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parallaxicality
2019-Jan-14, 05:07 PM
Used to be pseudoscience was a specific thing: something that presented itself as a science but failed the criteria for the scientific method. Like ancient astronauts, or creation science, or free energy, or homeopathy. But nowadays you hear pseudoscience applied to anything at all, even things that don't have a scientific rationale, like the Nibiru doomsday or biblical literalism. I dunno. Maybe I'm being overprotective of my definitions, but I think that there needs to be a level below pseudoscience as well as a level above it.

Roger E. Moore
2019-Jan-14, 05:14 PM
I was sad to hear that cryptozoology had been dropped to being a pseudoscience, but I can understand why. Too many people get into it with no ability to prove anything but every intention of making everyone else believe their claims, despite having no evidence that would stand up in court. As soon as someone waves the "cover-up conspiracy" flag, I get bored and look somewhere else.

grant hutchison
2019-Jan-14, 05:18 PM
It's in the presentation, isn't it?
If biblical literalism is presented as if it were science, then its pseudoscience. People sometimes like to use the trappings of science in cosmetic support of their own beliefs, both because science has a certain kudos, and because they see their beliefs as threatened by science. I've seen biblical literalism presented in this way, taking the text as the "experimental observation" that needs to be explained, and using bits and pieces of scientific thought to support it - to me, that's the very definition of pseudoscience. And I've seen biblical literalism presented as an act (or test) of faith, entirely separate from scientific thought, in which case it is very much not pseudoscience. But as far as I know, Nibiru is always presented dressed in the clothes of science, so I'd say it's always pseudoscience.

Grant Hutchison

grant hutchison
2019-Jan-14, 05:20 PM
I was sad to hear that cryptozoology had been dropped to being a pseudoscience, but I can understand why. Presentation again. It's possible to take a scientific approach to cryptozoology (many people have), but it's also possible to be entirely pseudoscientific about it. I don't think cryptozoology has a status one way or another, except in the way it is done.

Grant Hutchison

WaxRubiks
2019-Jan-14, 05:43 PM
I once saw a creationist proponent come on the BBC News channel as a guest dressed as though he had just come from an archaeological dig..

The Backroad Astronomer
2019-Jan-14, 06:39 PM
Cyptpzoology gets lumped in with pseudoscience because of stuff like Big Foot, Nessie and the like. Once and a while somebody finds a species that was once thought dead or could be stretched into fitting some legend or another. In some peoples minds SETI should be set into the pseudoscience category but they think UFO's and alien abductions are not really part of what SETI is doing.

KaiYeves
2019-Jan-15, 04:47 PM
I once saw a creationist proponent come on the BBC News channel as a guest dressed as though he had just come from an archaeological dig..

Which, if you mean pith helmet and khakis, is another example of adopting the public’s expected appearance of a field to seem legitimate— most people on archaeological digs nowadays wear old t-shirts or UV-protective hiking shirts, tons of sunscreen, and bandannas or ball caps.

Ken G
2019-Jan-15, 05:56 PM
The key point is that all of those things, biblical literalism or Nibiru doomsday, are only a problem when they are pseudoscience. If they just say "here's something we have chosen to believe with no evidence or support, and we have no interest in arguing the point with anyone," then there's really nothing wrong with it (other than the harm it could cause its believers, but that's another matter entirely-- science can cause harm too). The reason these things get classified as pseudoscience is that it is when they are being presented that way, as Grant points out, is exactly when they are most detrimental to critical thinking. I once saw a biblical literalist take a bunch of young children out into a field and lay out cones the dimensions of Noah's Ark, to show them how large it was-- making it therefore plausible that it could hold all those animals. That's when it becomes pseudoscience, when there's an effort to convince. If they just said "isn't it nice to believe in miracles, so let's choose to believe in this one," then at least they could be true to themselves.

That said, I'm all for defending the meaning of pseudoscience, but in this case that means not using it as a box to either include or exclude any set of ideas or beliefs. Ideas and beliefs are never either science or pseudoscience, a point that the history of science is quite clear on. It's science if you follow the method and don't know the answer going in, it's pseudoscience if you pretend to follow the method but actually just retrofit everything to the answer you already think you know, and it's neither if you just choose to believe something and are clear to everyone (including yourself) that this is what you are doing.

