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American Scientist: Stop using word “pseudoscience”

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From biologist Katie L. Burke at American Scientist:

The word pseudoscience is also used to claim a certain value system: scientism, or valuing and trusting science exclusively. Relatively few people ascribe to scientism, even if they like science. Many if not most people, at least in the United States, value science and see it as an important decision-making tool. But most people—even many scientists—are religious or simply not doggedly empirical, and believe in truths other than those derived from science. In such views, science is a tool with limits, and outside those limits lie beliefs, ideas, and knowledge gathered through art, philosophy, intuition, metaphysics, or culture. When science-affiliated factions use a term that inherently implies that people are ignorant or fakers for having such beliefs, an antagonistic communications environment usually emerges. Perhaps the assault the Christian Right has waged on many aspects of science education and funding in the United States represents just such a backlash.

There are great alternatives to the term pseudoscience—ones that are much more explicit and constructive. More.

Breath of fresh air. 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.

At one time, anyone would have said that the idea that plants communicate is ridiculous, pseudoscience. But they do. Meanwhile, whatever became of the ether?

See also: Condescension news: Why the public does not “trust” “science”: How convenient that the world is divided neatly between “charlatans” and “scientists,” unlike the usual messy situation most people encounter most of the time.

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4 Replies to “American Scientist: Stop using word “pseudoscience”

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Although neo-Darwinists habitually call the theory of Intelligent Design pseudo-science, ironically, the shoe is squarely on the other foot. The fact of the matter is that Darwinian evolution is a untestable, and therefore unfalsifiable, pseudo-science whereas, on the other hand, Intelligent Design is very much a testable, and therefore, falsifiable, science.

    “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”
    Karl Popper – The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge (2014 edition), Routledge

    “Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research program.”
    Karl Popper – Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography (1976)

    Dubitable Darwin? Why Some Smart, Nonreligious People Doubt the Theory of Evolution By John Horgan on July 6, 2010
    Excerpt: Early in his career, the philosopher Karl Popper ,, called evolution via natural selection “almost a tautology” and “not a testable scientific theory but a metaphysical research program.” Attacked for these criticisms, Popper took them back (in approx 1978). But when I interviewed him in 1992, he blurted out that he still found Darwin’s theory dissatisfying. “One ought to look for alternatives!” Popper exclaimed, banging his kitchen table.

    The primary reason why Darwinian evolution is more properly thought of as a pseudo-science instead of a real science is because Darwinian evolution has no rigid mathematical basis, like other overarching physical theories of science do. A rigid mathematical basis to test against in order to potentially falsify it (in fact, in so far as math can be applied to Darwinian claims, mathematics constantly shows us that Darwinian evolution is astronomically unlikely),,

    Deeper into the Royal Society Evolution Paradigm Shift Meeting – 02/08/2016
    Suzan Mazur: Peter Saunders in his interview comments to me said that neo-Darwinism is not a theory, it’s a paradigm and the reason it’s not a theory is that it’s not falsifiable.
    Peter Saunders is Co-Director, Institute of Science in Society, London; Emeritus professor of Applied Mathematics, King’s College London.
    Peter Saunders has been applying mathematics in biology for over 40 years, in microbiology and physiology as well as in development and evolution. He has been a critic of neo-Darwinism for almost as long.

    “For many years I have thought that it is a mathematical scandal that we do not have proof that Darwinian evolution works.”
    – Chaitin

    “On the other hand, I disagree that Darwin’s theory is as `solid as any explanation in science.; Disagree? I regard the claim as preposterous. Quantum electrodynamics is accurate to thirteen or so decimal places; so, too, general relativity. A leaf trembling in the wrong way would suffice to shatter either theory. What can Darwinian theory offer in comparison?”
    – Berlinski, D., “A Scientific Scandal?: David Berlinski & Critics,” Commentary, July 8, 2003

    Darwinian Evolution is a Pseudo Science – Mathematics

    Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Wolfgang Pauli on the Empirical Problems with Neo-Darwinism – Casey Luskin – February 27, 2012
    Excerpt: While they (Darwinian Biologists) pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’”
    Wolfgang Pauli –

    Evolution is Missing a Mathematical Formula
    Excerpt: Virtually all scientists acknowledge that mathematics is the real language of science. Every theory uses words to describe and postulate the theory, but the true test of a theory is numbers and mathematics. It is numbers and mathematical formulae that distinguish true science from hocus-pocus.,,,
    Every scientific theory that has been promoted to the status of being a scientific law has been quantified and/or embodied into one or more mathematical formulae that make accurate predictions.
    But no scientist has been able to derive any working formula from the Theory of Evolution and no one has been able to quantify its dictums. Millions of scientists have tried to quantify the Theory of Evolution and they have all failed to do so.

