Talk:Pseudoscience/Archive 11

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Quackwatch is good

see here, by Rory Coker. I like this because it provides concrete examples. WNDL42 (talk) 23:58, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

Rory Coker "pseudoscience" criteria

I've just extracted the "bullets", the essay is chock full of examples. I think Coker gets into trouble via overuse of hyperbole, but I like the way he's laid it out...WNDL42 (talk) 00:29, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

  • Pseudoscience displays an indifference to facts.
  • Pseudoscience "research" is invariably sloppy.
  • Pseudoscience begins with a hypothesis—usually one which is appealing emotionally, and spectacularly implausible—and then looks only for items which appear to support it.
  • Pseudoscience is indifferent to criteria of valid evidence.
  • Pseudoscience relies heavily on subjective validation.
  • Pseudoscience depends on arbitrary conventions of human culture, rather than on unchanging regularities of nature.
  • Pseudoscience always achieves a reduction to absurdity if pursued far enough.
  • Pseudoscience always avoids putting its claims to a meaningful test.
  • Pseudoscience often contradicts itself, even in its own terms.
  • Pseudoscience deliberately creates mystery where none exists, by omitting crucial information and important details.
  • Pseudoscience does not progress.
  • Pseudoscience attempts to persuade with rhetoric, propaganda, and misrepresentation rather than valid evidence (which presumably does not exist).
  • Pseudoscience argues from ignorance, an elementary fallacy.
  • Pseudoscience argues from alleged exceptions, errors, anomalies, strange events, and suspect claims—rather than from well-established regularities of nature.
  • Pseudoscience appeals to false authority, to emotion, sentiment, or distrust of established fact.
  • Pseudoscience makes extraordinary claims and advances fantastic theories that contradict what is known about nature.
  • Pseudoscientists invent their own vocabulary in which many terms lack precise or unambiguous definitions, and some have no definition at all.
  • Pseudoscience appeals to the truth-criteria of scientific methodology while simultaneously denying their validity.
  • Pseudoscience claims that the phenomena it studies are "jealous."
  • Pseudoscientific "explanations" tend to be by scenario.
  • Pseudoscientists often appeal to the ancient human habit of magical thinking.
  • Pseudoscience relies heavily on anachronistic thinking.

The Martinphi-ScienceApologist Interview

What is the role of science in producing authoritative knowledge? How should Wikipedia report on pseudoscience? Veterans of numerous edit wars and talk page battles spanning dozens of articles across Wikipedia, User:Martinphi and User:ScienceApologist will go head to head on the subject of Wikipedia, Science, and Pseudoscience in a groundbreaking interview to be published in an upcoming issue of Signpost. User:Zvika will moderate the discussion. Post suggested topics and questions at The Martinphi-ScienceApologist Interview page. (talk) 11:22, 12 March 2008 (UTC)


Considering that this article talks a great deal about scientific movements in the past, it is problematic that none of the critiques brought in come from historians of science. Many historians of science (myself included) take great issue with the concept of "pseudoscience," primarily because what is not considered science today was considered science during its time. The notion of science is not a timeless floating essence, but something that has been constructed and defined and fought over over the course of centuries. For instance, eugenics is frequently referred to as a pseudoscience, even though it was highly regarded as a science at the time, and an integral part of the formation of the discipline of biology and genetics. (Many present day genetics journals were originally eugenics journals.) This i because scientists today want to distance themselves with this history. Whereas Darwin is not considered pseudoscience, while many of his ideas are not believed by many scientists. (I'm not talking about creationism. I'm talking about Darwin's racial theories, for instance.)

Anyway, I wanted to offer the critique. When I have time I'll pull this together in the form of something that can fit into the article.

Fokion (talk) 05:16, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

(Note: - eugenics is a bad example because, even to the present day, researchers in genetics lie about or hide their results in order to appease politically correct points of view. In other words, factors of controversy other than science-vs-psuedoscience have greater bearing.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Paulsheer (talkcontribs) 09:27, 13 May 2009
I don't see it that way Fokion, although I agree with some things you wrote. Darwin's natural selection basic theory is the science, Darwin's culturally effected racial use of the word "savages" (for example) is not the science. It is not uncommon for scientists to make scientific contributions while still believing in other things. The pseudoscience concept is an important one that can help protect people from scams and oportunity costs. I recommend work by Karl Popper, Keith Stanovich, Scott O Lilienfeld and others because I think there is a part of the puzzle you haven't looked into yet. In particular falsifiability is a key concept, and it is interesting to look back on the history of science and see how mistakes in "science" have often come from an ignorance of the falsifiability principle. Zonbalance (talk) 21:52, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

Yes, but the question remains... who gets to define the terms of the debate? Falsifiability implies that there is an already established methodology. These disciplinary practices are historically contingent-- to hold science of the past up to what is today considered legitimate science would be historically problematic. Also, by that definition, the scientific method is pseudoscience, since there is no way to prove that the scientific method works. And if we were to do that, what methodology would we use? The scientific method? Empiricism, like any other methodology or disciplinary foundationalism, is ultimately self-assuming.

On the question of Darwin, it is from our perspective today that we separate Darwin's racial politics from his evolutionary politics. They certainly weren't separated at the time. In fact, these racial politics were very much a part of recapitulation theory which formed the backbone for developmental psychology.

Anyway, I'll look for some sources and write up a section in the critique. I think it would be better for the article to acknowledge the existence of a social constructionist critique of the notion of pseudoscience. Fokion (talk) 04:08, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

No, falsifiability is just one criteria, and it simply means a theory should be constructed in a way that it is possible to prove it wrong. Methodology is found in other criteria for pseudoscience. Zonbalance (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 05:05, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps I was unclear in my previous response. The point I'm trying to make is that in order to speak of "falsifiablity" in fact presupposes a great deal of things, none of which are subjected to tests of falsifiablity. Namely, the idea of the scientific method as a coherent timeless entity, when in fact the scientific method is something that is put into practice in very different ways in different disciplines. Those foundational claims of those disciplines cannot really be subjected to the test of falsifiablity, or at least they usually aren't. One example I was trying to demonstrate is that the claim "the scientific method works", for example, cannot be subjected to any test- it is taken as a matter of faith. If a mechanism were devised for testing whether or not the scientific method does work it would either have to: A) rely on the scientific method, in which case it would be circular, or B) use some other method. And if it does that, then that method somehow supercedes the scientific method, and THAT's the foundational assumption.

So we have that every discipline comes down to some sort of foundationalisms or axioms which are fundamentally not falsifiable. That's one of the problems with disciplinarity.

The other claim that I'm making is that "the scientific method" plays out very differently in different contexts. From the perspective of physics, for instance, sociology doesn't make sense. The claim that there's such a coherent concept as groups of people is an unquestioned claim.

Finally, we have to understand the scientific method as something that exists historically. It's an idea that was constructed by a small group of people with tremendous power, and has been modified and rearticulated constantly throughout its history. We have to understand ideas within their cultural and historical context. Mechanisms of falsifiablity that have been identified today were not available 100 years ago. The scientific method worked very differently in Darwin's time than it did today.

Furthermore... another aspect of the scientific method... the peer review. It's another circular logic because scientists exist within scientific communities. Part of the phenomenon of scientific racism in the 19th century (as opposed to scientific racism today, i.e the bell curve or watson), for example, was that scientists came from a very elite group that shared common cultural assumptions about race. They also shared common assumptions about delinating difference, what variables are meaningful and can be mobilized in analysis. They shared foundational assumptions about what was an acceptable methodology for measuring the size of skulls, for instance. The circular logic of the peer review existed within a greater mutual relationship between common assumptions that were held at the time by the particular elite class from which scientists came from. The idea that the peer review is inherently "objective" makes the faulty assumption that the body of reviewers is not opperating within a certain cultural context. No human is outside of cultural context. One of the problems that happened when craiometrists measured skulls to demonstrate that white males were superior was that even unconsciously they knew that they wanted this skull to measure bigger and this skull to measure smaller. (I forget what the name for that is, when you unconsciously fudge your data like that...) At the time, this was accepted within the methodology.It was publicly sanctioned by the institution of the discipline of anatomy. (Check out Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man.)

Of course, you are probably going to say that a lot has changed since the 19th century. I agree. But the point I want to make is that there is still a cultural commonality within scientific disciplines. This is part of what anthropology of science looks at. How do chemists drip liquid from a pipet into a flask? What if the drop is sticking to the pipet? Well... you just sort of twirl it a little bit like this. Or... this is how you stir a solution, etc... There's a whole physicality in a lab, for instance, that's a cultural product that has very little to do with the intellectual content of the science and a lot more to do with being a physical human body in a lab environment. And so there are culturally coded practices that people aren't necessarily even aware of, about how you do things in a lab. (And there are many that people are aware of.) Anthropology of science might show that in a lab in Tokyo people stir things slightly different than they do in New York. The point is that science does not escape culture. There's a constant need for culturally mediated processes by which to go about functioning as a scientist. It might turn out later that people argue that one of those unquestioned processes actually altered your data.

So then, when we look at things like psychology and sociology, it gets even messier.

That's all for now.Fokion (talk) 07:15, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

We have to keep the discussion to possible changes or improvements to the article, so I will not follow the temptation to get too off track. Simply put I don't agree with your assessment, and do not support any efforts to change the article in a way that will attempt to discredit the concept of pseudoscience, because IMO it will be intellectual abuse to the reader of the article. There are clear pseudosciences out there. Science is a cultural development, yes, and it has proved to be by far the best way we have to evaluate claims and to forward real knowledge. Just briefly, I didn't disagree with all you wrote and I did read it (I do agree with Gould's book for example). However, physics doesn't contradict sociology and there are falsifiable theories in both psychology and sociology (Although Freudian and Marxist theories are unfalsifiable they have fallen out of favor to more falsifiable theories these days). Zonbalance (talk) 07:50, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
Fokion - A historical perspectives section could be interesting. If you really want to bring in Kant, the problem of induction, and the fact that almost everything we call "proven" or "describes reality" actually has error bars on it - go for it. Be careful, though, that the section remains focused on pseudoscience as opposed to critiquing science. Postmodernism already has an article, and this one should be written primarily from the perspective of modern scientific thought. - Eldereft ~(s)talk~ 17:09, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
Thank you. When I have the time, I will put together something. A perspective from the point of view of some historians of science and people in science and technology studies I think is necessary. (For exmaple, the creationism page has a section on critiques of creationism, although that section could probably use some work...) As for the term "postmodernism"... it pretty much signifies nothing at this point, and in this context is only used as a means for scientists to shrug off critiques of science (much like the term "pseudoscience" is used to shrug off other things). Furthermore, the critique of the term "pseudoscience" is quite relevant historiographically right now.Fokion (talk) 07:30, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Excellent resource

I was just pointed to an excellent resource: here that we should consider using for revamping, reorganizing this article. While not perfect, it gives a great solution to the "demarcation problem". ScienceApologist (talk) 18:26, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

I skimmed over the article and the solution you mention didn't jump out at me. Would you be good enough to point out the relevant parts if the text? --ChrisSteinbach (talk) 07:03, 30 April 2008 (UTC)
I also noticed that an example of anti-science is given as someone or something that "doesn't disagree with scientific findings but rejects the scientific method...". Thus throwing the entire field of methodology into disrepute. Or at least that's how I read it. --ChrisSteinbach (talk) 13:58, 30 April 2008 (UTC)

See also

"See also" is not a place to categorize. This article is not a place to categorize. There is a caterory:pseudoscience where you can do that (with lots of discretion per the ArbCom). We have gone over this many times before. Please check the Talk archive here. -- Levine2112 discuss 15:34, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

Info box

Comments on info box

This and other articles may benefit from an info box. QuackGuru 03:49, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

This doesn't appear to be an actual Info Box. Is this something you are interested in setting up? If so, please do so and we can take this conversation there. -- Levine2112 discuss 04:22, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
It looks like an info box to me and we can continue this discussion here. QuackGuru 04:31, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
QG, just click the red "v" in the top left corner of the box, then copy-and-paste your code into the new page. And there you have it - a new template. Then we can have this discussion there. -- Levine2112 discuss 04:34, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
We can continue the discussion here first. I would like to see what others think about the info box for this article. We can add it to many articles. QuackGuru 04:47, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
Nah. We need a real info box if we are going to head down this route. I went ahead and set one up and placed it in the article. Anyone who wishes to discuss the merits/contents of the Info box can discuss over on that talk page. -- Levine2112 discuss 05:03, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
Levine2112 do not mention he deleted several links from the info box. I restored the links to match the previous see also section links. QuackGuru 05:22, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

The word "woo"

Should the article mention that "woo" is used as a slang term for pseudoscience? It's quite widely used in science blogs, but unfortunately there seems to be no formal definition. I'm asking because "woo" as a term for pseudoscience keeps being removed from the woo disambiguation page on the grounds that this article doesn't use the term.-- (talk) 16:26, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

It's actually the first time I heard of "woo" despite having had a deep interest in (debunking) pseudoscience some years ago and despite continuing to have a periphery interest. Is this a recent development? --ChrisSteinbach (talk) 18:29, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
Woo and woo-woo is quite common in the UK at least. See Ben Goldacre's Bad Science. A google news search for "woowoo" will show many quality (and American ;)) newspapers using this term to describe psychics etcVerbal chat 18:36, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
The term "woo" is used quite frequently on the Scienceblogs to refer to pseudoscience (generally the stuff that is way out on the fringe, and doesn't even bear superficial resemblance to genuine science). HrafnTalkStalk 05:24, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
It is used quite often as a pejorative for pseudoscience, and therefore most of alternative medicine. -- Fyslee / talk 00:55, 8 October 2008 (UTC)


Is pseudoscience pejorative? Are other things which are not very loved among some people, like communism, fascism, catholicism or politics, pejoratives too? Miraceti (talk) 07:16, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Invitation to CfD Category:Pseudoskeptic Target Discussion

Those who have edited in related areas within WP might have an interest in this discussion.-- self-ref (nagasiva yronwode) (talk) 18:21, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Topic forks

As well as Pseudoscience, we have pages on

There are bound to be others. I don't think we need this many pages on what seems to be, at most, two topics: speculative science (using scientific method with insufficient facts); and mock science (claiming to use scientific methods without actually doing so). Even the pages that talk about speculative science do so largely as a segue to mock science, basically, an opportunity to point out that speculative science does exists. I'm inclined to think that they should all be dealt with in a single page. Thoughts? Ben Aveling 06:41, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Of course there is most of alternative medicine... ;-) -- Fyslee / talk 01:03, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Good source in Stanford article

This is a good sources, but not a good EL (see wp:ELNO #1). Moved here so someone can use it if they'd like:

-NJGW (talk) 08:46, 4 October 2008 (UTC)


First, I believe that there is agreement not to use this article to list examples. We have List of pseudosciences and pseudoscientific concepts as a repository for such links. Perhaps this article can do a better job linking to that list article. Second, per WP:PSCI , we should only label concepts and disciplines as "pseudoscience" if they are an "obvious pseudoscience" or "generally considered pseudoscience". However, ones that are "questionable science" generally should not be characterized as pseudoscience. -- Levine2112 discuss 18:20, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

wp:RTA does not link to an agreement. Maybe you can be more specific. Also, agreements change all the time. As for the links you deleted, none of them were "questionable science", but clearly pseudoscience. Personally, I think this article benefits from some examples, to give the reader context. NJGW (talk) 19:11, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
I agree. I think clear and notable examples should be included, such as Homeopathy, ID, etc. It's of benefit to the article and the project. Verbal chat 19:49, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
I have to say that I disagree with the selection of examples. There is a huge list of potential candidates to choose from, but least two of the ones nominated (chiropractic and homeopathy) seem to be more controversial than, say, orgone energy or hollow Earth theory. That chiropractic is pseudoscience is rather dubiously sourced to the Skeptical Inquirer, and even the article on chiropractic falls short of characterizing it in this way. Offering up ID, homeopathy, and chiropractic as the prime examples of pseudoscience has a coatracky feel to it, regardless of whether they are in fact pseudoscience. One needs to address the question of why the other items of the List of pseudosciences and pseudoscientific conceptshave been excluded here. siℓℓy rabbit (talk) 20:10, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Homeopathy clearly is pseudoscience, and is a prime example often used in the literature. As to chiropractic, no idea. Verbal chat 20:19, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Intelligent design is described as "junk science" which is a subset of pseudoscience. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 20:45, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

I still oppose having "examples" in this article as that has historically always been the most contentious part of this article. That was in part why List of pseudosciences and pseudoscientific concepts was created. We also have Category:Pseudoscience in which we can appropriate label theories and disciplines as pseudoscience according to WP:PSCI. I too think that "chiropractic" is bad example as it is neither an obvious pseudoscience nor something which is generally considered pseudoscience. So first, I am in favor of removing it from the examples list; and second, I am in favor of removing the list in its entirity and simply defer readers to the already contentious "List of pseudosciences and pseudoscientific concepts". Let's not spead the contentiousness across more articles. -- Levine2112 discuss 20:56, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

I agree with both Levine and siℓℓy rabbit. Just link to the list. However, if you must have specific examples, there is no need to list contentious ones. Doing so just invites contention, for no real reason. List a few obvious ones, if you must, and link to the list. ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 00:51, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

I also agree. If any examples are to be given here at all, they should all be typical, not borderline. Mammal doesn't have an "examples" section listing whale, dolphin, platypus, human, bat, cow. Otherwise the section as it is, without proper framing, is a coatrack. With proper framing (making clear these are not the most obvious cases) it's still an unnecessary magnet for conflicts. --Hans Adler (talk) 10:59, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

Good. Though I disagree with the existence of this "Examples" list, it at least seems as though we have general agreement to keep the examples paired down only to obvious ones. If that is the compromise, I can certainly live with that. That being the case, can we now discuss which ones are prime examples of obvious pseudosciences (i.e. Phrenology, Time Cube, etc.) and compile a short, but useful list? -- Levine2112 discuss 21:01, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
Homeopathy is the standard example.Verbal chat 22:43, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
At the bottom of the article, there is the navbox template for Pseudoscience (which I helped to create). In that, there is an examples section which includes the following:
AIDS denialism · Apollo moon landing hoax accusations · Astrology · Bogdanov Affair · Creation science · Cryptozoology · Dianetics · Faith healing · Homeopathy · Intelligent design · List of pseudosciences and pseudoscientific concepts · Lunar effect · Parapsychology · Perpetual motion · Scientology · Time Cube · Ufology
Perhaps this navbox provides the very examples for which we are asking. Should we just duplicate these in the "Examples" section? Or should the navbox serve as providing the examples and thus eliminate the need for the Examples section. I'm good with either way. -- Levine2112 discuss 23:12, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
Both seem good to me, duplication isn't a problem either. I don't think the current link to Creationism is correct; it should be creation science or ID, as in the Navbox. Verbal chat 08:47, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't consider this a good list of examples at all. No problem with Astrology, Creation Science, Lunar Effect and Time Cube. I am not sure about AIDS denialism. (I once read an article by Serge Lang, by pure accident, and found it very convincing. It looked to me like legitimate scientific controversy, comparable to the global warming controversy. But I didn't pursue this, so I just don't know.) Perhaps it's just my ignorance, but I can find nothing in our articles on Faith healing and Perpetual motion that would make them pseudoscience. The moon landing hoax stuff seems to be primarily a conspiracy theory; given the nature of the overlap between conspiracy theories and pseudoscience I wouldn't expect any conspiracy theories in the list, let alone one that is primarily an elaborate joke. Intelligent design is a borderline case. Dianetics is primarily some other things that I am afraid to mention because I am not anonymous; I don't think the unquestionable pseudoscientific nature is sufficiently prominent to make it a good example. Similarly for homeopathy; socialogically it is more a kind of cult (similar to psychotherapy); it started as science, but in modern times there seem to be both scientific (rigorous scientific research on pointless questions) and pseudoscientific elements, which are more of an afterthought. And so far as I know parapsychology is rigorous scientific research in what seems to be a pointless direction.
Levine, how did you get this list? By looking for pseudosciences that match the criteria well, or by listing the world views that make you most angry and convincing yourself that they match? --Hans Adler (talk) 12:45, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
 :-) Nice. No, none of these things make me angry. (Sometimes they amuse me.) I actually got this list mainly from the former "See also" section of this article and by vetting that against what was listed under List_of_pseudosciences_and_pseudoscientific_concepts#Pseudoscientific_concepts_per_scientific_consensus. I figured that if they are listed on that list as being "pseuodoscientific per scientific consensus", then that's good enough for the navbox. That said, some of the things included in the navbox are no longer listed there. I am certainly open to amending the navbox examples to match what we have included at List_of_pseudosciences_and_pseudoscientific_concepts#Pseudoscientific_concepts_per_scientific_consensus and then also amend what we list here as examples. Sound like a plan? -- Levine2112 discuss 16:00, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

←(undent)Sounds like a great idea to me, that would keep the big ones like homeopathy and creation science in there and ensure that the additions are all well referenced. Verbal chat 17:18, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

Yes, essentially, I don't want to spread this argument over many articles including this one, the pseudoscience category, the list of pseudosciences, the navbox and the individual articles of disputed pseudoscientific subjects. This was part of the rationale for removing the Examples from Pseudoscience. Anyhow, if we are to keep this "Examples" section here (which I still oppose), we should limit it to the most obvious and agreed upon subjects. Currently, the examples given here are not such one. -- Levine2112 discuss 17:33, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
I agree. Well, if you compare the lists you will see that I am not entirely happy with the current state of the list article either, but it seems to have improved a lot since you used it as a basis. And thanks for answering my question in the way I meant it. (I just realised that I was a bit grumpy). --Hans Adler (talk) 18:50, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
Okay, per this general agreement, I have included on those concepts which are listed under List_of_pseudosciences_and_pseudoscientific_concepts#Pseudoscientific_concepts_per_scientific_consensus. I didn't include the people and some other odd ones. Anyhow, I hope this satisfies all and doesn't lead to the big headache which I predict. Cheers! -- Levine2112 discuss 19:10, 10 October 2008 (UTC)


Hi all, I just blocked someone for reverting four times on this article, which is a violation of the WP:3RR policy. So, as a reminder to everyone, please, try to get away from using the "revert" button as an editing tool. Instead, please try to propose compromises, and engage in discussion at the talkpage. This will be much more effective in terms of longterm benefit to the article. Thanks, --Elonka 19:49, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

What edit war? (update: User talk:NJGW for rationale) Verbal chat 19:53, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Apparently there's a new edit war policy that wasn't broadly announced. Can someone point us to it? OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 20:04, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Oh, I'm trying to find the diff of the warning given to NJGW. Can someone point it out to me? OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 20:05, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

I still don't see the edit war... Verbal chat 20:22, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

David R. Hawkins

This doesn’t relate directly to this Wiki article but I wasn't sure where else to put it and this seemed like the only vaguely appropriate place (if anyone can suggest a better place to put it, feel free).

