Conclusion to “Sham Inquiry“
The coelacanth is a red herring
Mainstream science, which is respected and functions very well with its current methodology, excludes those fields who don’t pass muster. For a theory to be considered as an explanation for observations of the natural world, even the public realizes it ought to be scientific. Using supernatural qualities as necessary components in your theory will get you excluded from consideration outright by the scientific community. The public, on the other hand, finds the paranormal quite fascinating and is willing to give consideration to those that put on a good show. Continue reading
Continuing with “Sham Inquiry“
Elbowing in on good science
The Journal of Scientific Exploration is the published by the Society for Scientific Exploration which describes itself as “a professional organization of scientists and other scholars committed to studying phenomena that cross or are outside of the traditional boundaries of science and…are ignored or studied inadequately…” Many of the members’ topics of research and methods are considered pseudoscience by conventional scientists. The journal is closed to outside contributors and criticism. Continue reading
There has been a concerted effort to package creationist views in such a way as to sound so convincing and correct (at least politically) in order to gain public support and demonize evolution. Continue reading
Thousands of eyewitnesses report ghostly encounters from ancient history to modern times. Contact with the dead is very much part of our modern culture. With the expansion of television content and the internet, stories about hauntings have surged in popularity.
Ghost hunting is a popular hobby for thrill seekers. It’s fun to be scared. The official community of ghost hunters, including those of popular reality TV programs, are non-scientists. However, they invariably tout the scientific nature of their activities. Continue reading
Cryptozoology is “the study of hidden animals” (called ‘cryptids’). More precisely, it is the pursuit of animals that science does not recognize as existing and, in some situations, be considered ‘monster hunting’ in comparison to the ghost hunters in a forthcoming discussion.
Like the closely related field of UFOlogy, cryptozoology can accurately be described as “a simulacrum of systematic rationality…quite impressive to many…nonbelievers.” Continue reading
Playing Pretend Science
In order to be technical, like science, pseudoscientists engage in a method of data gathering that is not haphazard or lazy. Intricate collection and analysis is often a part of pseudoscientific activity. They may produce enormous bodies of work. Commitment to a cause can prompt “energetic intellectual effort” . The motives and ‘sciencey’ feel of the whole endeavor wins over those nonscientists who can’t recognize that it simply fails to meet scientific standards. Yet, for all the diligent work, the accumulated evidence can still amount to nothing of substance.
The public is happy to admire science as long as they don’t have to understand it deeply. Sham inquiry plays to the admiration of science by the public. A lack of familiarity with how science is supposed to work is a major reason why the public has trouble recognizing counterfeit science. Add an ‘-ology’ to the end of whatever you study and it acts like a toupe of credibility – to hide the lack of substance. The public is vulnerable to pseudoscience that resembles real inquiry and genuine knowledge.
The following are three examples of current pseudosciences. They all don the accoutrements of science without delivering the substance . The field of cryptozoology is the likeliest of the three to hold the interest of real scientists these days because it is associated with the genuine fields of zoology, anthropology and wildlife biology and chock-full of amateur scientists. Ghost hunting is predominantly nonscientists who enjoy using technology and the new view that it gives them on the world. Creationism is a entirely different beast grown completely from religious ideology and dressed in a cheap and transparent scientific costume. This sham does not even fool courts of law but it continues to exert tremendous ideological force on the public.
 Haack, S. (1995). “Concern for Truth and Why it Matters”. The Flight from Science and Reason (1996). P. R. Gross, N. Levitt, M.W. Lewis, New York Academy of Sciences, p. 58.
 Bunge, M. (1995).“In Praise of Tolerance To Charlatanism in Academia”. The Flight from Science and Reason (1996). P. R. Gross, N. Levitt, M.W. Lewis, New York Academy of Sciences, p. 104.
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WordPress has a new feature that allows me to blog from email. Very cool. Why did it take so long?
The reason why this is Awesome is that I frequently get ideas or come across links at work. I can’t post to the blog at work because WordPress is blocked (along with thousands of other useful sites). When I get home, there are 101 things to do before I can access the computer, stop my thoughts zipping madly around my brain for a moment, focus, and remember what it was I wanted to say.
I admit that I have to hurry through lots of reading these days. There is so much of interest out there. But, blogs and links to online news and commentary are my main way of getting information about the world. I no longer watch TV. It takes too long. So, I RSS my news feeds and subscribe to blogs. And, by the end of the day, my brain is overloaded and I am frazzled. Important point: I do not have personal email in a reliable portable device. Therefore, I do not Twitter. I think my head would explode.
I experience anxiety because I want to keep up with all the interesting breaking news, science, controversies and new woo-ness that is released every day. It can’t be done. There are too many great skeptical blogs, science news sites and witty commentators. So, here I am adding to the feeds. Or, I’m just talking to myself… something we all have to stop and do some times.