On that point, I was once asked if, as an astronomer, I believed in dark energy. I answered that as an astronomer, I judge the quality of various theories based on how successful they are, and what tests they still need to pass. To believe in something, I would need to take my astronomer hat off and choose a belief-- an act I generally don't see much point in, especially in regard to dark energy!

George
2019-Jan-15, 06:45 PM
That said, I'm all for defending the meaning of pseudoscience, but in this case that means not using it as a box to either include or exclude any set of ideas or beliefs. Ideas and beliefs are never either science or pseudoscience, a point that the history of science is quite clear on. It's science if you follow the method and don't know the answer going in, it's pseudoscience if you pretend to follow the method but actually just retrofit everything to the answer you already think you know, and it's neither if you just choose to believe something and are clear to everyone (including yourself) that this is what you are doing. Nicely put. How well the dots connect for any scientific claim can make a difference in its distancing itself from a pseudoscience one. If other connections are just as valid then, as you say, only expressing one's claim honestly is needed to keep within the realm of science.


On that point, I was once asked if, as an astronomer, I believed in dark energy. I answered that as an astronomer, I judge the quality of various theories based on how successful they are, and what tests they still need to pass. To believe in something, I would need to take my astronomer hat off and choose a belief-- an act I generally don't see much point in, especially in regard to dark energy! Yeah, and why do people ask if we "believe in" something so frequently? It's almost like they want, subconsciously, to see a full commitment so if they have or accept the same view point then they will have you to go down with them if wrong. It's a common expression, making it harder to correct.

Ken G
2019-Jan-15, 09:48 PM
Yeah, and why do people ask if we "believe in" something so frequently? It's almost like they want, subconsciously, to see a full commitment so if they have or accept the same view point then they will have you to go down with them if wrong. I agree there is a kind of cultural bias in favor of having beliefs, rather than against it. I think people are downright suspicious of those who reserve judgement until there is more evidence. It's almost like the attitude of telling people to vote even if they have no knowledge of the election!

The Backroad Astronomer
2019-Jan-15, 10:43 PM
Another main difference between science and pseudoscience is the quality of evidence. Bigfoot researchers get a tuff of fur and claim it is evidence of Bigfoot but when it is DNA test it is found to be bear, raccoon or something similar. UFOlogists will use anecdotes and bad pictures to try to prove that UFOs exists, while SETI studies how many planets there are, how close they are to the stars that they orbit around, what molecules are in the system etc.

Ken G
2019-Jan-16, 12:57 AM
Yes, and another key discriminator is that science progresses. Pseudoscience simply drops one fad and moves on to the next, but never shows any progress at all. In fact, this is wonderfully summed up by the rather dark "UFO curse" (from the Wiki on Philip Klass):

"THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF PHILIP J. KLASS

To ufologists who publicly criticize me, ... or who even think unkind thoughts about me in private, I do hereby leave and bequeath: THE UFO CURSE: No matter how long you live, you will never know any more about UFOs than you know today. You will never know any more about what UFOs really are, or where they come from. You will never know any more about what the U.S. Government really knows about UFOs than you know today. As you lie on your own death-bed you will be as mystified about UFOs as you are today. And you will remember this curse."

Replace "UFOs" with "any pseudoscience of your choice," and you pretty much understand the difference between science and pseudoscience.

Superluminal
2019-Jan-16, 05:27 AM
Jeff Meldrum, an anthropologist at the U of Idaho, studies Bigfoot. When he's examining a plaster cast of an alleged Bigfoot print, is he doing science or pseudoscience?

grant hutchison
2019-Jan-16, 09:04 AM
Jeff Meldrum, an anthropologist at the U of Idaho, studies Bigfoot. When he's examining a plaster cast of an alleged Bigfoot print, is he doing science or pseudoscience?He's doing neither until he presents an analysis of his findings, at which point we may decide whether the presentation is scientific or pseudoscientific.

