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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
Please read before starting

First of all, welcome to Wikipedia's Pseudoscience article. This article represents the work of many contributors and much negotiation to find consensus for an accurate and complete representation of the topic.

Newcomers to Wikipedia and this article may find that it's easy to commit a faux pas. That's OK — everybody does it! You'll find a list of a few common ones you might try to avoid here.

A common objection made often by new arrivals is that the article presents the fields it lists as "pseudoscience" in an unsympathetic light or violates Wikipedia's Neutral Point of View policy (WP:NPOV). The sections of the WP:NPOV that apply directly to this article are:

The contributors to the article continually strive to adhere to these to the letter. Also, splitting the article into sub-articles is governed by the Content forking guidelines.

These policies have guided the shape and content of the article, and new arrivals are strongly encouraged to become familiar with them prior to raising objections on this page or adding content to the article. Other important policies guiding the article's content are No Original Research (WP:NOR) and Cite Your Sources (WP:CITE).

Tempers can and have flared here. All contributors are asked to please respect Wikipedia's policy No Personal Attacks (WP:NPA) and to abide by consensus (WP:CON).

Notes to editors:
  1. This article uses scientific terminology, and as such, the use of the word 'theory' to refer to anything outside of a recognised scientific theory is ambiguous. Please use words such as 'concept', 'notion', 'idea', 'assertion'; see Wikipedia:Words to avoid#Theory.
  2. Please use edit summaries.


We shouldn't place articles on real people directly in Category:Pseudoscience. There is a dedicated category for that, Advocates of pseudoscience, which, BTW, should contain only subcategories. Pseudoscience is a pejorative and a contentious label; and Category:Pseudoscience, it is stated, should directly contain few if any articles -- and there is strong precedent for not putting articles on real people in said category.--Solomonfromfinland (talk) 21:29, 8 September 2015 (UTC)

I removed said category from the following pages: Stefan Marinov, Vine Deloria, Jr., Vani Hari, Viktor Schauberger, Viera Scheibner. In the case of Stefan Marinov, I left said article as a member of Category:Fringe science, and given that “Marinov succeeded in having his claims presented in numerous publications including peer-reviewed journals.”, Marinov’s claims might be better described as legitimate scientific disagreement (a neutral or even favorable label) rather than pseudoscience (a pejorative). In the case of Viktor Schauberger, there is nothing in said article that even mentions pseudoscience, or indicates that Schauberger’s theories are such. Calling his claims pseudoscience, without sources, even potentially unreliable ones, amounts to original research.--Solomonfromfinland (talk) 21:49, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
If there is a dedicated subcategory for such people, then why didn't you use it? Instead you simply removed the category. Andy Dingley (talk) 21:57, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
Indeed. We would not, after all, want to obscure the fact that free energy, perpetual motion, and pretty much everything the FUD Babe has ever said, are pseudoscience. Guy (Help!) 22:00, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
The article Free energy suppression conspiracy theory mostly treat such exotic energy conspiracy theories as either conspiracy theory or legitimate scientific disagreement, not pseudoscience. The article Cold fusion likewise treats cold fusion as legitimate scientific disagreement more than pseudoscience. As for Viera Scheibner, why is her article placed directly in Category:Pseudoscience while the articles on other anti-vaxers are not? (Category:Anti-vaccination activists is currently a subcategory of Category:Advocates of pseudoscience.)--Solomonfromfinland (talk) 22:19, 26 October 2015 (UTC)
To answer your question: "Why?" Propaganda. That's why. To call anyone's information a "conspiracy theory" is simply a disrespectful ad hominem, unless that person's information is indeed a theory of conspiracy. This link might helpful for people that like to throw the word "conspiracy theory" around: --Aerozeplyn (talk) 06:35, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
We based our articles on what we call 'reliable sources', see WP:VERIFY and WP:RS. Dictionary definitions are often not helpful as they can simplify issues (or, as in one case where a dictionary called archaeology the study of prehistory, simply wrong)> Are you actually arguing that there are no conspiracy theories? Doug Weller (talk) 12:32, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Good. People seem to have gotten the message about Viktor Schauberger.--Solomonfromfinland (talk) 22:30, 26 October 2015 (UTC)
This page is only to discuss this article, not categories or other articles or pseudoscience in general. Use the category talk page to discuss the category or WP:FTN please. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Doug Weller (talkcontribs) 09:19, 27 October 2015 (UTC)

Lead sentences, first paragraph[edit]

I don't find the first two sentences of the article to be especially consistent, and wiggle words like "mainly" obscure things too. So instead of

"Pseudoscience is a claim, belief or practice which lacks scientific status mainly either because it is incorrectly presented as scientific but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, or because it cannot be reliably tested."

I would say that

"Pseudoscience is a claim, belief or practice that is presented as scientific but which does not does not adhere to a valid scientific method."

I prefer this because the present first sentence seems to allow for something to be "pseudoscience" simply if it can't be reliably tested; the word "or" makes this interpretation possible. In fact, just because something is not testable doesn't make it pseudoscience. It is pseudoscience if it is presented as scientific (or testable) but isn't scientific (or testable). My draft sentence would, however, be somewhat overlapping with the next sentence in the paragraph.

Thanks, Isambard Kingdom (talk) 19:14, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

  • Support - I 100% agree with this. I further submit "mainly either" is excruciatingly awful English that made me wince in horror when I read it. The only change I would request is the use of "the scientific method" instead of "a valid scientific method". -- Scjessey (talk) 02:25, 5 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Support - I too, 110% agree with this. Arianewiki1 (talk) 10:54, 5 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Support, but without the double does not bit. Vsmith (talk) 13:28, 5 November 2015 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done Isambard Kingdom (talk) 13:56, 5 November 2015 (UTC)

I've tweaked this slightly. I've made the second part of the sentence an independent clause (allowing a comma), and changed the "but" into "yet" (we have a "but" in the next sentence). Finally, I removed a "that" which did not seem necessary. The meaning of the sentence remains the same, so I hope everyone is okay with this. -- Scjessey (talk) 19:39, 5 November 2015 (UTC)

Cleanup of References[edit]

Nice job OtisDixon on the cleanup of all the references. Appreciate the attention to detail. Alex Jackl (talk) 16:01, 2 January 2016 (UTC)

Skeptics and non-traditional techniques branded as "Pseudoscience"[edit]