Talk:List of topics characterized as pseudoscience

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Arbitration Committee Decisions on Pseudoscience

The Arbitration Committee has issued several principles which may be helpful to editors of this and other articles when dealing with subjects and categories related to "pseudoscience".

Four groups

RFC: Should psychometrics be listed as being characterized as pseudoscience?[edit]

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The consensus is for 3, Exclude psychometrics from the list. AlbinoFerret 01:56, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

Which of the following options should be followed for whether to list psychometrics in the List of topics characterized as pseudoscience?

1. Include psychometrics in the list.

2. Include psychometrics in the list, but with a notation that it is categorized as pseudoscience by a minority of scholars.

3. Exclude psychometrics from the list.

Robert McClenon (talk) 23:43, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

Please state your view as Option 1, Option 2, or Option 3 in the Survey. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:44, 14 March 2015 (UTC)


  • Option 3 Exclude psychometrics as a whole from the list, but allow for the possibility of particular psychometric approaches and controversies to the included as pseudoscience. --Mark viking (talk) 19:08, 19 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 3. Exclude psychometrics from list I don't think there is sufficient evidence that anyone, Gould included, considers the entire discipline to be pseudoscience, or that the discipline is inherently pseudoscientific.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 19:07, 19 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 3. Exclude psychometrics from list Without some consensus on how to describe the field, I see no value in including it. Roger (talk) 20:57, 19 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 3. Exclude. Psychometrics is now based on the scientific method, with collection of data and testing of theories. It has had disappointingly little success; early practitioners made unjustifiable claims for it; and some modern practitioners overstate their case (as in many sciences). But it is not, now, pseudoscience. Maproom (talk) 07:56, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 3. Exclude psychometrics from list until some form of a "criticism" section is added and remains stable at the parent article. List of topics characterized as pseudoscience should not be used to launch WP:POVFORKs and WP:LABELs should only be applied if it is widely used by reliable sources to describe the subject. Something "widely used by reliable sources" should be prominent in the parent article. Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 20:39, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 3. Exclude Pseudoscience does not apply to psychometrics as a whole, although it may apply to certain tests and the interpretation of such tests. Psychometrics is just too broad, if it also includes assessment of reading, writing, and mathematical skills, as stated in the article. To say that ALL measurements of mental/psychological phenomena are pseudoscience would be overreaching. -Iamozy (talk) 00:22, 19 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 3. Exclude Psychometrics is an integral part of all empirically oriented psychological disciplines and many other fields of social/behavioral science. Calling it a pseudoscience is tantamount to labeling enormous amounts of scholarship as pseudoscience. The sources cited in support of this thesis in the article are generally related to controversies in IQ testing, are not written by experts, and espouse views on IQ testing that are not shared by experts. Psychometrics is not synonymous with intelligence testing and most applications of psychometrics have nothing to do with intelligence testing.--Victor Chmara (talk) 21:16, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 3. Exclude psychometrics from list there doesn't seem to be any major claim, so it shouldn't be included. Jerod Lycett (talk) 22:51, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 2. Although this survey is inadequate at describing any consensus, as most users have responded in the threaded discussion below, but not here.--Shibbolethink ( ) 23:56, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 1. would be better, but Option 2. would also be OK. Logos (talk) 09:13, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 4. Exclude the ability of random, biased Wikipedians to censor content from abundant independent reliable sources. Such censorship would in one fell swoop invalidate any credibility achieved by Wikipedia so far. Promoting mysticism and waging a war on science will not get Wikipedia to where it wants to go.--TDJankins (talk) 00:44, 9 April 2015 (UTC)

Threaded discussion[edit]

The issue of whether to include psychometrics in this list was previously discussed on this talk page, and was then the subject of moderated discussion at the dispute resolution noticeboard. The conclusion of the discussion was that a Request for Comments (this RFC) be used to establish consensus. As the volunteer moderator, I will not be offering an opinion, but will let the Wikipedia community provide a collective opinion. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:43, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

Sorry, but censorship of content with independent reliable sources is not allowed, especially content with abundant independent reliable sources. Also, I don't know where option #2 came from or how one would support such a claim. It looks like the passage now reads pretty much how Myrvin and Grayfell had it which makes enough sense and is good enough for me.--TDJankins (talk) 00:12, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