Grant Hutchison

Ken G
2019-Jan-16, 01:11 PM
Yes, credentials are also not what separates science and pseudoscience. But science is certainly allowed to consider outlandish possibilities-- skeptically. If Dr. Meldrum is being scientific, he probably realizes that he is betting on a long shot there, but it can be good to have someone looking under every stone. I'd say that in a case like this, the place where you would see the difference is if someone asks him, what study can you undertake such that if you get outcome X, you will conclude that Bigfoot is no longer worth your time and you should move on to something else, he has an answer. If he doesn't, my bet is that his colleagues at Idaho State shift uncomfortably in their seats when his name comes up. And above all, he doesn't want to run afoul of "the relict hominoid curse"! (On that topic, the fact that everyone and their brother now carries a decent movie camera with them at virtually all times, even when hiking in remote areas, suggests that if there are relict hominoids around, the photographic evidence for them should be exploding in the last and next ten years or so. The absence of that would be my "X"). But here's a quote by Meldrum that must cause some uncomfortable shifting: “That’s the curse of Bigfoot,” Meldrum said. “Electronics aren’t working whenever there’s a sighting.” He's joking, of course, but all the same...

Another point is, hoaxsters and charlatans do not always find that scientists are tough to fool. Scientists are used to being told the truth by nature, they are not used to being lied to by people.

profloater
2019-Jan-16, 01:23 PM
Anecdotes do not count as science which leaves rare or non repeatable events in a tricky zone. Sometimes anecdotes can lead to controlled study or experiment, sometimes not. To extrapolate from a single event with no hypothesis is usually pseudoscience because the claim is untestable.

WaxRubiks
2019-Jan-16, 01:44 PM
Which, if you mean pith helmet and khakis, is another example of adopting the public’s expected appearance of a field to seem legitimate— most people on archaeological digs nowadays wear old t-shirts or UV-protective hiking shirts, tons of sunscreen, and bandannas or ball caps.

well without the hat, but a khaki top with lots of pockets.

edit:
something like this :)
23912

schlaugh
2019-Jan-16, 02:28 PM
Also suitable for fly fishing.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

grant hutchison
2019-Jan-16, 04:19 PM
It seems to me that there's not much difference in meaning between unscientific and pseudoscientific, except to the extent an assumption is being made about motives. A poorly presented paper that neglects some tenet of scientific thinking (failure to explore alternate hypotheses, bad data analysis choices, conclusions unsupported by the data, and so on) might be called unscientific if it's assumed the presenter was merely thoughtless or uninformed. Pseudoscientific seems to be deployed for the same reasons, but there's an assumption that the presenter is deluded in some way, or actively seeking specific confirmation of a belief that is not supported by the evidence, or deliberately attempting to deceive by "dressing up" an argument in scientific language. It's essentially pejorative, in other words.

And that leaves us with non-scientific, in which scientific thought is neglected either because it's not appropriate to the topic (art appreciation, for instance), or because a deliberately simple argument or narrative is being presented.

Grant Hutchison

Superluminal
2019-Jan-16, 10:58 PM
Yes, credentials are also not what separates science and pseudoscience. But science is certainly allowed to consider outlandish possibilities-- skeptically. If Dr. Meldrum is being scientific, he probably realizes that he is betting on a long shot there, but it can be good to have someone looking under every stone. I'd say that in a case like this, the place where you would see the difference is if someone asks him, what study can you undertake such that if you get outcome X, you will conclude that Bigfoot is no longer worth your time and you should move on to something else, he has an answer. If he doesn't, my bet is that his colleagues at Idaho State shift uncomfortably in their seats when his name comes up. And above all, he doesn't want to run afoul of "the relict hominoid curse"! (On that topic, the fact that everyone and their brother now carries a decent movie camera with them at virtually all times, even when hiking in remote areas, suggests that if there are relict hominoids around, the photographic evidence for them should be exploding in the last and next ten years or so. The absence of that would be my "X"). But here's a quote by Meldrum that must cause some uncomfortable shifting: “That’s the curse of Bigfoot,” Meldrum said. “Electronics aren’t working whenever there’s a sighting.” He's joking, of course, but all the same...

