Monday, January 29, 2007

On Science and Pseudoscience (continued):

[to return to the main document, click here, http://standtoyourduty.blogspot.com/]
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07. reference tools:
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the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language {4th ed. 2004} states:
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i.
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[in "Science"]
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“the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena [...] such activities restricted to a class of natural phenomena [...] knowledge, especially that gained through experience”;
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(click here,
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i.
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[in "Pseudo"]
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“[prefix from Greek ‘false’ and ‘to lie’] false; deceptive; sham: pseudoscience”;
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(click here,
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ii.
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[in “Pseudoscience”]
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“[the noun] pseudoscience […] a theory, methodology, or practice that is considered to be without [as in lacking] scientific foundation […the adjective] pseudoscientific […the noun] pseudoscientist”;
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(click here,
(archived here,
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the American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy {3rd ed., 2002} states:
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[in “Pseudoscience”]
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pseudoscience […] a system of theories or assertions about the natural world [!] that claim or appear [on first glance] to be scientific but that, in fact, are not. For example, astronomy is a science, but astrology is generally viewed as a pseudoscience”;
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(click here,
(archived here,
(also here,
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the American Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary {2002} states:
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[in “Pseudo”]
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pseudo […] false; deceptive; sham: [i.e.] pseudohematuria [a false condition of having blood in the urine; a false positive due to something else causing the measurement to appear as if blood is there]”;
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(click here,
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Asian Scientist states:
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[in "Alternative Medicine Is Not Pseudoscience, Groups Tell Friends Of Science In Medicine"(2012-02-04)]
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"a group of 400 doctors, medical researchers, and scientists, called the Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM), says universities that are awarding degrees in alternative medicine should be named and shamed [...] the group, which includes biologist Sir Gustav Nossal and Gardasil vaccine researcher Professor Ian Frazer, has written to university vice-chancellors, saying they should back evidence-based science rather than give 'undeserved credibility to what in many cases would be better described as quackery.' Co-founder Professor John Dwyer said 19 universities across the country were currently offering 'degrees in pseudoscience,' in courses such as homeopathy, iridology, naturopathy, acupuncture, and energy medicine";
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(click here,
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The Atlantic states:
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[in "Australian Doctors, Scientists Wage War on Alternative Medicine"(2012-03-01]
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"[Marina Kamenev reports] in Australia, just like in the United States, alternative medicine is a billion-dollar industry[what I'll call Big sCAMa...] the 450 members of Friends of Science in Medicine are fighting to remove what they are calling pseudosciences from university classes [...] what they refer to as modern-day quackery [...like] subluxation theory [...within a] bachelor of science (chiropractic) degree [...and] homeopathy, iridology, reflexology, Chinese herbal medicine, chiropractic, naturopathy, and aromatherapy, some of which are taught at 18 of 39 Australian universities. 'A university is supposed to be a bastion of good science, but their reputation is let down by teaching something like homeopathy,' said John Dwyer, a founding member of FSM and emeritus professor of medicine at the University of New South Wales [...] 'good medicine is based on evidence' [...] Rob Morrison, another founding member of FSM who is a professorial fellow at the School of Education at Flinders University in South Australia, has written off the effectiveness of some alternative health treatments as placebo-based and regression toward the mean, where patients who would have recovered without any treatment attribute their recovery to alternative medicine [... ] 'their naturopath might sit with them for an hour and it probably feels more thorough [...] what we are worried about are things like homeopathy, iridology, or reflexology, or practitioners who talk about a mystical energy' [...or] 'an energy going up and down the spine'";
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(click here,
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the Birdwatcher's Dictionary states:
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["Scientific"]
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"in accordance with the philosophy and methods of science, which attempts to collect, classify and explain those facts which are expressions of the operation of natural laws. [E.g.] in academic terms ornithology forms part of the science of zoology. Scientific method emphasizes accuracy and objectivity, hence the importance of the collection of quantitative data and its statistical analysis in scientific research on birds";
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(click here,
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c2cjournal.ca states:
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[in "The Scientific Method and Why it Matters" (2013-01-21)]
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"[via Tom Flanagan] if the scientific method is so effective, why is there so much fascination with non-scientific 'alternative' medicine including osteopathy, naturopathy, homeopathy and chiropractic?";
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(click here,
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the Compact Oxford English Dictionary states:
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i.
