Science doesn’t work by beginning with the premise and searching for evidence to support it or, holding onto the premise no matter what evidence contradicts it. This is true close-mindedness.

A theory can be worded in such a way that it can never be shown to be false. This is made very easy by incorporating the supernatural. For example, “God did it”. How might one prove otherwise when the God or creator can suspend natural law indiscriminately?

Sham inquiry researchers will play down the importance of certain evidence and explain it away and ignore or rationalize failure. They will refuse to critically examine their logic. Instead, they resort frequently to special pleading. The fallacy of special pleading is when someone argues that a case is an exception to a rule based upon some characteristic that does not really warrant that an exception be made [1]. It’s an excuse. Using ad hoc explanations to explain away disconfirming evidence is a means to ensure that no conceivable piece of evidence produced will effect the outcome. The theory is nonfalsifiable.

Another fail-safe option to protect your theory against refutation is to place the burden of proof on the skeptic, which does not make logical sense. When this tool is used in an argument, one can conclude that rules of logic and fair play have been thrown out.

When a proponent asserts absolute certainty in their interpretation, and will not provide a reasonable answer to “What evidence would make your theory false?” (or worse, requires the scientist to “Prove me wrong”) it is a clear signal of pseudoscience. Intellectual honesty would require one to admit that any theory may eventually someday be proven false but can never be proven absolutely true.

[1] Carey, S. S. (2004). A Beginner’s Guide to Scientific Method, Wadsworth. p. 19

Back to Sham Inquiry contents page.