Another point is, hoaxsters and charlatans do not always find that scientists are tough to fool. Scientists are used to being told the truth by nature, they are not used to being lied to by people.
There has been an explosion of video and photographic evidence in the past decade. The vast majority of which is so obviously fake, it's not worth laughing at. The very few that makes you go, "Hmm?" Eventually falls under the more careful scrutiny of the serious debunker.

Ken G
2019-Jan-17, 12:07 AM
Yes, the widespread technology makes it much easier to perpetrate hoaxes, so it's natural that the number of hoaxes has gone up. I meant that there should be credible evidence, like I made this movie and here are the footprints left behind and here is some hair stuck on a branch and here is its DNA. It wouldn't be hard, always should have been just a matter of time.

The Backroad Astronomer
2019-Jan-17, 12:11 AM
If you like podcast there is this episode of monster talk. It is supported by skeptic magazine so it does have skeptical approach to the issue.
https://www.skeptic.com/podcasts/monstertalk/17/05/03/

Ken G
2019-Jan-17, 12:20 AM
And that leaves us with non-scientific, in which scientific thought is neglected either because it's not appropriate to the topic (art appreciation, for instance), or because a deliberately simple argument or narrative is being presented.
Yes, one useful way to divide up the meanings of approaches that are not scientific could be that pseudoscientific includes elements of deception (sometimes intentional, sometimes self-deception) to promote a preconceived narrative, unscientific is just poorly done science but without the preconceived narrative, and nonscientific is not trying to sound like science in the first place. It's not always easy to classify efforts to understand the world in these boxes however-- for example, in which falls Edgar Allan Poe's effort to understand the history of the universe, or Kant's effort to understand the nature of galaxies? Neither of those men had enough data to test their ideas scientifically, yet they were both remarkably correct all the same. Call it luck, or horse sense, or perhaps a new category of science that isn't science: prescience. One of the more remarkable examples of that is the surviving snippets of the writings of Parmenides, who when he said "what exists is uncreated and imperishable for it is whole and unchanging and complete", clearly anticipated several central theorems of quantum mechanics: the no cloning and no deleting theorems, and the concept of unitary evolution. That was about 2500 years prescient.

grant hutchison
2019-Jan-17, 01:16 AM
... prescience ...Oh-ho. I see what you did there.

Grant Hutchison

Jens
2019-Jan-17, 12:42 PM
Oh-ho. I see what you did there.

Grant Hutchison

I agree it’s clever. But I wonder if it was really intentional. It might have been unintentional cleverness!

George
2019-Jan-17, 03:34 PM
I agree it’s clever. But I wonder if it was really intentional. It might have been unintentional cleverness!I assume it's (prescience) simply wise intuition at work and a better label for it, perhaps.

I keep wondering if there is a dot analogy, or something, to all this? Allow me to give y'all a bunch of dots, varying in size, placed on paper and in many separate sections, not associated with the other sections. Some patterns would have the dots spaced farther from each other, some would be in alignment and not close to others, some very random. Each of these patterns would find different sized dots. You know where I'm going but would this analogy be useful?

grant hutchison
2019-Jan-17, 04:32 PM
Nope, I have no idea where you're going.

Grant Hutchison

George
2019-Jan-17, 05:44 PM
Nope, I have no idea where you're going. Isn't science really about how we connect the dots based on the merit (size) and spacing of each dot?

grant hutchison
2019-Jan-17, 08:30 PM
Isn't science really about how we connect the dots based on the merit (size) and spacing of each dot?It's not an analogy that's doing anything for me at present, I'm afraid.

Grant Hutchison

Hornblower
2019-Jan-17, 08:31 PM
I assume it's (prescience) simply wise intuition at work and a better label for it, perhaps.

I keep wondering if there is a dot analogy, or something, to all this? Allow me to give y'all a bunch of dots, varying in size, placed on paper and in many separate sections, not associated with the other sections. Some patterns would have the dots spaced farther from each other, some would be in alignment and not close to others, some very random. Each of these patterns would find different sized dots. You know where I'm going but would this analogy be useful?My bold.


