe it or not). So I see unfalsifiability as covering those pseudosciences that you mentioned who you think make falsifiable claims. If a proponent has an answer for every possible falsifying evidences then I call it unfalsifiable. I agree with you fyslee, though, there are other ways to cut the cake.Zonbalance (talk) 21:02, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

(unindent) I think it's important to avoid commitments about the specific details in the lead sentence, anyway. What constitutes confirmation and testing, and thus "falsifiability" (whatever that means), can vary depending on the sciences. There is, I believe, an especially great rift between the natural sciences and social sciences. So falsifiability can be (and in fact is) dealt with in the article, but it has to be done properly, and in a way that doesn't make it seem as though this is the only available demarcation criterion. Silly rabbit (talk) 21:11, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

Yes I agree with you on the edit Silly Rabbit, (though for different reasons). Fyslee please give your source on the "falsifiable but not following the scientific method," I'm intrigued. Glad to have you both protecting the article from the bendy-thinkers. :) Zonbalance (talk) 01:10, 12 February 2008 (UTC)

Pseudoscience is defined? By who?

According to this, "psuedoscience" is not "defined" -- not at all "defined". I've adjusted the intro to remove WP:OR and WP:SYN, and attribute this description of the term to the individual who created it. WNDL42 (talk) 22:32, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

A Google scholar search does not establish the lack of definition of something. (For instance, here are some searches which tell a very different story: [42], [43], and [44].) The definition cited in the article is a very reasonable one, and attempts to accommodate all available points of view. If you have a real objection, consisting an alternative definition you feel is not represented here, then you are welcome to raise the issue and use it to improve the article. However, please do not edit-war and use spurious arguments to attempt to override the existing consensus version of the lead. Silly rabbit (talk) 22:46, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
The term "defined" has a very specific meaning and it's use in the lead as I found it is WP:OR and WP:SYN. Seems pretty clear to me. WNDL42 (talk) 23:05, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
FYI, not one of your google searches establishes a "definition", much less "tell a different story", nor even tell any story at all. Not this one, nor this one, nor this one. True or not true, "the threshold for inclusion on Wikipedia is verifyability, not truth", right? WNDL42 (talk) 23:10, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
I moved the OAM def up front -- workable? WNDL42 (talk) 23:15, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
(e/c) We have here two mainstream dictionaries which define the term, a reputable source such as the National Science Foundation, and other sundry sources (which I have not personally checked). All of these definitions are basically in agreement. It is not WP:OR to present a widely agreed upon definition as such. If you wish to bring other, comparably reliable, sources in to challenge the definition, then we can start trying to fix the wording per WP:NPOV. Otherwise, you appear to be trying to force your own WP:POV on the article. I don't find the present "compromise" workable. All of the definitions are basically the same. Is there another definition that you are aware of? If not, I suggest going back to the previous consensus version of the lead, unless another editor objects. Silly rabbit (talk) 23:18, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
The NSF document cites Michael Shermer only will note this if you read the source. Also, Shermer has been discredited on numerous occasions (Stenger himself refutes Shermer on Orch-OR, for example) and Shermer has been broadly discredited on many other occasions. Citing Shermer as if citing NSF, merely because NSF "quoted" deceptive. WNDL42 (talk) 23:43, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
Here is a direct quote from the NSF:

Pseudoscience has been defined as "claims presented so that they appear [to be] scientific even though they lack supporting evidence and plausibility" (Shermer 1997, p. 33).[28] In contrast, science is "a set of methods designed to describe and interpret observed and inferred phenomena, past or present, and aimed at building a testable body of knowledge open to rejection or confirmation" (Shermer 1997, p. 17).