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[in "Science"]
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"the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment";
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(click here,
(archived here,
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ii.
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[in “Pseudoscience”]
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“beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method”;
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(click here,
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couriermail.com.au states:
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[in "Quacks Galore in Facade of Quirky Medicine" (2012-05-26)]
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"[as reported by Des Houghton] why do usually sane people get sucked in by pseudo-scientific fiddle-faddle such as homeopathy, reiki, reflexology, naturopathy, aromatherapy, iridology and crystals?";

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the [Microsoft] Encarta World English Dictionary states:
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i.
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[in "Science"]
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"the study of the physical and natural world and phenomena, especially by using systematic observation and experiment [...] branch of science: a particular area of study or knowledge of the physical world ";
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(click here,
(archived here,
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ii.
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[in "Scientific"]
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"of science: relating to, using, or conforming to science or its principles";
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(click here,
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iii.
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[in "Scientific Method"]
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"means of acquiring knowledge scientifically: the system of advancing knowledge by formulating a question, collecting data about it through observation and experiment, and testing a hypothetical answer";
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(click here,
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iv.
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[in "Scientist"]
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"expert in science: somebody who has scientific training or works in one of the sciences";
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(click here,
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v.
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[in “Pseudoscience”]
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“[a] theory mistaken as scientific: a theory or method doubtfully or mistakenly held to be scientific”;
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(click here,
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vi.
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[in "Unscientific"]
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"not scientific in method or principle: not following or compatible with the methods and principles of science [...] not informed about science: not possessing knowledge about science and its methods and principles";
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(click here,
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vii.
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[in "Natural Science"]
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"science of nature: any science that deals with phenomena observable in nature, e.g. biology, chemistry, and physics";
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(click here,
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medscape.com states:
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[in "Naturopathy, Pseudoscience, and Medicine: Myths and Fallacies vs Truth"(2004)]"
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[Atwood writes] the 'dramatic shift' must include formal, public repudiations [by NDs] of all pseudoscientific claims and of pseudoscience itself [...] all of this is what is meant by pseudoscience [...] the field of naturopathic medicine, as a whole and at its highest levels, promotes fanciful, pseudoscientific, dangerous, and unethical practices [...] the argument that the best way for MDs to deal with pseudoscientific practitioners is to collaborate with them, and thus coax them to become more responsible, has been made before [...] it is blind to the history of medicine and to the nature of pseudoscience. It is likely to do far more harm than good, because it is perceived as an endorsement of pseudoscientific practices and of the practitioners who perform them [...] the best way for MDs to deal with pseudoscientific health practices, in a free society, is to be informed, honest, and forthright about them [...] if it is clear that certain practices and the practitioners who perform them are pseudoscientific, MDs should state as much whenever asked by patients, legislators, or anyone else [...] osteopathy has, for the most part, repudiated its pseudoscientific beginnings and joined the world of rational healthcare [...] the endorsement of such practices by a state naturopathic licensing board also demonstrates that licensing NDs doesn't protect the public. Rather, it shields quackery from the scrutiny of the law [...] an article by a physician exposing quackery, moreover, does not identify its author as 'biased,' but simply as fulfilling one of his ethical obligations as a physician [...] unambiguous exposés of quackery will inevitably appear rude to some people[60] and hurt some feelings. This is a fact of adult life [...] to think that it somehow justifies quackery is another nonsequitur";
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(click here,
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melbourneweekly.com.au states:
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[in "Scientists Urge Unis to Axe Alternative Medicine Courses"(2012-01-26)]
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"[as reported by Kelly Burke] MORE than 400 doctors, medical researchers and scientists have formed a powerful lobby group to pressure universities to close down alternative medicine degrees [...] alternative therapy or complementary medicine [...e.g.] traditional Chinese herbal medicine, chiropractics, homeopathy, naturopathy, reflexology and aromatherapy [...] Friends of Science in Medicine wrote to vice-chancellors this week, warning that by giving 'undeserved credibility to what in many cases would be better described as quackery' and by 'failing to champion evidence-based science and medicine', the universities are trashing their reputation as bastions of scientific rigor [...] emeritus professor John Dwyer of the University of NSW who is also a government adviser on consumer health fraud, said it was distressing that 19 universities were now offering 'degrees in pseudoscience' [...] more than 30 scientists, doctors and community advocates wrote to the vice-chancellor and health science deans at the university voicing their concern, which laid the foundations for Friends of Science in Medicine [...this] comes after a decision in Britain that means from this year it will no longer be possible to receive a degree from a publicly-funded university in areas of alternative medicine, including homeopathy and naturopathy [...] Professor Dwyer said his group was aiming to get a commitment from them to endorse health courses only with evidence-based science";
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(click here,
(click here,
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Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary states:
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i.