I'm not a hard-line skeptic by any stretch and I am quite open-minded towards some aspects of the paranormal and I don't have any kind of agenda against this guy. But I find it extraordinary that David R. Hawkins doesn’t have an article on Wikipedia, apparently, so I have been lead to believe, because he threatened Wikipedia with legal action because the article he had on here contained sourced, relevant criticism of his silly, pseudoscientific claims. It is outrageous that someone can successfully bully this website with legal threats simply because it presents a neutral article that includes fair and reasonable criticisms of his "scientific" research. For anyone who doesn’t know who Hawkins is, he is a very popular and internationally known leading New Age guru who claims that we should suspend our reason and vain "opinions" entirely and submit to his interpretation of "ultimate truth". To determine "ultimate truth", we have to rely on his "calibrations" of the spiritual and intellectual "integrity" of persons, books, songs, movies, corporations, political ideologies and whatever else by using Applied Kinesiology. In other words, we derive ultimate truth from Hawkins tapping his wife's arm to divine mystical signs from above. This might be amusing where it not for the fact that Hawkins is now widely regarded as a cult leader who tolerates no questioning of any of his teachings (or calibrations) by his disciples and reportedly discourages them from associating with friends and family who he claims calibrate below 200 (which is mysteriously by definition the case for anyone who criticises him or has the audacity to mention double-blind studies that invalidate his claims about AK). Furthermore, he is a right-wing conservative who uses AK to convince his followers that the Republican Party, George W. Bush, dubious foreign interventions, corporations exploiting cheap foreign labour and even Bill O'Reilly and Wal-Mart are all enlightened people/activities. Unlike other fundamentalists, Hawkins is using a pseudoscience and a quackery to convince followers of the "scientific" validity of his absurd claims, his supposed divinity and even his political ideology, and any questioning of his opinions is by definition disagreeing with the ultimate "objective" truth. Even the leading practitioners of AK say he's a crank who is severely misusing the discipline. He is now listed on one site as one of the leading New Age gurus in the world yet is clearly selling a dangerous philosophy and worse, he is using supposed “science” to sell his brand of “spirituality”. Wikipedia had a very informative article on him a while back which you can still find at one mirror site, this article was very neutral and fair and the only criticism was scientific and well sourced. Yet Hawkins, as is his way, demanded the whole page be removed using legal threats on the spurious basis of "copyright violation" (surely this could have been solved by simply deleting any direct quotes from his work?). Hawkins has succeeding in bullying this site to remove any information on him purely because he cannot handle criticism of him and his dangerous quackery being made available to the public. How can it possibly be right that a guy like Hawkins can compromise this sites integrity and stifle freedom of speech so easily? He cannot sue Wiki for reporting that most mainstream scientists regard AK as nonsense or for a few critical comments about him from other New Age figures/AK practitioners/cult researchers. Surely we can reinstate the original article and simply edit it to remove direct quotes from his work, which removes his supposed justification for legal action?

And incidentally since I imagine most of the people here would classify themselves as skeptics, it might be worth pointing out that Robert Todd Carroll has written on this subject and finds the deletion of Hawkins' page on here remarkable! (talk) 18:16, 30 November 2008 (UTC)

You could post for a deletion review of David R. Hawkins at Wikipedia:Deletion review. From a cursory examination, the deletion doesn't seem to have been done through proper channels, and the reason for deletion boils down to a lack of spine on the part of the deleting admin. It seems fairly likely that the deletion would ultimately be overturned. siℓℓy rabbit (talk) 18:43, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
Thank you very much for your help and your prompt reply, I shall do as you suggest. Cheers. (talk) 19:06, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
I was involved in the article at the time of its deletion and can vouch for Silly rabbit's assessment of the situation. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 19:20, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
I too was disturbed by that deletion. It amounted to a cowardly failure to abide by Wikipedia's Law of Unintended Consequences. -- Fyslee / talk 19:30, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks very much for your help and support. I have posted up a request for deletion review here: Wikipedia:Deletion review/Log/2008 November 30#David R. Hawkins.
Any support over on there would be much appreciated. Incidentally I apologise for the changing IP address, I'm on AOL and for some strange reason your proxy IP changes on here every couple of minutes. (talk) 23:23, 30 November 2008 (UTC)

I'd like to thank everyone on here for their support over on the deletion log. I have read up a little more and discovered that Hawkins had three main objections to the Wiki article: 1. Copyright violation (for which Hawkins’ lawyers seemed to have threatened legal action). I imagine this can be solved by using no material quoted directly from Hawkins’ work. 2. The “implication that Dr. Hawkins is a cult leader”, in the words of his lawyers, apparently referring to references to the Institute for Religious Research’s statements about him (which no longer exist online anyway). While this is a dubious complaint (there is no real implication in the original article that he’s a cult leader, merely that some people and organisations have applied psychological tests to him), the institute have pulled their pages about him so we can’t use that anyway. If there are real concerns about this, the article could just make no mention of suspicions of him being a cult leader at all. 3. That links to Robert Todd Carroll’s criticisms of AK should not be included because Carroll “calibrates below 200” according to Hawkins’ own AK “tests” on the author and hence he should be disregarded as a legitimate source (Hawkins reckoned his Wiki article itself was “below 200” but would have calibrated around 400 if only the links to Carroll were removed). Hawkins obviously did not suggest this argument could provide the basis for legal action and I think this insanity can be disregarded with the contempt it deserves. I realise I’m jumping the gun since the article has not been restored in any form yet and still might not be but I thought the precise nature of Hawkins’ complaints might be relevant to whether the article is restored and how to go about preparing a new one. Would it be wise to post this over on the deletion log page? I’m not sure whether the nominator should reply over there to anything or just let the moderators get on with it. Incidentally I’ve also discovered that the German version of Wikipedia still has an article on Hawkins. [2] (talk) 20:06, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

Could you please register an account? It's free, helps protect your privacy, and makes communication easier. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 01:42, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Hi, sorry for not replying until now but I haven't been back on for a couple of days. I wasn't going to bother getting an account because I don't really have much time to contribute to Wikipedia but I suppose I could if it makes life easier. I have just been back on the deletion log and it seems that the stub version of the article was restored yesterday by the moderator who originally deleted it so I'd like to thank everyone here for their support on this issue. It would be nice if the article could be expanded at some point to feature a reasonable amount of info on Hawkins and hopefully some of the skeptics on here would like to contribute to that, though obviously everything would have to be carefully sourced to avoid the earlier problems. (talk) 17:45, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

Science template

Do people consider template:Science to provide relevant information to this article? It seems a tad on the scatter-shot/overly-generalised side. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 04:17, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

I think a fully formed template would be well placed here, but this one is not ready for prime time. NJGW (talk) 05:07, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Question about the list in PS

[Moved from User talk:Hrafn ]

Regarding this deletion. Have you checked the articles themselves? The documentation and sources may be there. Lacking that, then tagging them would be a better option than deletion. -- Fyslee (talk) 04:29, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

None of the removed articles explicitly state that these topics were once regarded as "pseudoscience". Some of them mention initial skepticism, but that isn't unusual (and is in fact completely healthy) in science, but it would be WP:OR to make a claim of 'once pseudoscience' on the basis of this. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 05:16, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
Okay. I'll trust that you have checked for sourcing. Others can seek to improve that section if they wish. I have no special burden right now. -- Fyslee (talk) 05:29, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
I can see the distinction between skepticism and pseudoscience, but I think there is good evidence for the deleted topics:
  1. hypnosis was known as Mesmerism, and was promoted as a "mind control" technique, and looked like pseudoscience in the same vain as telepathy.
  2. evolution in Lamarck's day I believe was considered pseudoscience, otherwise why was Lamarck's work so thoroughly repudiated? The evidence for common descent is just as overwhelming in Lamarck as in Darwin, although the mechanism of evolution is different.
  3. mass-energy equivalence was first proposed in pseudoscientific contexts (as I learned, to my surprise), the details are in the article on the subject. Likewise for atomic energy, and atomic weapons, which were suggested by cranks and science fiction writers in the 30s. It was really the 1939 work on fission by Meitner (I think) which made it science.
  4. H. Pylori causes ulcers was not greeted by skepticism, it was greeted by outright rejection. Maybe that's not the same as calling it pseudoscience, but I think its pseudoscience status was similar to that of cold fusion. Is cold fusion listed as pseudoscience?
  5. heliocentrism this was definitely disreputable before Copernicus. It is impossible to believe that Copernicus was the first to suggest that the Earth rotates on its axis in Europe, especially that there is a known medieval muslim scholar that suggested this. I agree that it is hard to tell whether they considered it "pseudoscience" because neither the concept of "science" nor the concept of "pseudoscience" were properly defined back then. Maybe this should be left out.
  6. epigenetics there are still people who lump this in with Lysenkoism, which itself is rejected as pseudoscience in the west. I never read any Lysenko, and it probably really is garbage, but the criticism of epigenetic work was not of the rational variety before the topic became mainstream.
I can try to find sourcing for these claims, but I think that the central issue in sourcing these claims is this: what kind of evidence of skepticism do you need in order to establish that an idea is in the realm of pseudoscience?Likebox (talk) 19:47, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
So that you don't get the wrong idea--- I am not trying to do original research. I am just going over the obvious examples that I happen to remember of ideas that were so far out, that people rejected them the same way they reject telepathy or homeopathy. I didn't research these topics thoroughly.Likebox (talk) 19:52, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
Your analysis of each subject seems to be in harmony with the facts, but we do need sources, and the ideal place to do this is in each article. Find sources and write a sentence or two based on good sources. That will justify inclusion here using those same sources. I suggested that the items be tagged rather than removed, since removing them doesn't encourage anyone to find the sources. If this had been a BLP violation, immediate deletion would have been required, but this type of stuff can be allowed to remain with tags, often for a long time. It's pretty standard practice. -- Fyslee (talk) 01:41, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

A number of points:

  1. Per Fyslee, I would like to point out that sources are required, per WP:NOR & WP:V
  2. Skepticism (or similar, however extreme) ≠ "pseudoscience". I would particularly dispute the label being applied to evolution (Lamarckism was a legitimate scientific hypothesis, falsified by the discovery of DNA & genetics]]); heliocentrism (its disrepute was religious/philosophical rather than scientific, and predated modern science).
  3. Repeated over-generalisation/extrapolation. MesmerismHypnosis. LamarckismEvolution. That "H. Pylori causes ulcers" → baldly labelling the bacterium itself PS. Initial discussion of the concept of mass-energy equivalence in PS sources → the idea being considered PS. Some of these might be legitimate with explanation. Their bald statement would likely amount to WP:SYNTH even with sources.

HrafnTalkStalk(P) 04:40, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Thanks Hrafn for the good comments. This should give food for thought to anyone who wishes to pursue this matter. -- Fyslee (talk) 05:41, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Of course sources are required, when the material is not super well known. I am sure that it is possible to dig up sources for the claims. For example, somewhere in one of Feynman's books (I wish I could remember which one) there is a discussion about how hypnosis was once thought to be pseudoscientific. Maybe someone remembers, or has an alternate source.
The pseudoscience prediction of nuclear energy/mass-energy equivalence/atomic bombs are very well known. The real argument here is whether the idea itself was greeted as pseudoscience to the same extent as continental drift was. This is hard to find evidence for. The best I know of is this quote (I think it's by Rutherford--- its on the mass-energy equivalence page) "Anyone who expects to find a source of energy in atomic transmutations is talking moonshine" (or something to that effect).
Regarding evolution--- I think you are making the fallacy of equating the modern story about Lamarckism with the actual 19th century history of Lamarckism. Lamarck's main thesis was that all species are descended with modification from a common ancestor. Since this is so obvious by just looking at the relationship between species, his evidence should have been convincing enough to make this into a scientific hypothesis already in the 1840s. But that's not what happened. After Lamarck published his treatise, but before Darwin published the Origin, Lamarckism was not treated as a scientific hypothesis, it was treated as pseudoscience. After Darwin and Wallace made the link to capitalism theory, it began to be accepted. Then Lamarckism and Natural selection battled it out, until Mendelian genetics made it implausible that Lamarck's mechanism is correct. The mechanism itself wasn't the issue, I don't think, at least not until the 20th century. The issue was the hypothesis of common descent with modification, which is shared by both Darwin and Lamarck.
Your complaints of "synthesis" are caused by me trying to be brief. It is easy to clarify the points in such a way that no disputes remain among us.Likebox (talk) 16:05, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

(deindent) I did some searching for sources. I found a spot on source for hypnosis, but for the others, it's harder.

  1. evolution--- I think I might have been wrong about the 19th century attitudes here. It seems that there were 18th century antecedants to the idea that were taken seriously, by Erasmus Darwin and predecessors. Mia culpa.
  2. nonholonomic tops--- I remember that reports of rocks that would start to rotate when rocked were dismissed as fables, because they seem to violate conservation laws. I don't know if that counts as "pseudoscience".
  3. epigenetics --- the source I found is really bad, it is making a mock interpretation of Dawkin's belittling of epigenetic inheritance that rephrases it as "this stuff is pseudoscience". But the choice of words is revealing--- I think the authors are calling to attention the attitude of the previous generation of biologists toward this stuff.
  4. hormesis --- hormetic response to radiation is now a hypothesis, which might be wrong or might be right, but was dismissed out of hand as pseudoscience for a long time. I found a reasonable source for this.

Hypnosis vs. Mesmerism--- the ideas of "animal magnetism" are direct antecedants of modern notions of hypnosis, and the methods of mesmer are still used to induce hypnotic trances. The link between the ideas is well known to be direct.

Fields not labelled as pseudoscience by sources

  • Continental drift is mere described as ""originally rejected because it fell outside the accepted paradigm".
  • It is mesmerism that is described as "pseudoscience" by the source, not hypnosis. The relationship between the two would be roughly analgous to alchemy/chemistry. Conflating the two is both inaccurate and WP:SYNTH.

HrafnTalkStalk(P) 17:43, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

  • Likewise it is doubtful that Radiation hormesis was ever seriously labelled "pseudoscience" ("The knee-jerk reaction is to reject this phenomenon as pseudoscience or propaganda by polluters, and a few uninformed observers have done just that"[3]), and its article indicates that it still isn't fully accepted -- so not-really-PS → not-really-accepted. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 17:51, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
In this case, I think are jumping to wrong conclusions. When a field is dismissed as pseudoscience, that means that scientists are not allowed to take it seriously. That means you don't get funding to examine if it is right or wrong, and you are not to mention the idea in your paper. It is an extreme form of skepticism that does not say "this is probably wrong", but says "this is so obviously wrong that it is unworthy of attention".
Continental drift fell so far outside the accepted paradigm that the hypothesis was laughed at--- it was not taken seriously even as a possibly wrong idea. That means it is falls out of scientific discourse entirely. That's exactly what this page is about--- ideas which fall outside the realm of legitimate hypotheses worthy of being tested and challenged. That's what pseudoscience means.
For mesmerism, the ideas labelled as pseudoscience were not just the "animal forces" responsible for mesmerism, but the idea of hypnotic trances in itself. When a phenomenon is newly discovered, there are always all sorts of bullshit explanations that come along with it. This was true for the Rutherford model of atoms, as it is true for early investigations of quantum mechanics, and of string theory. The wrong ideas in these field were not dismissed out of hand as pseudoscience, but neither were the right ones. They were investigated until they were proven/disproven. For mesmerism, the right ideas were rejected along with the wrong ones, and this is what the source explains.
It is your original research to separate hypnosis from mesmerism, possibly because you don't like the idea that such mystical nonsense hypotheses allowed a well-accepted phenomenon to be discovered. Mesmerism is to hypnosis as the Bohr atom is to the modern quantum mechanical atom--- it's almost the same, and the modern idea is a development of the predecessor. In the course of development, some of the ideas, like "animal fields" and so on, which are not necessary for the effect, were jettisoned.Likebox (talk) 17:59, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
For hormesis, you are just wrong. The "knee jerk reaction" was in fact the actual reaction of all the experts in the field, until relatively recently. I can find sources for that until the cows come home.Likebox (talk) 17:59, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
All these claims are WP:SYNTH not stated in the cited source. You need to cite sources for this (or equivalent) reasoning in order to have grounds for inclusion. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 18:09, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, I disagree.Likebox (talk) 18:17, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Could you be more specific please. Do you disagree that you need to cite your sources, or that the sources don't support the assertion? Guettarda (talk) 18:40, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I disagree that it is possible to justify everything by citing sources, in the case that fellow editors don't bother to read these sources and think about them, and make appropriate judgements. For example, the source I gave for hypnosis discusses how hypnosis was dismissed as pseudoscience by doctors and psychologists, in specific terms. You won't find a better source for any claim than that. Nevertheless, the claim has been watered down because of disingenuous disputes about the history of hypnosis that claim that it is separate from Mesmerism. Who seriously says that? Give me a break. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Likebox (talkcontribs)
"For hormesis, you are just wrong... I can find sources for that until the cows come home". Then please do - the current references don't support the ides that it was once generally considered pseudoscience - both seem to say that a small minority called it that. If you have stronger references, please supply them. Guettarda (talk) 18:38, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
No they don't. They say that a small minority still calls it that. This "small minority" was the vast majority just a few years ago. I am using "google", with the search string "hormesis pseudoscience", so you can help find the references too.Likebox (talk) 19:09, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
(ec)You're missing my point. If, as you claim, there's a wealth of references that discuss this, please provide some. These two are by no means clear or authoritative that radiation hormesis was once generally considered pseudoscience but no longer is. An apparently unpublished textbook and an article hosted at SEPP (of all places; hardly a good source for reliable documents) aren't really up to the standard we need. Guettarda (talk) 19:32, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
That's your opinion. My opinion is that they are fine. We'll just have to see what consensus is. By the way, that hormesis was dismissed out of hand is common knowledge in the field of radiation dosometry.Likebox (talk) 19:58, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
The first of the two sources claims that it is a majority that dismisses hormesis as pseudoscience, and that a minority supports it as a reasonable hypothesis. If you want to criticise the sources, please read them first.Likebox (talk) 19:20, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I did skim the source. I misread it. My mistake. But if that source is to be believed, radiation hormesis isn't a good example. You can't use a source that says that it is generally considered pseudoscience to support the assertion that is used to be, but isn't any longer. If that source is to be believed at all (as I said, it appears to be an unpublished textbook, so it needs to be taken with a small grain of salt) then radiation hormesis does not belong in that section. Guettarda (talk) 19:34, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
hormesis definitely isn't a good example of pseudoscience->well established fact. But it is a good example of pseudoscience->valid hypothesis. I think that this is important too, because a wrong hypothesis isn't pseudoscience. Phlogiston was never pseudoscience.Likebox (talk) 19:50, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I am still going over the literature. There's a wealth of pseudoscience literature on hormesis going back to way back when, which is not talked about in the academic world. Conversely there's a bunch of recent articles in scientific journals that ask people to take the idea seriously. These papers are published, which means that the editors think that taking hormesis seriously is a new idea.
So is it a "synthesis" to make the obvious statement that hormesis wasn't taken seriously before these articles appeared? If so, how on earth are you supposed to source this obvious claim?Likebox (talk) 19:56, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
You do not' make that "obvious statement". You make a different statement that 'radiation hormesis' is pseudoscience. Read WP:SYNTH & WP:PSTS: "Any interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation." Interpreting "that hormesis wasn't taken seriously before these articles appeared" to mean that 'radiation hormesis' was considered pseudoscience requires a source. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 01:42, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
Stop asking people to reread policies. Do you really think that it's any help? In your overbroad sense of the word, everything anybody writes is a synthesis, including this whole page.
The question here is whether the alleged "synthesis" is in any way an original or controversial idea. I don't think that the suggestion that hormesis was labelled as pseudoscience is either. When you look for sourcing, you can find it, but you need to read it and evaluate it on its merits, using judgement and common sense. So do you think hormesis was not considered pseudoscience? There's no point in talking if you are just playing devil's advocate.Likebox (talk) 19:35, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

