Burke concludes that, rather than labeling something pseudoscience, we should describe exactly what it is and how it fails. This is a false choice, however. We can do both.
I completely agree that we should not substitute a label for an actual description or analysis of something. This is good advice in any intellectual arena. This is just not what good skeptics and science communicators do.
We do give a detailed analysis of exactly why a claim is wrong, and exactly what brand of pseudoscience it is. Suggesting we don’t betrays an unfamiliarity with the vast majority of popular writing about pseudoscience.
But it is also helpful to understand phenomena as a whole. Pseudoscience is a thing, denialism is a thing, conspiracy thinking is a thing, cults are a thing. These all have demarcation problems in their definitions, but they are useful concepts that describe something real in the world. More.
It’s funny anyone would be saying this stuff in an age when the editor of Nature is slamming peer review, as practiced, as unscientific. “Unscientific” is a thing too. It muddies the question of what it would be unreasonable to believe.
See also: American Scientist: Stop using word “pseudoscience” The term typically replaces conversations with factions. Many things believed to be science have proven valueless, and many things one might have expected to be valueless have proven to be good science.
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