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A philosophy described by Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann as ‘the dissociation of belief from evidence’
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* The response of science education to pseudosciences - whether they should be ignored, debunked, or treated as viable alternative viewpoints;
* Whether respondents saw any value in bringing practical investigations related to pseudosciences into the science classroom, using as examples the effect of vigorous agitation on the potency of dilute solutions, drawing up a natal horoscope, and conducting controlled ESP experiments (loosely based on Bates, 1991);
The Ministry of Education's curriculum is narrow in approach and does not include references to, or prescribed learning outcomes, for the pseudosciences. The provincial curriculum does, however, support the development of critical and analytical thinking skills in most subjects, including Sciences.
(1) a) Are there any references to pseudoscience in general, or specific pseudosciences in particular, in your official secondary school science curriculum?
None of the curricula in force were reported as containing any specific references to pseudoscience. However, a UK correspondent noted that a curricular key concept at lower secondary level concerning the ethical and moral implications of the use of science, provided teachers with 'the opportunity to touch on ideas which are on the periphery of science', while at middle secondary level there were curricular objectives pertaining to uncertainties in scientific knowledge and changes in scientific thinking over time, which provided teachers with further opportunities to invoke pseudosciences.
b) [included only on the science association version] Does your science education association have a policy on pseudosciences in general, or on any in particular?
Shermer then asserts, however, that science can be distinguished from pseudoscience by the progressive and cumulative character only of the former.
Yet the use of jargon and what has been called lateral explanation within science itself is commonplace, so such abuses cannot be taken as a reliable sign of "pseudoscience." For example, anomalous healing based on odd therapies (such as faith healing, homeopathy, etc.) are commonly dismissed by hard-line skeptics as likely the result of a "placebo effect" or a "remission." Yet the exact physiological mechanisms involved in placebo effects and in remissions remain mysterious.
Shermer contends that failures get rationalized in pseudoscience while their importance "cannot be overemphasized" in good science (p.
(a) Shermer tries to help readers to generally recognize and define areas of errant or "weird" belief, which, according to the book's subtitle, includes "pseudoscience, superstition, and confusions." (b) He presents a series of group examples, examining selected beliefs in what he considers to be such weird stuff.
The Nature of Pseudoscience and Weird Stuff I found the most disappointing part of his book, for Shermer is remarkably vague in defining the concepts that are the cornerstones of his analysis.
Shermer looks at both pseudoscience and pseudohistory.