Not adding something because there is consensus that it is not a good addition is not censorship.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 00:21, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
  • There are a number of problems here: 1. This list is useless and should be deleted. 2. Historically psychometrics has obviously been a pseudoscience, but that is true of most sciences. Most of Gould's argument is specifically about the early history of psychometrics much of which was uncontroversially mostly pseudoscientific in nature. 3. Even today a lot of psychometrics research is, in my opinion and the opinion of many others, junk science, not pseudoscience, but simply bad science. 4. But there is nothing inherently pseudoscientific about psychometrics, and there is today a good deal of psychometrics research that is not pseudoscientific, or bad science, but rather which is rather fairly reasonable attempts at quantifying aspects of the human mind. ·maunus · snunɐɯ· 00:25, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
All that is true. Good luck clearing it up. In the meantime, I added some balance with some reliable sources. Roger (talk) 05:13, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
Unfortunately those sources do not say anything to the effect that Mismeasure has been generally considered rejected because it hasn't - some specific points have been contested bysome and defended by others, others are generally accepted as valid critiques of psychometrics. Also Gould is not the only scholar who has strongly criticize psychometrics, so the critique does not stand and fall with the acceptance of his book. What you should try to add instead is the view of scholars who do not consider psychometrics to be a pseudoscience. Here the APA report and the mainstream science might work because it shows that it is not a fringe area within psychology. These sources however do not show anything about the rejection or acceptance of Mismeasure.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 05:27, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
I did include just what you suggested -- why did you revert it? The reason I mention Mismeasure is that the criticism of psychometrics is almost entirely based on Mismeasure. This is an extreme POV as there is no mention of the controversies about that book. If the entry is going to rely on that book, then it should, at the least, explain that much of the book is contested, and have a link to the WP article so readers can get the details. Roger (talk) 06:14, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
It is wrong that the criticism is "almost entirely based on mismeasure", that may be the case in the general public but not within the field. Psychometrics has prominent critics also within psychology, and many others in education. Gould's book may have given the critique its major voice in the public but as I said it does not stand or fall with mismeasure.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 16:15, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
The listed accusations of pseudoscience are almost entirely based on Mismeasure. (I am not sure about Shermer's -- he does not seem to be making a pseudoscience accusation.) Do those other critics call it pseudoscience? Being criticized is not the same as being pseudoscience. If it were, then we would list the DSM-5 as pseudoscience, as it has many critics both within psychology and outside. Roger (talk) 20:13, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
That is the problem with this list. It has useless inclusion criteria, and could include pretty much any science. Also don't think Gould actually denounces psychometrics as inherently pseudoscientific, just specific past and present incarnations that rely on factor analysis, biological reductionism and racist assumptions. So that is the other problem, is Gould actually calling psychometrics as a field of knowledge inherently pseudoscientific or is he denouncing specific practices in psychometrics. I think it is the latter. I also think the entry should be deleted altogether. And the list.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 20:30, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree with what you say. Continental drift meets the inclusion criteria, and here is a reliable source: When Continental Drift Was Considered Pseudoscience But it is not included in the list, because current editors do not wish to malign workers in that field. But I still do not see why you revert my edits. All I am saying here is that if Mismeasure is used to show that psychometrics is pseudoscience, then the entry also explain that multiple reliable sources say that Mismeasure is wrong. That is the neutral way to handle it (other than deleting the entry, or deleting the whole list.) Roger (talk) 21:35, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
No, because there are also multiple reliable sources that say that Mismeasure is right, and that the ctiriques are invalid. So adding only that view accomplishes nothing by way of NPOV. The neutral solution of it has to be in the list is to say that Gould called it pseudoscience in his book and then link the book so that readers can see for themselves.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 22:20, 15 March 2015 (UTC)·maunus · snunɐɯ· 22:18, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

I added the following per the APA report in order to counterbalance the section: "Many of those within the field of psychology believe that psychometrics is a legitimate study that yields worthwhile information."--TDJankins (talk) 09:01, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

These are weasel words. Does anyone refute that APA statement? If not, then just state the conclusion as a fact. Roger (talk) 21:35, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

I agree with Maunus. I think option 3 is best but 2 is also acceptable. Psychometrics isn't a pseudoscience, in my opinion. Notwithstanding the criteria in the article, a pseudoscience must include a concept that is entirely at odds with objective science. Pseudosciences all require such a non-scientific leap, something which sets the scientific method aside and makes a claim like "pyramid-shaped objects affect pathogens" or "positions of stars influence human lives."

Psychometrics makes no such reference to the supernatural. When it makes conclusions that don't logically follow from the observations, or when it claims that it is more effective than it actually is, it qualifies as junk science or bad science. A battery of tests can't determine a person's future behavior or their suitability for a particular job. But -- and this is why I think it is not a pseudoscience -- the results are better than random chance. That's not the case if you use astrology or phrenology to screen job applicants.