Hickey reference gives a published critique of LNT models, I didn't read it though. It has "pseudoscience" in the title, so it would be interesting to know what it says is pseudoscience. This reference is tentative.Likebox (talk) 20:31, 19 March 2009 (UTC)


For the avoidance of doubt, unless the listed field (not some precursor, or otherwise related, field) was explicitly described by the source as "pseudoscientific" (or some unambiguous equivalent), it is WP:SYNTH to include the field in the list of fields that are "presently accepted scientific theories or hypotheses were once criticised as being pseudoscientific". HrafnTalkStalk(P) 01:50, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps you should take time to read the policy WP:Wikilawyering.Likebox (talk) 19:44, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
Okay, I read that page, and it says that one should say what your complaint is more specifically. So here it is. Often, when a field evolves, the name evolves too. For example, what we now call "evolution", Darwin called "descent with modification". But if you say "Darwin didn't believe in evolution! He believed in descent with modification!" that would be unreasonable, wouldn't you say?
Similarly, if you say "Mesmer didn't practice hypnosis! He practiced Mesmerism!" That would be just as silly. The ideas evolved, but the basic methods and ideas come from Mesmerism. So it's not possible to distinguish between the two the way you want, putting the Mesmerism into pseudoscience and the hypnosis into science.
Likewise, the hormesis advocated by pseudoscientists is the exact same thing as the hormesis advocated by some scientists. It's disingenuous to separate them, the ideas are the same. But, for example, the "mass energy equivalence" advocated by the LeSage ether people at the end of the 19th century is a somewhat different and less subtle idea than the "mass energy equivalence" in relativity. So I tried to put them in a separate discussion.
You can't come to conclusions like this by simply reading the text of sources. You need to have some historical perspective, and use judgement. I might be right and I might be wrong, but whether I am right or wrong, this needs to be debated not just based on the text of the sources, but based on the history of ideas. It's not so easy to decide what goes into an encyclopedia, it's a complicated political process. That's why there's a talk page, with far-ranging discussion, to help the political process come to a proper conclusion.Likebox (talk) 20:07, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
Likebox, you really don't seem to get WP:SYNTH and WP:PSTS. Before you start trying to "use judgement" on primary sources, you have to find a secondary source making the analysis that, in this case, the subject is pseudoscience. There's room for judgement in considering the quality or appropriateness of the source, and that's a matter for talk page consensus, but applying your own ideas of historical perspective or analysis isn't acceptable here. Get it published in a reliable source and then we can consider it as a source. . dave souza, talk 20:26, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
No, you don't get WP:SYNTH and WP:PSTS. These are policies designed to help the encylcopedia correctly label non-mainsteam minority opinions, and catch mistakes. They are not designed to bludgeon people into accepting your non-mainstream version of the history of ideas as correct.Likebox (talk) 16:57, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
  • Taking mesmerism/hypnosis as an example, we have the following uncontested statements:
  1. Mesmerism was regarded as pseudoscience.
  2. Hypnosis is regarded as science.
  3. Mesmerism evolved into hypnosis.
  • To turn these into the conclusion that 'hypnosis was previously considered psuedoscience but is now considered science' you need to make the following WP:SYNTH interpretation:
    • 'Mesmerism evolved into hypnosis' → 'Mesmerism is hypnosis'.
  • The problem being that part of mesmerism's evolution into hypnosis involved the jettisoning of many pseudoscientific ideas (similarly to the evolution of alchemy into chemistry).

I'm not saying that the eample isn't relevant to this article, merely that the current presentation is inaccurate & misleading. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 05:20, 21 March 2009 (UTC)

Mesmerism is the early version of hypnosis, and it contains all the ideas and methods that were later adopted and renamed hypnosis. This is not a contested interpretation, and to argue against it is OR and SYNTH and all the other labels that you are throwing around.Likebox (talk) 16:57, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
Even were this claim verifiable (and currently it isn't), it does not mean that "all the ideas and methods" that were 'contained' in mesmerism were "adopted" as hypnosis. Animal magnetism (to which mesmerism redirects) appears to indicate that there was quite a few pseudoscientific ideas that were not in fact "adopted". This on its own would be reason to reassess the scientific status of the 'evolved' field. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 10:51, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
Quantum mechanics started with DeBroglie and Einstein imagining that the particles move around on a wave like microscopic surfers. Does that mean that quantum mechanics only started being science once these weird ideas were cast out in 1925? Or perhaps it started being pseudoscience then, because the founders suddenly start to say that it requires a separate notion of "consciousness" to interleave with the physical world?
There is no way to say until what stage an idea 'deserves' to be pseudoscience, after which it has 'evolved' into science. Every new idea comes with a host of unhelpful notions, which are gradually weaned out.
In the case of hypnosis, you just have to live with the fact that a valid phenomenon, established by painstaking observations, were labelled as pseudoscience because the scientists were intellectually bigoted against this sort of idea. Hopefully, it won't happen again.Likebox (talk) 01:36, 26 March 2009 (UTC)


Any time an idea passes from pseudoscience to legitimate hypothesis, there is a danger of rewriting history, to make it look like the idea was always considered a reasonable hypothesis that was greeted with skepticism, instead of a crazy idea that was dismissed out of hand. This is very tempting from a sociological perspective, because it makes the experts who rejected the ideas look less stupid.

This type of revisionism is hard to detect, because when an idea is pseudoscience, nobody talks about it. That means that people don't often go around saying "This is pseudoscience", and this is especially true about ideas that are not very well known. There are exceptions--- with hormesis, there are many people on the books saying that it is pseudoscience. But these exceptions are rare.

To avoid this type of revisionism, we need to have a good way of deciding what degree and type of skepticism qualifies as "dismissal into pseudoscience land". If an idea is taboo, it is hard to prove that it is taboo, because nobody talks about it, even to say that it is taboo. The recollections of researchers is just about the only way to establish this sort of thing. But I don't know how to source these types of claims well, because even in the recollections of researchers, they write "this idea was met with skepticism", even when the skepticism was so irrational and virulently dismissive that the idea had the same status as telekinesis.

If this article is going to be informative about the pseudoscience->hypothesis transition, then it needs to have a way of deciding when a topic is pseudoscience. If you can't get consensus for such obvious examples as hypnosis, this article is going to be grossly misleading.Likebox (talk) 18:17, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Mystical Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics

This is an interesting example, because this started out as science, but then later was adopted by non-mainstream figures and began to be labelled as pseudoscience. The original scientists lent their weight to the idea that quantum mechanics has mystical elements, but this was later dismissed. In this case the arrow goes science->pseudoscience. This happened with polywater and N-rays, but in this case, consensus in the field is that the original scientists weren't wrong, they were just taking a philosophical view. Does this deserve mention here?Likebox (talk) 17:45, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

I'd prefer not to see this in the article. It's an issue that's tested some of the best minds on the planet. But there's a difference between speculation such as many have done w.r.t. quantum mechanics vis-a-vis aspects of consciousness and human thought on the one hand, and pseudoscience on the other hand. The speculation of many highly qualified scientists who struggle to better understand the possible implications of quantum mechanics is not held out by those theorists to be science per se. Rather, there has developed a very visible cottage industry of non-scientists who have wildly speculated about quantum mysticism and the like, sometimes holding out what they're doing as science. In that case, well, it's pseudoscience. But editors long ago agreed to avoid having in this article a list of things asserted to be pseudoscience. ... Kenosis (talk) 17:58, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Ok, I agree that it should be left out. But its a weird case still.Likebox (talk) 18:00, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Cosmology as Pseudoscience

The problem with this is that, although it is well supported by contemporary sources, Cosmology was taken seriously right from the start, because it started with Einstein in 1917. FRW cosmology was not taken seriously, because Einstein didn't like LeMaitre, but that's a personality dispute, and I don't think LeMaitre's model was dismissed out of hand. It got published, after all.

Even the early work on Olber's paradox was taken seriously. So I don't think this is a great example.Likebox (talk) 18:31, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

It's based on a well-known statement by Stephen Hawking, as noted in the footnote. The source is one of many that quote Hawking on this issue, who was referring to widespread scientific views of cosmology back in the 60s when he was in school. I figure if there's going to be a section on that issue, we may as well include a couple significant examples cited to reliable sources rather then, e.g., just the fact that it's mentioned somewhere in the Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience. But heck, I'm not hellbent on having it in there. ... Kenosis (talk) 18:49, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I agree that a lot of people say this, but it's not really true to the same extent that the other examples are. It's just an example of a field that became more precise. Maybe in an alternate universe where Einstein never lived relativistic cosmology would have started out as pseudoscience. There's even a good existing literature path by which this alternate universe could have developed cosmology from pseudoscientific ideas (see de Sitter relativity), but since Einstein actually lived, I think it's a bad example.Likebox (talk) 19:01, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
So, remove it. I think the point of the section is that today's alleged pseudoscience could be tomorrow's respected science. We've repeatedly needed to keep this in line with the what's verifiable by reliable sources, which is that some fields alleged or even widely agreed to be pseudoscientific at one point in time have been widely agreed to be scientific at another point in time. So it seemed to me cosmology fits right in. But like I said, I'm definitely not hellbent on including it. ... 19:38, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
It is a judgement call, and right now, I am in an "inclusionist" mode, because there's some people who are arguing against many of the other examples, even the most obvious ones. I don't think that this one is so great, but it's not completely unsupportable. Some aspects of Cosmology were considered untestable wankery, like steady-state vs. big-bang, at least until BBN and microwave background. The subject was disreputable in the 40s and 50s into the 60s. But pseudoscience, in the sense of ESP and telepathy, is a strong label.Likebox (talk) 20:05, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

As a "pejorative term"

I'm afraid I'm going to to have to ask for an example of this term being used in a sentence where it does not carry an exclusively pejorative connotation. cheers Deconstructhis (talk) 20:32, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Bother, we edit conflicted but as we were both adding new sections, it was allowed. I pasted the dicdef in my summary when I removed the word. I would appreciate you addressing my request, below. Your request is to prove a negative; which is problematic at best. Further, you are putting the onus on those objecting to your recent addition, which is not Wikipedia practice. The onus is on you, as desiring to add something, to satisfy requests for references and gain consensus. Have you a source for your desired edit? KillerChihuahua?!? 20:35, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
This article has been through this debate before. I've removed the "disputed" template because it's overkill on an issue like this. Frankly, I don't care whether we call it a pejorative in the article. Of course it's a pejorative, but this needn't be explicitly stated in the article. Well, maybe let me put it this way: I've never heard of a self-admitted pseudoscientist and nobody willingly puts it on their resumé, but rather, the term gets applied by people as a judgment of somebody else's work. All this is true too, but it needn't be explicitly stated in the article. ... Kenosis (talk) 20:52, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
See below, the OED does not class it as a pejorative. Verbal chat 21:11, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Okay, how about the current Oxford English dictionary? OED defines "pseudoscience" as:
  1. "As a count noun: a spurious or pretended science; a branch of knowledge or a system of beliefs mistakenly regarded as based on scientific method or having the status of scientific truth.
  2. As a mass noun: spurious or pretended science; study or research that is claimed as scientific but is not generally accepted as such. Chiefly derogatory."
"Spurious","pretended","mistakenly","claimed", "chiefly derogatory". Where is it being used here that doesn't constitute a pejorative application of the term? I'd be willing to grant you "chiefly" or "primarily" pejorative in the first paragraph, but otherwise we're at an impasse I'm afraid. ::As I attempted to point out in my edit summary "consensus" is not a locked state of affairs according to policy. See WP:CCC One person's "tacky" is another's attempt at encouraging discussion on a point of contention. I have a feeling we should look for outside opinions here. I don't want to turn this into a 'big thing', but I feel there's a valid challenge being put forward here and I'd like to see it addressed in a rational form. cheers Deconstructhis (talk) 21:20, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
"Chiefly derogatory" is not the same as "pejorative" or "always dergatory". Should go in the body, but not be the first thing we say about this word. Verbal chat 21:35, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
The dictionary is being overcautious. Have you even heard anyone say "Eureka! I have just discovered the next great idea in pseudoscience!"Likebox (talk) 19:51, 20 March 2009 (UTC)


I'd like to see a reliable source which states the term is unequivocally pejorative. Deconstructhis has added this to the article lead twice in less than an hour; is this sourced? KillerChihuahua?!? 20:32, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

It does not need a source. It's self evident. Please, everyone, don't check your common sense at the door.Likebox (talk) 21:04, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I think it does need a source as it is not self evident. It can be used as a classification, and therefore used neutrally or as a perjorative. It is not of itself a pejorative, and the OED doesn't classify it as such. Verbal chat 21:10, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I must agree with Likebox on this issue. The term pseudoscience clearly reflects a negative judgment. (The term "non-scientific", on the other hand, is not inherently negative.) Phiwum (talk) 21:07, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I disagree, however please provide a RS that it is always such. Verbal chat 21:13, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I would appreciate some AGF from Likebox, who might want to consider re-reading NPA. Likebox might also benefit from V; "self-evident" it clearly is not. "Water is wet"; yes. But pseudoscience is a simple, clear, definition and is thus inherently neutral.
That pseudoscientists object to the term is due to their pretense that their non-science is science; not because the term is inherently pejorative. KillerChihuahua?!? 21:29, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
We must comply with Wikipedia policy. See WP:V. The lead should also reflect the body of the article. QuackGuru (talk) 21:13, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Saying pseudoscience is pejorative is like saying that someone has been convicted or fraud is pejorative – both have negative connotations, both are subject to evidence. In both cases our articles use the description on the basis of reliable sources. Is there a problem? . . dave souza, talk
It should be possible to find a good source that declares it to be a pejorative. It is indeed often used as a pejorative. So what? It's a legitimate term and is often used as a judgment call by scientists and scientific skeptics on the work of those who fail to use the scientific method properly or who misuse it. -- Fyslee (talk) 23:03, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it is a claim that some folks have failed to do what they claim to do (namely, they claim to have a scientific theory, but their theory fails to satisfy the appropriate requirements). Thus, saying that a theory is pseudoscience is a negative judgment and hence pejorative. This is not to say that such claims are illegitimate. I am happy to say, e.g., Lawsonomy is pseudoscientific and to accept that the term is pejorative. It is an accurate and objective use of the term nonetheless. Phiwum (talk) 17:42, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Awww, Dave souza, stop being so reasonable - this thread should be good for at least three days of drama. - Eldereft (cont.) 23:11, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

I hope no one is too disappointed if I personally decline to board the "drama" train on this one. I'm in agreement with the "so what" sentiment expressed above; what's the big deal involved in using the term "pejorative" in this instance? So, could someone perhaps explain to me what the basis of the objection would be if I simply added "chiefly derogatory" from OED and referenced it as such? Personally I think that phrase overstates the position somewhat under the circumstances, but it is reliably sourced. Does it strike anyone else as passing strange that this article itself is categorized at the bottom of the page as being "pejorative", yet a small brouhaha is created when an editor attempts to include the word in the body of the article? What's up with that? cheers Deconstructhis (talk) 00:05, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

As long as it's properly source, no problemo. We use pejoratives all the time, even in article titles, and since Wikipedia is uncensored, it's perfectly alright to do so...IF it is properly sourced. In fact, based on a V & RS,[4] we could call Prince Charles the Prince of Quacks. -- Fyslee (talk) 00:30, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

Done. I guess in the end, no one got what they really wanted. :) cheers Deconstructhis (talk) 02:11, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

(deindent) Is there anyone who believes in an idea and at the same time labels it "pseudoscience"?Likebox (talk) 19:37, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

Of course not. They won't consider themselves to be pushers of pseudoscientific POV either. Unfortunately we have editors like that who fail to understand the NPOV requirements to include opposing POV, and who also refuse to admit or include the fact that V & RS call their pet ideas pseudoscience. "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." (Aristotle). Translation: Educated minds can wrap their minds around an idea, understand it, recognize that it is pseudoscientific, and then refuse to accept it. Others who entertain such ideas find them tantalizing and they find it well-nigh impossible to deny their own and others' anecdotal experiences, and thus they end up believing these pseudoscientific ideas, in spite of the fact that such ideas are often unproven and even disproven. They fail to realize that there must be other explanations for their experience than the pseudoscientific ones. Personal experience can be a treacherous thing. When these people have been presented with evidence that contradicts their experience, they will often refuse to change their minds. If they persist, we call them true believers. -- Fyslee (talk) 22:32, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
I just meant that if nobody wants to call their own ideas pseudoscience, doesn't that automatically make the term pejorative?
Hi Mrs. Anderson. What is your son up to these days?
He's in Boston now. He's working in pseudoscience.
Is that the pejorative kind of pseudoscience?
No, no, the good kind.
You must be so proud!Likebox (talk) 23:13, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
That's a good joke! Apparently Mrs. Anderson hasn't a clue. The word pseudoscience always has negative connotations, IOW is a pejorative. So what? We can't eliminate it from the dictionary, common vocabulary, or Wikipedia. In fact, we shouldn't even wish to do so. It's a very useful concept that is used in the real world, and that's what we do here -- we document the real world using V & RS. As far as whether someone "wants to call their own ideas pseudoscience" or not, the lack of self-insight and understanding of all sides of the issues makes it pretty much an impossibility for someone to consider their own ideas to be pseudoscientific and still hold onto them. That's not possible. That would amount to someone admitting that they had told a lie, and then not only claim it wasn't a lie, but also believe their own lie was the truth. Maybe a schizophrenic person could do that, but not a normal person. -- Fyslee (talk) 23:36, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
You seem to be under the impression that we at Wikipedia, somehow have our hands tied behind our backs, and can't correct all the idiotic misinterpretations which float around the dead trees world.
(we can't write that! It contradicts the Bible!)
If that were the case, then nobody would be active here. The whole point of Wikipedia is to replace the dead trees notion of an "authoritative source" with open communicationa about all the different sources, which leads to a consensus on what ideas are out there, how correct they are, and how mainstream they are. Even if the most reliable source in the world says something stupid, and they often do, we are allowed to fix it. You just have to come to consensus.Likebox (talk) 17:06, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
To whom are you replying? I can't make any sense of your comment IF it's a reply to mine. -- Fyslee (talk) 23:09, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
I was replying to you, perhaps too cryptically. What I meant to say is, what difference does it make what one dictionary says? If we all think that "pseudoscience" is a pejorative, nothing is blocking us from writing that. If somebody challenges the claim, we can point him to the literature and ask for an example of a case where it is not used pejoratively. There's no need to be legalistic about policy.Likebox (talk) 04:05, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
I haven't followed the previous discussion very closely, so I am likely missing the dynamics that have preceded on this issue. I see no particular reason why we can't add (to the body of the article) that the term is a pejorative. We just need good sources, as always. Once that is done, it can also be added (in a shorter version) to the LEAD. Why would anyone object to that? BTW, I still have no idea what your earlier comment means. -- Fyslee (talk) 05:57, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
It's already mentioned in two sentences of the third paragraph of the lead, using the words "negative connotations" with an imbedded link to the word "pejorative" ... Kenosis (talk) 18:13, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
That looks pretty good. I don't see why this case can't be settled. -- Fyslee (talk) 20:03, 22 March 2009 (UTC)


This idea is interesting. I read on the page for it that it was proposed as part of a challenge to the idea of natural selection. I am not sure if it was a pseudoscience context, because I am not familiar with the literature.Likebox (talk) 21:04, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

I have to retract this--- the person who proposed it was a prominent Russian biologists, not some crank.Likebox (talk) 21:11, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Paras one and two

...are largely redundant, being rephrasings of the same content.

Pseudoscience is a term applied to any knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that is claimed to be scientific, or that is made to appear to be scientific, but which does not adhere to the scientific method,[1][2][3] lacks supporting evidence or plausibility,[4] or otherwise lacks scientific status.[5] The term comes from the Greek root pseudo- (false or pretending) and "science" (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge"). An early recorded use was in 1843 by French physiologist François Magendie,[6] who is considered a pioneer in experimental physiology.
As it is taught in certain introductory science classes, pseudoscience is any subject that appears superficially to be scientific, or whose proponents state that it is scientific, but which nevertheless contravenes the testability requirement or substantially deviates from other fundamental aspects of the scientific method.[2] Professor Paul DeHart Hurd[7] argued that a large part of gaining scientific literacy is "being able to distinguish science from pseudo-science such as astrology, quackery, the occult, and superstition".[8] Certain introductory survey classes in science take care to delineate the objections which scientists and skeptics have to practices that make direct claims contradicted by the scientific discipline in question.[9]

Suggest we copyedit and merge these two paragraphs. KillerChihuahua?!? 16:05, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

"Trimming" eh. Rather than protract this 'exercise', I believe that I'm going to depart this article in peace and leave it to obviously "abler" minds than my own to work out the details. Up until now, I held the belief that the addition of a contextually appropriate simple definitional reference from the Oxford English dictionary to the opening sentence of an article was a non-controversial practise. Obviously, that position was misconceived on my part. I was attempting to base my addition on the advice found in Wikipedia:Lead section#Introductory text, where among other things, budding editors are instructed that "[t]he lead should establish significance, include mention of notable criticism or controversies, and be written in a way that makes readers want to know more." In my interpretation, since the lead in sense sets the tone for the rest of the article; referenced definitional statements derived from reliable sources (I consider OED a reliable source) that are not contradicted by any evidence beyond an unsupported claim to authority, are appropriate additions to the encyclopedia. Personally, rather than succumb to the sinking feeling that I'm about to inadvertently wander into something resembling Orwell's "Room 101", I'd like to thank the good faith editors who took the time to examine my claims in an objective fashion and wish them good luck. That's right, I'm taking my ball and I'm going home. :) cheers Deconstructhis (talk) 17:52, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
I forgot to mention as reminder, that I'd really appreciate a response from KillerChihuahua regarding my questions regarding policy on Talk:Pseudophilosophy cheers Deconstructhis (talk) 18:59, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

Original Synthesis

What does this term mean? Let's look at examples (I made these up):

According to the Zapruder tape, Kennedy's head went sideways (ok). According to the Warren report, there were no people standing to the immediate left of Kennedy (ok). Therefore the bullet must have come from the grassy knoll (synthesis).

