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Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

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Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term
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NateHevensUser avatarPosts: 72Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:04 amLocation: Georgia, USA (Save Me)

Post Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

(I wasn't sure where else to put this. It probably doesn't belong here, so feel free to flog me if it belongs somewhere else. This is mainly just a rant. Also, if you recognize it [anywhere else], it's because I'm posting it at a few atheist forums. Sorry, it's just something that bugs me.)

I should start out by saying that I am no scientist. I did, when I was young, have an interest in science. Chemistry and Astronomy specifically were interesting to me. Sadly... well... I wish I had better teachers. I mean, yeah, they actually taught real science (I was actually taught Evolution in Biology back in High School [2001 to 2005], and I live in Georgia, USA), but they made science... well... boring (yes, even in Chemistry and Astronomy). I can guarantee that if I had a teacher like Richard Dawkins in Biology or, say, Neil deGrass Tyson in Astronomy, I'd probably try my hand at becoming a scientist as I had wanted to when I was younger.

As it is, I'm a musician who had to rekindle his love for science independently.

Anyways... now onto my point... there are very few words that piss me off, but "pseudoscience" is probably the one I hate the most.

Why? Because pseudoscience isn't science. Why do we justify shit like Creationism by even allowing it to be associated with science at all? We're not making it look worse by slapping "pseudo" in front of the word "science" and then throwing Creationism (or homeopathy, or New-Age Spirituality [or whatever it is], etc) into the pile. We're actually pulling it up onto a pedestal of sorts.

Calling something pseudoscience is still calling it science, even if it's a form of science most of us scoff at.

I vote we remove the term "pseudoscience" all together, or, at the very least, stop throwing things like Creationism into the "pseudoscience" pile.

Why not just call Creationism what is: "religious bullshit"?

(Oh, and when I say "Creationism", I also mean "Intelligent Design"... since they are exactly the same thing.)

Just a rant...
"Science adjusts its views based on what's observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved"
~Tim Minchin "Storm"
Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:32 am
obsidianavengerPosts: 840Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:44 am Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

thats the point, its not science, but it PRETENDS to be science. its proponents (wrongly) present it as science, and those debunking it recognize that and further make sure to point out that it in fact ISN'T science at all.

to me"psudoscience" implies: bullshit that is masquerading as science. not a form of science that is marginalized

i think you misunderstand the word.
Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:37 am
NateHevensUser avatarPosts: 72Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:04 amLocation: Georgia, USA (Save Me)

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

obsidianavenger wrote:thats the point, its not science, but it PRETENDS to be science. its proponents (wrongly) present it as science, and those debunking it recognize that and further make sure to point out that it in fact ISN'T science at all.

to me"psudoscience" implies: bullshit that is masquerading as science. not a form of science that is marginalized

i think you misunderstand the word.


Probably.

I think the word is misleading, however. That's my stance... that "pseudoscience" doesn't work entirely as intended. I do know people who revel in the term... they don't find it derogatory at all.

In fact I have a hypothesis that "Intelligent Design" arose through the term pseudoscience, using it to emphasize the "science" part of the word to look credible.
"Science adjusts its views based on what's observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved"
~Tim Minchin "Storm"
Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:44 am
JorickUser avatarPosts: 107Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:43 amLocation: Oregon, USA Gender: Male

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

NateHevens wrote:
obsidianavenger wrote:thats the point, its not science, but it PRETENDS to be science. its proponents (wrongly) present it as science, and those debunking it recognize that and further make sure to point out that it in fact ISN'T science at all.

to me"psudoscience" implies: bullshit that is masquerading as science. not a form of science that is marginalized

i think you misunderstand the word.


Probably.

I think the word is misleading, however. That's my stance... that "pseudoscience" doesn't work entirely as intended. I do know people who revel in the term... they don't find it derogatory at all.