The pseudoscience article should provide readers with information on all things that are sometimes held up as scientific but which are not. That's because it's better known and better understood than bad science. So I wouldn't be opposed to including psychometrics in the article, provided that it's clear that it's in a different category than, say, dowsing or free energy. Roches (talk) 17:03, 17 March 2015 (UTC)

I don't think our opinions really matter, but anyways it's pseudoscience as it claims to be able to measure elements of the mind which it cannot. Being better than random choice does not somehow rescue it from being pseudoscience. That really has nothing to do with anything. Almost any test, even bad ones, will have at least some predictive validity. In the study the UC and the SAT, tests with so called "psychometric properties" were proven to be far less effective at predicting college grades than regular or "achievement" tests. Therefore, the pseudoscientific medling of psychometricians has been proven not only useless, but counterproductive and indeed detrimental to society. Psychometrics went head to head with regular valid testing and psychometrics got crushed. --TDJankins (talk) 02:44, 18 March 2015 (UTC)

I'm not aware of any non-psychologists or non-psychometricians (those who do not practice psychometrics) who undertook a thorough investigation of psychometrics and were able to conclude that it's a legitimate science. I do however know there have been several entire books dedicated to why it's a pseudoscience; we can only say that for a small handful of the other items on this page.--TDJankins (talk) 07:12, 18 March 2015 (UTC)

Only as I was asked to pitch in ... it's a long time since I read the article on Psychometrics here and I guess that is the subject of this thread: "Psychometrics (Life sciences)" as a page by that title doesn't exist here. My opinion on whether it is a pseudo-science is that this depends on what you mean by a pseudo-science, which in turn depends on what you mean by science. My problem with psychometrics is the exaggerated claims that come from the field, and the fact that a lot of its leading proponents' foundational research seems questionable to say the very least. But none of that is to say that the field CANNOT be scientific. There are those working in many fields whose scientific method is questionable. I have a simple definition of science: the observation of phenomena, collection of data, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. Is it the field itself that is unscientific or the work done by those in it? There's no reason that "psychometricists" (?!?!) cannot be scientific in their approach to psychometrics, indeed I would hope that such an approach would drown out the rest, but whether any of them do I do not know. Many people argue that psychology of all kinds is not true science. You pays your money aand you takes your choice. Personally I don't think that a health warning of such a general nature as this article presents on Pseudosciences is helpful and I would delete it, or leave it to contain only a definition of pseudoscience. It is the individual articles themselves, the first port of call for readers, that need to be clarified. Pillorying and name calling is at best unhelpful. IMO this list of pseudosciences can only generate polemics. This seems to me to be the root of the problem here, not whether or not something fits or does not into a certain interpretation or concept of a taxonomy. Our common interest as users and editors of wiki would be addressed best by addressing the problems of this page in its entirety rather than in its minutiae. But I can't find that the moderator/mediator/arbitrator/judge has provided this option ... so, enjoy!  :) LookingGlass (talk) 12:09, 18 March 2015 (UTC)

Option 3 Pseudoscience does not apply to psychometrics as a whole, although it may apply to certain tests and the interpretation of such tests. Psychometrics is just too broad, if it also includes assessment of reading, writing, and mathematical skills, as stated in the article. In the field of neuroscience, there are "psychometric" assays for assessing psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, adaptability, etc in animals. To say that ALL measurements of mental/psychological phenomena are pseudoscience would be overreaching. -Iamozy (talk) 00:22, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

yes, and it also would misrepresent the source since Gould is talking about only specific examples of pseudoscience. Probably a better inclusion would be scientific racism which is basically what he is denouncing in the book, and which is widely considered pseudoscientific.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 00:31, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

Number 3 - exclude psychometrics from this list -- (1) I'd suggest general resistance to adding more to a long thing, as it seems awfully long and why would one more be better, plus pseudoscience I think is a vague epitet so one often would not be able to tell anything definitive except whether others say it for various reasons (hence different meanings?). and then (2) by googling I see generally a LOW percent of google books 'psychometrics' also have 'pseudoscience', but in common web most uses are in common. So seems like maybe technical experts with substantive material usually say psychometrics is NOT pseudoscience, but the masses frequently gripe using the word ... which is consistent with it being a vague slur or something complaints turn to hurt the topic ... feels like they didn't like the result of the metric more than an intellectual consideration. Markbassett (talk) 02:02, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