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[in "Scientific"]
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"of, relating to, or exhibiting the methods or principles of science";
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(click here,
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Point of Inquiry states:
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[in “Phil Plait – The Bad Astronomer”{04-13-2007}]
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[PP:] the other problem is not just the media, but our educational system doesn't really teach this stuff terribly well in general. There are great teachers out there, there are great school systems, but in general we could do a much better job of teaching science [00.09.10...] I've read a survey that said that [about] half of the adults in the United States didn't know that the earth takes a year to go around the sun. These two things, that the earth goes around the sun and that it takes a year to do it. Something like half [...] a frighteningly large fraction of people don't know this. And that's why pseudoscience like creationism, and the moon hoax, and astrology, and psychics, and homeopathy, and all this other garbage is so prevalent. All of these are multibillion dollar a year industries. And if we could just get people to understand this stuff better, they'd look back and say, 'oh my gosh what was I thinking about that' [00.09.56...] when there are people out there specifically targeting the public's ignorance about medical science so that they can make money [can you say naturopathy], Kevin Trudeau this guy who goes on TV all the time talking about cures the medical industry doesn't want you to know, this guy is wrong. And he's selling cures that are nothing of the sort. And if you are very ill, and you buy his stuff, you buy into his stuff, you are going to find that his stuff isn't working and in the meantime, you are not getting the medicine you need. And the same is true about homeopathy, the same is true about acupuncture and all these other quack medicines. If you don't understand the medical science, if you don't understand the scientific method, you can be taken in by snakeoil salesmen. And so people should at least understand the basics of how science works [00.16.41...] and I don't care if it's chemistry, biology, astronomy, zoology whatever. People should understand the basics of science because they can get scammed otherwise. But there is this direct influence on their lives, especially in medicine. As far as astronomy goes, maybe it's not as important as medicine, it's not as important as say biology [00.17.06]”;
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(click here,
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the Skeptic’s Dictionary states:
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i.
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[in “Pseudoscience”{08-14-2006}]
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a pseudoscience is set of ideas based on theories put forth as scientific when they are not scientific. Scientific theories are characterized by such things as (a) being based upon empirical observation rather than the authority of some sacred text; (b) explaining a range of empirical phenomena; (c) being empirically tested in some meaningful way, usually involving testing specific predictions deduced from the theory; (d) being confirmed rather than falsified by empirical tests or with the discovery of new facts; (e) being impersonal and therefore testable by anyone regardless of personal religious or metaphysical beliefs; (f) being dynamic and fecund, leading investigators to new knowledge and understanding of the interrelatedness of the natural world rather than being static and stagnant leading to no research or development of a better understanding of anything in the natural world; and (g) being approached with skepticism rather than gullibility, especially regarding paranormal forces or supernatural powers, and being fallible and put forth tentatively rather than being put forth dogmatically as infallible […e.g. making] observations only to confirm infallible dogmas, [but] not to discover the truth about the natural world […pseudoscience is] static and lead[s] to no new scientific discoveries or enhancement of our understanding of the natural world […] some pseudoscientific theories explain what non-believers cannot even observe, e.g. orgone energy [that’s life force energy, per its many aliases...] some can't be tested […] some pseudoscientific theories confuse metaphysical claims with empirical claims [what I call epistemic conflation -- not demarcating knowledge types, but blending them together instead], e.g., the theories of acupuncture, alchemy, cellular memory, Lysenkoism, naturopathy, reiki, rolfing, therapeutic touch, and ayurvedic medicine. Some pseudoscientific theories not only confuse metaphysical claims with empirical claims, but they also maintain views that contradict known scientific laws and use ad hoc hypotheses to explain their belief, e.g., homeopathy. Pseudoscientists claim to base their theories on empirical evidence, and they may even use some scientific methods, though often their understanding of a controlled experiment is inadequate";
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(click here,
(archived here,
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ii.