That's an original synthesis. Instead of listing facts, they are used to come to conclusions which are not universally held. Here's another example:

With the loss of the internet, the U.S. would lose 2 trillion dollars of economic activity (source 1). The wobblybubbly internet worm could disrupt the internet entirely (source 2). Wilbur Addleminded wrote the original wobblybubbly code (source 3), and is responsible for 2 trillion dollars worth of damage. (synthesis)

Now that this is out of the way, lets look at this page. The section in question is using separate sources to give evidence for separate cases of ideas that drifted between pseudoscience and science. There is not a single sentence in there that involves a synthesis. Please understand what this policy is trying to exclude. Then you can easily see that there isn't any synthesis at all, let alone an original one.

You might not like the examples, but then, please debate them on the merits. Unfortunately, that requires learning about these subjects, reading the sources, and checking if indeed the sources are sufficient to conclude what is claimed. Even if the sources are insufficient by themselves, the process of researching can provide new sources for or against the claim. In the end, evaluating the sources, one can come to a conclusion by putting them all together to get a coherent picture of whether the claim is true or not. That's not synthesis. That's the necessary hard work involved in editing an encyclopedia.Likebox (talk) 04:23, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Just to add, if someone were to write "From these examples, it is clear that ideas flow fluidly between science and pseudoscience, with science eventually picking up the correct ones", that would be a synthesis. That synthesis would need a separate source which makes this argument, with a similar list of examples.Likebox (talk) 04:32, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Another add: if there are some sources which clearly say "such and such was considered pseudoscience" and other sources say "such and such was never considered pseudoscience", then we would have to list the different sources and their opinions, in order of general acceptance. That's what NPOV means. Fortunately, in this case, I think that all the sources that are not mute on the subject agree on the general picture, even if they disagree on the precise details (like when it was considered pseudoscience, did everybody consider it pseudoscience, or was there a minority that didn't). If we go into detail about exactly what happened, we need to give sources for the details.Likebox (talk) 04:56, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

While your thoughts are entertaining, you're using sources saying one thing to advance another position which they don't explicitly support. That's against WP:NOR, and your arguments have been challenged as non-obvious or indeed incorrect. Live with it. . . dave souza, talk 11:52, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
You're completely wrong. The source I gave for hypnosis says hypnosis was considered pseudoscience. The sources I gave for hormesis say it was considered pseudoscience (1 source says it is still considered psuedoscience, the other says it was considered pseudoscience).
The people arguing against this have not claimed that this is wrong, nor have they found other countersources which say other things. Instead, they make up an opinion that it was "Mesmerism" and not "hypnosis" that was considered psuedoscience! That kind of editorializing is ridiculous. The source I gave lumps the two together, and so do I, and so do all reasonable people.
The hormesis stuff was hard to find, and I still have not seen a discussion on the merits. Nobody says "this is not OK, because this source says hormesis was not considered pseudoscience". Instead, they are pushing their own POV that hormesis was not considered pseudoscience, without any references. I am not saying that they are wrong necessarily, but please, provide some sort of documentation, or at least balanced discussion.
The sources for mass-energy equivalence are on that page. There might be some question about whether the literature in question is pseudoscience or not, within the context of the time. There are references for that too, but they might be insufficient. If the editors do not wish to talk about the sources or their contents, then nobody can establish anything.Likebox (talk) 23:43, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
I think Dave Souza's and Hrafn's point was that the extra description of what one or more WP editors thinks the circumstances were, under which various fields underwent a transition from being called "pseudoscience" to being called "science", or vice-versa, was original research. I agree (though Hrafn and/or Dave Souza please correct me if I'm wrong about any of my assumptions here) . The fields I deleted per WP:V were simply unsourced, so I removed them from the brief list of examples.
..... As to hypnosis, having previously been removed, Likebox re-included it with a citation and Hrafn removed it as part of his revert here, it was supported by a newly included citation that refers to mesmerism (the WP article for which presently redirects to animal magnetism). Perhaps the removal of this along with the other uncited material and original research had something to do with the citation that was provided in support of the reinsertion of hypnosis into the presented list of fields that have transitioned from "pseudoscience" to "science". The cited book is Science, pseudo-science, and society (Hanen, Osler, and Weyant,1980). Robert Weyant, in his essay "Metaphors and Animal Magnetism" at p 107, says in one sentence: "The conclusion reached by the medical profession, that animal magnetism was a pseudoscience, seems not to have been based on any rational analysis of Mermer's claims, except in as much as it it always rational to protect one's interests". IMO, this is hardly a reliable source for the inclusion of hypnosis on the list of fields previously regarded as pseudoscience that are today regarded as science. ... Kenosis (talk) 03:44, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
I believe that Dave Souza's and Hrafn's point was based on a certain amount of ignorance. Maybe they just didn't know about the history of hypnosis, or any of the other fields. The source is very, very detailed about the transition.Likebox (talk) 18:05, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

Meteorites/Ball Lightning

These ideas were never challenged, even though they were unsourced, because their history is so well known. They appear, along with continental drift, on the list of pseudoscience topics page. Please do not delete them--- they are very easy to source should that become necessary.Likebox (talk) 00:17, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

For Hrafn: inclusion in encyclopedia of pseudoscience qualifies you as pseudoscience.Likebox (talk) 18:43, 5 April 2009 (UTC)


This one went back and forth and back and forth. It is now somewhere inbetween. It's different than the others. The history is discussed in excruciating detail in the source.Likebox (talk) 17:17, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

If it is "somewhere inbetween" then it has NOT "transition[ed] between pseudoscience and science". This section continues to be a complete mess which would better be described as 'Some topics that in Likebox's personal opinion have transitioned from something vaguely resembling pseudoscience to something vaguely resembling science (sort of, maybe)'. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 17:38, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
Each case is different. This one was pseudoscience, pushed by disreputable people, in the early part of the 19th century. It became science in the latter part of the 19th century, when systematic classification was at its peak. It then was discredited with the "modern synthesis" in the 1920s, and it was partially rehabilitated by Gould himself in the 1970s. There is no telling what will happen in the future. It's just a hypothesis, not an established fact, nor a discredited falsehood.
Skim the first chapter of the source, then make up your mind if this is a good or bad example.Likebox (talk) 17:43, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
If you want to be helpful, please talk to the content of the claim. I didn't write that section alone, and certain topics were removed, and others added, by people other than myself.Likebox (talk) 17:46, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

Not OR

There's a RFC, please wait for comments. If the comments are not supportive, please delete.Likebox (talk) 18:52, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

The RFC is about hypnosis, ball lightning, and recapitulation theory:

  1. old ball lightning references: NIH discussion ; Muir, Hazel (2001-12-20). "Ball lightning scientists remain in the dark". New Scientist. Retrieved 2009-01-14.  ; Abrahamson J, Dinniss J., "Ball lightning caused by oxidation of nanoparticle networks from normal lightning strikes on soil", Nature. 2000 Feb 3;403(6769):519-21.
  2. recapitulation theory old reference is the same as the current reference: Gould, Ontogeny and Phylogeny.
  3. hypnosis reference: Marsha P. Hanen, Margaret J. Osler, Robert G. Weyant, "Science, pseudo-science, and society", pp 105-106

These are the old sources, so you can check if this is "Original Research". I was blocked for edit warring for the past 48 hours.Likebox (talk) 01:51, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

RfC on 'Some transitions between pseudoscience and science'

Do the fields listed in Pseudoscience#Some transitions between pseudoscience and science accurately reflect what the sources have to say about these fields? Particularly:

  1. Do the sources unambiguously describe the field as being previously regarded as pseudoscientific?
  2. Do the sources unambiguously describe the field as being currently regarded as scientific?
  3. Are the sources unambiguously describing the same field in #1 & #2 (not distinguishable fields, where one evolved into the other, as the pseudosciences of astrology & alchemy evolved into into the sciences of astronomy and chemistry)?

HrafnTalkStalk(P) 17:52, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

Following the discussion above (please read it), I believe the answer is yes to all three questions for all cases, in the cases that are true. Some of the sources go into great detail about the history of the subject. In the case of recapitulation, Gould's book itself was responsible for reintroducing the idea to a modern generation of scientists, and making certain forms of it acceptable again.

Unfortunately, there is one case of a field which was never pseudoscience, namely cosmology, but the given source says "this was considered pseudoscience" in unambiguous terms. That's just not true, at least not to the same extent as the other examples here. Apologies to Stephen Hawking.Likebox (talk) 17:59, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

The recent inclusion of recapitulation theory. ball lightning and hypnosis is simply and wholly unsupported by the sources that were provided. As such it's original research, which is not permitted in Wikipedia. We've discussed the issue of proper sourcing in this section of the article before, and then, as now, it's clear that none of the sources provided for those three fields support any of their inclusion in the section on fields that have transitioned from "pseudoscience" to "science" or the other way around. In fact, none of the sources even mention pseudoscience except for one, which refers to "mesmerism" having been regarded as pseudoscience by the medical community back in the 19th Century-- no mention even remotely of a transition of any kind and no mention of hypnosis. In other words, it's original research by the editor who included those fields, pure and simple.
..... User:Likebox, having reverted three separate editors a total of seven times thus far w.r.t. this one section on "Some transitions between pseudoscience and science", I've requested a block under WP:3RR. WP is not the appropriate place either for Original Research or for edit warring. ... Kenosis (talk) 19:20, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
My "reverts" were simply an attempt to preserve the disputed topics and sources for the purpose of this RFC. I am sorry if I ran afoul of the rules of conduct. I urge people to actually read the sources, not to rely on the summary of Kenosis.Likebox (talk) 19:47, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
you're not going to win at that game, Likebox - they've had a lot more practice, and play it better. best to just make a link to diffs of old revisions so that we can see what you're talking about. --Ludwigs2 22:19, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
  • Observation: 'Pseudoscience' is not an analytic term, either on wikipedia or in reliable sources. it's a term of disparagement, and like any other epithet of that sort it refers to whatever the prejudiced person in question wants it to refer to at any given moment. that means this entire RfC is pointless, along the lines of asking (using part of my own racial heritage to avoid offense) which italians are 'wops' and which aren't. enough said. --Ludwigs2 22:19, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
lol. I think I wouldn't go quite so far as to use the ethnic analogy, but... basically agreed, which makes WP:NOR and WP:V, as well as WP:NPOV, particularly important in this topic. ... Kenosis (talk) 00:38, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
Face-blush.svg yeah, well... I do have a tendency towards hyperbole when I get snippy. sorry. I just wish we could talk about stuff that works and stuff that doesn't work (as well as stuff that sorta works, maybe...) without resorting to name-calling. but, c'est la vie!
one of these days I'm going to sit down and go through the pseudoscience article with a fine-toothed comb; I suspect there's a lot of crusty OR misconceptions tucked away in there. not sure when I'll have the heart for it, though. --Ludwigs2 00:54, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
There have been some WP:V and WP:NOR issues accumulating again lately. Part of the material I re-sectioned yesterday seems to me to be a candidate for removal, for example the last sentence of the next-to-last paragraph of the "Identifying pseudoscience" section, which presently reads: "By contrast, "pseudoscience" is reserved to describe theories which are either untestable in practice or in principle, or which are maintained even when tests appear to have refuted them." ... Kenosis (talk) 10:51, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

If we open this up enough, quantum mechanics could be listed in the group since there were those (including well regarded physicists) who believed that it was misguided and wrong. PDBailey (talk) 01:04, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

I'm responding to the request for comments, and one thing I think I can say confidently is that Gould did not, in Ontogeny and Phylogeny, claim that recapitulationism was once thought to be pseudoscience and is now "real" science. In a sense, he made the reverse claim--that it was once widely accepted and is now seen as true in only a limited way--but I don't think he claimed that it has ever been pseudoscience. Nor do I read him as actually trying to rehabilitate it, only to soften the edges of the evil reputation it had acquired. He did point out that it has been used as rationalization/support for a number of pseudoscientific ideas in the past, including some forms of "scientific" racism.Rose bartram (talk) 23:08, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Let me try to clarify that a little: the history of recapitulationism is an example of something interesting in the interaction of science and pseudoscience, but not ultimately a transition from either to the other. There was a glimmer of an insight, when embryos were first looked at systematically and compared with the anatomy of living creatures and fossils. Then the whole thing spun out of control, and all I see Gould saying is that the resulting reaction against recapitulationism went a bit too far. Part of the reason I am uncomfortable with the reference is that Gould himself became too expansive, to the point that he once (in an article subsequent to this book, IIRC) misrepresented a report from a medical journal about infants born with "tails." But that speaks to the reliability of the reference, not specifically to whether the Wiki article represents the reference accurately, and in general Gould does seem to be reliable.Rose bartram (talk) 10:24, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

  • All of these items should be removed. The Radiation hormesis article does not appear to clearly demonstrate either that it was once considered a pseudoscience or that it is now accepted science. According to the Acupuncture article, many consider it to be merely a placebo - its clearly not reached the stage of accepted science, and further, it is never stated that it was once considered a pseudoscience. The cosmology article does not state that cosmology was once considered a pseudoscience, and given that cosmology in its present form is simply the study of the universe, its not clear how it ever could have been a pseudoscience under this definition. The article Meteorites says nothing about it once having been a pseudoscience. The Ball lightning article neither asserts that it was once considered pseuodscience or that it is fully accepted science now. Continental drift doesn't say that it was once considered a pseudoscience. As far as I can tell, none of the linked references solve these problems. My sense is that the author of this section confused lack of acceptance by the scientific community with pseudoscience. Just because something was once believed to be wrong doesn't mean that it was considered pseudoscience. Locke9k (talk) 20:04, 10 April 2009 (UTC)


this revert (note the edit summary) was unjustified.

  1. 'sometimes' is appropriate. The term is not applied anywhere as a scientific or analytic category (or if it is, there's nothing in this article that sources that). it's much closer to a rubric; it is used by lay people and some scientists to refer to a notable but vague class of theories on a more-or-less haphazard basis. I'd be open to a stronger word than sometimes, of course, but the current wording gives the impression that this term is more heavily and clinically used than it actually is, which is a bit ORish.
  2. the supposedly dropped phrase 'is made to appear to be scientific' was actually combined with the 'claims' statement (e.g. 'claims or appears to be'). this was part of act of changing the passive voice construction into an active voice. Passive voice is simply bad writing.

so, unless anyone has any serious objections, I'll reinstate this change. --Ludwigs2 00:22, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

well, no response. I'll give it a couple more hours and then reinstate the change. then we can move on o the next point. --Ludwigs2 18:51, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
What are you on about? •Jim62sch•dissera! 18:56, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Ah, I see now. Sorry, but, "sometimes" would be incorrect. •Jim62sch•dissera! 18:58, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
in your opinion? or do you have something more substantial for that assessment? --Ludwigs2 20:11, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Let's play it the right way: you assert and must prove. •Jim62sch•dissera! 20:17, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
I believe that's what I did above - did you bother to read? again: pseudoscience is a rubric, not an analytic term; it's used by some people in some cases, but is not in any way a universal or concrete assertion, the way it's presented here. it's your burden of proof to demonstrate that it's more than a rubric; can you do that? --Ludwigs2 21:08, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
I removed the words "any knowledge" from the first sentence here. The words "Pseudoscience is a methodology, belief or practice that [meets parameters X1 or X2, and Y1, Y2, or Y3]" is quite adequate. The passive voice is appropriate here, because a pseudoscience can't act; only its advocates and practitioners can. Although, I wouldn't object to a qualification such as "that is claimed by its advocates or practitioners to be scientific" or reasonable facsimile, so long as it isn't so clumsy that it confounds an already long first sentence of the article. ... Kenosis (talk) 21:50, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
ok, I can live with that (sort of - the voice passive disturbing to me is). I've generalized 'Scientific Method' to 'appropriate scientific methodology'; that seems to be at the heart of this particular issue (if there were a singular scientific method it would make detecting pseudoscience much easier). is that alright? --Ludwigs2 23:44, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Popper and Darwinism

I know that it is frowned upon to post suggestions without committing to any work, but this time I can't resist. I have been reminded that Karl Popper, the venerable defender of science, once thought Darwinism to be pseudoscience (or 'non-science' if we are going to split-hairs). I have it on my todo list to find out why he made this judgement and his decision to recant it. Presumably much must have been written about the implications of Popper's decision.

The little I know is contained in this link . If someone knows more, I'd be interested to hear. --ChrisSteinbach (talk) 12:17, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

lol - well, in a way Popper's right (and this is really true of all scientific theories, mind you). the core teachings of Darwinism are unfalsifiable, because the argument asserts a causal mechanism (which itself is essentially invisible) for an observable correlation. But Darwinism isn't pseudoscience, of course, because (a) it's the preferred scientific explanation of the observed relationships (can't be pseudoscience by definition), and (b) it's functional and effective (particularly when combined with genetics - remember, Darwin's theory predates genetic theory by a few decades, and Popper's heyday was before Watson and Crick described DNA). Pseudoscience (if you're going to bother to use the word at all) ought to be restricted to practices that bend the rules of observation to the breaking point in order to support a favored theory - kind of an extreme form of data-fudging. Darwin was a consummate naturalist, who made careful observations and generalized them cautiously and consistently. --Ludwigs2 18:13, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
You might try Karl_Popper#Issue_of_Darwinism. PDBailey (talk) 18:15, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

Ball Lightning

Here are some references (google "ball lightning pseudoscience"):

Encylopedia of pseudoscience [5]

Entry on pseudoscience associations: [6]


debtably pseudoscientific: [8]

science or pseudoscience: [9]

The sources as in list of topics characterized as pseudoscience、I copied these, but I couldn't copy the first for technical reasons, and the remaining three were for some reason considered insufficient.

Another source:[10]

From this source: [11]

the quote:

some subjects move from generally described as pseudoscience to being studied within science--- acupuncture, say or ball lightning. Henry H Bauer "Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method".

Here it is as science: [12]

I think these are plenty of sources. I did not run across a single statement to the effect of "ball lightning was not generally considered pseudoscience". Nor did I run into a source that said that the ball lightning that was considered pseudoscience is in some significant way different from the ball lightning that is now accepted as part of science.Likebox (talk) 23:52, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

Likebox, can you point to somewhere that meets the definition we have on this page? That is where someone, "claimes [BL] to be scientific, or that is made to appear to be scientific, but which does not adhere to the scientific method." PDBailey (talk) 01:10, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
It is not often that people use a term and then define it right afterwards. They assume you know what the term means. That's an absurd standard for a source. I read the sources, and they seem to use the term as people usually mean it, as defined here.Likebox (talk) 01:14, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, I think I see what you're getting at now: you mean that perhaps the sources were simply mistaken in using the term, that it was not in fact pseudoscience. That's an argument one can make. I don't think it applies for the following reasons: ball lightning was dismissed in the same way that meteorites were--- as a fantasy of bad eyewitness accounts. No evidence, just anecdotal stories.Likebox (talk) 01:19, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Although ball lightning is a phonomenon, not a theory per se, I would advocate that the quote from Henry H. Bauer (1994) Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method, p60, is adequate to support the inclusion of in the section mentioning fields that have transitioned between being generally regarded as pseudoscience and being generally regarded as scientific. .. Kenosis (talk) 01:55, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Likebox, that is right. It seems nobody made systematic but shoddy study of ball lightning, there were just eyewitness accounts that were disregarded, not systematic studies of BL, or people obsessed with proving ball lightning exists and manufacturing evidence for it. I agree with Kenosis that BL meets the WP criteria for inclusion, but I do not think it is a good example for the reason I stated. PDBailey (talk) 03:46, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
to Kenosis: the theory is "ball lightning exists". To Pdbailey--- your argument is refreshing: perhaps some people out there have too broad a view of what pseudoscience is, and then they make claims that a phenomenon was pseudoscience without taking into account the proper definition. I am not sure about ball lightning, but I think there actually were people manufacturing evidence and obsessed with proving ball lightning exists. This would require heroic digging to find out.
I think that in the case of meteorites, you are right--- that was a disputed phenomenon, which was dismissed by some as fairy tale, not necessarily a collection of claims based on bad scientific methodology. But because the common usage of pseudoscience includes things which do not meet the strict dictionary definition, I think it might be better to clarify the term, so that it fits the actual usage better. The dictionary definition does not pick up nuances.
The best way to do that is to find a good encyclopedia entry on pseudoscience somewhere which describes the range of ideas which are called "pseudoscience" in practice, not in theory.Likebox (talk) 04:08, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Likebox, it is true that you have a source, and this meets the criteria for inclusion. The question for me is this: is the source really that interesting, does it make for a article that is interesting to read. Clearly the encyclopedia you are citing has a different standard for pseudoscience (I think we agree on that) and it is more like phenomena that some claim to be true that are probably not true. Again, I think the more interesting definition is the one on this page which requires that the adherents claim to be scientists and attempt to disguise their poor work as science. Because of this, in this case, I think the article becomes less interesting with the inclusion of this reference. PDBailey (talk) 14:16, 9 April 2009 (UTC)


Here is a general source for the history: [13]

The general question here is whether the modern field of hypnosis derived from a pseudoscience in the 1840s. I understand that these are questions that don't necessarily have a unique objective answer, but for hypnosis, the following detailed source should be conclusive: [14]

Note that the transition to science is made in the 1840s by Braid, after examining the methods of Charles LaFontaine, a second or third generation follower of Mesmer. The pseudoscientific practices of LaFontainism were the ones that were adopted by science as hypnotism.