The NSF is explicitly adopting the definition of pseudoscience, and his definition of science. Silly rabbit (talk) 23:48, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
My point exactly. The NSF attributed it to Shermer, as any responsible publication would. Take the quote in context, not out of context. WNDL42 (talk) 23:50, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
This article attributed the statement to Shermer as well. But there is no reason not to note that this is the definition adopted by the NSF as well, thus lending considerably more weight to it as a viable definition. Silly rabbit (talk) 23:52, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
It's not "adopted" by the NSF, it's "referenced" by NSF. Big difference. WNDL42 (talk) 23:55, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
They explicitly present the definition as the one that they use in the paper. It is adopted as the definition that they use in the document. Had they presented it, along with other definitions, then you might have a point. But they present this definition and only this definition, and make no attempt to contest it. Silly rabbit (talk) 23:58, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
The NSF document does not "define" pseudoscience. The NSF document "cites" professional skeptic Shermer. You are reading too much into it to assert that the NSF is "defining" anything. WNDL42 (talk) 00:04, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
Strawman. The WP:CONSENSUS version of the reference says that the NSF adopts Shermer's definition. It doesn't say that the NSF originated this definition. Also, I note that the NSF does not feel the need to qualify its assertion by saying that Shermer is a professional skeptic. I think you may want to look at the way that source is written again. Silly rabbit (talk) 00:16, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
Silly Rabbit, a straw man would be when I create an absurd version of your argument, in order to refute the absurd version of the argument you didn't make, in order to avoid the argument you actually made. I don't think I did that, but correct me (specifically please) if I'm wrong. Did you perhaps mean to accuse me instead of pulling a red herring? WNDL42 (talk) 00:59, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

Now, FYI, the NSF has dropped Shermer's "definitions" for the 2008 release of the very same document you are attempting to use as your holy grail. If NSF dropped Shermer, Wikipedia should too. WNDL42 (talk) 01:00, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

FYI, the Oxford definitions define the adjective "pseudoscientific", while "pseudoscience" is a noun. That's a BIG difference too. WNDL42 (talk) 23:55, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

Enough with the word games. This is getting to be tendentious. Do you have a legitimate dispute, such as an alternative definition, or a reliable source saying there is no definition? If not, then we should revert to the original consensus version, which was based on the input of many editors. Silly rabbit (talk) 00:03, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
Requiring proof of a negative? Now there's a misuse of the Scientific method. You are attempting to define something, which is (by definition) a "word game". This is an encyclopedia and your arguments are quite unencyclopedic. WNDL42 (talk) 00:18, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
More word games, by the way. I have restored the consensus version. It is clear you have an agenda. Silly rabbit (talk) 01:42, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
This version provides a clearer presentation while fairly and accurately summarizing numerous sources. - Eldereft ~(s)talk~ 02:22, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
Eldereft, your opinion is noted, as such. With the addition of some sources, your opinion will become more than just opinion, and thereby useful. WNDL42 (talk) 14:26, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
Silly Rabbit, your statement -- "It is clear you have an agenda." is so patently ridiculous that it fails as a personal attack only to the extent that it makes me laugh so hard. Take a look at the hard evidence from the Palo Alto Research Center on this article and do tell me more, Silly Rabbit, about which editors here "have an agenda". My "agenda" is to properly attribute this so-called "definition", and to attribute it where it is first used, in the lead. WNDL42 (talk) 14:40, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
This looks like an agenda to me. Maybe you are trying to prove a WP:POINT? Silly rabbit (talk) 14:46, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
Silly Rabbit, of course every editor has a POV, and every edit on Wikipedia represents a POV. By definition, therefore, every edit on wikipedia represents an "agenda". My "point" in this comment is to hold up for ridicule the silly notion that one editor here (me) has an "agenda", and that other editors somehow "do not" have "agenda", which is the thrust of your ridiculous and personally directed comment about my "agenda". It is just plain silly for you to be the pot calling the kettle black. FYI, every edit here should make a "point" of one kind or another, is that not also obvious? Is it not also obvious that if a point is made and then refuted, the point should be defended via proof? If not, you may wish to have a look at Socratic discourse. Therefore, yes...I am definitely (not "maybe") "trying to prove a point", and YOU are trying to "dismiss" the point with your silly and personally directed assertions about "agenda", like when you said "More word games, by the way. I have restored the consensus version. It is clear you have an agenda". What is clear here is that you are unwilling or unable to address the point, and must resort to an ad hominem argument -- a clear fallacy. WNDL42 (talk) 15:50, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
I have addressed the point, but perhaps not the WP:POINT. Silly rabbit (talk) 18:31, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

Now, FYI, the NSF has dropped Shermer's "definitions" for the 2008 release of the very same document you are attempting to use as your holy grail. If NSF dropped Shermer, Wikipedia should too. WNDL42 (talk) 00:18, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