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[in "Skeptic's Dictionary Topical Index: Junk Science & Pseudoscience"{01-13-2007}]
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[the list includes] acupuncture […] alchemy […] astrology […] bioharmonics […] blood type diet […] creationism and creation science […] homeopathy […] intelligent design […] Lysenkoism […] mesmerism […] microacupuncture […] naturopathy [...] neurolinguistic programming […] orgone energy […] scientology […] Joel D. Wallach, ‘The Mineral Doctor’”;
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(click here,
(archived here,
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iii.
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[in "Intelligent Design"]
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"pseudoscience. ID isn't scientific and it isn't an alternative to natural selection or any other scientific idea [...] science tries to explain how the world works, not why we have this world rather than some other world. It is not part of science to try to prove the world was or was not designed by God. It is not the job of science to try to explain the probability of biological developments happening by chance or not. If anyone wants to speculate about such matters, they are free to do so -- as metaphysicians. ID is not scientific, but metaphysical. The fact that it has empirical content doesn't make it any more scientific than, say, Spinoza's metaphysics or so-called creation science. ID is a pseudoscience because it claims to be scientific but is in fact metaphysical. It is based on several philosophical confusions, not the least of which is the notion that the empirical is necessarily scientific. This is false, if by 'empirical' one means originating in or based on observation or experience. Empirical explanations can be scientific or non-scientific [...] if by 'empirical' one means capable of being confirmed or disproved by observation or experiment then ID is not empirical. Neither the whole of nature nor an individual eco-system can be proved or disproved by any set of observations to be intelligently designed [...] science does have some metaphysical assumptions, not the least of which is that the universe follows laws. But science leaves open the question of whether those laws were designed. That is a metaphysical question [...] I have left the realm of science and entered the realm of metaphysics. Of course scientists have metaphysical beliefs but those beliefs are irrelevant to strictly scientific explanations. Science is open to both theists and atheists alike [...] the ID proponents are fighting a battle that was lost in the 17th century: the battle for understanding nature in terms of final causes and efficient causes [...] prior to the 17th century, there was no essential conflict between a mechanistic view of nature and a teleological view, between a naturalistic and a supernaturalistic view of nature. Nature could be thought of as a vast purposive mechanism. With the notable exception of Leibniz and his intellectual descendants, just about everyone else gave up the idea of scientific explanations needing to include theological ones. Scientific progress became possible in part because scientists attempted to describe the workings of natural phenomena without reference to their creation, design, or ultimate purpose [teleology...] nature is still a machine, mechanically changing and comprehensible as such. God became an unnecessary hypothesis";
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(click here,
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School Specialty Publishing states:
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[in Spectrum Test Prep Grade 8"(2007)]
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"science vs. non-science. History and nature of science. Directions: place an X beside each statement below that is not a scientific statement. Clue: remember that an idea is scientific if it is observable, natural, consistent, testable, predictable, and tentative. Non-scientific ideas may be logical and based on good reasoning, but they cannot be considered scientific if they do not meet these criteria. Examples include religious or philosophical beliefs or personal opinions. Pseudoscience is an idea that is presented as a legitimate science by its supporters but does not follow the scientific method. Astrology is a good example of pseudoscience [p.130]";
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(ISBN 0769686281)
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the Teaching Company states:
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[in “Philosophy of Science”{course no. 4100 -- Kasser, J.L. (PhD{philosophy} MU)}{from their direct mail promotional material, 04-2007}]