I don't like to separate LaFontainism from Mesmerism because this gives Mesmer too little credit for isolating the phenomenon. While a form of hypnotic suggestion is common in human interactions, especially those involving sex, to make it reproducible took genius.

Next, a list of sources, of varying merits, generally agreeing with "hypnosis comes from pseudoscience":

[15] [16]

This very reliable source says Mesmer did not believe that actual magnets were necessary for the effect (I didn't know that), that only suggestion was involved: [17]

This source says that Mesmerism is not hypnosis (but nothing about LaFontaine): [18]

This source: [19] says that the French academy dismissed Mesmerism as hokum, and said it was power of suggestion, giving birth to hypnotism. This source is likely wrong, since it contradicts the other sources which say that hypnosis was established only in the 1840s by Braid.

This last very reliable source is a detailed history of hypnosis, which states that it came from pseudoscience: ALLISON WINTER "Mesmerized : Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain" [20].

From these sources, a consistent picture emerges: Mesmerism was dismissed as pseudoscience, developed into LaFontainism, which then was adopted into science in the 1840s by Braid. Does everybody agree that this is what happened?

Next question: is this not the cleanest example of an idea that evolved from pseudoscience to science?Likebox (talk) 00:39, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

This is original research. Please go read the policy, especially WP:SYN. ... Kenosis (talk) 02:12, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Absolutely not. This is a literature survey. You read a good sample of all the sources to see if they agree on the history, to find out what the literature says. This is always the first step in doing Wikipedia editing. Original research is when you push an idea which does not appear in the sources, an idea which you make up. Synthesis is when you take sources that are not clear, or give part of the story and make inferences by putting the different ideas together to come to conclusions. In this case, all the sources except for one shoddy one agree on the history. They all repeat each other.Likebox (talk) 03:56, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
To add (although this does not help the case I am making): sometimes you find sources that say complete rubbish. You don't have to include those, or if you have to, you include them with the other sources that say that they are not right. This is undue weight. Editing is not a simple process of copying text with attribution from sources to the page. You need to use judgement and common sense, and strive for accuracy.
For example, Hawking said "cosmology was considered pseudoscience". Does that justify inclusion? Hawking said it! But that might have been a bit of hyperbole. How do you find out if this is ok? By reading the rest of the literature, seeing what other people think. Putting it together to understand the consensus and how mainstream the view is. It's not a mechanical process, and it never was.Likebox (talk) 04:15, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Another example: If I dug up the quote where Feynman said that hypnosis used to be considered pseudoscience, you would probably be satisfied. But that's nonsense. That particular source is not particularly reliable as compared to the detailed histories, which explain much much more.Likebox (talk) 04:25, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
The source I chose (out of the abundance of riches) was the most detailed of the bunch. It is a history of Mesmerism by Allison Winter, "Mesmerized". This excerpt describes the situation in 1840. A bunch of scientists are criticizing a bunch of Mesmerists of being frauds, and describes their methods. The transition to science is only 3 years away. The reference is much more detailed than the Hawking quote, yet I get the impression that this would be considered a worse reference for the claim than a quote by some guy that said "Hey, you know, hypnosis was considered pseudoscience once". That's not reasonable. A detailed source is better than a source which is not detailed, and I am not sure exactly what original research I am doing here, other than reading.Likebox (talk) 05:16, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Dubious reference, moved here

This editorializing appeared inside ref tags in one of the lead paragraphs:

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 doi:10.1111/j.0021-8308.2004.00248.x

This source is interesting, and should probably be added to the main body, but its only purpose in the lead was to justify that pseudoscience is not always pejorative. The idea being that the term gathers people into a community in opposition to science. This is interesting as a sociological phenomenon, but has no bearing on the question of whether the term is pejorative. In fact, the mechanism proposed wouldn't work if the term wasn't pejorative.Likebox (talk) 01:09, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Copy Disputed section so others can follow the discussion

This is the current version of the disputed section. I would ask those who are part of the RfC to consider the questions posed by Hrafn: do the sources support the claim? Do they describe the field proper? Likebox (talk) 04:34, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Some transitions between pseudoscience and science

In some cases, presently accepted fields, scientific theories, or hypotheses were at a previous stage criticised as pseudoscience.

Examples include:

  1. continental drift,[1]
  2. meteorites[2]
  3. cosmology[3]
  4. Acupuncture[4]
  5. Ball lightning[5]
  6. Hypnosis[6]
  7. radiation hormesis [7][8][9][10]
  8. recapitulation theory [11]

In addition, the modern scientific field of chemistry traces its roots to the medieval pseudoscience of alchemy.[12]

As another example, Kimball Atwood suggested that "[o]steopathy has, for the most part, repudiated its pseudoscientific beginnings and joined the world of rational healthcare."[13]

There are also instances where fields once considered scientific are today considered pseudoscience, such as phrenology[14].


  1. ^ William F. Williams, editor (2000) Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience: From Alien Abductions to Zone Therapy Facts on File p. 58 ISBN 0-8160-3351-X
  2. ^ William F. Williams, Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience, ISBN 0-8160-5080-5, p. 215
  3. ^ See, e.g., Helge Kragh (2007) Conceptions of Cosmos, p5, quoting Stephen Hawking.
  4. ^ Henry H. Bauer, "Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method", p 60
  5. ^ Henry H. Bauer, "Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method", p 60
  6. ^ Allison Winter, "Mesmerized : Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain" detailed excerpt:[1]
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ R. Hickey (1985). "Risks associated with exposure to radiation; science, pseudoscience, and opinion". Health Phys. 49: 949– 952.  line feed character in |pages= at position 5 (help).
  10. ^ M. Kauffman (2003). "Radiation Hormesis: Demonstrated, Deconstructed, Denied, Dismissed, and Some Implications for Public Policy". J. Scientific Exploration. 17(3): 389–407. 
  11. ^ Stephen J. Gould, "Ontogeny and Philogeny"
  12. ^ See, e.g., "Alchemy (pseudoscience)" in Britannica Online
  13. ^ Atwood KC (2004) Naturopathy, pseudoscience, and medicine: myths and fallacies vs truth. Medscape Gen Med6:e53 available online
  14. ^ See, e.g., Phrenology: History of a Classic Pseudoscience - by Steven Novella MD

Alchemy vs. Phrenology

The difference between these two is that the practical parts of alchemy were incorporated into chemistry, while in the case of phrenology no science is left over. It is not good to lump them together.Likebox (talk) 16:26, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

I am not an expert on Alchemy--- but I think it is wrong to say "alchemy drifted from science to pseudoscience", because there was no such thing as modern science when Alchemy was around.Likebox (talk) 22:00, 8 April 2009 (UTC)


Like hypnosis, this is a textbook case. The acupuncture practiced by researchers is the same as the acupuncture practiced in Chinese traditional medicine, even though the metaphysical baggage around the practice is different. The source for acupuncture is identical to the source for ball lightning, and, as Pdbailey points out, it is a much better example.Likebox (talk) 16:26, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Likebox, I think it would be helpful to exercise some self-discipline here w.r.t. all these fields, phonomena (e.g. ball lightning), practices (e.g. acupuncture) and theories (e.g. recapitulation theory) etc. that you've sought to insert in obvious purveyance of the POV that today's pseudoscience might well be tomorrow's science. A couple things at the moment: Bauer's mention of acupuncture and ball lightning refers specifically to phenomena that've recently come under scrutiny using scientific method rather than pseudoscience. By pseudoscience in this context he's referring to speculation unsupported by the long hard work of hypothesis and testing, publication of carefully documented results, finding funding for the long hard work of scientific study, peer review, additional study by independent researchers to replicate results if possible, etc. Ball lightning is a phenomenon that falls in this category of something previously unexplained via scientific method, and acupuncture is a long established field of practice, a therapeutic modality that has more recently come under study under closer scrutiny using scientific method. It is in this context that Bauer refers to these two "things" together in one sentence at the bottom of p60 of his 1994 book ([21]). Likebox, your presentation of acupuncture as a field, theory or hypothesis that has transitioned from pseudoscience to science is incorrect for the reason that it's simply misleading to readers of this WP article and takes Bauer's statement out of context, implying to varying extents that acupuncture (1) might have progressed from a pseudoscientific field to a scientific field, (2) might have been proven to be effective by the recent attempts to study acupuncture more scientifically than in the past, and/or (3) that acupuncture has somehow today received a stamp of approval from the scientific community, etc.
..... On the same page in Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method'', right below the mention of acupuncture and ball lightning, Bauer also mentions alchemy, astrology and creationism as things that have moved in the opposite direction, meaning in the context of Bauer's discussion at p60 that he gives these three as examples of approaches scientists have found increasingly less fruitful and increasingly far out of the mainstream with the passage of time. So, among other things, your apparent assertion that alchemy should be held up as an example of giving fruit in the form of chemistry, which took hundreds of years by the way, is on its face misleading in this context in this WP article (e.g. here with the edit summary: "separate alchemy from phrenology--- parts of alchemy survived"). I apologize for being quite so directly critical, but many of these recent edits, both individually and taken together, amount to WP:SYN. ... Kenosis (talk) 18:49, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Will you let WP:SYN rest already? We disagree on some nontrivial things here, not on points of policy. Characterizing a legitimate POV dispute as a policy breach is not good manners.
Each edit is on a different subject, and I appreciate the helpful subject by subject feedback, which is mindful of the sources. To help this process, I think each subject should be discussed in a separate section. This section is for acupuncture, and so I will respond to the acupuncture concerns.
First, so that it isn't a secret: my POV is not that "today's pseudoscience might be tommorow's science", I don't even really believe that. My POV is that "some of yesterday's pseudoscience is today's science", which is a well established historical fact. It can be easily supported by many, many sources, without synthesis and without original research. This is what I am trying to do. Your POV seems to be that "pseudoscience is pseudoscience and always stays pseudoscience". Frankly, I think this point of view is just wrong.
My motivation for pressing this is to make sure that certain people who were rudely dismissed as crackpots have their stories recorded, so that this type of thing doesn't happen again. I am not a follower or advocate of any field presently labelled pseudoscience.
To address your concern about the mislabeling of acupuncture as a theory, it might be helpful to say "phenomenon" instead of "theories or hypotheses", because it was the study of certain phenomenon that was labelled pseudoscience. The phenomena in question was thought not to exist. I will try that wording, it might satisfy you. All of the examples are phenomena, and the hypothesis is that the phenomenon exists. Perhaps acupuncture is more of a practice than a phenomenon, but the phenomenon is the analgesic effects of the pins.
The rest of the comments here will only adress the issue of acupuncture: any analgesic effects of acupuncture were dismissed as fraudulent/pseudoscientific for many years. In the 1980s, or thereabouts, research groups were able to demonstrate that the analgesic effect is real, and the study of acupuncture became science. This transition is what Bauer is discussing, and the phrasing and terminology he uses is identical to the terminology used in this section. In fact, the example he gives is in a sentence which has almost exactly the same function as the disputed section has in this article, it is to show that historically, the ideas moved back and forth.
I think therefore that there should be no objection to including acupuncture in the list.Likebox (talk) 21:58, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Actually, it's not a POV dispute. Rather, as I already indicated, you're doing original synthesis here, although admittedly it appears to be in furtherance of your own synthetic position, your POV so to speak. This was made clear to you by several others before, and now I too am making the point in further support of the position of those other editors. Original synthesis isn't permitted in WP. Personally, I recommend finding another forum for syntheses of the kind you're doing here at the moment, and publish them elsewhere for the scrutiny of folks who may wish to read your original syntheses. But whatever you may choose to do elsewhere, it's not permitted in WP articles. Thanks. Kenosis (talk) 22:40, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Repeating yourself is not going to make you more right. The policy on original synthesis is limited to the article. This is a talk page.
The stuff I put in the article is much too limited to be a synthesis of any sort--- it is a list of topics which are well known historically to have passed from generally regarded as pseudoscience to generally regarded as science. There is no synthesis required to back up these points, because I found a source that says "such and such passed from pseudoscience to science", and detailed sources that discuss in excruciating detail exactly how it happened.
Your position, which is held by you and you alone, is therefore untenable. Nobody else accused me of OR or SYN. Let it rest. It's not going to get you anywhere.Likebox (talk) 01:58, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
Both Dave Souza and Hrafn have explained this issue to you before specifically in the context of WP:NOR, more specifically WP:SYN, in Talk:Pseudoscience#Question_about_the_list_in_PS, in Talk:Pseudoscience#Fields not labelled as pseudoscience by sources and most particularly in Talk:Pseudoscience#Synthesis. Guettarda also commented w.r.t. accurate sourcing (WP:V) so you are adequately notified to be aware of that issue too. And, Odd Nature made clear by her/his removal of one of your attempts at adding acupuncture and refactor the statement about alchemy where your view stands by that editor. And, Rose bartram made clear her position (in the "RfC" section) that your repeated attempts at including recapitulation theory do not reflect Stephen Jay Gould's work cited in support. Additionally, yesterday and today, as well as over the last weekend, I explained to you the issue of WP:NOR, specifically WP:SYN, w.r.t. conflating multiple sources to arrive at an original conclusion. Likebox, frankly, this topic has enough inherent difficulty without this kind of additional POV pushing. I trust my present explanation to you that the original-synthesis/accurate-sourcing issue has been explained by at least four experienced editors, two of whom are administrators, should be adequate to remind you, just in case you'd forgotten. ... Kenosis (talk) 03:56, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
Kenosis, please. this is supposed to be a consensus decision process; the point is to convince on the grounds of better reasoning, not by reference to the experience and authority of other editors. For instance, while I disagree with Likebox's bit about chemistry being based in alchemy (that really is stretching the point way too far), I'm not sure I really see the problem with the bit about vcupuncture. 30 years ago it was considered witch-doctor stuff in the west; now it has certain well-defined roles in scientific medicine. what's the problem with including it here? I mean (frankly) I'm not sure about the section as a whole, as I indicated previously, but if we're going to have such a section we might as well be fair with it.
My sense is that there's a bit of OR on both sides of this question. on the science-side I see a lot of language that is clearly trying to transform pseudoscience from its role as a good rule-of-thumb into some kind of god-given scientific truth. that's just not supportable in the literature. and if you read Likebox kindly and generously that's essentially what he's trying to point out - that assertions of pseudoscience have changed with changes in scientific understanding - though he does push the point more than he really needs to. but he seems reasonable from the small bit I've seen him write here, and I suspect that if you all discussed the edit (rather than simply reverting it whole-hog every time you see it) you'd quickly get to a decent agreement. If you treat every editor who disagrees with you like a POV-pushing irritant, you're going to end up turning a whole bunch of otherwise decent editors into POV-pushing irritants, which doesn't do anybody a darned bit of good. --Ludwigs2 05:01, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
Please read the relevant talk threads to which I linked just above, rather than try to intuit what's going on w.r.t. my comments to Likebox. I can readily agree with the general statement that, as you say, "assertions of pseudoscience have changed with changes in scientific understanding". The issue here in this section and in multiple other talk sections above is far more specific, and is completely independent of issues the whole article may have. The straightforward policy question here is, roughly: Is the inclusion of hypnosis, recapitulation theory, ball lightning and acupuncture consistent with the policies WP:V and WP:NOR, including WP:SYN? No one in this excessively lengthy discussion above agreed that the sources given earlier support the inclusion of hypnosis and recapitulation theory in the recitation of fields that have transitioned from, might we say, "generally called pseudoscience" to "generally accepted by the scientific community as valid science". So Likebox's assertion that I'm the only one who has this position is false. Indeed, Guettarda pointed out that the sources for radiation hormesis don't support its inclusion in this section, and upon reviewing the sources it's a borderline case, I let it slide based on the four sources presently given, even though it's not a clearcut case where any source has made the explicit point that it once was widely regarded as pseudoscience but is presently widely regarded as scientific. Same with ball lightning, a phenomenon that's recently come under study in a way more in keeping with scientific method-- I supported its inclusion despite its slim sourcing because the source given, and a number of other reliable sources not presently in the article, support the notion that ball lightning has, loosely speaking, become the subject of a more scientific inquiry of late than had been the case in the past when it was widely dismissed by the scientific community that had been unable either to observe it or to replicate the phenomenon in the lab (go find 'em youself--I'm tired and limited in time right now). Acupuncture is an entirely different story for the reasons I gave just above. Just because one source (Bauer's 1994 book) mentions acupuncture as something that's recently come under more empirical study does not make it a field that has "transitioned from pseudoscience to science" So it's most certainly not, as you imply here, "piling on" nor is it a POV issue. It's a policy issue, specifically one of accurate sourcing and original research. If anything, I should be, and should already have been, taking a stricter view of WP:V and WP:NOR here w.r.t. this section specifically.
..... That said, as you know I already acknowledged there are multiple issues that have accumulated since the article became at least a reasonably stable, rational, well sourced article in the Fall of 2006 after intensive work by a number of editors including myself. The additional parsing of the article is, as I've indicated, not only OK but quite welcome, and the consensus process w.r.t. the article as a whole continues to play out into the future. As for myself, within the WP consensus process, I reserve the right to assert a stricter application of WP:V and WP:NOR than has been the case thus far. But for Likebox to try to single me out here as the only one who's opposed his edits based on clearcut WP policy is offensive and, frankly, either in poor faith or in very bad memory of his recent interactions with editors other than myself. ... Kenosis (talk) 15:17, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending or supporting Likebox (and if he edits tendentiously I'll ask him to stop myself). there's no reason to single you out or make this personal in any way, because (again) this isn't head counting, it's consensus. it doesn't matter whether you're speaking for yourself or whether you're speaking in concert with a number of other editors. the final agreement is all that matters.
with regard to your substantive points, I'll confess that I think your argument awfully nitpicky. read Wikipedia:Fringe#Particular_attribution (I despise that section, mind you, but since certain editors spent a whole lot of effort edit-warring it in I'll go ahead and use it). Issues of wp:V are supposed to be relaxed on fringe issues because of the poverty of sources available that discuss them. More than that, though, this whole debate needs a dose of common sense. the dispute is occurring here because (as I said above) several editors are treating pseudoscience as a rigid analytic category rather than a rule of thumb, and because of that they are putting a lot of pointless effort into defending category boundaries that don't exist. as I said below, it's difficult to typecast acupuncture as pseudoscience in the first place, and continuing to push the theory that acupuncture is pseudoscience regardless of any and all evidence that it might not be is pseudoscientific thinking in its own right. it's the nihilist's dilemma: i.e. that the assertion that nothing exists is as much a matter of blind faith as the assertion that something exists.
I may try a whole-cloth rewrite of this entire section (down to the header) later today. let me think about it a bit. --Ludwigs2 16:10, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
NP. Agreed insofar as the section is a strong POV magnet to begin with, even more so than the article as a whole-- which is why accurate sourcing and avoiding original synthesis are particularly important there. I've got other things to do now. See ya' later. ... Kenosis (talk) 16:41, 9 April 2009 (UTC) ... Also agreed insofar as acupuncture was seldom if ever cast as "science" and therefore never would reasonably have been referred to a "pseudoscience"-- though it was often referred to as "quackery" and the like. For this reason alone it probably doesn't belong there. But with the reference to Bauer, 1994, I let it go pending the weigh-in of other editors on this particular field. ... Kenosis (talk) 16:49, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
The problem with some forms of alternative medicine is that they work better than a placebo when it comes to treating some types of pain, but the alleged mechanism behind the treatment is pseudoscientific, as are many of the additional claims. Acupuncture does stop pain, but it does it by stimulating nerves to react by producing endorphines, not by magical lei lines or whatever, and it can't treat other problems. A similar case is chiropractic "adjustment"; good for a sore back, maybe, but that's all. We need to separate the parts that work a little from the pseudoscientific claims and theories. TruthIIPower (talk) 05:31, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
T||P: that's not really the way science works, it's not really what's meant by pseudoscience, and that kind of judgement is certainly original research on wikipedia, regardless. look, science always has two components: an organizing theory or set of competing theories that give descriptions of causal relationships, and a body of observed evidence that correlates to a greater of lesser extent with the various competing causal theories (the thought being that a good theory is one that correlates as highly as possible with observations). pseudoscience (at least as I understand it) is reserved for those theories that basically ignore the second component, but still try to assert themselves as scientific: e.g. Creation Science, which tries to dismiss reams of physical evidence from a number of different fields with speculative hand-waving. Acupuncture isn't pseudoscience; it's a more-or-less scientific theory that begins with a set of assumptions different from the standard reductionistic model of western medicine, makes careful observations in its own way, and accounts for a certain set of events quite nicely. I mean, I could take your own words, above (where you say that acupuncture stops pain by stimulating nerves to producing endorphins), and say that gives some validation to acupuncture as a whole, since in that one regard acupuncture does exactly what it says it does. what you're not seeing is that the same physical observation can be accounted for in different ways under different models; asserting that this interpretation from this model is the correct interpretation misunderstands the scientific process, which by its nature doesn't make judgments about the theories themselves, but only about the theories' applicability to observed events. --Ludwigs2 06:52, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
This isn't a chat forum, so I'm going to keep it short. It's not sufficient for a system to offer high explanatory and predictive power; the explanations must be parsimonious. Traditional accupuncture's meridians and chi explain no more than the nerves-get-stimulated theory but require accepting additional entities, which Occam's razor forbids. Worse, it leads to false predictions, such as being able to treat more than just pain. This is why traditional accupuncture is pseudoscientific. TruthIIPower (talk) 00:55, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
  1. Occam's razor is another rule of thumb, not a scientific law.
  2. Traditional Chinese medicine (setting aside a few fanatics) never tries to tell tries to tell mainstream medicine that mainstream medicine's approach is wrong or meaningless. it's usually offered as a holistic supplement or alternative model, never as a replacement
  3. A theory can make any predictions that it wants (wrong or right) and still be scientific, so long as it acknowledges observable evidence. Acupuncture may or may not be wrong (there's no real conclusive evidence on that, to date), but being wrong is not the same as being pseudoscientific.
look, I get it: you don't like things like acupuncture, you think they're quackery, and you're totally entitled to your opinion. that's fine. I might even agree with you (I rarely talk about my personal beliefs on wikipedia, so you'll probably never know). but it's not wikipedia's job to make sure that everyone in the world shares your personal distaste for these subjects. If you can't edit articles like this with a balanced and neutral attitude, maybe you should think about whether it's appropriate for you to be editing them at all. --Ludwigs2 02:27, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

(deindent) Wow--- flaring tempers! Honestly, I don't think it's worth that much shouting. Acupuncture made the transition to science, in the sense that "sticking pins can releave pain better than placebo" is science now. But the Chi theory which surrounds it is still textbook pseudoscience. I think that's all that TruthIIPower is saying.

