For centuries, science and pseudoscience have gone hand in hand in human activity, and it has not always been easy to understand how pseudoscience differs from true science.
What is pseudoscience?
Pseudoscience can be defined as a system of beliefs or practices that are falsely presented as scientific, although they do not adhere to the true scientific method. The claims of pseudoscience are unverifiable, which brings them closer to religion, so true science cannot accept them. Pseudoscience and its hallmarks are demonstrated in:
- exaggerated, contradictory, vague or unprovable statements;
- peremptoryness in confirmations;
- the absence of rigorous attempts at refutation;
- neglecting the assessments of third-party experts;
- the general lack of a systematic approach for the rational development of one’s own theory.
The Parasitic Essence of Pseudoscience
When interest in education and the physical sciences, which tried to scientifically describe the natural world, rose sharply in Europe since the Renaissance, pseudoscience immediately revived as an imitation of scientific activity. At the same time, numerous charlatans appeared, seeking to extract unscrupulous benefits from "scientifically proven" methods of treatment, recipes for drugs, various devices that "solve" human problems.
To describe the figures of this kind, the term pseudoscience was coined. One of the first cases of its use was recorded in the "Northern Journal of Medicine" of 1844. The best-known pseudosciences are:
Differences between pseudoscience and true teaching
The mass consciousness is often unable to notice the difference between science and pseudoscience, but even if it notices it, it sympathizes with pseudoscientists who complain about constant harassment and persecution by the "ossified" academic science. But a self-respecting person is obliged to know the real value of any pseudoscience, to understand its characteristic features, historical, social and psychological roots. After all, pseudoscience performs such functions in society that are not associated with the acquisition of practically effective, reliable knowledge, but at the same time claims the authority and status of science.
Video about pseudoscience and the paranormal
The popularity of pseudosciences also suggests that there are significant psychological and social reasons for their existence.
The postulates of pseudoscience may not be supported by established facts and cannot be objectively verified in practice. It is very convenient to consider examples of pseudoscience by studying astrological forecasts, the test of which invariably gave a negative result. Everyone can easily verify this for himself if he follows the necessary sequence: first, he will write down the significant events in his life, dividing them into categories (work, personal life, money, health) and evaluating them positively or negatively, and then look at the horoscope for this period. Astrologers place themselves above the negative results of such tests, since this pseudo-science does not at all aim at accurately predicting the future.
The structure of knowledge of pseudosciences is fragmentary, and they themselves do not fit into the integral picture of the world. It is possible, although not so easy, to distinguish between scientific and pseudoscientific knowledge in terms of their structure and content, since this requires deep and extensive knowledge, which is often used by modern pseudoscience. It is easier to “calculate" a pseudo-scientist according to the methodology he uses.
This is how pseudoscience acquires knowledge, tests it, and disseminates it.
- The absence of a critical analysis of the initial data allows pseudoscience to take myths, legends, and someone’s stories as reliable facts.
- Ignoring contradictory facts and showing interest only in those that confirm the theory being proved, the rest is simply discarded.
- Views do not change, no matter what objections they meet. For example, pseudoscience denies a critical view of the paranormal as well. A true scientist will not hesitate to admit his mistakes, because he is sure that the scientific method of cognition will still reveal the truth.
- Lack of laws in pseudoscience. Its apologists do not present a theory, but a scenario according to which (according to the author) certain events took place. This is how pseudoscience and paranormal phenomena are interpreted: it is not the descriptions of the meeting of aliens that are unacceptable here, but the lack of an appropriate understanding of them. Who are they and where did they come from, how were they able to overcome the colossal interstellar distances that make any such travel meaningless? If answers are given to such questions, they are only pale and unconvincing in comparison with the colorful descriptions of alien ships. Naturally, not a single ufologist could predict the exact place and date of arrival of the next "plate", which indicates a lack of reliable knowledge.
- Violation of ethical standards, especially noticeable in deviant science. Here, the results of experiments are rigged, solutions are adjusted to a given answer, and this is no longer a conscientious delusion, from which scientists are not immune, but immoral fraud. One of the most striking examples of such an immoral pseudo-scientist was the odious Terenty Lysenko, who fought dirty and by no means scientific methods with his opponents in Soviet biology.
However, any kind of pseudoscience is morally and ethically flawed. Unscrupulous exploitation of the weaknesses of human psychology, fraud, deception are very quickly revealed, it is worth subjecting the postulates of pseudoscientists to a thorough check. Such checks, unfortunately, do not happen often, because real scientists do not want to spend their time on them. The pseudo-scientists themselves are not interested in testing professionals, but appeal to the authorities and the poorly understanding public.