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how to tell science from pseudoscience [cover...] course description [...] setting ground rules for science. How do you keep science honest? You create a philosophy of science that examines the structure, practices, and foundations of formal, natural, and social science to confirm or falsify theories [...] 'science can't be free of philosophy any more than baseball can be free of physics' [...] what makes science science [...] not every nonscience is a pseudoscience. There are other epistemically special enterprises out there [...] pseudoscience [...] is a discipline that claims the special epistemic status that science holds -- whatever exactly that status turns out to be -- for the reasons that science gets that status --whatever exactly those reasons turn out to be. But a pseudoscience does not, in fact, merit such status. Astrology provides the classic example [...] the idea is that such claims are not supported the way that scientific claims are, and so the claims of the pseudoscience don't deserve quite the same status that the claims of science do [...] [...] calling a theory 'scientific' is not to endorse it as a winner but only as a worthy competitor; it deserves to be in the field. Pseudoscientific theories, on this view, are not to be allowed into the competition [...] the central idea is that pseudosciences don't deserve the praise that the sciences do [p.007...] no evidence ever proves a pseudoscience false, and almost everything can be seen as confirming it [...] Popper came to see what are standardly considered the two major virtues of scientific theories: being able to explain lots of data, and being confirmed by lots of observational evidence. He came to see these as closer to vices than virtues [...] a good theory for Popper isn't one that fits the data well; it's one that is informative, that makes surprising predictions, that rules out a lot of what we would have otherwise thought possible. So, a good theory, in some sense, should be as improbable as possible so that it is readily proved false by observation. This is a striking claim about what's essential to science [...] the moral for Popper is that a scientific theory should make what he calls bold conjectures, rather than merely accounting for observations that are already 'in.' That's too easy. Riskiness, for Popper, is the key to genuine scientific status [...] pseudosciences are confirmed by almost everything and proved false by almost nothing. Genuine sciences, on the other hand, court refutation. So the mark of a genuinely scientific theory is what Popper calls falsifiability [p.009]”;
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(for course homepage, click here,
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Telegraph.co.uk states:
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i.
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[in “Alternative Medicine Degrees 'Antiscientific'” (2007-03-22)]
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“[Highfield, R. reports] a leading pharmacologist today condemns science degree courses in alternative and complementary medicine [CAM] as pseudoscientific or even 'anti-scientific' [...] Prof David Colquhoun of University College London says the rapid growth in 'science degrees without the science' shows a sharp contrast with the closure of physics and chemistry courses at universities. [E.g., ] homeopathy has barely changed since the beginning of the 19th century and 'is much more like religion than science,' the professor says in the journal Nature. 'Worse still, many of the doctrines of CAM [...] and quite a lot of its practitioners, are openly anti-science' [...yet] in the UK there has been a marked rise in BScs in CAM [...] Prof. Colquhoun says degrees in complementary medicine are harmful because they lead patients to believe that they are being treated by a scientifically trained practitioner. 'Most complementary and alternative medicine is not science because the vast majority of it is not based on empirical evidence' [...] 45 BSc honors degrees in complementary pseudoscience are now awarded by 16 universities [...with] 'the worst offender is the University of Westminster, with 14 BSc CAM courses' [...] 'homeopathy is the most obvious delusion because the 'medicine' contains no medicine' [delusional dilutions!...] 'yet five of the 45 BSc degrees are offered in homeopathy' [...] 'this sort of gobbledygook is being taught in some UK universities as though it were science' [...] other CAM courses are in nutritional therapy, aroma-therapy, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, reflexology, osteopathy, therapeutic bodywork, naturopathy [in the US, practically all of these mentioned are WITHIN naturopathy], ayurveda, shiatsu and qigong. 'None of these is, by any stretch of the imagination, science, yet they form part of BSc degrees. They are not being taught as part of cultural history, or as odd sociological phenomena, but as science' [...these are] 'not science at all, but are positively anti-science'”;
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(click here,
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ii.