The reaons that I don't buy the "competing models theory" to explain Chi, is because the Chi idea was not developed in a hostile scientific environment, and did not get critical scrutiny. It was developed in an Aristotelian authority transmission model, the type of thing that is known to produce and propagate authoritative nonsense down through the generations.

But, still, according to the Acupuncture article, the chi-points are particularly effective for pain relief, better than random points. But the scientific reason is likely very different than Chi theory would predict. So how about this formulation:

The practice of acupuncture (but not the theory).

I'll try it. Maybe people will hate it.Likebox (talk) 04:22, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

sorry about that Face-smile.svg
look, the point I'm trying to make here is that theories can't be pseudoscientific in and of themselves (almost by definition). Science is a set of methodological practices that gets applied to theories, therefore pseudoscience is the attempt to convince people that these methodological practices are being applied when they are not. I can - as a scientist - hold the theory that the moon is made of green cheese, and my credibility as a scientist is perfectly fine up until I have to face an analysis of moon rocks (which unfortunately show little to no dairy content). If at that point I start drawing in conspiracy theories about the Apollo Moon Landing Hoax, semi-psychotic explanations about how moon-cheese transforms into rock in earth's atmosphere, or any other claim that tries to dismiss, deny, or invalidate methodologically sound observations without cause, then and only then am I engaging in pseudoscience. Meridian theory (and Five-Element theory, and Chi, and all the other quirky things that make up TCM) are perfectly fine theories; the two questions that need to get asked are:
  • Do the theoretical assumptions correlate well with observable evidence, using proper methodological practices?
  • Are the people involved claiming to use proper methodological practices when in fact they aren't?
the first question tells whether the theory has any value as a scientific theory, while the second tells whether the theory is pseudoscientific. whatever you want to think about the first question, I've never heard TCM people make the second claim. this is really a core distinction. --Ludwigs2 16:49, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
I hear you. I mean the theory/methodology distinction is the reason that I thought that the acupuncture thing is a good example. The methodology is obviously derived from painstaking (and I mean painstaking!) experiments, over many centuries. But is it true that a theory in itself is never classed as pseudoscience? What if the theory is based on unverifiable (OK Mr. Popper, unfalsifiable) statements, or just really outlandish ones?
But then again, if all you know about is acupuncture, maybe Chi is the best explanation. The problem here is that I don't think that Chinese traditional medicine has a strong skeptical literature tradition. I mean, that's sort of the hallmark of western science--- you can call out an established theory bunk, and people should listen to you until the establishment can refute you with objective data. I don't think that any literature tradition developed that kind of ingrained skepticism, other than western science. If a theory develops in a friendly environment, which excludes critics by default, it's almost certainly going to end up being pseudoscience, even if the practices that it seeks to explain are effective.Likebox (talk) 17:24, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
theories are never verifiable; that's just the way it is. we mere humans don't have access to the ontological truth of the world. Face-smile.svg If you need convincing, think about gravity. no one's every seen gravity itself, we've only seen the effects of gravity, and there's still an ongoing debate about the nature of the thing. is it a wave, a particle, a multi-dimensional bending of space-time, etc? the theory of gravity is a good theory, in the sense that it models observations with an incredible degree of precision, but if I were to say that gravity itself was (say) a form of chi, how could we ever determine whether that was true or false? we don't know what gravity is, we don't know what chi is... it's all just assumptions based on divergent models I mean, you're right about the skepticism of modern science: its strength is in its refusal to make any assertions that it can't support with evidence. I just want to make it clear that pseudoscience is a failure to follow procedures, which is different than a theory just being wrong. but again, I keep meaning to make a revision of that section; let me do that, and we can discuss it some more if need be. --Ludwigs2 18:54, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Hypnosis once again

I think I understand now why hypnosis is attacked, with claims that it is separate from Mesmerism. This reference was illuminating. It seems that stage hypnosis, in the tradition of the Mesmerists, is again being labelled as pseudoscience today. This is sad.

But at least now I can understand where the critics are coming from. I'd be interested to know if any informed source on hypnotism outside the skeptical literature actually maintains the position that stage hypnosis is not the same as psychiatrist induced hypnosis.Likebox (talk) 16:38, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Hmmm, the "skeptical literature", as you label it, is written by actual scientists and the like. I realise that those folks piss on a lot of parades of paranormal and pseudocientific piffle, and that is truly, truly, sad, but ... nonetheless, rational thought is more valuable than irrational thought. •Jim62sch•dissera! 17:35, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Skeptical literature is not the same as publishing in peer reviewed journals. I am confused, because stage hypnosis is the exact same thing as psychiatrist hypnosis, and I never saw anyone make the distinction between them before. I want to see a real source for that.Likebox (talk) 22:04, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
OK, so what do you consider to be "skeptical literature"? •Jim62sch•dissera! 14:32, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
Just that source I gave, internet stuff that's not backed up really. I honestly think that this article makes a mistake by dismissing stage hypnosis as quackery. The excerpt from Allison Winter's book I quoted before shows that this was the original position of skeptics towards hypnosis in the 1840s, but that this position was eventually discredited.Likebox (talk) 04:25, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Definition (2)

Honestly, the definition here is not very good. Astrology does not "pretend to be science", nor do most of the other fields called "pseudoscience". People who believe in that stuff don't have a very high opinion of science.

As a matter of fact, the only thing that I know which constantly claims that it is "science" when it is somewhat less than that is Marxism. I don't see Marxism on any of the lists of "pseudoscientific topics". But Marxism constantly tells you how scientific it is, how it is based on a predictive science of history etc, without making good predictions.

Actually, there is another example: Freudian psychology. That also fits the definition. But ghosts/exorcism/ESP doesn't fit. I think perhaps the definition discrepency might be causing a lot of the fights.Likebox (talk) 04:31, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

I was thinking about a more precise definition. Here's one, but it might be OR: Pseudoscience is the label given to practice or theory which has a precise detailed methodology or theory, but which is incapable of gaining acceptance in a hostile environment of skeptical thinkers.Likebox (talk) 15:32, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
The current lead definition is: "Pseudoscience is a methodology, belief, or practice that is claimed to be scientific, or that is made to appear to be scientific, but which does not adhere to an appropriate scientific methodology, [1][2][3] lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, [4] or otherwise lacks scientific status. [5]"
..... And, in the third lead paragraph: "[P]seudoscience is any subject that appears superficially to be scientific, or whose proponents state that it is scientific, but which nevertheless contravenes the testability requirement or substantially deviates from other fundamental aspects of the scientific method.[2][12][13][14][15][16]"
..... It's not our place as WP editors to be speculating in article space about what the definiton should be, or about what things may fit the set of definitions provided to us by reliable sources, or which things may fail to fit them, but rather to stick to what published reliable sources say about the topic, presenting the topic to the reader accordingly. As to astrology, please read the sources, of which there are several already in the article including Paul Thagard. As to marxism, it'll need a reliable source if it's to be held up as an example, e.g. on the List of pseudosciences. As to Freudian psychology (e.g. more specifically psychoanalysis or psychodynamics), it's been accused of being pseudoscientific by several reliable sources including Karl Popper. ... Kenosis (talk) 15:34, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
I am only speculating because I am not the most well read person on the topic. Maybe someone else will say "Oh, that's similar to Bernice Waddlesmith's definition, from her classic treatise the pseudoscientist". I did not put it in the article, and have no intention of doing so absent a reliable source. The sources in the article right now are the dictionary, which is not super-reliable at capturing nuance or difference of opinion.
I am honestly trying to understand the source of all these frictions between you and me (other than personality, which I don't think I can do anything about). I think we agree on the actual facts, with the possible exception of hypnosis. Nevertheless, you lean exclusive regarding these topics, and I lean inclusive. I think we can come to complete agreement.
Why you don't criticize cosmology, though? I don't think there is a single person who claimed that Einstein's cosmology was pseudoscience (except those that claimed that all of relativity was pseudoscience, but that's a different story).Likebox (talk) 15:48, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
Also, I don't think either Marxism or Freudian psychology are good examples of pseudoscience. That's why I think the definition is no good.Likebox (talk) 15:50, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
Well, while obviously not written in stone, many editors were involved in arriving at its basic current form. I provided another citation that's available online (currently footnote #2). ... Kenosis (talk) 23:18, 10 April 2009 (UTC) ... I've provided a more direct reference to Stephen Hawking's statement about cosmology having been regarded as a pseudoscience in the past, with a partial quotation of Hawking. It's presently in article at footnote 60, and online here. ... Kenosis (talk) 16:09, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

(deindent) I think the rewrite of the section is great. It addresses all the concerns, by framing the topics appropriately. But I hope that hypnosis can still be incorporated in some way.Likebox (talk) 22:04, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

ah, sorry, I forgot about hypnosis. that's a hard one, actually: the technique is used very productively in some minor ways (recovery of suppressed memories, pain relief, getting past certain traumatic events as an aid to psychotherapy), but the same techniques get applied to all sorts of flakey enterprises. and unfortunately it's much better known for the flakey stuff than the useful stuff. where do you think it would fit? --Ludwigs2 23:49, 11 April 2009 (UTC)
Good point. I was hoping that it would fit as a case where the skeptics were too skeptical--- they said it was fraud/bunk in the 1800s, and it turned out to be a real effect. But I see what you're saying.Likebox (talk) 02:15, 12 April 2009 (UTC)
Ludwigs2, IMO, the re-sectioning and rewrite you just did (here and in the several edits that follow] is a reasonable editorial decision. I definitely think it's useful to put the demarcation problem as a "main article" for at least one section. Speaking as just one editor of course, the basic approach is fine by me. I suppose we'll see where it goes and how other editors respond over time. ... Kenosis (talk) 02:36, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

Challenging Text

This text, which attempts to describe what would be considered pseudoscience, was recently removed (I restored it temporarily, until the discussion can be resolved):

To give an idea of the difficulty of the task (of separating science from pseudoscience), note that a 15th century practitioner of alchemy searching for a way to transmute base metals into gold would not have been practicing pseudoscience, since alchemy was considered advanced science at that time, nor would a modern physicist (who actually can transmute metals inside a particle accelerator or fission reactor) be considered an alchemist. However, a modern day scientist who claimed to be able to transmute metals in the fashion of a fifteenth century alchemist - by using the metaphysical properties of some sort of catalytic 'philosopher's stone', for instance - would likely be guilty of pseudoscience, unless he could somehow effectively incorporate centuries of scientific advances in physics into the archaic concept.

This is a clear, lucid explanation, in everyday terms, of the type of research that would be classified as science/pseudoscience. It gives a well-established example, based on non-controversial topics, of the way in which the cut is made. Since there aren't any modern day alchemists, nobody should be bothered by this bit of exposition.

But now it has been challenged as OR. Is this really OR?

I would say that anything that everyone agrees on is never OR, even if you don't have a specific source. This is based on "undue weight" principles--- you should be able to write things that are common knowledge, to use non-controversial examples, to give a reader an idea of what the article is about. If you aren't allowed to do this, the articles become ponderous and unreadable.

It is important to challenge material in good faith, and by that I mean, challenge what you think is incorrect, not what you think might be difficult to source. That way, we can focus our energies on getting balanced coverage of controversies, not finding sources for obvious comments.

Now, it is possible that something here is not obvious. But I don't know what that could be. (anti-disclaimer:I didn't write this paragraph).Likebox (talk) 20:03, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

Yes. It's not only original research, it's also dubious. Science as we now define it didn't exist in the 15th century, and no-one was then claiming scientific credibility. Thoughts about "a modern day scientist" are pure speculation, and we require published expert opinion, not off-the-cuff fantasies. . dave souza, talk 20:41, 13 April 2009 (UTC) [depersonalize 20:44, 13 April 2009 (UTC)]
Ok, if you're serious. But then, can we have a similar discussion with something that everyone agrees is not dubious?Likebox (talk) 21:38, 13 April 2009 (UTC)
well, I'll say that I don't actually object to it being removed (though I'm not certain removal was necessary). my goal in writing that was merely to give an example of how a topic might or might not be pseudoscience based on the particular context its nested in. better suggestions for an example would be welcome, but I do think an example would be helpful here.
and dave, you're wrong. people were certainly claiming scientific credibility in the 15th century; they simply didn't have the methodological tools we have today for determining whether those claims were valid. Don't think modern science is a new idea - the ancient greeks and romans were worried about that issue, as were the Han Dynasty era Chinese, and you can find similar concerns in the earliest buddhist and hindu discourses. Modern science simply took a long-standing philosophical concern and evolved it to a high art. --Ludwigs2 00:21, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
Terribly unphilosphical of you Ludwigs. Science changed its meaning in the 18th–19th century, and it's simplistic to assume that current concepts held then. . dave souza, talk 09:02, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

Definition again

Ok--- so now the discussion of the acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine example is challenged, because the practitioners don't claim that they are doing science. But I don't see many astrologers or ghost hunters claim that they are doing science either. Neither do most ESP practitioners, or UFO buffs. In fact, most pseudoscientists object to the notion of "reproducibility" as a criterion for accepting a phenomenon, because they often believe that the "hostile vibes" associated with skeptical testing ruins the effect. So that's that as far as "pretending to be doing science" is concerned.

This is all coming back to the definition. I know it's in the dictionary, but that definition is not the one we carry around. I think that the commonly held definition of pseudoscience is the claim that any phenomenon that is real, when it doesn't withstand skeptical scientific scrutiny, based on current methodologies and currently established theory. It is especially applicable to any claim that human consciousness can become aware of non-physical entities which do not register on meters and sensors. Materialist doctrines, like Freudianism or Marxism, no matter how hard they fail the scientific smell-test, and no matter how loudly their proponents claim that they are Science with a capital S, never make the cut. A materialist doctrine can be wrong, it can be misguided, but it's just not going to be pseudoscience. This is all about the enlightenment, the hostility of science to doctrines of external meddling in the physical world. It's not about a bunch of people claiming to have PhD's and studying voodoo dolls with oscilloscopes and voltometers.Likebox (talk) 21:52, 17 April 2009 (UTC)

likebox: if you want to get into the roots of it, the whole pseudoscience thing is a holdover from enlightenment-era paranoia that any science which didn't absolutely and unconditionally exclude all metaphysics would become a puppet of the Church. This is why Creation Science (which is a weak effort even by pseudoscience standards) get's such an extraordinary reaction - it hits a little too close to home - and why skeptics consistently get up in arms about strangely minor issues. basically, you're looking at the tail end of a religious purge. But really, the only meaningful definition of pseudoscience is any case where people want to claim the authority of science to make their point, but don't want to accept the authority of science over their point. basically they want to make their claim and present their evidence, but don't want (or don't understand) the critique of that evidence and claims that every truly scientific theory has to suffer. Now I don't completely agree with the change of wording Kenosis made either, but it's not completely incorrect; it's just that the correct understanding is really difficult to get across. TCM and AP (and the like) are not pseudoscientific (because they don't deny the truth of scientific evidence), and they are not non-scientific (because the fields are very heavily evidence-driven); really, they use a different and incommensurate system of evidence. where western medicine, for instance, will take a plant extract and use a double-blind protocol to ensure that no subjective input is added to the process, eastern medicine will often train its doctors to incorporate the subjective experience into the diagnosis and treatment. as the saying goes, western medicine is expert at treating the disease, where eastern med is expert at treating the patient. but how do you get that across without adding a whole lot of baggage to the article? --Ludwigs2 06:39, 18 April 2009 (UTC)


I've removed "meteorites" from the section on boundaries between science and pseudoscience. The source, Williams (ed., 2000) Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience, simply doesn't support the characterization as a theory that was "originally considered pseudoscientific". The Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience doesn't merely present topics that are or once were considered pseudoscientific, but also presents many interesting scientific debates of times past. The place of origin of meteorites is among them. The entry in this publication, titled "Meteorite", says inter alia that some scientists, "particularly those in the French Academy" in the late 1700s began to question the celestial origin of meteorites. The encyclopedia entry on "Meteorite" continues to say: "However, in 1794, Ernst F.F. Chladni, a German physicist, confirmed their extraterrestrial origin. A substantial fall of meteorites at L'Aigle in France in 1803 clinched the matter." ... Kenosis (talk) 05:05, 19 April 2009 (UTC)
..... I note that my second removal of it (the first was reverted by Ludwigs2) has since been reverted again by Likebox here with the edit summary "It's the encyclopedia of pseudoscience for pete's sake. Anything in there either is pseudoscience or was pseudoscience". Folks, please check your sources rather than assume, for example, that any topic included in a title such as "Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience" has actually been characterized as such by reliable sources in any way that might be meaningful w.r.t. 21st century or at least reasonably contemporary 20th century scientific method. ... Kenosis (talk) 05:30, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

You are again making your appalling ignorance of history obvious. The notion that meteorites was extraterrestrial was not just challenged by the French academy, it was dismissed as pseudoscience, in the same way that UFO's are pseudoscience. The idea that rocks fell from the sky was considered a primitive belief, swept aside by the scientific revolution.
Then a big rock fell from the sky right outside Paris, and everyone saw it fall.
This story is told in many places. I can't even remember where I first read it. The encyclopedia of pseudoscience is one of the places that summarizes the story. Your reading of the events as "this was just a natural scientific development" is idiotic and embarrassing to read.
I don't know why you feel like you understand the history when you make up your biased mind after reading one source. You should learn a little bit first.Likebox (talk) 13:10, 19 April 2009 (UTC)
If the source doesn't support the assertion, you can't use it as a source. And please lay off the insults. That sort of tone is unacceptable. Guettarda (talk) 13:42, 19 April 2009 (UTC)
Skepticism, "scientific" controversy, debate and argument are not pseudoscience, nor are theories that are ultimately refuted by empirical observations. What was lacking back in the late 1700s and very early 1800s were adequate empirical observations of meteorite occurrences by researchers, during which period a theory was put forward that they were not of extraterrestrial or "cosmic" or "celestial" origin as had then traditionally been assumed. It's hardly pseudoscience-- indeed this occurred both before scientific method began to take on its modern form and also a good half-century before the word "pseudoscience" was coined. More importantly here, the cited source doesn't characterize earlier theories about meteorites as pseudoscience or anything remotely like pseudoscience. The article merely explains the ancient assumptions, a quick history of the speculations and scientific debate of the late 18th and very learly 19th Century about where meteorites come from, as well as gives a quick contemporary summary of what a meteorite actually is, in light of what we know today. ... Kenosis (talk) 16:55, 19 April 2009 (UTC)
And the Lord sayeth unto the fourth angel, "loose the rocks from the heavens so they may be smitten".<end sarcasm> If the source dores not support the assertion, the assertion goes. There are those who contend that radiological-dating merthods are innacurate -- that does not make the methods pseudoscience. &#0149;Jim62sch&#0149;dissera! 17:16, 19 April 2009 (UTC)
I'll add, my revert was a mistake. I though I was reverting on the 'list of' page where the reference belongs, not here. apologies. --Ludwigs2 18:01, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

Cite about widespread belief in astrology

The text of the article contains the following statement:

Bunge (1999) states that "A survey on public knowledge of science in the United States showed that in 1988 50% of American adults [rejected] evolution, and 88% [believed] astrology is a science'".