I'm hearing what you guys are saying, but I still think that it's pseudoscience as no aspect of the mind is isolatable, therefore no aspect of the mind is measurable, and therefore every instrument is impossible to actually validate. Yet psychometrics claims that it's able to do all of these things all while claiming to be science.--TDJankins (talk) 04:44, 19 March 2015 (UTC)
If you presented sources making that argument I would be willing to reconsider. I would disagree with all three propositions (aspects of mind are isolatable, they can potentially be measured even if they are not isolated, and some measurements of aspects of mind can be empirically validated), but a good source making the argument would be enough for inclusion. ·maunus · snunɐɯ· 19:13, 19 March 2015 (UTC)
@TDJankins: Your statements all sound like philosophical arguments to me, not science at all. In the field of neuroscience you can definitely use behavioral assays to assess things such as adaptability, anxiety, despair, etc. With the understanding and explanation that psychometrics aren't 100% accurate, you can still use them to show statistically significant changes in cognition, and you can reliably use them to reproduce results. For example, "psychometrics" are used to test the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals, which cause behavioral changes in both animals and humans. To use your argument "no aspect of the mind is isolatable" to say that there is no legitimate assay measuring cognition or mental faculty - it just doesn't make any sense, and it sounds pretty anti-science to me. -Iamozy (talk) 16:26, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Psychometrics is a multifaceted field. One one end, it is concerned with the statistical foundations of measurement in psychology; theories like item response theory, structural equation modeling and the ordinal analysis of ranked data, such as Likert scale data, are as mathematically solid as anything in statistics. I have never seen a claim of pseudoscience for these statistical methods. In applied psychometrics, there are careful scientists who simply want to measure psychological behavior as well as possible. But there are also charlatans who claim their psychometric tests are the one true way to predict, e.g., educational success; they often have no scientific backing for these claims, which lead careful scientists to reject their claims as pseudoscience. Thus while there are particular people and products in the field deserving of the label pseudoscience, it is wrong to paint the whole field with this brush. --Mark viking (talk) 19:05, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

The same could be said of Economics or any other social science. Or any other branch of Psychology. Roger (talk) 17:04, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Option 2 Psychometrics does have a range of detractors, as presented elsewhere here and in the Psychometrics article. If some WP:RSes say that X scholar or Y scholar believe that it's a pseudoscience, then we should notate that and include it in this list. Full stop.--Shibbolethink ( ) 20:17, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Hee hee, and now we will have an orthodoxy/heterodoxy discussion in the Grand Old Tradition! Consider the early Ecumenical Councils and their agonies deciding True and False Christian doctrine. Look at the endlessly schisming Communist parties with their purist Marxist/Leninist/Trotsky-ite/Maoist/etc. branches. When the Skeptics start comparing their lists of Innies and Outies, there is no better show for April Fools day. With a little luck, we can cancel a tenure or two, or burn a Wikipedian in the town square! Even better if we burn a pile of his books beside him just to show we are serious! And I like Option 2 -- burn everything ever denounced by anyone! More burnings, more destruction, more reputations ruined, more human misery.
I just noticed your subject is denounced as a pseudoscience in the Wikipedia, Professor. No student will want to take your classes now. Will you be resigning soon, or will you wait until after lunch?
Good Lord, what a festival of fiendish delight! Let it rain blood everywhere -- Hell is always thirsty. Slade Farney (talk) 18:47, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
@Sfarney: would you like to dispute that some WP:RSes show that there is at least a large group of individuals in the scientific community who believe that psychometrics is a pseudoscience? Or would you like to continue making straw men? --Shibbolethink ( ) 20:01, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
No dispute at all. A large section of the "scientific community" is happy with the prospect of burning heretics. They have no sense of history and no appreciation that their own doctrines were once heretical and they would be burned for espousing them. Many so-called scientists are not scientists at all -- they are doctrinaires. Like puritanical Communists, puritanical Christians, and Procrustians everywhere, their real problem is not a love of their own doctrines, but the impurity of heretics. And once the Procrustians complete their conquest of Science (and it won't be long now), all progress of science will stop. Knowledge is Orthodoxy. Long Live True Knowledge! Death to all Heretics! Sadly, we've been been here before. Slade Farney (talk) 23:20, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I dispute it. Where is that "large group of individuals in the scientific community who believe that psychometrics is a pseudoscience?" From what I have seen, the critics of psychometrics are mostly crackpots. Roger (talk) 23:55, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
That statement says more about what you have seen, than it does about psychometrics or its critics.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 23:58, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
@Shibbolethink: I have yet to see any credible source demonstrating the whole of psychometrics to be a pseudoscience. They all focus on particulars (such as IQ) or the history of psychometrics, which was undeniably pseudoscientific (and sometimes used to justify terrible arguments). Today, psychometrics are used more reliably and with the understanding that while the metrics may not be 100% accurate, they can be used to reliably measure changes in aptitude or some other mental faculty. Psychometrics that measure anxiety, depression, attention span, adaptability, and working memory are very reproducible. This is not to deny the fact that psychometrics CAN be used unscientifically (say, to match people with romantic partners, or determine if an employee is suitable for a job), but that isn't the WHOLE of psychometrics -Iamozy (talk) 20:31, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
@Iamozy: okay then, sure. So then why don't we include "Certain aspects of Psychometrics" on this list, and then delineate which parts of Psychometrics as a field have been called pseudoscientific in the literature. Though I did just find several sources calling the psychometric measure of depression[1][2], etc. pseudoscientific, so we'd have to include those as well. With properly metered rebuttals, of course.--Shibbolethink ( ) 20:44, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
@Shibbolethink: It would seem to me to be more accurate to include Personality Tests, Intelligence quotients, and other psychometric tests that have been credibly debunked. "Certain aspects of Psychometrics" is much too vague and inclusive. -Iamozy (talk) 17:13, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
@Iamozy: That makes a lot of sense to me. I would probably include the word Psychometrics though, because that is what these are. Like "Certain Psychometric tests such as Personality Tests, Intelligence Quotients, etc have been thoroughly debunked, but remain controversial. Others, such as depression quotients, anxiety checklists, and the PCL-R, remain thoroughly debated topics." How's that? --Shibbolethink ( ) 17:35, 9 April 2015 (UTC)

