what is pseudoscience and what are some examples of it compared to “actual science”

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Never really understood it and see it mentioned often

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Pseudoscience is anything that uses the language/format of science (technical words, publish papers) and/or claims to be science but doesn’t actually use science principles…primarily, doesn’t actually do experiments to test their hypotheses, publish full data/results, or allow refutation/review.

Psuedoscience: chiropractic, astrology, crystals (the healing kind, not the sparkly kind), flat earth investigations, chemtrails, red mercury…

Pseudoscience is the use of scientific sounding terms in such a way as to make some non-scientific process seem like it’s following the rigorous protocols of actual science. Homeopathy is a classic example of pseudoscience. The theory behind homeopathy is that by exposing the body to vanishingly small amounts of a toxic substance in a highly diluted solution, the body somehow becomes inoculated against the effects of the substance when received in larger amounts. But it’s nonsense. There’s no evidence and no studies to suggest that homeopathy works, yet it is immersed in scientific jargon as if actual studies have been done and found in its favor.

Well, this would be pretty subjective.

After all, some might say things as concrete as medicine are a type of pseudoscience in that they rely on the subjective gathering of data that is then processed in objective ways.

But that’s just an extreme definition of science in which it’s held to the standard of the Scientific Method. That we separate the objective from the subjective. That in order for something to be objective it has to be verifiable by any. It has to provide the ability to be falsified. It has to make predictions. It must be testable.

Most *sciences* today, fail to live up to those standards.

Even going as far and deep into the worlds of Acadamia as theoretical physics.

After all, most of the work that comes from that field will always remain outside the realm of testing. It will always remain unfalsifiable.

Is it pseudoscience?

That depends on *your* definition.

Pseudoscience emulates the form, but not the substance of science.

Testable hypotheses, documented experimental methods, faithful observations, tenable conclusions drawn from these, and (most importantly) verification of results through repeated experimentation, give science its credibility as a means to secure knowledge.

To be scientific, research must be repeatable by anyone who follows the experiment as published. When reproduced, if experiments yield similar results, then the knowledge derived gains credibility. If an identical experiment yields contrary results, scientists will search for the reason why this occurred so they can refine their hypotheses. Good scientists faithfully seek data which contravenes their own conclusions because the goal of science is to produce sound knowledge.

Pseudoscience does none of this. At best, its adherents produce and promote as fact untestable speculations based on actual scientific work. At worst, psuedoscience is pure fantasy wrapped in technical jargon to persuade uneducated people to accept fiction as fact.

Pseudoscience adherents **do not** produce testable hypotheses, document their experiments, faithfully observe results, draw tenable conclusions from these, nor seek contradictory data. The goal of psuedoscience is not to produce sound kowledge, but to multiply its
adherents’ wealth, or to enhance their reputation among the scientifically illiterate.

To cleave a scientist from a pseudoscience adherent, listen to how they explain their work. The scientist will offer caveats, conditional statements which define preconditions necessary for their work to be valid, and invite skeptical questions which test their work’s soundness. When offering a prediction, scientists will speak about what results they expect, offer bounds of precision, and reply with “I don’t know” when asked to speculate beyond what data supports. Scientists invite refutation.

Pseudoscience aderent’s on the other hand will fall over themselves to try and convince you that their ideas are valid. They evade skepticism, and redirect refutations in ways that confound enquiry.

The key test is *falsifiability.* A scientist will define specific conditions which, if true, would render their hypothesis untenable. Psuedoscience is inherently unfalsifiable, in that adherents claim their ideas are true without condition.

Science is defined by observing, testing and proving. Basically, you observe something happening, create a hypothesis, and the spend a looonn time trying to prove it wrong. If you do all tests imagined and none disproves the theory, it is assume to be true. But at any moment could be proved wrong, and a new theory arrives. Pseudoscience doesn’t have all those steps. Sometimes things are proved wrong, and they just pretend it didn’t, or they don’t have really a theory, just that it happens. That’s not science.