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[in "Stop Teaching 'Nonsense' Alternative Medicine Courses, Australian Doctors Say"(2012-01-26)]
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"[Jonathan Pearlman reports] some of Australia's most prominent doctors and scientists have banded together to urge universities to stop teaching 'nonsense' alternative medicine courses such as aromatherapy and homeopathy [...] Friends of Science in Medicine, says universities have been trashing their reputations by teaching 'quackery' and pseudoscience [...by] offer[ing] courses in alternative medicine, including Chinese herbal remedies, chiropractics, homeopathy, naturopathy, reflexology and aromatherapy. The group of 400 doctors, medical researchers and scientists began its protests in the wake of a campaign in Britain which has led to curbs on the awarding of university degrees in alternative medicine, including reflexology, homeopathy and naturopathy. The Australian group has written to university vice-chancellors, saying they should back evidence-based science rather than give 'undeserved credibility to what in many cases would be better described as quackery' [...] Professor John Dwyer said 19 universities across the country were currently offering 'degrees in pseudoscience' [...] 'this nonsense' [...] 'courses in the health care sciences that are not underpinned by convincing scientific evidence' [...e.g.] energy medicine, tactile healing, homeopathy, iridology, kinesiology, chiropractic, acupuncture and reflexology [...] 'they are all teaching nonsense courses'";
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(click here,
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the Times Higher Education Supplement states:
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[in “Credible Endeavor or Pseudoscience?”{Colquhoun, D. (? ?)}{04-06-07}]
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to award a bachelor of science degree for an alternative medicine course is a failing in quality assurance, argues David Colquhoun [... quoting Taylor, L. (? ?)] 'the vice-chancellor of Poppleton University is pleased to announce that the university's finances have been transformed since the conversion of its old-fashioned department of physics and astronomy into the new department of alternative physics and astrology. Quality is ensured by the course validation and top Quality Assurance Agency rating, both awarded by a distinguished panel of academics with appropriate expertise in astrology' [...] one illustration of the extent to which training has replaced intellectual activity [!] is the proliferation of degrees in alternative medicine. These subjects are not science, because they are not based on empirical observation [...] much of alternative medicine is positively anti-science, yet honors BSc degrees are being awarded in that area by 16 UK universities [...] why, one might ask, have none of the regulators that beset universities noticed that honors BSc degrees are being awarded in subjects that are pseudoscience? We have approval and validation of courses, external examiners and the QAA. The answer appears to be that none of these mechanisms works [just like in the US]. Courses in astrology are validated by committees of eminent astrologers [US naturopaths similarly self-regulate]. Westminster University's BSc is, they say, a 'fully validated' degree that satisfies internal and external quality assurance standards". But it has refused repeated requests to reveal who does the validation [...] there is something circular about the system [can you say CNME FNPLA AANP?!...] the 'quality assessments' take little account of what is taught [quality as merely when 'a school is doing schoolish things']. Minor details such as whether the course content is pseudoscientific gobbledygook cannot, according to its own rules, be taken into account. Courses are judged only against the aims set by their organizers, so if the declared aim is to teach pseudoscience they get full marks if they teach pseudoscience efficiently. Appropriate boards of assessors, sympathetic to pseudoscience, ensure that no problems arise [like in the US...] clearly the buck stops with university vice-chancellors who award the degrees [and the buck stops nowhere in the US]. Two weeks ago, after the publication of my opinion article and a special report on university homoeopathy courses in the journal Nature, the BBC tried to get one of the vice-chancellors to defend themselves. They did not succeed. Letters to vice-chancellors on this go unanswered [like the AANP]. Requests to see course materials have repeatedly been refused [...] teaching materials and the names of examiners are kept secret. This I find incomprehensible and indefensible. If a few vice-chancellors appear to value bums on seats more than honest science they should justify their views in public”;
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(click here,
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Ultralingua Online Dictionary states:
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[in “Pseudoscience”]
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“an activity resembling science but based on fallacious assumptions”;
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(click here,
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USA Today states:
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[in “Kansas Rewrites Science Standards Again”{02-13-2007}]
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.“the Kansas state Board of Education on Tuesday repealed science guidelines questioning evolution that had made the state an object of international ridicule. The new guidelines reflect mainstream scientific views of evolution and represent a political defeat for advocates of 'intelligent design,' who had helped write the standards that are being jettisoned. The intelligent design concept holds that life is so complex that it must have been created by a higher authority [a supernatural intelligent designer...] the board Tuesday removed language suggesting that key evolutionary concepts — such as a common origin for all life on Earth and change in species creating new ones — were controversial and being challenged by new research. Also approved was a new definition of science, specifically limiting it to the search for natural explanations of what is observed in the universe. 'Those standards represent mainstream scientific consensus about both what science is and what evolution is,' said Jack Krebs, a math and technology teacher who helped write the new guidelines. He is also president of Kansas Citizens for Science”;
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(click here,
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the Vancouver Sun states:
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[in "Video: The Homeopathic Medicine Controversy" (2012-05-18)]
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"science is not on the side of the homeopaths [...] the British Government considers homeopathic cures to be placebos and so do most of the reputable studies in scientific journals";
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(click here,
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Wikipedia.org states:
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i.