Evidence for Psychometrics as a pseudoscience[edit]

Since this seems to have devolved into hearsay, here are the WP:RSes I could find in a ten minute google search saying that X scholar or Y scholar or Z part of the scientific community believe that Psychometrics is a pseudoscience:

"Psychometrists argue (e.g. Cattell, 1981) that with high-quality psychometric tests of this kind it is possible to construct a genuinely scientific quantified psychology, similar to the natural sciences in its rigorous quantification. However, some distinguished scientists, of whom Medawar (1984) is perhaps the best known, have claimed that psychometric testing is pseudo-science..." [3]
"One unfortunate result of all this commotion has been, according to Carroll, that many 'public intellectuals' see psychometric research and intelligence as discredited pseudoscience alien to the ideals of a democracy (Giroux & Searls 1996)."[4]
"The Behavioural Insight team, or "nudge" unit, which was created by David Cameron in 2010 to help people "make better choices", has been accused by the Ohio-based VIA Institute on Character of bad practice after civil servants used VIA's personality tests in pilot experiments in Essex despite being refused permission to do so. The £520,000-a-year Cabinet Office unit run by Dr David Halpern was told by VIA – whose members devised the personality test – to stop using the questionnaire because it had failed its scientific validation."[5]
"This article claims The Bell Curve merely reiterates the fallacious argument long embraced by psychometricians: that intelligence can be reduced to a single ordinal measure (g) that is the primary factor for determining group or individual social-class status. The book's policy recommendations, particularly its call to dismantle initiatives designed to ameliorate social inequality, are shown to have evolved from pseudoscientific theories about the distribution of cognitive abilities across racial/ethnic groups."[6]
"Non-scientific premises and procedures upon which the persistent theories tracing intellectual inferiority to race and social class were based are examined. Modern forms of "psychometric illusion," such as intelligence tests, I.Q tests and creativity tests, are discussed in terms of cultural bias and built-in fallacies."[7]

As a result, I think Psychometrics deserves inclusion in this article. Since it's very contentious, we should obviously append the entry with all the facts about Psychometry is taught everywhere, etc etc, in the form of WP:RSes sourced material. Obviously no OR.--Shibbolethink ( ) 20:24, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

