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Pseudoscience and the Scientific Method

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"Pseudoscience and the Scientific Method"
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The scientific method is based on observation. Observation is followed by an attempt to draw some conclusion about a group of observations. This conclusion is named a hypothesis. Testing the hypothesis follows and then the results of the test are included into the consideration of the original hypothesis. If a hypothesis has been historically robust and withstood many challenges through testing, then it can be classified as a theory, but even theories are only as good as their explanation of the events observed. Change the events and the theory must also change to reflect reality.

I must argue that in order to classify something as pseudoscientific, it must fail to apply the scientific method. However, just because an experiment is not repeatable by everyone does not indicate that the experiment was not valid. "That's funny!" has preceded more scientific discoveries than any other phrase, particularly when followed by the question, "How did that happen?" Calling something "pseudoscience" because it requires you to think beyond current experience or challenges what you have already learned is in itself pseudoscience or worse.

Another cause for something to be labeled "pseudo-scientific" is to claim that it is based on "anecdotal evidence." Does anyone else find it ridiculous that the basic tenet of the scientific method is observation and yet "anecdotal evidence" is not considered scientific.
If one notices a certain effect from a particular object, is personal observation then invalid unless one is trained in the particular field? Of course not. It is the height of silliness to assume that only someone trained in a particular field can observe things about that field. Too often, it is because the observer uses a language outside that of the field that the observations are considered invalid.

A third reason that things are labeled "pseudo-scientific" is because although the scientific method is used, an impartial measuring stick is not currently available. Subjective experience is equally valid with impartial observation in realms where impartial observation is not currently available. Telling someone that they cannot feel depressed and sad, when they feel that way is ridiculous.

One of the reasons that I despise the label of "Pseudoscience" is that I have seen too many cases where unexpected results are ignored because they do not fit the theory of what is supposed to happen. Anyone who has taken a university course where statistical analysis is required has been told to ignore the outliers because they are statistical aberrations. Read the raw data from a study on any medication and you will find similar problems. If the study participants who did not receive the investigational medication got better, then it must be due to that amorphous creature known as "The Placebo Effect." Double-blind studies are supposed to remove any chance of this occurring, yet every study has at least 5% of the participants experiencing it. It is ridiculous that the scientific method should be cheated in this manner. Just because you do not understand how or why it works, does not mean that it is "pseudo-scientific."

More about this author: Patricia Wicker

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