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[in "Pseudo"{04-11-2007}]
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"in common parlance, the word pseudo is used to mark something as false, fraudulent, or pretending to be something it is not, as in pseudoscience or pseudophilosophy [...] a combining form or prefix signifying false, counterfeit, pretended, spurious";
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(click here,
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ii.
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[in “Pseudoscience”{09-02-06}]
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a pseudoscience is any body of alleged knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that claims to be scientific but does not follow the scientific method. The term pseudoscience appears to have been first used in 1843 […] the concept of pseudoscience as antagonistic to bona fide science appears to have emerged in the mid-19th century. The first recorded use of the word ‘pseudo-science’ appears to have been in 1844 in the Northern Journal of Medicine, I 387: ‘that opposite kind of innovation which pronounces what has been recognized as a branch of science, to have been a pseudo-science, composed merely of so-called facts, connected together by misapprehensions under the disguise of principles’ […the word is] a combination of the Greek root pseudo, meaning false, and the Latin scientia, meaning knowledge or a field of knowledge. It generally has negative connotations, because it asserts that things so labeled are inaccurately or deceptively described as science […per science] the standards for determining whether a body of alleged knowledge, methodology, field, belief, or practice is scientific vary from field to field, but involve agreed principles including reproducibility and intersubjective verifiability. Such principles aim to ensure that evidence can be reproduced and/or measured given the same conditions. This allows a hypothesis or theory to be test for validity and reliabilty. The Scientific method is expected to be applied always, and bias controlled or eliminated, either through experimental designs including double-blind studies, or via statistical means. All data, including experimental/environmental conditions, are expected to be documented for scrutiny and made available for peer review, allowing further experiments or studies to be conducted to confirm or falsify results, as well as to determine other important factors such as statistical significance, confidence intervals, and margins of error. Fulfillment of these requirements allows other researchers and practitioners the opportunity to assess whether to accept or reject those results in their own scientific work or in a particular field of applied science, technology, therapy or other form of practice […] another criterion applicable to theoretical work is the heuristic of parsimony, also known as Occam's Razor, which guides the theorist to seek explanations that account for all relevant evidence without unnecessary additional assumptions […] critics of pseudoscience such as Richard Dawkins, Mario Bunge, Carl Sagan, and James Randi consider almost all forms of pseudoscience to be harmful, whether or not they result in immediate harm to their adherents. These critics generally consider that advocacy of pseudoscience may occur for a number of reasons, ranging from simple naiveté about the nature of science and the scientific method, to deliberate deception for financial or political gain […] within the various expectations of legitimate scientific methodology, by far the most important is that of making data and methodology available for close scrutiny by other scientists and researchers, as well as making available any additional relevant information used to arrive at particular results or methods of practice […per pseudoscience] a field, practice, or body of knowledge is reasonably called pseudoscience or pseudoscientific when (1) it has presented itself as scientific (i.e., as empirically and experimentally verifiable); and (2) it fails to meet the accepted norms of scientific research, most importantly the use of scientific method […] the following characteristics have been argued by the cited authors to be useful in identifying pseudoscience […: (1)] use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims […e.g.] assertion of scientific claims that are vague rather than precise, and that lack specific measurements as a basis […] failure to make use of operational definitions […] failure to adhere to the principle of parsimony, i.e. failing to seek an explanation that requires the fewest possible additional assumptions when multiple viable explanations are possible (see: Occam's Razor) […] use of obscurantist language. Many proponents of pseudoscience use grandiose or highly technical jargon in an effort to provide their disciplines with the superficial trappings of science […] lack of boundary conditions: most well-supported scientific theories possess boundary conditions (well articulated limitations) under which the predicted phenomena do and do not apply. In contrast, many or most pseudoscientific phenomena are purported to operate across an exceedingly wide range of conditions […***] for example, Kaptchuk and Eisenberg (1998:1062) state that vitalism theories involving qi, prana, or innate intelligence are largely untestable as there is no way to measure