    The primary reason why no scientist has been able ‘quantify its dictums’ is because there are no known laws of nature for Darwinists to appeal to to base their math on. In other words, there is no known ‘law of evolution’, such as there is a ‘law of gravity’, within the physical universe:

    The Evolution of Ernst: Interview with Ernst Mayr – 2004
    Excerpt: biology (Darwinian Evolution) differs from the physical sciences in that in the physical sciences, all theories, I don’t know exceptions so I think it’s probably a safe statement, all theories are based somehow or other on natural laws. In biology, as several other people have shown, and I totally agree with them, there are no natural laws in biology corresponding to the natural laws of the physical sciences.

    WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT? Evolution is True – Roger Highfield – January 2014
    Excerpt:,,, Whatever the case, those universal truths—’laws’—that physicists and chemists all rely upon appear relatively absent from biology.
    Little seems to have changed from a decade ago when the late and great John Maynard Smith wrote a chapter on evolutionary game theory for a book on the most powerful equations of science: his contribution did not include a single equation.

    “It is our contention that if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.”
    Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    And whereas Darwinian evolution has no known law of nature to base its math on so as to establish itself as a proper, testable, science, Intelligent Design does not suffer from such a disconnect from physical reality. In other words, Intelligent Design can base its math directly on the ‘laws of conservation of information’ in order to establish itself as a proper, testable, science.

    Conservation of information, evolution, etc – Sept. 30, 2014
    Excerpt: Kurt Gödel’s logical objection to Darwinian evolution:
    “The formation in geological time of the human body by the laws of physics (or any other laws of similar nature), starting from a random distribution of elementary particles and the field is as unlikely as the separation of the atmosphere into its components. The complexity of the living things has to be present within the material [from which they are derived] or in the laws [governing their formation].”
    Gödel – As quoted in H. Wang. “On `computabilism’ and physicalism: Some Problems.” in Nature’s Imagination, J. Cornwall, Ed, pp.161-189, Oxford University Press (1995).
    Gödel’s argument is that if evolution is unfolding from an initial state by mathematical laws of physics, it cannot generate any information not inherent from the start – and in his view, neither the primaeval environment nor the laws are information-rich enough.,,,
    More recently this led him (Dembski) to postulate a Law of Conservation of Information, or actually to consolidate the idea, first put forward by Nobel-prizewinner Peter Medawar in the 1980s. Medawar had shown, as others before him, that in mathematical and computational operations, no new information can be created, but new findings are always implicit in the original starting points – laws and axioms.,,,

    Evolutionary Computing: The Invisible Hand of Intelligence – June 17, 2015
    Excerpt: William Dembski and Robert Marks have shown that no evolutionary algorithm is superior to blind search — unless information is added from an intelligent cause, which means it is not, in the Darwinian sense, an evolutionary algorithm after all. This mathematically proven law, based on the accepted No Free Lunch Theorems, seems to be lost on the champions of evolutionary computing. Researchers keep confusing an evolutionary algorithm (a form of artificial selection) with “natural evolution.” ,,,
    Marks and Dembski account for the invisible hand required in evolutionary computing. The Lab’s website states, “The principal theme of the lab’s research is teasing apart the respective roles of internally generated and externally applied information in the performance of evolutionary systems.” So yes, systems can evolve, but when they appear to solve a problem (such as generating complex specified information or reaching a sufficiently narrow predefined target), intelligence can be shown to be active. Any internally generated information is conserved or degraded by the law of Conservation of Information.,,,
    What Marks and Dembski (mathematically) prove is as scientifically valid and relevant as Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem in mathematics. You can’t prove a system of mathematics from within the system, and you can’t derive an information-rich pattern from within the pattern.,,,

    Active Information in Metabiology – Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski, Robert J. Marks II – 2013
    Except page 9: Chaitin states [3], “For many years I have thought that it is a mathematical scandal that we do not have proof that Darwinian evolution works.” In fact, mathematics has consistently demonstrated that undirected Darwinian evolution does not work.,,
    Consistent with the laws of conservation of information, natural selection can only work using the guidance of active information, which can be provided only by a designer.

    And since Intelligent Design is mathematically based on the ‘law of conservation of information’, that makes Intelligent Design testable and potentially falsifiable, and thus makes Intelligent Design a rigorous, testable, science instead of a untestable pseudo-science like Darwinian evolution is.