In my judgment, the figure of 88% does not indicate that 88% of American adults believe that astrology would be science, but it rather due to the fact that many people confuse the terms astronomy and astrology. Thus, the statement is, in my view, misleading and should be deleted. --Cs32en (talk) 13:09, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

WP:V: "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—that is, whether readers are able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether we think it is true." HrafnTalkStalk(P) 14:17, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
I'm not arguing that the material should be excluded because the statement would not be verifiable or that it would not be admissible because of source-related WP policies. It's just misleading, and therefore does not help the reader to understand the subject of the article. If I put in a quote stating that there are three countries in North America, this would be verifiable if I give a proper source, but would not be useful in this article nevertheless. --Cs32en (talk) 14:24, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
WP:OR, you need to find a WP:RS containing your criticism and we can add that. We can make some editorial decisions here, but I think the quote should stand for the moment as it is from a RS. If you could find the survey that might answer your question. Verbal chat 14:28, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Again, I'm not saying the source would contain false information or would be unreliable. The content has been presented in a way that is misleading to the reader. We don't add anything to an article only because it is supported by a WP:RS source. If I quoted at length from a current article from the NYT on the swine flu in Mexico, this would be supported by a WP:RS source, but would certainly not be useful in this article. --Cs32en (talk) 14:36, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
I also don't want to add anything, as your comment implies. --Cs32en (talk) 14:45, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Cs32en: you have provided no evidence that the material is "misleading", only a speculative hypothesis on why it might be. Sorry, but such speculation is not a good reason for removing verifiable and relevant material. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 15:36, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
The text does not contain a reference to the original source. "Bunge (1999)" is given, which may refer to Bunge, M. (1999), The Sociology-Philosophy Connection, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction. Bunge might have restated a finding from one of his earlier works there, of course, but the original source seems to be Bunge, M. (1989), "The Popular perception of science", in: Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Series V, Vol. IV, pp. 269-280. At least, this source should be given.
I very much doubt that the editor who included the cite has had a look at the original source, though I have no proof of this, of course. It is more likely that he copied the cite from this PDF, without including this source as a reference.
In my view, the cite should be taken off the text until the doubts have been cleared up. I did not delete it however, and I have not insisted that this should be done. It would be very useful, however, if the correct sources would be given in the text.
We could write to the author of the text of the PDF, Teresa Castelão-Lawless, she may provide a clarification as to whether Bunge stated that 88% of adult Americans believe that astrology is a science or whether he stated that 88% of adult Americans belief that the term "astrology" would refer to a scientific discipline. --Cs32en (talk) 16:15, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

I don't see any reason to remove it. Add to the section around it with WP:RS, yes, but no reason to remove it. Verbal chat 16:27, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

I've added three further sources to the text. I consider the claim that 88% of American would believe that astrology is a science to be exceptional, per WP:REDFLAG. Therefore, I do not think this claim should be included unless we have a confirmation that Mario Bunge actually makes this claim in his publication, and could attribute the claim to him. I've added a fact tag, because no appropriate sources are given for the cite from Bunge at this time (see the potential sources of the quote I have given above). --Cs32en (talk) 17:16, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Epistemology of Science, Science Literacy, and the Demarcation Criterion cites this information to:

Bunge, Mario (1989). “The Popular perception of science”, Transactions of the Ryal [sic] Society of Canada, series V, Vol. IV, 269-280.

HrafnTalkStalk(P) 18:08, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Well this certainly confirms what I've long believed: most of my fellow Americans (I'm not quoting Nixon, here) have the IQ of lint. I hereby apologise to lint. &#0149;Jim62sch&#0149;dissera! 18:15, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
That's the PDF I have referred to above. --Cs32en (talk) 18:20, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Btw, the {{sic}} template could need some work, the brackets should not be in italics. --Cs32en (talk) 18:23, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

By Saturn, why are we citing a twenty year old source for current attitudes? Here we can find that 6% of Americans find Astrology "very scientific", 26% "sort of scientific", and 66% "not at all scientific". Since 1979, the first category has remained roughly stable, while the second category lost about ten percentage points to the third. The survey is broken down further by gender, level of formal education, &c., but that degree of detail should probably be reserved for Astrology or one of its sub-articles.

Addressing popular confusion between astronomy and astrology, the idea may have some merit - [Nick Allum] conducted a survey in Europe and got very different results, depending on whether he asked about astrology or horoscopes. "And sure enough, we find only about 10 percent of people think horoscopes are very scientific - although that's rather a high proportion in some ways - compared with about 25-30 percent thinking the same about astrology." - Eldereft (cont.) 19:51, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Good stuff, by Jove. &#0149;Jim62sch&#0149;dissera! 20:11, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
The real issue here seems to be that some editors tend to believe that Wikipedia should contain everything that WP:RS, i.e. mainstream, sources report, instead of applying some common-sense check to every piece of information that is reported by any source. --Cs32en (talk) 20:12, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
So, what then is your solution? &#0149;Jim62sch&#0149;dissera! 20:14, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
With regard to the article here, check the original source from Mario Bunge, and attribute the claim to him. (I won't do it, because I assume that the check would likely result in finding out that the secondary cite was already inaccurate, and I'm not going to spend my time on this.) With regard to the question about how WP policies are interpreted, I think that the policies are basically sound, but would need to be more explicit in how they should be applied to different circumstances. A lot of editors just refer to the wording of policy items, and don't think about the meaning and intent of the policies. --Cs32en (talk) 20:22, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Unreliable Sources

Reference 1, 2, 3 and 4 all shows give absolutely no evidence that proves Scientific Mythology isn't science. The citations

“[w]hat is objectionable about these beliefs is that they masquerade as genuinely scientific ones.” 

If that is the case, please give evidence, why the recent news on studying Einstein brain size on Daily Planet, Discovery Channel is considered scientific and you should give evidence on neurology never use the brain size model when teaching.

Because I seriously doubt there is 100% no relevancy between things the atomic structure model (e.g. Wu Xing, Ruthford Borh's model. They are just developed using the knowledge they know at that time period. In the beginning of time people didn't even know science exists, they just think this is the way how the world works (aka systematic). -- (talk) 18:38, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

I am sorry, you are going to have to explain this more clearly (It seems there is a language barrier). Why does a program on the Discovery Channel make these sources unreliable> --Leivick (talk) 18:49, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
Contents being reconsidered. I was writing things in a rush. -- (talk) 18:56, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Knol as a source for definition of pseudoscience

Pseudoscience distinction - "knol articles are not a reliable source" is somewhat of an improper generalization. It's the contents and quality of presentation that counts, not the forum. The "Torah-centric ID" exclusion is simply a mistake. This is not the subject of the article. Besides, the definition of pseudoscience is independent of the rest of the contents of the referenced article. --Shkedi (talk) 20:57, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

You may want to read wp:RS. Sources should be published in reliable sources, known to be notable and to check the verifiablility of their statements. Also, since you seem to have written that knol, this is a wp:COI problem. NJGW (talk) 20:59, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Exactly. And the rest of the knol contents do matter, in my opinion. Any source full of such a littany of errors and apologetics shouldn't be used to define a somewhat controversial term. — Scientizzle 21:28, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Knol is just another wiki-variant, and as such is never a WP:RS. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 03:02, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
As far as I know that's not true. I think it's best thought of as a collection of free websites, complete with collaboration infrastructure for those who want to make use of it. So it's simply a self-published source, i.e. it can be reliable under very limited circumstances which will almost never be given. The reason we can't use it for a definition of pseudoscience is that it's so contentious that we need the highest quality of sources, so that even a hypothetical Knol written by an absolute authority on the subject would be a borderline case. Hans Adler 04:39, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Even were this true (and the fact that knols, like the one cited, have an 'Edit this knol' button, imply that it closer to a wiki than a SPS), its usage here fails WP:SELFPUB as it is not being "used as sources of information about themselves" but rather to make "claims about third parties". HrafnTalkStalk(P) 05:07, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
From the often not so unreliable Wikipedia: "The authors have an option to allow their knols to be edited by the public, to make them editable only to co-authors or to make them closed entirely." But we agree about this specific case. Like any other self-published source, a Knol is not OK as a source for a definition of pseudoscience. Hans Adler 08:38, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

Lakatos on pseudoscience

For discussion the following text was added to the article by Logicus, but deleted by 20ver0 without good reason or discussion. I therefore restore it.

'According to the demarcation criterion of pseudoscience originally proposed by Lakatos, a theory is pseudoscientific if it fails to make any novel predictions of previously unknown phenomena, in contrast with scientific theories which at least predict some novel fact(s), whether or not they are confirmed.[79]Within the class of scientific theories, progressive scientific theories are those which have their novel facts confirmed and degenerate scientific theories are those whose predictions of novel facts are refuted. Hence Lakatos based his criterion of science on the view that the aim of science is the growth of knowledge of phenomena, whereby a theory is pseudoscientific if it does not even attempt such, but rather makes no novel predictions. As he put it:

"A given fact is explained scientifically only if a new fact is predicted with it....The idea of growth and the concept of empirical character are soldered into one." [p34-5 The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes 1978]

Lakatos's own key examples of pseudoscience were Ptolemaic astronomy, Velikowsky's planetary cosmogony, Freudian psychoanalysis, 20th century Soviet Marxism, Lysenko's biology, Bohr's Quantum Mechanics post-1924, astrology, psychiatry, sociology and neo-classical economics. And in his 1973 LSE Scientific Method Lecture 1[80]he also claimed that "nobody to date has yet found a demarcation criterion according to which Darwin can be described as scientific", thus implying Darwin's theory of evolution did not satisfy Lakatos's own criterion of at least predicting some novel fact(s), and so either it was pseudoscientific or else there was something wrong with Lakatos's criterion.'

--Logicus (talk) 16:18, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

We already have an article on Imre Lakatos. Also, please do not directly copy text from one article to another, as it violates our licence. - 2/0 (cont.) 18:00, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
So wot ? We also already have an article on the relatively unknown Thagard. Lakatos (and Popper) were far more renowned international originators in the pseudoscience debate. Lakatos’s theory deserves a much more prominent place in this article.
What is the point of telling me to read BRD and RS ? R U insinuating I breached them somehow ? If so how ?
And what is the licence violation you allege ?--Logicus (talk) 18:26, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
This is a WP:FRINGE definition of pseudoscience which is given WP:UNDUE prominence by the above contribution, and by the lack of independent WP:RS I would say any inclusion is undue. It also contains unsourced editorialising, making it WP:OR as well. Verbal chat 18:49, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
@Logicus: The text under discussion looks very similar to the text of Lakatos. Checking the history, it seems that that text was added by you, which I believe means that your addition here did not violate Wikipedia:Copyright violations. In general, it is not permissible to copy text from one Wikipedia article to another, as that would misattribute authorship. For more information, check out the paragraph on licensing conveniently located immediately below the edit window whenever you contribute to the encyclopedia.
If you would like to argue that the present article does not devote enough space to Lakatos, please present for consideration reliable sources on the topic of pseudoscience or philosophy indicating that more weight would more accurately treat the topic. - 2/0 (cont.) 05:29, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Interesting discussion developing

This may require comments from interested parties:

Brangifer (talk) 19:40, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

Potential addition

I wanted to include some info from "almost complete disagreement on the general criteria [science/pseudoscience demarcation] judgments should [...] be based upon."

I wanted at first to include that source in the following paragraph: There is disagreement among philosophers of science and among commentators in the scientific community about whether there is a reliable objective way to distinguish "pseudoscience" from non-mainstream "science" -- but, as the Stanford source seem not to discuss the "lack of unanimity about the existence of ways of distinguishment" per se, it cannot be used to source the current sentence.

However, I wanted to know if you people felt some need to introduce the idea of that perceived lack of unanimity between philosophers of science on the ways to distinguish science from pseudoscience in the introduction rather than in the "Boundaries between science and pseudoscience" section only. Else, the RS could still be used, for instance, to source the first sentence of the latter section.

Hoping this might well be of any use. Twipley (talk) 23:42, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

Radiation hormesis? Ball lightning?

"There are well-known cases of currently accepted scientific theories or fields that were originally considered pseudoscientific, for example, continental drift,[66] cosmology,[67] ball lightning,[68] and radiation hormesis".

What is radiation hormesis doing in this list?! It is not a currently accepted scientific theory. Quite the contrary. Historically, beneficial effect of low doses of radioactivity has been a "accepted" theory for several decades since discovery of radioactivity (see radiation quack medicines, tanks for adding minuscule amounts of radon into drinking water, radium toothpaste, and such); it has been ruled out by improved understanding of the biochemical effects of radiation, as well as by empirical studies and indirectly by improved understanding of evolution - now it is understood that a wholly beneficial response mechanism, such as the one suggested by 'hormesis' proponents, would not switch off in absence of higher-than-background doses of radiation. Hormesis is no less at odds with our understanding of evolution than Intelligent Design.

I think radiation hormesis should be removed from this list of "accepted" theories. Surely, it is not "accepted" theory in same way as continental drift or cosmology are. Ball lighting also should be removed because "ball lighting" is not a theory; the idea that ball lighting is a (for example) form of electric discharge, would be a theory, as would be theory that ball lighting is a hallucinatory effect caused by combination of electromagnetic pulse, bright flash, loud sound, etc. Actually i'm going to go ahead and remove both ball lightning and hormesis on the list, ball lightning on the grounds that it is not a theory, and hormesis on the ground that saying that hormesis is as accepted as continental drift is a very non-neutral point of view. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 17:29, September 19, 2009

These statements are sourced. Unless the source is unreliable (per our definition), inaccurately cited, outdated or misrepresented, the information should remain. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 02:47, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

A statement that 'hormesis' is accepted as scientific theory now any more than it was in the past, is not sourced; it is an inappropriate representation at best. "Ball lightning" itself is not a 'scientific theory' at all; explanation of ball lightning may be. This whole list simply invites cranks to put their favorite theories in as non-pseudoscience.

You mean except for the four references that follow -esis? WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 11:34, 22 September 2009 (UTC)
I added that as an example of a practice that was once labelled pseudoscience but is now considered a valid hypothesis. To accomodate this, I added the phrase "accepted scientific theories or hypotheses" in the section. Unfortunately, the language has changed since.
Hormesis is not an accepted effect, but it is a valid accepted hypothesis which is supported by some, but not all, of the data. This is what is supported by the sources.Likebox (talk) 01:36, 24 September 2009 (UTC)
see "Over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation". Pretty much every single example of pseudoscience is 'supported by some, but not all, of the data'. Lyseknovism, Lamarkism, n-rays, etc. The whole point of science is that it takes only one single well verified contradicting data point to disprove a hypothesis or theory. There been enough for hormesis; even the very data used by proponents, when controlled for age and smoking, does in fact refute hormesis hypothesis - and unless they can make sound rebuttal, the case's closed as far as science is concerned. (talk) 09:49, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
Lysenkoism (in the sense of anti-mendelianism) was not supported by data, it was supported by Marxist dialectic. Neither were N-rays supported by reproducible data, the careful experiments all found no N-rays. On the other hand, radiation hormesis has been demonstrated in reliable animal studies, and has the support of French nuclear bodies. It might not be right, but the case is open. If you believe that the debate is closed, you have information that many leading nuclear bodies don't have, because they are funding experiments on artificially low radiation which will close the question once and for all. Please read the article on radiation hormesis for the details of the debate.
Although that's the current state of ignorance as far as very low doses of radiation is concerned, many scientists used to make unwarranted extrapolations from high-dose data to conclude that hormesis is pseudoscience. That type of baloney is harder today, because you get called on it. In particular: you are wrong about the smoking controls, this subject was debated ad nauseum on the radiation hormesis page.Likebox (talk) 05:08, 30 September 2009 (UTC)
See hormesis page. Taiwan study had older controls, for example; a lot of studies have been discredited. Furthermore, if we were to talk of unwarranted extrapolation, the very concept of dose in sievert relies on assumption that effects are linear. Nonlinear response to dose in sieverts is a total nonsense, an oxymoron; if the effects are not linear there is no reason whatsoever for whole body dose of gamma rays to be equivalent to localized lung dose of alpha particles, times standard scaling factor. Especially considering that on cellular level there is no such thing as low dose of alpha radiation (1 alpha track through cell nucleus is no small dose) but there is such thing as moderately low dose of gamma radiation (1 Compton Scattering electron through nucleus). Nevermind hormesis though. Answer, HOW is "ball lighting" a scientific hypothesis?! A particular explanation of ball lightning may be a hypothesis but 'ball ligtning' is a phenomena! Explanation that it is physical, objective phenomena, or explanation that it is a neurological phenomena caused by effect of electromagnetic pulse on brain, or that it is psychological (people lying), that's hypothesis, but 'alleged phenomena' itself is not a hypothesis. This is merely a list for fringe pseudoscientists to put their beliefs on. Scientists so pseudo that they don't even have a clue what 'hypothesis' means and think that 'ball lightning' is a hypothesis. I think it's best to leave both hormesis and ball lightning here then, so that ball lightning sufficiently discredits this whole list and hormesis along with it —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:21, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Taiwan study is total bunk--- it's no evidence for or against hormesis because its data was garbage. But there are other studies which are careful which support a small hormesis effect. All that I am saying is that the issue is wide open.
As far as "dose in Seiverts is linear by definition", nobody is disputing that radiation effects like molecular cleaving or DNA damage is linear. What people are disputing is that this translates to cancer in a linear fasion. There is no reason to believe this a-priori, since cancer is now known to be a complicated process governed by apoptosis checkpoints and self-correction.Likebox (talk) 14:24, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
There was a debate earlier about several subjects which I still think make better examples:
  1. Hypnosis was rejected, after consensus was that modern hypnosis is too different from its pseudoscience ancestor, mesmerism.
  2. acupuncture as an analgesic, which is discussed fairly now under the broader label of traditional chinese medicine, so no complaints.
  3. meteorites which were pseudoscience until about 1800.
  4. epigenetics or non-mendelian inheritance, which was rejected as pseudoscience until about a decade ago.Likebox (talk) 01:45, 24 September 2009 (UTC)
Also, I don't think cosmology is a good example at all, even though Hawking said so. It's just a bit of hyperbole on his part.Likebox (talk) 01:47, 24 September 2009 (UTC)

List of pseudo-sciences

The article doesn't has a list of pseudo-sciences.Agre22 (talk) 16:06, 28 October 2009 (UTC)agre22

I think that's because for any pseudoscience there are pseudoscientists whom move it from list of pseudosciences to list of things that were formerly considered pseudosciences but are now taken as valid scientific hypothesis. Furthermore, most of pseudosciences are profitable. Only something really unpopular AND unprofitable ends up on list of pseudosciences. (talk) 01:24, 8 January 2010 (UTC)


Links and text about the climategate scandal article have been added and deleted. That controversy is more about professional ethics vs. smear campaigns than about science vs. pseudoscience. However, as a current notable and controversial subject, the scandal and climate change in general deserves a mention for clarification in the context of science vs. pseudoscience, with, of course, a neutral point of view. Obankston (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 22:51, 1 February 2010 (UTC).

No, as it isn't pseudoscience and isn't known as such. Verbal chat 22:54, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that the Climatic Research Unit hacking incident merits any attention on this widely-scoped article. However, there is no direct discussion of the relationship between pseudoscience and the broad topic of denialism (in which some would include the subject of climate change denial). There's a number of sources from which to draw... — Scientizzle 23:10, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Using two articles from the Google scholar link given above, I came up with a proposed statement connecting denialism and psuedoscience. I am not sure where the statement should be placed.

"Denialism of issues often uses pseudoscience to back up their claims. For media editors, reporting both the scientific side and the denier's side in an attempt to give balanced coverage takes the risk of publishing psuedoscientific nonsense. For medical issues, this could influence people in a way that risks their health. For climate change, the effects are less personal and more long-term, but the effects also put individuals and communities at risk.[22] For politicians with an agenda of denial, use of psuedoscience can be used to justify government policies that have a detrimental effect.[23]"

Obankston (talk) 17:59, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
I think this is a good start...I'll mull over the wording some and see if I can suggest some concrete changes. I think a level two header between the "Identifying pseudoscience" and "Demographics" headers could be created on "The usage of pseudoscience" (or something of that vein) Under such a header one could expand broadly upon who stands to gain and lose from pseudoscientific (or antiscientific) claims; the denialism-related content would fit well there. Thoughts? — Scientizzle 18:41, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
Two additional possible locations for the connection between pseudoscience and denialism: (1) In the section "Identifying pseudoscience". Promoting things (for fame or money) and denialism (often the other side of the coin when promoting something else) is not universally associated with pseudoscience, but neither are some of the other characteristics in the section "Identifying pseudoscience". (2) The denialism article, since pseudoscience is an important tool in the toolbox of denialism. BTW, the denialism article needs more work than the pseudoscience article - the lead needs to be boiled down to a short paragraph, and the rest of the lead made into sections.
Pseudoscience, like legitimate science, can be used as a tool in the toolbox of methods used to promote and/or discredit anything. The process works like this: If legitimate science leads unambiguously or incontrovertibly to a single policy or position, and an individual or group has the goal of being against that policy or position, then denialism of that policy or position would require pseudoscience to "scientifically" justify or validate that policy or position. If legitimate science does not lead unambiguously to a single policy or position, then this is probably an ordinary controversy, and not denialism. The use of psuedoscience would not be required to justify or validate, but it might be used anyway. Obankston (talk) 16:58, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Videos and Wikipedia?