the proposed energy fields or flows stated as the mechanism of action […(2)] over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation […] assertion of scientific claims that cannot be falsified in the event they are incorrect, inaccurate, or irrelevant (see also: falsifiability) […] assertion of claims that a theory predicts something that it has not been shown to predict (see, e.g.: validity, relevance, Ignoratio elenchi; Argument from ignorance) […] assertion that claims which have not been proven false must be true, and vice versa (see: Argument from ignorance) […] overreliance on testimonials and anecdotes. Testimonial and anecdotal evidence can be useful for discovery (i.e., hypothesis generation) but should not be used in the context of justification (i.e., hypothesis testing). Proponents of pseudoscientific claims frequently invoke reports from selected cases as evidence for these claims […] selective use of experimental evidence: presentation of data that seems to support its own claims while suppressing or refusing to consider data that conflict with its claims […] rversed burden of proof. In science, the burden of proof rests on the individual making a claim, not on the critic. Proponents of a pseudoscience frequently neglect this principle and demand that skeptics demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that a claim (e.g., an assertion regarding the efficacy of a novel therapeutic technique) is false. It is essentially impossible to prove a universal negative, so this tactic incorrectly places the burden of proof on the skeptic rather than the claimant […] appeals to holism: proponents of pseudoscientific claims, especially in organic medicine, alternative medicine, naturopathy and mental health, often resort to the ‘mantra of holism’ to explain negative findings […(3)] lack of openness to testing by other experts […] evasion of peer review before publicizing them (called ‘science by press conference’) […] failure to provide adequate information for other researchers to reproduce the claimed results […] assertion of claims of secrecy or proprietary knowledge in response to requests for review of data or methodology […(4)] lack of progress […] failure to progress towards additional evidence of its claims […] lack of self correction: both scientific and pseudoscientific research programmes make mistakes, but most scientific research programs tend to eliminate these errors over time, whereas most pseudoscientific research programs do not […(5)] personalization of issues […] pseudoscience is also distinguishable from revelation, theology, or spirituality in that it claims to offer insight into the physical world obtained by ‘scientific’ means. Systems of thought that rely on ‘divine’ or ‘inspired’ knowledge are not considered pseudoscience if they do not claim either to be scientific or to overturn well-established science […] a typical pseudoscientific concept used in some fringe psychotherapies is orgone energy. There is an increasing degree of overlapping and blending of orgone therapy with New Age and other therapies that manipulate the patient’s biofields, such as therapeutic touch and reiki. 'Biofield' is a pseudoscientific term often used synonymously with orgone energy […] several publications are available to help identify and educate practitioners on the subject of pseudoscience. The publication Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine (SRAM) states its purpose is to apply the best tools of science and reason to determine whether hypotheses are valid and treatments are effective. Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice (SRMHP), a new mental health journal interested in the recent growth of therapies that have not been adequately tested, states its purpose ‘to facilitate improved research and thinking about critical questions on the fringes of present scientific knowledge concerning mental health’ […] fields regarded as pseudoscience. The following is an example list of theories and fields of endeavor that are commonly criticized as pseudoscientific in whole or in part, and are faulted as failing to meet the norms and standards of scientific practice […] some of these fields, or parts of them, may be the subject of scientific research; see the individual articles for more information […including] creation science […] homeopathy […] intelligent design […] phrenology […] spiritualism […] quantum mysticism […] radionics […] scientology […] vitalism […e.g.] orgone energy […] prana […] qi […] applied kinesiology […] ki […] vital force (homeopathy)”;
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Wiktionary states:
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[in "Pseudo"{04-11-2007}]
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"from Greek (Ancient) ψευδής (pseudēs), false, lying [...] false, not genuine, fake [...] pseudonym [...] pretentious, pretending to be something more impressive than the actuality. [as in] Pseudo-scientific garbage [...] derived terms: pseudoscience, pseudoscientific, pseudoscientist";
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the Wordnet {v.1.7.1 2001} states:
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[in “Pseudoscience”]
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“the noun pseudoscience has one meaning […] an activity resembling science but based on fallacious assumptions”;
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