Science Philosophy

The term “pseudo” denotes something that isn’t real, and the best way to spot a fake is to know everything there is to know about the real thing, in this case, pseudoscience. Nonetheless, it is critical to recognize that comprehending science entails more than simply knowing scientific facts. Understanding the nature of science, such as the criteria for evidence, how to design meaningful and reasonable experiments, weighing possibilities, establishing theories, testing hypotheses, and so on, necessitates a deeper understanding. All of these elements work together to help us reach solid conclusions about the physical universe and its underlying explanations. The purpose of demarcating science from pseudoscience can be evaluated from a theoretical perspective, and under this, the issue is an illuminating view that facilitates the philosophy of science just as the study of fallacies assists in the understanding of rational argumentation and informal logic. Nonetheless, it should be understood that drawing the line between the two brings about complications; hence the central part of Karl Popper’s project was to figure out how to demarcate the two. According to Popper, we should not dismiss pseudo-science as useless, false or even uninteresting but rather, we should consider it as just not science. The paper discusses Popper’s criteria for demarcating science from pseudo-science, providing in-depth analysis and evaluation.

Popper’s Criteria

Popper identifies the primary and huge difference between science and pseudo-science as the divergence in attitude. According to Popper, science seeks falsifications while pseudo-science seeks confirmation. In this criterion, Karl Popper explains that whereas pseudo-science is interested in searching for evidence supporting its claim, science is bold enough and is set up to challenge its claims and further seeks for proof that might falsify it. Besides, Popper saw a corresponding difference in the form of the arguments brought forward by sciences and pseudo-sciences such that scientific claims are falsifiable. In this case, such claims can be proven by setting out the observable results that would be impossible if the arguments were true.

On the other side, pseudo-scientific arguments conform to any imaginable variety of observable outcomes. In other words, it is possible to conduct a test that proves a scientific fact to be false, but on the other side, there is no conceivable that can show the falsity of the pseudo-scientific claim (Stemwedel). Another approach for demarcating science from pseudo-science is through testing as sciences are testable whereas pseudo-sciences are not. For instance, a contemporary example of pseudoscience is the handwriting analysis where some people believe that a person’s personality can be seen in their handwriting. In ascertaining that such a belief is a pseudo-science, one should seek for possible ways to consider test the logic of the statement. It is expected that there will be no way of relating handwriting with an individual’s personality.

Pseudo-science is only a display of indifference to facts. Proponents of pseudo-science fail to take up the time to consult a reference or be directly involved in investigating the concept (Stemwedel). For instance, in some regions in the world, the pseudo-science of dowsing, a method of searching for underground water or other precious stones by use of divining rod is considered scientific. However, there is the need to ask oneself if the concept can be proven or even subjected to tests for falsity. Popper further noted that fictions are central to the arguments and conclusions made by pseudo-scientists.

The other criterion for demarcating science from pseudo-science is that whatever the “research” it conducts is invariably sloppy and unreliable. Pseudo-scientists base their arguments on clipped newspaper reports, collect grapevine and further cite other pseudo-science books in proposing an explanation supporting their argument (Stemwedel). There is the need to note that Popper did not say that science never makes false claims since what he puts forward is that the scientific attitude is significant in locating as well as removing the false claims associated with a hard-accepted fact. Such a fact-finding mission is usually absent in pseudo-sciences.

Critics of demarcation of science from pseudo-science hold the belief that “falsifiability” is inadequate to ascertain the validity of scientific arguments. Nonetheless, it remains crucial to note that even though there have been numerous attempts to falsify a claim, and most of them have failed, it only does not imply that the claim is unfalsifiable. A claim is considered falsifiable if there exist numerous sets observations that could be made to prove the falsity of the argument. For instance, the claim that Mars rotates in an elliptical orbit around the sun is scientific as it can be falsified via observations proving Mars moving in an orbit that has totally deviated from an elliptical shape.

Conclusion

There is the need to demarcate science from pseudo-science, and this can be achieved not only through the understanding of the basic scientific facts but deep knowledge of the nature of science. Most of the pseudo-science claims are baseless, and in most cases, they are intended to attract the attention of the public. A contemporary example of pseudo-science, for instance, the argument that a person’s personality can be determined by looking at their handwriting is founded on no scientific fact; hence it cannot be regarded as factual. Besides, all scientific claims can be tested while pseudo-science has no such provision.

Work Cited

Stemwedel, Janet D. “Drawing the line between science and pseudo-science.” Scientific American. 2011. Web. 22 April 2017.

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