In fact I have a hypothesis that "Intelligent Design" arose through the term pseudoscience, using it to emphasize the "science" part of the word to look credible.


In that case, you should be advocating awareness of what the word actually means rather than just hating on the word. It's a totally legitimate word (pseudo meaning false or lying), and it applies perfectly to things like creationism/intelligent design and astrology that try to pose as real science.
"The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible." - Albert Einstein

"Not only is the universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think." - Werner Heisenberg
Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:49 am
NateHevensUser avatarPosts: 72Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:04 amLocation: Georgia, USA (Save Me)

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

Jorick wrote:In that case, you should be advocating awareness of what the word actually means rather than just hating on the word. It's a totally legitimate word (pseudo meaning false or lying), and it applies perfectly to things like creationism/intelligent design and astrology that try to pose as real science.


I hadn't thought of it that way. It wasn't the "pseudo" part that got me, it was the "science" part... specifically how I've seen some people drum up the "science" part of "pseudoscience" and say "you see? It's still science!"

But then again that is rather hypocritical of me, too, since the mis-defining of atheism pisses me off, as well. So you're right. I hadn't really looked at it correctly.
"Science adjusts its views based on what's observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved"
~Tim Minchin "Storm"
Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:05 am
Gunboat DiplomatUser avatarPosts: 394Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:02 pm

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

Two points:

First, complaining about how the word "pseudoscience" has the word "science" in it is like Christians complaining about how the word "antichrist" has the word "Christ" in it, making it sound good! ...or complaining about the adjective "antiaircraft" for weapons because it makes it sound like these weapons help "aircrafts" by having the word in it! ...or complaining that the term "antitrust" for court cases makes the defendant sound trustworthy 'cause it has the word "trust" in it... you get the idea. People understand what words mean, including their prefixes.

Secondly, haven't you heard that nothing with the word "science" in it is actually a science? Physics, chemistry and biology are all sciences yet they don't have the word "science" in them. Neither "Christian science," "environmental science" nor "computer science" are actually sciences. Real science doesn't need to add the label of science to themselves in a desperate attempt to lend themselves legitimacy...
Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:36 am
obsidianavengerPosts: 840Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:44 am Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

don't forget scientology :P
Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:56 am
xmanUser avatarPosts: 606Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:56 pmLocation: Lotus Land

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

That's why I like to call it junk-science. Don't correct anyone when they use the term pseudoscience, just insert the more correct term into your replies as a substitution every time that annoying one gets tossed out. Give it a try. It helps people comprehend more and it feels really good.
He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot. ~ Douglas Adams
Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:19 pm
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Master_Ghost_KnightContributorUser avatarPosts: 2750Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:57 pmLocation: Netherlands Gender: Male

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

Pseudoscience is a conjugation of the word pseudo (meaning false) and the word science (knowledge, or the scientific method as we have come to know it).
When you are saying pseudoscience you are saying false science, i.e. something that pretends to be science but it isn't, puting it in short you are saying "not science" in a contiguos word.
And frankly no other meaning comes to my mind when pseudoscience is pronounced.
"I have an irrefutable argument for the existence of...." NO, STOP! You are already wrong!
Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:28 pm
borrofburiModeratorPosts: 3527Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 5:27 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

Gunboat Diplomat wrote:nor "computer science" are actually sciences.

Whoa there buddy, you're treading very close to dangerous territory.
Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:02 pm
IrBubblePosts: 246Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 12:38 am

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

Gunboat Diplomat wrote:Physics, chemistry and biology are all sciences yet they don't have the word "science" in them. Neither "Christian science," "environmental science" nor "computer science" are actually sciences. Real science doesn't need to add the label of science to themselves in a desperate attempt to lend themselves legitimacy...