Nope, I have no idea where you're going.

Grant Hutchison

Neither do I.

Isn't science really about how we connect the dots based on the merit (size) and spacing of each dot?
I still don't get it.

Hornblower
2019-Jan-17, 09:57 PM
A good example for illustrating the difference between unscientific and pseudoscientific is the Binary Sun Theory thread from nearly ten years ago, as presented by Polestar101.

https://forum.cosmoquest.org/showthread.php?90705-Binary-Sun-Theory

Suppose, after a few exchanges, he had said something like, "Okay, I see where I messed up geometrically. I stand corrected." In that case we could say that his original premise was unscientific, or perhaps a poorly executed attempt at a scientific analysis. Instead, he stuck to his opening assertion and presented one variation after another on the theme of mathematical razzle dazzle which might have looked convincing to a novice who had difficulty visualizing the compound motions, but continued to be starkly at odds with the observed motions. I would describe that as pseudoscientific, in accordance with the shadings of meaning which have been discussed in this thread. He might have been a true believer in some obscure ancient myth, or perhaps he had some other motive. Whatever the case, it seemed clear that he had made up his mind and was not going to be swayed by anything.

George
2019-Jan-17, 11:13 PM
It's not an analogy that's doing anything for me at present, I'm afraid. Well, at least I can enjoy some irony even if my analogy is ineffective.

IOW, you're telling me you're having trouble connecting the dots on a connecting-the-dot analogy? :) I'm looking for an analogy that helps those, including me, that like pictorial representations of processes, even though analogies are almost always a bit too generalized.

Or are you just messing with me, and I hope you are?

grant hutchison
2019-Jan-17, 11:15 PM
Or are you just messing with me, and I hope you are?Not messing with you. I just think science isn't much like connecting dots.

Grant Hutchison

George
2019-Jan-17, 11:26 PM
Not messing with you. I just think science isn't much like connecting dots. Hmmm, is there an analogy you do like that would work? Perhaps something more like stepping stones across a stream?

When I consider, for instance, Romer's change to his Io orbital data set he had submitted to take into account the speed of light, is there not a stepping analogy that would help illustrate his path to get there?

George
2019-Jan-17, 11:39 PM
A good example for illustrating the difference between unscientific and pseudoscientific is the Binary Sun Theory thread from nearly ten years ago, as presented by Polestar101.

https://forum.cosmoquest.org/showthread.php?90705-Binary-Sun-Theory

Suppose, after a few exchanges, he had said something like, "Okay, I see where I messed up geometrically. I stand corrected." In that case we could say that his original premise was unscientific, or perhaps a poorly executed attempt at a scientific analysis. Instead, he stuck to his opening assertion and presented one variation after another on the theme of mathematical razzle dazzle which might have looked convincing to a novice who had difficulty visualizing the compound motions, but continued to be starkly at odds with the observed motions. I would describe that as pseudoscientific, in accordance with the shadings of meaning which have been discussed in this thread. He might have been a true believer in some obscure ancient myth, or perhaps he had some other motive. Whatever the case, it seemed clear that he had made up his mind and was not going to be swayed by anything.

In my view conjectures, hypotheses, theories -- all three allowing objective falsification as required in the SM -- become pseudoscience once they have been falsified. Ptolemy's model was legitimate science (as was the Copernican model) right up until the point Galileo observed the phases of Venus, which buried the Ptolemy model.

So could we say Polestar101 was doing science up until falsification became evident? Or are there more nuances to this?

Hornblower
2019-Jan-17, 11:49 PM
In my view conjectures, hypotheses, theories -- all three allowing objective falsification as required in the SM -- become pseudoscience once they have been falsified. Ptolemy's model was legitimate science (as was the Copernican model) right up until the point Galileo observed the phases of Venus, which buried the Ptolemy model.

So could we say Polestar101 was doing science up until falsification became evident? Or are there more nuances to this?In my opinion, if he was doing science he was doing it very poorly.