  1. ^ Understanding why some clinicians use pseudoscientific methods: Findings from research on clinical judgment. Garb, Howard N.; Boyle, Patricia A.
  2. ^ Davey, Graham C. (2006). Worry and its Psychological Disorders: Theory, Assessment and Treatment. p. 394. ISBN 047001279X. 
  3. ^ Kline, Paul (2000). The New Psychometrics: Science, Psychology and Measurement. Routledge. pp. 5, 39. ISBN 0415228212. 
  4. ^ Nyborg, Helmuth (2003). The Scientific Study of General Intelligence: Tribute to Arthur Jensen. Pergamon. p. 474. ISBN 0080437931. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
Only two of those sources actually apply the term pseudoscience to psychometrics as a discipline, The other three criticize the validity of specific studies or theories, without claiming that the discipline is pseudoscience. Unfortunately the two first are en not high quality sources, and dont even attribute the view to specific scholars except Medwar 1984.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 00:35, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
@Shibbolethink: There might be another route out of this tangle. When used as a tool of coercion (courts, governments, compulsory education, occupational screening, etc.), psychometry can result in the violation of civil rights and injustice. That is because psychometry depends on delicate and fallible human operation and administration. Psychometry might be compared with a stethoscope. Can a stethoscope diagnose heart murmur? In the hands of a skilled professional, a stethoscope can be a valuable tool for diagnosis. But in the hands of a fool, a stethoscope is mere foolishness. Similarly, not everything that is labeled "intelligence test" really does test intelligence. On the other hand, the right test in the hands of a skilled professional is better than a blindfold and a pair of dice, right?
"Psychometrics" is far too broad a term to decide either way. Many tests are deservedly denounced. But not all denouncers denounce deservedly. There is, after all, no scientific test that can detect a "pseudoscience." To determine the boundaries of science, a denouncer must step outside the boundaries of science. Therefore the listing of pseudosciences might itself be denounced as a psuedoscience. And therein lies the frailty of this page. Slade Farney (talk) 00:07, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
Characterization of pseudoscience is not even categorically appropriately referred to as science in the first place, so no one should be calling the list pseudoscientific. Further, when you say "route out of this tangle," what you mean is "new way for you to argue that Psychometrics shouldn't be included." which doesn't negate the numerous WP:RSes describing Psychometrics as pseudoscience. Sorry.--Shibbolethink ( ) 23:59, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Murphy's Law (proposed)[edit]

When it rains it pours... Is this a real, proven, scientific theory? If not, it could be added to this page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:13, 17 March 2015 (UTC)

But who ever claimed that it is a scientific theory? Not every untrue thing is pseudoscience. — Jeraphine Gryphon (talk) 15:46, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
The Murphy's law wiki article doesn't even call it pseudoscience. • SbmeirowTalk • 04:33, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
It isn't science, nor is it a true "law". Like Hahnemann's "law of similars", it is a (joking) postulate rather than a scientific law. -- BullRangifer (talk) 06:14, 23 March 2015 (UTC)


Under racial theories in social sciences, what do you guys think of adding a subheading on Eugenics? Or at least a shout out in the racial differences subheading. I think we should acknowledge the former scientific thought, now dismissed as pseudoscience, which advocated for its use.--Shibbolethink ( ) 17:48, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

Interesting question. First, of course, I think we would need an independent RS specifically calling eugenics a pseudoscience, although I don't imagine that will necessarily be particularly hard to find, like maybe here. But it might not be unreasonable to add links to Scientific racism and the articles on the various forms of same to some sort of specific subsection. John Carter (talk) 17:57, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
The important thing is the primacy of such content and sourcing in the original article. Get it right there, and then mention it here, using the same sources. -- BullRangifer (talk) 01:43, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Eugenics can't be classified as pseudoscience because it clearly can work. The only question is whether it is ethical.Cutelyaware (talk) 04:04, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
"Because it clearly can work?" Work to achieve what? Where are the Randomized Controlled Trials showing it's efficacy at doing what it claims? Where are the scientists saying it would even be efficacious at what the intent is? Originally eugenics was intended as a method of improving the health, wellbeing, and overall condition of the human race, and numerous studies have shown that diversity is the key to a healthy gene pool.--Shibbolethink ( ) 04:19, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

Scientology - FDA case against emeter misrepresented[edit]

User:Staszek Lem, you have reverted my edits to return text that now says, "L. Ron Hubbard was later legally forced to admit it [e-meter] does nothing." But Hubbard was not a party to the suit by the FDA. The parties under the jurisdiction of the Court were UNITED STATES of America, Libelant, v. An ARTICLE OR DEVICE . . . "HUBBARD ELECTROMETER" or "Hubbard E-Meter," etc., Founding Church of Scientology et al., Claimants. Hubbard was not present, not a party, not under the jurisdiction of the court, and could not be "forced" by the court to do anything. The party under a court order was the Church. We of Wikipedia must aim for accuracy, even when useful sources get sloppy with their facts. Slade Farney (talk) 00:28, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