    The Law of Physicodynamic Incompleteness – David L. Abel
    Excerpt: “If decision-node programming selections are made randomly or by law rather than with purposeful intent, no non-trivial (sophisticated) function will spontaneously arise.”
    If only one exception to this null hypothesis were published, the hypothesis would be falsified. Falsification would require an experiment devoid of behind-the-scenes steering. Any artificial selection hidden in the experimental design would disqualify the experimental falsification. After ten years of continual republication of the null hypothesis with appeals for falsification, no falsification has been provided.
    The time has come to extend this null hypothesis into a formal scientific prediction:
    “No non trivial algorithmic/computational utility will ever arise from chance and/or necessity alone.”

    It’s (Much) Easier to Falsify Intelligent Design than Darwinian Evolution – Michael Behe, PhD

    “The National Academy of Sciences has objected that intelligent design is not falsifiable, and I think that’s just the opposite of the truth. Intelligent design is very open to falsification. I claim, for example, that the bacterial flagellum could not be produced by natural selection; it needed to be deliberately intelligently designed. Well, all a scientist has to do to prove me wrong is to take a bacterium without a flagellum, or knock out the genes for the flagellum in a bacterium, go into his lab and grow that bug for a long time and see if it produces anything resembling a flagellum. If that happened, intelligent design, as I understand it, would be knocked out of the water. I certainly don’t expect it to happen, but it’s easily falsified by a series of such experiments.
    Now let’s turn that around and ask, How do we falsify the contention that natural selection produced the bacterial flagellum? If that same scientist went into the lab and knocked out the bacterial flagellum genes, grew the bacterium for a long time, and nothing much happened, well, he’d say maybe we didn’t start with the right bacterium, maybe we didn’t wait long enough, maybe we need a bigger population, and it would be very much more difficult to falsify the Darwinian hypothesis.
    I think the very opposite is true. I think intelligent design is easily testable, easily falsifiable, although it has not been falsified, and Darwinism is very resistant to being falsified. They can always claim something was not right.”
    – Dr Michael Behe

    The Origin of Information: How to Solve It – Perry Marshall
    Where did the information in DNA come from? This is one of the most important and valuable questions in the history of science. Cosmic Fingerprints has issued a challenge to the scientific community:
    “Show an example of Information that doesn’t come from a mind. All you need is one.”
    “Information” is defined as digital communication between an encoder and a decoder, using agreed upon symbols. To date, no one has shown an example of a naturally occurring encoding / decoding system, i.e. one that has demonstrably come into existence without a designer.
    A private equity investment group is offering a technology prize for this discovery (up to 3 million dollars). We will financially reward and publicize the first person who can solve this;,,, To solve this problem is far more than an object of abstract religious or philosophical discussion. It would demonstrate a mechanism for producing coding systems, thus opening up new channels of scientific discovery. Such a find would have sweeping implications for Artificial Intelligence research.


    1 Thessalonians 5:21
    but test everything; hold fast what is good.

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    Not a breath but a gap. She still rejects revealation and attacks the Christian right as attacking science funding. Not only do they not they don’t matter much even if they wanted to defund science.

    Its not about science but about certain conclusions dealing with origin matters claimed to be based on science and opposition to them is anti-science.
    The evolutionists/God deniers just can’t make a persuasive case to someone who has a persuasive case to the contrary.
    i always find evolutionists don’t understand what evidence is in biology.
    Some iD/YEC folks sin too.

  4. 4
    BrianFraser says:

    “Meanwhile, whatever became of the ether?”

    It is still around, but not the static one of the 1800s. Here is an excerpt from “Beyond Einstein: non-local physics” by Brian Fraser (2015)

    The static Aether was not detectable

    There is yet another consequence to this non-directional, non-vectorial, scalar, isotropic, motion the Earth is engaged in. Remember the Michelson-Morley experiment? It attempted to detect the absolute motion of the Earth through the Aether, which was supposed to be some sort of invisible substance which filled the Universe as a medium for light waves and which was thought to be stationary. But as the Earth moved around the Sun, no “Aether wind” could be detected by this clever experiment. Physicists then concluded that the Aether did not exist, nor did absolute motion, and that all motion must therefore be “purely relative”.

    This experiment depended on vector addition of velocities, but the fundamental (or “absolute”) motion of the Earth is scalar (in all directions, like an expansion). The design of the experiment was simply not capable of detecting this kind of motion. There may still be an “ether” (a specific structure of space and time), but it must be a dynamic, non-directional one, quite unlike the static Aether of the 1800s.
    The free, 22 page paper can be downloaded from:…..stein.html The .html file gives a link to the .pdf file but the former has additional information, and many more links and insights.

    And while you are reading it, pretend you are an editor for a major science journal. What do you think should be done with a paper like this one (assuming it was submitted in a format suitable for a journal)? Do you think your readers would be interested? Do you think it is pseudoscience? Would the NASA Breakthrough Propulsion Physics (NASA BPP) criteria be of any use in forming your opinion?

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