Both computer science and enviromental science are valid fields. Enviromental science is a subset of physics and chemistry, just like computer science is applied boolean math. Arguing semantics over applicability is just silly in my opinion.
Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:52 am
NateHevensUser avatarPosts: 72Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:04 amLocation: Georgia, USA (Save Me)

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

NateHevens wrote:
Jorick wrote:In that case, you should be advocating awareness of what the word actually means rather than just hating on the word. It's a totally legitimate word (pseudo meaning false or lying), and it applies perfectly to things like creationism/intelligent design and astrology that try to pose as real science.


I hadn't thought of it that way. It wasn't the "pseudo" part that got me, it was the "science" part... specifically how I've seen some people drum up the "science" part of "pseudoscience" and say "you see? It's still science!"

But then again that is rather hypocritical of me, too, since the mis-defining of atheism pisses me off, as well. So you're right. I hadn't really looked at it correctly.


I need to say... because of people I've run into here where I live, I had been taking the word all wrong. I basically entirely forgot what "pseudo" meant hearing the word "pseudoscience" use in a positive manner by, mainly YECs (and no, I was not misunderstanding the context).

So my whole OP was extremely stupid and short-sighted. For that I apologize.
"Science adjusts its views based on what's observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved"
~Tim Minchin "Storm"
Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:09 am
borrofburiModeratorPosts: 3527Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 5:27 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

IrBubble wrote:
Gunboat Diplomat wrote:Physics, chemistry and biology are all sciences yet they don't have the word "science" in them. Neither "Christian science," "environmental science" nor "computer science" are actually sciences. Real science doesn't need to add the label of science to themselves in a desperate attempt to lend themselves legitimacy...
Both computer science and enviromental science are valid fields. Enviromental science is a subset of physics and chemistry, just like computer science is applied boolean math. Arguing semantics over applicability is just silly in my opinion.

I was thinking today and recalled that materials science *is* a science, even if you can validly argue ES and CS aren't.
Fri Dec 18, 2009 2:08 am
Gunboat DiplomatUser avatarPosts: 394Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:02 pm

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

IrBubble wrote:
Gunboat Diplomat wrote:Physics, chemistry and biology are all sciences yet they don't have the word "science" in them. Neither "Christian science," "environmental science" nor "computer science" are actually sciences. Real science doesn't need to add the label of science to themselves in a desperate attempt to lend themselves legitimacy...


Both computer science and enviromental science are valid fields. Enviromental science is a subset of physics and chemistry, just like computer science is applied boolean math. Arguing semantics over applicability is just silly in my opinion.

Keeping in mind that I did not make this up and that it was tongue in cheek even when it was told to me, I will defend this position while trying not to delve too deeply into the semantics.

Saying something isn't a science is not the same thing as saying it's not valid. While this notion is deliberately facetious, I will seriously claim that mathematics is not a science and I will debate this vehemently. Environmental science and computer science are valid studies, they're just not science...

I've heard of geologists, ecologists and climatologists making observations and performing experiments but I haven't heard anything from environmental scientists and the few that I have met didn't seem to know too much. Obviously this is just my bias but I thought it was a funny jab at a rival department...

As a math major, I was required to take two computer science courses. In the first one, I was taught that computer science is a strange amalgam of mathematics, science and engineering but it wasn't really any of them. I like to analogize it to subatomic particles. They have properties of both waves and particles but they're neither waves nor particles...

I will concede that materials science is a science although I could argue that it is engineering...
Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:51 am
OnkelCannabiaUser avatarPosts: 156Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:46 pmLocation: Germany

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

NateHevens wrote:(I wasn't sure where else to put this. It probably doesn't belong here, so feel free to flog me if it belongs somewhere else. This is mainly just a rant. Also, if you recognize it [anywhere else], it's because I'm posting it at a few atheist forums. Sorry, it's just something that bugs me.)