SO why don't we just say that the church was forced to admit the e-meter does nothing?--Shibbolethink ( ) 01:04, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Thank you, User:Staszek Lem, that would be an improvement. However, as told in the Court of Appeals decision two years earlier: "They [Scientologists] have made no attempt to contradict the expert testimony introduced by the Government. They have conceded that the E-meter is of no use in the diagnosis or treatment of disease as such, and have argued that it was never put forward as having such use. Auditing or processing, in their view, treats the spirit of man, not his body, though through the healing of the spirit the body can be affected. They have culled from their literature [**23] numerous statements disclaiming any intent to treat disease and recommending that Scientology practitioners send those under their care to doctors when organic defects may be found." The 1954 Creed states:

... the spirit alone may save or heal the body.[1][2]

In short, the church was not *forced* to admit that the e-meter does nothing because that was their assertion all along, and your proposal would be still be a misstatement. Slade Farney (talk) 01:58, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

All this fine and good, but it does not belong to this page. This page is a list. A brief comment for each item is to provide a mention with reliable reference that something is called "pseudoscience". Detail and explanations how crooked they are belong to the corresponding subject page. Staszek Lem (talk) 02:03, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

P.S. the same goes with "Touch assist" What we have here is a piece of original research. A simple question: did anyone define Touch assist as a piece of pseudoscience or false science or else? Please also keep in mind that not all snake oil is pseudoscience. As for the "standing wave" case, the counterargument (unreferenced) is just as silly as the argument itself (I will not go into detail; reference, please). Staszek Lem (talk) 02:10, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Concerning the "brief comment for each item": Do we say that Astrologists bite the heads off chickens and superglue them to prayer wheels? Surely the "brief comment" must be in line with the prevailing truth. That is what I am bringing to your attention. "Hubbard" was not "forced" etc. If the source we are using says that, the source is too careless with fact to use as a source. The church was the party in the case and was given the court order/injunction to label the emeters. The original text was trying to imply that this was a reversal of church doctrine ("forced to admit"). That WAS the story in the text. I showed here that that story is simply not true. (Please observe, I am not trying to stuff all that into the text of the page.) OK, you take away that story and what do you have? The astrologers were "forced" to stop biting the heads off chickens, and the church was required to add labels to emeters as an additional notice of what the church had been preaching all along. And the FDA was required to return the emeters and books. Ho hum. I don't think the item belongs in this list because even the hostile judge (strong language for a judge) decided the emeter was religion, not pseudo-science. Slade Farney (talk) 06:53, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
My point exactly, unless a reliable reference calls something synonymous to "pseudoscience", the item is off the list without lengthy discussions and waste wikipedians' time. Reference, please. Period. Staszek Lem (talk) 17:36, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
There are two separate issues here. One, I agree that the court case could be used to perhaps justify the word "forced" if there were evidence that there had existed earlier comments which did not make such a clear statement. The word "forced" is a bit strong, however. It might be worth noting that this independent reliable source also says that Hubbard was forced to admit the e-meter "does nothing," citing two other sources to that effect. But at least a quick search of Google doesn't produce any independent reliable sources which specifically state that the e-meter is pseudoscientific in and of itself, although a few do specifically seem to indicate that Scientology "auditing" is pseudoscientific. John Carter (talk) 17:48, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Are there any sources which say that the whole scientology is described as pseudoscientific? If yes, then we don't have to waste time and space to list all its teachings here. Staszek Lem (talk) 17:52, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
The fact that something that is so obviously pseudoscientific cannot be included for lack of sources and legitimate disciplines can because someone got angry once at reading bad research and denounced an entire field as pseudoscientific shows clearly how useless this list is. ·maunus · snunɐɯ· 17:54, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
This situation is akin to calling someone "fascist" and we include him to "List of fascist". We have to use common sense to distinguish the usage of a word as a reasonable description or as a slur. Of course, this makes the life of a wikipedian harder, but it does not invalidate the list. The list is titled "...characterized as pseudoscience" not "...called pseudoscience". The word "charcterized" implies a certain reasonable argument is involved, not just name calling. Staszek Lem (talk) 18:36, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Actually we would call it "list of people 'characterized as fascists". We should make that list. It would be long. And useless.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 18:40, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Well, it the "useless" part (for both lists) we are in a complete agreement. But again, I think the same about the"List of pokemon". But not for true wikipediholics. :-) Staszek Lem (talk) 19:02, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I've seen some sources which specifically call dianetics a pseudoscience, and it's already included in the list, and this page, if its reliable, calls Scientology a pseudoscience. There may well be others. And this page could, I guess, be used to say that Scientology at least was a pseudoscience, before, as it says, Hubbard "turned it into a formal religion." And I want to note that I agree with Maunus about the problematic nature of the qualifications for inclusion here. John Carter (talk) 18:08, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Uh, folks, the latest change by Staszek Lem, though an improvement, still includes a false statement, sic: "L. Ron Hubbard was later legally forced to admit it "does nothing." Hubbard was not a party to the suit and the court did not issue an order on him. I have included links to court papers above. If that is what the source says, the source is too sloppy to use for the Wikipedia. We should find another source. Slade Farney (talk) 18:29, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