Hi all. Here is a video on pseudoscience that some here might find useful somewhere, if not Wikipedia

However, when is it ok to post videos within any article in Wikipedia? Cheers Nick Darnal (talk) 01:28, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

AfD:Reverse scientific method

Please, go make your voice heard in the discussion Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Reverse scientific method! Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 13:01, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Announcement of RfC at Talk:NPOV regarding use of Category:Pseudoscience wikilinks

Please weigh in there. This is just an announcement. -- Brangifer (talk) 04:59, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

NSF 2006

The NSF 2006 report supports the text. QuackGuru (talk) 20:09, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

The NSF 2008, 2009 and 2010 do not support the text. what's your point? --Ludwigs2 20:27, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
The point is that you did not deny the NSF 2006 report supports the text. QuackGuru (talk) 20:28, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
I didn't provide this material, but merely integrated it into the lead in a more compact way. While I'm not sure the statement is needed in the lead, I did check the source to make sure the statement is supported. Footnote 29 of the NSF source gives ten items in their survey of 2001 and 2006 which they explicitly refer to as "pseudoscientific beliefs". ... Kenosis (talk) 20:35, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
I simply cannot believe that we have to discuss this nonsense at yet another place. To how many articles and other pages has BullRangifer spread his misquotation?
The list is taken seriously out of context:
  • The list was apparently made up by someone for a Gallup poll. [24] It does not originate from the NSF.
  • The NSF quoted the list in order to explain what exactly the Gallup poll had measured as a proxy for belief in paranormal. (Not pseudoscience.)
  • The NSF document refers casually and carelessly to the 10 "paranormal" proxies in this way: "Nevertheless, about three-fourths of Americans hold at least one pseudoscientific belief; i.e., they believed in at least 1 of the 10 survey items".
Under these circumstances it is a bit of a stretch to claim that the NSF "gives ten examples of beliefs they consider pseudoscientific". What they really do is say that instead of measuring belief in pseudoscience they took someone else's poll that measured belief in paranormal. Since that is a bit dubious, they were also open about what exactly that poll measured – and lo and behold! it measures some things that are somewhat appropriate for paranormal but much less so for pseudoscience. Hans Adler 21:07, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
If you think the text is a misquotation then what do you think is the correct quotation that could be included in this article or do you think the source is unreliable. QuackGuru (talk) 21:11, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
(e/c) Kenosis - no one is question whether the phrase appears. that's just a red herring. The issue here is that you have a document (Science and Technology Indicators) revised by the NSF on a yearly basis. the document is not primarily about pseudoscience - in fact, the term pseudoscience in each year only appears in one section of one chapter dedicated to 'Public Attitudes' about science. Out of the last ten years of revisions, only two or three revisions seem to have anything like this terminology, and the most recent of those is four years old (four revisions ago). If the proponents of this silly piece of misrepresentation want to insist that the passage be used, then they are damned well obligated to attribute it correctly (as a minor point, occasionally made) and not misattribute it as though it were the whole and primary purpose for which the NSF writes and revises this document. do you have an objection to that?
I don't mind at all having people push for the scientific perspective: that's a good thing. that attitude doesn't extend to people who make arguments that the mentally retarded would have no trouble seeing through. please don't be complicit in their stupidity. --Ludwigs2 21:15, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Much of "paranormal" (didn't know this is a noun) falls under pseudoscience, but not all. As Wikipedia says: Pseudoscience is a [...] that is claimed to be scientific, or that is made to appear to be scientific, but [...]. There are things that fall under paranormal and don't satisfy even this most basic condition. Therefore they are not pseudoscience.
It's not as if the NSF didn't agree that the definition of pseudoscience necessarily includes that something pretends to be scientific. Here is the full paragraph that immediately precedes the paragraph of the NSF paper from which the misquotation comes:
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). [25]
There are several red flags here that tell us this part of the paper has been assembled carelessly: The equation paranormal = pseudoscience that isn't even discussed anywhere, the claim that ghosts and reincarnation fall under pseudoscience (they mostly don't of course, they mostly fall under traditional beliefs or religion). And the fact that all of this wasn't present in the previous version and never appeared again, either.
As if that wasn't enough, it's not just quoted in a way that gives it more weight than it deserves, it's also assembled from something in the main text plus something in a footnote, in order to arrive at the surprising claim that ghosts and reincarnation are pseudoscience in contradiction to the previous paragraph. Hans Adler 21:16, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Seems to me that when the NSF states "Nevertheless, about three-fourths of Americans hold at least one pseudoscientific belief; i.e., they believed in at least 1 of the 10 survey items", then provides the list in the footnote, that's about as explicit as it gets. Plainly the sentence in the NSF document refers to the ten items as "pseudoscientific beliefs". And, it's not a "proxy", as Hans Adler says, for anything-- the title of the relevant section in the NSF document is: "Belief in Pseudoscience". And, I recommend to read the sentence in the article again-- it's not the same sentence that was discussed in the "Is the NSF a reliable source" RfC at WT:NPOV, nor the same sentence that was discussed at Talk:Ghost. The NSF doesn't explicitly assert that it represents the "scientific consensus"; it merely makes explicit by its usage of the words "pseudoscience" and "belief" that in their judgment the list consists of 10 "pseudoscientific belief[s]" ... Kenosis (talk) 21:20, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
If that's your definition of wikt:explicit, then how do you define wikt:implicit?
It's painfully obvious that some poor guy (or gal) at the NSF, perhaps even a secretary, got the job to write something about belief in pseudoscience, didn't find anything but found a poll about belief in paranormal instead, and then just used that, hoping that nobody would notice. Well, someone did notice. A pseudo-pro-science POV pusher on a quote-mining spree found the passage and used it. That's not sound citation practice at all. I am glad we don't have to deal with Brangifer's "scientific consensus" nonsense that he had pulled out of thin air, but we must also fix the other problems. Hans Adler 21:28, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Now seriously, this is a travesty. We can't have the lead claim (correctly) that pseudoscience is something that poses incorrectly as science, and then say ghosts and reincarnation are examples of that. Not spiritism, "ghost hunting" or "reincarnation research", but ghosts and reincarnation, no less. It's a joke. Hans Adler 21:30, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Well, the NSF isn't required to prove anything to merit a statement about stuff they refer to as pseudoscientific beliefs. Anyway, given that I've become involved in trying to work the material into the article (not that I'm stuck on the idea), I took a cue from Hans Adler and modified the sentence to the following form: "The National Science Foundation, in reporting on "Belief in Pseudoscience" reports ten examples of paranormal beliefs they consider pseudoscientific:" [footnote and the ten items follow] . Possibly this helps towards resolving our little dilemma about whether to include this material and whether it's both compact and accurate. Again, in the end, I'm not stuck on keeping it in, but plainly some editors want it in there, and it'd be nice to find a workable solution if possible. ... Kenosis (talk) 21:40, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Another quick note: If it's to stay in there, maybe it needs to be made a bit less presumptively US-centric by including a reference to "the U.S. National Science Foundation"? I'm out of here for now-- everybody, good luck working it through. ... Kenosis (talk) 21:46, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
(e/c) well, I don't mind the source, but I do mind it being taken out of context. this chapter isn't even about pseudoscience - it's about poor critical thinking skills and science education, and pseudoscience enters in to it primarily as examples. the purpose of this quote was decidedly not to claim that there were 'pseudoscientific beliefs' but to point out that people believe things that have no scientific standing. let me look at the context here and see if I can create a better phrase than that, because that's still pretty hefty misrepresentation.
beyond that, I've made a decision. I know a few people in the NSF, and I have connections with a few largish scientific organizations. I think I'm going to poke around, find out who edits that section of the S&TI, send them links to these discussions, and encourage them to (a) clarify their stance on pseudoscience to prevent this kind of abuse, and (b) include these wiki-skeptic arguments as examples of the poverty of critical thinking skills in the American public. There's a gold mine here for a dedicated researcher; I'm even tempted to write up an article for publication on it myself. Might not work out, but if I'm lucky I'll get an en clair statement in the next S&TI; if I'm very lucky, I'll get the NSF to send a letter to the foundation asking them to cease and desist such misrepresentations. Might as well try to fix this problem at the source. --Ludwigs2 21:51, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
LOL. Fair enough, and true that their primary emphasis quite clearly is on critical thinking skills, even if the NSF writer is referring to those ten things as "pseudoscientific" and viewing "pseudoscience" a bit more widely than this WP article represents. But I must go now. See ya' later on. ... Kenosis (talk) 22:09, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Resumption of edit war noted

I had tagged the claim that the NSF considers these ten items to be pseudoscience as having failed verification. The tag was now removed, and on this occasion I have removed this POV-pushing claim altogether.

This has been argued at length in many places after BullRangifer spammed the list all over Wikipedia. The claim ascribed to the NSF is incorrect or at least extremely imprecise, because for many of these 10 topics any similarities to science are totally marginal and so they simply fail the definition of pseudoscience on a key criterion. "Pseudoscience" isn't a catch-all term for what "sceptics" don't like. The authors also don't make the connection explicitly, but only argue as if paranormal (the original context of the list) was the same as pseudoscience. The document is not authored by the NSF but by the National Science Board, a body of statisticians. It is in no way a good source for novel claims about the philosophy of science, which is what this list constitutes, because no other remotely reliable source claims these things are pseudoscience. And the source cited is a political document whose authors had an interest in overstating belief in pseudoscience (or in stating it accurately, while relying on a survey about a related topic rather than doing on on the topic itself) as part of the NSF/NSB fight against actual pseudosciences such as creationism, which it is not expedient to mention in such a report in the US, due to some politicians' sympathies.

See User:Hans Adler/Science and Engineering Indicators for a detailed look at the relevant parts of the source. Hans Adler 05:36, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Sorry Hans, but your lengthy OR arguments to deny what the NSF explicitly states don't cut it. This isn't about "truth", but about verifiability. They say it very clearly. You think they are wrong (because you don't understand the subject as broadly as they do). Too bad. You're not fooling everyone. -- Brangifer (talk) 06:15, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
BullRangifer, your POV pushing and WP:IDHT must stop at some point. Evaluating sources properly is not forbidden by WP:NOR. Otherwise this whole project would be so silly and so dominated by random nonsense that I would not take part in it. Your claim is not verifiable.
You are even lying about a minor point. I am using the word lying because you have been told about this before and it is so obvious that it's almost impossible to understand once you have been alerted to it: There is no reason to suppose this document is speaking for the NSF. If anything, it is speaking for the NSB. If you want to claim otherwise you need to at least say why you think it speaks for the NSF when the NSB appears as the author. But be aware that whatever you say, it is likely to be actual actual improper original research in the technical sense. Hans Adler 04:41, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
So if we change it to the NSB your objections will cease? If that's truly accurate, and the NSF had nothing to do with this, then go ahead and make that change. I think the content has often mentioned both, which is accurate AFAIK. Your previous arguments have usually revolved around your disagreement with the source itself, regardless of authorship. You have stated several times that they were wrong. This is about verifiability, not truth. You placed a "failed verification" tag that was removed by another editor (NOT myself), with perfectly good reasoning. The content was obviously in the source, contrary to the tag you placed. Then you removed the whole thing and I restored it. ONE edit and you're resuming your threats to start the RfC/U against me? You're a rather warlike person. YOU are the one who removed the content as a very POINTY response to another editors removal of your improperly placed tag. That's vandalism and pushing your POV (which is a war against the NSF/NSB itself), so don't accuse me of POV pushing. I'm only defending a source which was approved in two RfCs which you lost. Get over it and do something useful. -- Brangifer (talk) 05:48, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
The reason it has always been attributed to the NSF and NSB is that it is on the NSF website and is under their auspices. The NSB is obviously involved, since the SEI document plainly states elsewhere (a fact brought to light long after all this started) that "The National Science Board Members were closely involved in all phases of the preparation of this report." I have no objection to the NSB Board being credited with responsibility for the report and statement, since they obviously claim it. -- Brangifer (talk) 05:56, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
The NSB/NSF thing is in fact not central. I can of course not fix this particular problem while the article is protected. Another indication of your sloppy interpretation of this source is that when you started spamming it all over Wikipedia you made an explicit claim in article space that the document expresses scientific consensus about these 10 topics being pseudoscience, even though it only makes the connection implicitly and casually. This was a crass breach of Wikipedia:RS#Academic_consensus: "The reliable source needs to claim there is a consensus, rather than the Wikipedia editor. For example, even if every scholarly reliable source located states that the sky is blue, it would be improper synthesis to write that there is a scientific consensus that the sky is blue, unless sources cited also make such a claim."
In this case you are trying to claim there is an academic consensus that the sky is red, based on two or three documents (all published by the NSB) that mention a red sky in passing and in the context of a sunset. There are no other sources making this claim. In particular there is no plausible explanation why the NSB, a body of statisticians, should make this claim and mean it, given that it cannot build on any other publications and that it is contradicting a definition that it has given itself in the previous paragraph.
I hoped that you had finally understood that you can only lose this battle and had decided to withdraw without losing your face; unfortunately it looks as if we do need your RfC/U, after all. And unfortunately I can't take care of it in the next week or so because I have guests who occupy much of my time.
Regarding this: Per WP:TALK#New topics and headings on talk pages, "Never use headings to attack other users". I am aware that you probably believe this heading is justified under the "reporting edit warring to administrators" exception. It is not. The edit war was resumed by ArmadniGeneral's removal of a justified "failed verification" tag. Apart from that, the inflammatory heading was in no way required for notifying an admin. I may have to make a list of such incidents to rub under your nose the next time you lecture other people about how they are supposed to assume your good faith. Hans Adler 22:22, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Rather than carry on the same discussion in two different places, I'll stick to replying at the link below since you decided to forum shop your criticisms of me there:

For the sake of the record (so I can find this as a choice example), I will note that the above statement is so full of straw men and deceptively worded statements that it bears little resemblance to the facts. It, and the statement below, show desperation is pushing Hans to dissemble more and more. Brangifer (talk) 06:43, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Given that it was you who have spread this conflict over more than a dozen pages after it was clear that there would be opposition (in addition to the obvious fact that you are wrong) the accusation of forum shopping is a bit tall.
By the way, "verifiability not truth" is the threshold for inclusion, in a context of adding claims to articles based on their supposed truth in the absence of sources. This very obviously does not justify adding obvious untruths to articles based on a claim that they are technically "verifiable". You are again taking things out of context. Hans Adler 07:07, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Comment Strikes me that Hans is correct here. While the report mentions "beliefs in pseudoscience" and then lists the ten items in a footnote, it is a stretch to say that the NSF has publicly proclaimed that these are examples of pseudoscience — especially given that many of these beliefs are not presented as scientific. I'd wager that most believers in reincarnation have explicitly religious (or philosophical?) reasons for their beliefs, and they don't regard them as scientifically justified. Let's not place so much weight on a footnote and NSF's unfortunate wording. (I do not intend to get into a clearly tendentious debate here and will likely not contribute much more to this conversation, but I do think that Hans has a good point to make and unfortunately the discussion has devolved into an unpleasant sniping match.) Phiwum (talk) 13:59, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

You are right about the sniping match. Unfortunately this started with BullRangifer shouting at the top of his voice and a lot of editors believing him simply because he was so loud. I don't know an effective method of correcting this that does not involve shouting at least as loud as he does; otherwise I would probably use it. Hans Adler 14:46, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, we really need to get that RFC/U rolling, and let procedure handle this. Brangifer's behavior has gone beyond eccentric to being a positive detriment to the community. I'll have time for it soon. --Ludwigs2 15:56, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Pardon my ignorance, but "RFC/U"? (Request for comments?) Is there an existing discussion about which I'm unaware? Phiwum (talk) 16:10, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
See WP:RfC/U. Yes, this is part of an existing discussion, although I guess most of those involved (primarily BullRangifer, Ludwigs2 and me, but at times also various other people) have lost track of what was said where: BullRangifer's addition of the list, the reverts and the various discussions are spread over more than 30 pages if we count articles and their talk pages separately. This includes ANI, a policy page, its talk page, and several user talk pages. Hans Adler 16:35, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Phiwum, this has a rather long history (over a month now). A discussion started at Ghost, I got involved when I found a clear statement from the NSF/NSB that declared the ten items to be "pseudoscientific beliefs". Since it was from a V & RS by a notable organization, it shouldn't have been controversial to add the statement to the article. That got Ludwigs2, Cosmic Latte, and then Hans Adler to start attacking me. Since there was obvious disagreement, I did what is recommended rather than edit war. I started an RfC with two very clear points to consider. It received a very favorable reaction, except for the original objectors. It was overwhelmingly supported on both points and was closed by Gwen Gale with very clear endorsement. Using that strong consensus, together with the Psi ArbCom decision and it's conclusion which is part of NPOV, I had a very clear policy-based mandate for including the statement in the nine articles covered by the ten items in the list. That got them even madder at me, but now they were refusing to abide by the consensus in the RfC which they lost, as well as fighting against a proper application of the NPOV policy and ArbCom decision which regulates how we are to describe pseudoscientific subjects. Since their objections were still so strong, I decided to take it to Talk:NPOV and see what an RfC there would produce. It got the same reaction. Again overwhelming support. The original objectors have continued to hound me, attack me, lie about me, accuse me of lying, call me stupid, speak condescendingly to me, etc.. It's been rather unpleasant, all they while they have threatened to start an RfC/U against me for doing what they didn't like - following the consensus in two RfCs and policy. That's the situation. If you read their attacks on me, it's been very nasty.
It all comes down to what Gwen Gale made very clear in her closings of both RfCs: It's about "verifiability, not truth". Personal OR objections don't trump what they said. Even if they were wrong, which both Adler and Ludwigs2 have claimed, the statement is very plain. There have been lots of straw man arguments thrown around. One of them has crept into your statement above, although I'm sure you didn't intend it: " is a stretch to say that the NSF has publicly proclaimed..." No, "public proclamation" is too strong. They wrote it, and the entire National Science Board took responsibility for it. We use V & RS here. Hans Adler and Ludwigs2 have actually denied that they said it, which is obviously false. -- Brangifer (talk) 06:33, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
The above post by brangifer is, interestingly, almost entirely a lie in every aspect. point by point:
  • The discussion started at ghost, yes, but brangifer didn't 'become involved' when he 'found a statement'. the reference to the NSF Science and Technology Indicators has been floating around wikipedia for at least 2 years (edited in on numerous fringe pages). brangifer simply seized on this particular footnote in an effort in an effort to keep the article under the 'pseudoscience' label, because I and a couple of other editors were trying to rewrite the article for NPOV. He instigated this whole mess through a tendentious refusal to discuss the issue rationally.
  • The 'clear statement' about pseudoscientific beliefs he is unreliable for the following reasons:
    1. it comes from a footnote, not from the main body of the text
    2. the footnote refers to a passage which defines pseudoscience in a way that directly contradicts the claims brangifer is making
    3. the footnote is in a chapter about public attitudes towards science that focuses on critical thinking; the chapter itself is not a discussion of pseudoscience
    4. the chapter is in a larger document that in intended to list out quantitative trends in science and technology; it is not a research or policy document
    5. The document is rewritten every year, and this footnote only appears in one or two years, and not at all int eh last four revisions of the document
  • the RfC's that brangifer started (I believe there were eventually a total of thee of them) were constructed asked the wrong question (specifically, they asked whether the NSF was a reliable source - which it obviously is - rather than whether this footnote could be used in this way). Yet brangifer continues to treat the RfC's as though he'd asked the second question rather than the first.
    • Gwen Gale even explained this the brangifer, noting that the RfC only established that the NSF was a reliable source, nothing more, but (as you can see) brangifer neglected to mention that.
  • brangifer started editing in this quote in multiple places not when the consensus was strong (as he claims) but when he began losing the discussion - assumedly he thought that if he could get the text enshrined in a sufficient number of places he could use that to leverage the discussion at ghost, to make his case without using reason.
All of these things I and Hans have explained to brangifer repeatedly, but he has proven himself incapable of following the basic logic of scholarship and seems uninterested in listening to any discussion of the matter that does not conform to his preset goals. as I mentioned elsewhere, brangifer has created a mire of conflicting and confusing procedural moves (bizarre policy claims, aberrant RfC's, and etc), and having made them is insisting that they be adhered to in order to push through an inane and insupportable misinterpretation of a source. It's the most gross violation of wp:BURO I have ever seen. --Ludwigs2 14:24, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
Ludwigs2, I'll have to agree with you.....on your first point ("when he 'found a statement'"). You're right that I didn't actually discover the statement. I probably did notice its use here. I'm not the originator of its use, and I didn't mean to imply such a thing. Otherwise your comments deserve your common edit summary.... "piffle", whatever that means. -- Brangifer (talk) 00:37, 9 April 2010 (UTC)