George
2019-Jan-18, 12:41 AM
In my opinion, if he was doing science he was doing it very poorly.Agreed, though I didn't read much of his posts, admittedly. Interestingly, I trust your opinion of "very poorly" is accurate, but this is one not of kind but of degree. This is an area I wish to qualify, if possible. I think I've done my share of poor science around here but perhaps more honest about my weaknesses than many in the ATM, but it wasn't non-science, I don't think.

So, back to a dot product (but subjective vectors ;)), arguments or specific objective claims that are "very poor" might be represented as tiny dots, "very strong" would be the large dots. The degree or amount of logic or reasoning necessary to reach the next large or small dot would be the distance between the dots. Is this an analogy worth considering?

Superluminal
2019-Jan-18, 12:42 AM
I assume it's (prescience) simply wise intuition at work and a better label for it, perhaps.

I keep wondering if there is a dot analogy, or something, to all this? Allow me to give y'all a bunch of dots, varying in size, placed on paper and in many separate sections, not associated with the other sections. Some patterns would have the dots spaced farther from each other, some would be in alignment and not close to others, some very random. Each of these patterns would find different sized dots. You know where I'm going but would this analogy be useful?
I thought you were describing a star chart, like "Wil Tirions Sky Atlas." Different size dots represents different magnitudes. If you see the patterns as constellations, the animals and mythological beings, that's pseudoscience. If you see the scientific information conveyed, that's science.

George
2019-Jan-18, 12:51 AM
I thought you were describing a star chart, like "Wil Tirions Sky Atlas." Different size dots represents different magnitudes. Interesting, at least I have one conscious working!


If you see the patterns as constellations, the animals and mythological beings, that's pseudoscience. If you mean astrologically, yes, but otherwise isn't it just some form of art -- fully subjective?

Superluminal
2019-Jan-18, 12:54 AM
He's doing neither until he presents an analysis of his findings, at which point we may decide whether the presentation is scientific or pseudoscientific.

Grant Hutchison
Muldrum claims that he has examined many prints that show evidence of past injuries, deformities and dermal ridges. Things a hoaxer, likely, couldn't produce. If he presents this as proof Bigfoot is real, that's pseudoscience. If just puts his findings out there for others to evaluate, is that science?

grant hutchison
2019-Jan-18, 01:22 AM
Muldrum claims that he has examined many prints that show evidence of past injuries, deformities and dermal ridges. Things a hoaxer, likely, couldn't produce. If he presents this as proof Bigfoot is real, that's pseudoscience. If just puts his findings out there for others to evaluate, is that science?I think just claiming to have found these things would fall into the category I called unscientific, because we immediately ask, "What makes you think that?" To be scientific, I'd expect comparison between prints in an attempt to establish "normal" anatomy, comparison with comparable anatomy and pathology in humans or other primates, discussion of the relationship between print shape and foot shape, and some discussion of why other possible explanations are less likely (superimposed prints, hoaxers with anatomically naive fake feet, texture derived from the mould material, and so on). At that point it's a scientific presentation - after that, the discussion starts.

Grant Hutchison

Ken G
2019-Jan-18, 03:47 AM
This might be a way to save the analogy. Let's say you see a picture with a bunch of dots, and it doesn't mean anything to you. That's a bit like looking at natural phenomena, but not seeing any rhyme or reason (say, objects falling off tables, but the Moon hanging high above you without falling). Now go back to the dots, and look closer. You notice tiny numbers next to each dot. A lightbulb comes on-- maybe the numbers mean some kind of sequence for organizing the dots. What if you draw lines between the dots in that sequence? And poof, a picture emerges. Science can be like that-- when you look at the phenomena in the right way, it sort of spells out a message that, once you see it, you just know you are on to something. The point being, scientific discovery is not always just about obtaining the information-- sometimes the information is staring us in the face, but we don't know how to interpret it as information (like George's dots). We are constantly receiving messages in languages we haven't learned. (And yes, I know the word "prescience" comes from pre-science.)