I note that one of the sources I found online, which I linked to above, makes the same statement, indicating two sources for its "article," although I'm not sure whether this particular statement is sourced from them. That link, is, again, here. I also note what seems to me to be a possibly dubious logical flaw in the above argument, specifically whether the court case could be the only place in which an individual could be "legally forced" to do anything. I cannot think of any other specific situations in which he might have been "legally forced" to make such a statement, but, I am not an expert in the law regarding such matters either. I believe that if there are serious questions regarding this matter, the better place for such discussion would probably be at the WP:RSN or WP:NPOVN, and also perhaps contact editors at WP:LAW or any editors with legal expertise to see if the possible flaw in the above logic is a real flaw. John Carter (talk) 18:50, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Fair enough. Check me out: Court compulsion comes only through a judgment or an injunction. In either situation, the court must establish "jurisdiction" over the person it seeks to compel. Source must cite the court case and year so that it can be verified. If the case is the FDA v. e-meter case, the source fails on accuracy. This page also should not say just "later", but should give a date. "In 19__, Hubbard/Church was forced to stop biting the heads of chickens." Slade Farney (talk) 19:14, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
The wiki source is apparently based on this page by Robert Todd Carroll. The FDA case is the event, and Carroll does not say HUBBARD WAS FORCED. The authors of our source (In Defense of Science: Why Scientific Literacy Matters by Frank R. Spellman and Joni Price-Bayer) should each be sent a nice bottle of eyewash. Slade Farney (talk) 19:38, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
There is however at least a possible difference between "legal compulsion" and "court compulsion". While I do not necessarily disagree with the accuracy of that being the only place on could receive "court compulsion," there may be other circumstances, such as I suppose filings of legal documents in some other venue, which might qualify as "legal compulsions." And, FWIW, there is a long-standing precedent, even if it is one I personally don't particularly like, that even errors in otherwise reliable sources can qualify for inclusion if they are prominent enough or repeated often enough. Like I said, the best way to resolve this would I think be at one of the noticeboards, with possibly a notification of the discussion at the WikiProject Law talk page. John Carter (talk) 19:47, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I may not have been clear in my last. The Wiki page is naming Spellman and Price-Bayer as source. But Spell/Price-Bayer cite to Carroll, and Carroll does not make the statement they attribute to him. Spell/Price-Bayer is shown to be erroneous not only from the original court judgment, which is on line, but from the source they cite as their source (Carroll). Carroll does not say what they cite him to be saying. Slade Farney (talk) 20:46, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Speilman/Price-Bayer also misrepresents the Evans statement in Cults of Unreason. Here is what Evans actually wrote in 1974, the year of the final judgment in the case: "They [e-meters] are not - as the Food and Drug Administration found to its embarrassment in the case of the E-meter - sold or promoted as therapeutic devices." According to Evans' direct statement, the embarrassment was handed to the FDA, not to the church, and neither Hubbard nor the church were "forced to admit" anything. Spellman and Price-Bayer were putting their own spin on the affair, scratching their own itch in a manner that does not do a scholar credit. Slade Farney (talk) 17:58, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
I must also comment on the reliance of sources '"if they are prominent enough or repeated often enough:"' This policy would qualify Pope Paul V (the pope who prosecuted Galileo's) as a reliable source on the solar system. He was certainly prominent and whatever he said was repeated "often enough." From what I understand of your statement, it doesn't matter how thoroughly he is proved to be wrong. Have I misunderstood? Slade Farney (talk) 20:46, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
    • ^ Neusner, Jacob (2003). World Religions in America: An Introduction. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 223. ISBN 9780664224752. 
    • ^ Urban, Hugh (2011). The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton University Press. p. 67. ISBN 9780691146089.