I should start out by saying that I am no scientist. I did, when I was young, have an interest in science. Chemistry and Astronomy specifically were interesting to me. Sadly... well... I wish I had better teachers. I mean, yeah, they actually taught real science (I was actually taught Evolution in Biology back in High School [2001 to 2005], and I live in Georgia, USA), but they made science... well... boring (yes, even in Chemistry and Astronomy). I can guarantee that if I had a teacher like Richard Dawkins in Biology or, say, Neil deGrass Tyson in Astronomy, I'd probably try my hand at becoming a scientist as I had wanted to when I was younger.

As it is, I'm a musician who had to rekindle his love for science independently.

Anyways... now onto my point... there are very few words that piss me off, but "pseudoscience" is probably the one I hate the most.

Why? Because pseudoscience isn't science. Why do we justify shit like Creationism by even allowing it to be associated with science at all? We're not making it look worse by slapping "pseudo" in front of the word "science" and then throwing Creationism (or homeopathy, or New-Age Spirituality [or whatever it is], etc) into the pile. We're actually pulling it up onto a pedestal of sorts.

Calling something pseudoscience is still calling it science, even if it's a form of science most of us scoff at.

I vote we remove the term "pseudoscience" all together, or, at the very least, stop throwing things like Creationism into the "pseudoscience" pile.

Why not just call Creationism what is: "religious bullshit"?

(Oh, and when I say "Creationism", I also mean "Intelligent Design"... since they are exactly the same thing.)

Just a rant...


Just wondering, didn't you post the same topic on the Richard Dawkins board? I'm pretty sure I've seen it somewhere there.
Gotta go celebrate. Merry Christmas!
Thu Dec 24, 2009 2:02 pm
ICQ
NateHevensUser avatarPosts: 72Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:04 amLocation: Georgia, USA (Save Me)

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

OnkelCannabia wrote:Just wondering, didn't you post the same topic on the Richard Dawkins board? I'm pretty sure I've seen it somewhere there.
Gotta go celebrate. Merry Christmas!


I did say I posted it elsewhere. I also apologized 'cause it was ultimately a very stupid post. And a tad hypocritical... heh... :oops:

And Merry Christmas to you, too!
"Science adjusts its views based on what's observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved"
~Tim Minchin "Storm"
Fri Dec 25, 2009 6:41 pm
RichardMNixonUser avatarPosts: 1047Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:45 pmLocation: USA Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

Both computer science and enviromental science are valid fields. Enviromental science is a subset of physics and chemistry, just like computer science is applied boolean math. Arguing semantics over applicability is just silly in my opinion.
Keeping in mind that I did not make this up and that it was tongue in cheek even when it was told to me, I will defend this position while trying not to delve too deeply into the semantics.

Saying something isn't a science is not the same thing as saying it's not valid. While this notion is deliberately facetious, I will seriously claim that mathematics is not a science and I will debate this vehemently. Environmental science and computer science are valid studies, they're just not science...

I've heard of geologists, ecologists and climatologists making observations and performing experiments but I haven't heard anything from environmental scientists and the few that I have met didn't seem to know too much. Obviously this is just my bias but I thought it was a funny jab at a rival department...

As a math major, I was required to take two computer science courses. In the first one, I was taught that computer science is a strange amalgam of mathematics, science and engineering but it wasn't really any of them. I like to analogize it to subatomic particles. They have properties of both waves and particles but they're neither waves nor particles...

I will concede that materials science is a science although I could argue that it is engineering...


You'll be needing a concise definition of science for this. I see science as the procurement of new knowledge. From that perspective, as an engineering graduate student I am also a scientist; as are psychologists, comp scientists, and most certainly environmental scientists, and I think even math, though I think that's the easiest to call out as not like the others. Now you can certainly distinguish social vs physical science or applied vs pure science, but if your research involves learning things no one has ever known, you're doing science as far as I understand the word. (Contrast this with say a historian, whose research deals only with analysis and interpretation of things that are already known and documented (Archaelogist might be gray under my defintion I suppose)).
"When I come to my own beliefs, I find myself quite unable to discern any purpose in the universe, and still more unable to wish to discern one." ~ Bertrand Russell
"If we do not succeed, we run the risk of failure." ~ Dan Quayle
Last edited by RichardMNixon on Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
Sun Dec 27, 2009 1:18 am
Gunboat DiplomatUser avatarPosts: 394Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:02 pm

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

Please fix your quote, RichardMNixon. Do you not preview your posts before submitting, even just to check the formatting? That doesn't sound like an engineer...