I have looked into this issue a bit when writing some drafts. The general problem is called the demarcation problem and it is essentially an unsolved problem in the philosophy of science. This has not stopped various attempts to define pseudoscience, or come up with a fool proof scheme for describing what is science and what is pseudoscience, or even the courts from making assorted arbitrary choices of demarcation criteria for this purpose (such as the Daubert standard). Unfortunately, all of the demarcation criteria that have been suggested over the decades fail in one way or another. Currently, courts define science as what scientists say it is, and pseudoscience as what science says it is, together with a few rules of thumb. The most advanced criteria I have come across are by Paul R. Thagard [45][46], but there are many other candidates. After having spent many many hours reading this philosophy of science stuff, I would not be surprised if there are holes in Thagard's proposed criteria as well, just as there was in verifiability and falsifiability and Judge William R. Overton's standards [47] and all the others.--Filll (talk) 19:08, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
I suppose the question is whether it is possible or reasonable to give a dictionary definition of pseudoscience in the article. It's been awhile since I have read up on the demarcation problem, but I think that there is at least some agreement as to what pseudoscience "is." It is non-science posing as science. The difficulty, then, is how to distinguish it from science. The label usually seems to refer to the kind of gestalt which is inherently difficult or impossible to specify precisely. That said, I don't see any problem giving a widely agreed-upon definition in the lead. The demarcation problem, however, currently receives only scant treatment in the article, and there is definitely room for expansion. Silly rabbit (talk) 19:34, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
The great thing about science and words are that they give wiggle room. But this article give a great set of check-off's to what makes Pseudoscience and what isn't. What I've noticed is that anti-science POV warriors will claim everything is science, and those of us who have no POV on science, just that it be verified by reliable sources, can quickly point to what is and what is not pseudoscience. Even Cold fusion (just the first thing that comes to mind as being debatable), meets most of the fundamentals of pseudoscience. The fact is that almost every pseudoscientific item will undergo scientific analysis and move from pseudoscience to real science. It's like what I say (ok many say it) about Alternative medicine. There is only medicine. Everything else is folklore, faith or belief. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 01:13, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

This thread is starting to get at the problem as I see it. I will create a section for a proposed aletrnative approach...thanks. WNDL42 (talk) 17:11, 9 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm with Silly Rabbit and Eldereft on this. The definitions of pseudoscience by Popper, Stanovich, Shermer, Lilienfeld, etc. etc. are fairly consistent and extremely valuable. Sincere thanks to silly rabbit for watching over this article and restoring the consensus version. Zonbalance (talk) 00:56, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

Do you think it would be helpful to have Carl Sagan and Penn Jillette mentioned in this article? Also the link between sceptics and athesists should be explored. TootsMojo (talk) 17:52, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

  1. ^ Magendie, F (1843) An Elementary Treatise on Human Physiology. 5th Ed. Tr. John Revere. New York: Harper, p 150. Magendie refers to phrenology as "a pseudo-science of the present day" (note the hyphen).
  2. ^ However, from the "them vs. us" polarization that its usage engenders, the term may also have a positive function because "[the] derogatory labeling of others often includes an unstated self-definition "(p.266); and, from this, the application of the term also implies "a unity of science, a privileged tree of knowledge or space from which the pseudoscience is excluded, and the user's right to belong is asserted " (p.286) -- Still A & Dryden W (2004) "The Social Psychology of "Pseudoscience": A Brief History", J Theory Social Behav 34:265-290
  3. ^ Ostrander GK et al. (2004) Shark cartilage, cancer and the growing threat of pseudoscience. Cancer Res64:8485-91. Erratum in: Cancer Res. 65:374. PMID 15574750
  4. ^ "A pretended or spurious science; a collection of related beliefs about the world mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method or as having the status that scientific truths now have.", from the Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition 1989.
  5. ^ For example, Hewitt et al. Conceptual Physical Science Addison Wesley; 3 edition (July 18, 2003) ISBN 0-321-05173-4, Bennett et al. The Cosmic Perspective 3e Addison Wesley; 3 edition (July 25, 2003) ISBN 0-8053-8738-2
  6. ^ See also, e.g., Gauch HG Jr. Scientific Method in Practice (2003)
  7. ^ Websters 9th Collegiate Dictionary