RichardMNixon wrote:You'll be needing a concise definition of science for this. I see science as the procurement of new knowledge. From that perspective, as an engineering graduate student I am also a scientist; as are psychologists, comp scientists, and most certainly environmental scientists, and I think even math, though I think that's the easiest to call out as not like the others. Now you can certainly distinguish social vs physical science or applied vs pure science, but if your research involves learning things no one has ever known, you're doing science as far as I understand the word. (Contrast this with say a historian, whose research deals only with analysis and interpretation of things that are already known and documented (Archaelogist might be gray under my defintion I suppose)).

Your definition of science is way too vague. Everyone wants new knowledge. By your definition, astrology and Christian science are sciences...

The goal of engineers is to build stuff. Of course the procurement of knowledge helps you to do that but that's not your goal...
Sun Dec 27, 2009 2:12 am
RichardMNixonUser avatarPosts: 1047Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:45 pmLocation: USA Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

Gunboat Diplomat wrote:
Your definition of science is way too vague. Everyone wants new knowledge. By your definition, astrology and Christian science are sciences...

The goal of engineers is to build stuff. Of course the procurement of knowledge helps you to do that but that's not your goal...


How about knowledge that isn't demonstrably false.

Your perception of engineers is very limited; we aren't construction workers. I'm just beginning my Ph.D. research, but I'm going to be using Density Functional Theory and Kinetic Monte Carlo to study biomass conversion in catalytic zeolites. I'll also be synthesizing, characterizing and using the zeolites experimentally. Other professors in my department are studying blood-clotting disorders, Alzheimer's disease, drug delivery, self-assembling nanomaterials, photovoltaics, bimetallic catalysts, etc. That's one department, and other disciplines are just as diverse.

Why can't researchers procure knowledge while also doing something useful with it? Does it only count as science if it has no effect on your life? What is your definition of science? So far you've just said "x is and y isn't."
"When I come to my own beliefs, I find myself quite unable to discern any purpose in the universe, and still more unable to wish to discern one." ~ Bertrand Russell
"If we do not succeed, we run the risk of failure." ~ Dan Quayle
Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:27 am
obsidianavengerPosts: 840Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:44 am Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Pseudoscience... Why I Hate the Term

RichardMNixon wrote:
Gunboat Diplomat wrote:
Your definition of science is way too vague. Everyone wants new knowledge. By your definition, astrology and Christian science are sciences...

The goal of engineers is to build stuff. Of course the procurement of knowledge helps you to do that but that's not your goal...


How about knowledge that isn't demonstrably false.

Your perception of engineers is very limited; we aren't construction workers. I'm just beginning my Ph.D. research, but I'm going to be using Density Functional Theory and Kinetic Monte Carlo to study biomass conversion in catalytic zeolites. I'll also be synthesizing, characterizing and using the zeolites experimentally. Other professors in my department are studying blood-clotting disorders, Alzheimer's disease, drug delivery, self-assembling nanomaterials, photovoltaics, bimetallic catalysts, etc. That's one department, and other disciplines are just as diverse.

Why can't researchers procure knowledge while also doing something useful with it? Does it only count as science if it has no effect on your life? What is your definition of science? So far you've just said "x is and y isn't."


science isn't the act of gaining knowledge or even seeking it, it is a method by which people seek knowledge. observe, hypthesize, test, conclusion... its in every science textbook ever written :P

furthermore, given its success i would say its a reliable method for gaining knowledge....
Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:09 am
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