Superluminal
2019-Jan-18, 09:43 AM
I think just claiming to have found these things would fall into the category I called unscientific, because we immediately ask, "What makes you think that?" To be scientific, I'd expect comparison between prints in an attempt to establish "normal" anatomy, comparison with comparable anatomy and pathology in humans or other primates, discussion of the relationship between print shape and foot shape, and some discussion of why other possible explanations are less likely (superimposed prints, hoaxers with anatomically naive fake feet, texture derived from the mould material, and so on). At that point it's a scientific presentation - after that, the discussion starts.

Grant Hutchison
Muldrum is a foot morphology specialist, so I suppose he would be able to give a scientific reason for believing this track is real and that one is fake. There will always be the possibility a hoaxer could accidentally get it right, once in a while. But the smoking gun in BF
"research" will always be a body, no body, BF is just a myth.

Superluminal
2019-Jan-18, 09:49 AM
If you mean astrologically, yes, but otherwise isn't it just some form of art -- fully subjective?
Depending on what mood I'm in. Sometimes I like to read about the myths behind the constellations. Recently I've used a star chart to look for comparison stars to estimate the magnitude of Comet Wirtanen.

Ken G
2019-Jan-18, 09:56 AM
Muldrum is a foot morphology specialist, so I suppose he would be able to give a scientific reason for believing this track is real and that one is fake. Which brings us to another nice way to distinguish science and pseudoscience: science is designed to be able to convince others who are skeptical, pseudoscience is designed to be able to convince themselves. So I would ask-- what skeptics has Muldrum convinced, or has he only convinced himself?

grant hutchison
2019-Jan-18, 12:42 PM
Which brings us to another nice way to distinguish science and pseudoscience: science is designed to be able to convince others who are skeptical, pseudoscience is designed to be able to convince themselves. So I would ask-- what skeptics has Muldrum convinced, or has he only convinced himself?Yes, that's the discussion I was alluding to. One person can "do science" to the extent of trying their best to adhere to the scientific method in their investigation, analysis and presentation, but it's the "long argument" that eventually incorporates their findings into the body of scientific knowledge (or not). How a person engages with responses to their presentation, how they re-present in the light of criticism, how the go about seeking answers to outstanding questions - all that is an important part of how tell whether they are engaged with science, or dressing up arguments as science.

Grant Hutchison

Ken G
2019-Jan-18, 01:53 PM
And it's a sad thing when an individual thinks they are doing science and making some important discovery, while those around them can see they really aren't. That is my fear for Dr. Muldrum. Of course Klass had the reverse problem-- he entered a community of UFOlogists, in which he was the only one who could see the emperor had no clothes, and his frustration about that is quite evident in his "curse."

WaxRubiks
2019-Jan-18, 03:07 PM
I think maybe a good analogy might be a murder investigation. Either you have a real investigation, or maybe you just have a fit-up/framing.

grant hutchison
2019-Jan-18, 05:15 PM
I guess I'm at a loss why anyone wants an analogy in the first place. Reasoning from analogy is always fraught with danger, and it's not like there are difficult concepts to grasp, here.

Grant Hutchison

George
2019-Jan-18, 05:24 PM
This might be a way to save the analogy. Let's say you see a picture with a bunch of dots, and it doesn't mean anything to you. That's a bit like looking at natural phenomena, but not seeing any rhyme or reason (say, objects falling off tables, but the Moon hanging high above you without falling). Now go back to the dots, and look closer. You notice tiny numbers next to each dot. A lightbulb comes on-- maybe the numbers mean some kind of sequence for organizing the dots. What if you draw lines between the dots in that sequence? And poof, a picture emerges. Science can be like that-- when you look at the phenomena in the right way, it sort of spells out a message that, once you see it, you just know you are on to something. The point being, scientific discovery is not always just about obtaining the information-- sometimes the information is staring us in the face, but we don't know how to interpret it as information (like George's dots). We are constantly receiving messages in languages we haven't learned. (And yes, I know the word "prescience" comes from pre-science.) Right, connecting the dots is recognizing the importance of some new or old information expecting an some sort of outcome, even if many outcomes could come from it, that would justify the scientific process of investigation.

Consider these dots... It was surely known that the Sun's meridian altitude varied annually but it took someone noticing that they could see the bottom of a well in Syene due to water reflection. Then, on the same day, Eratoshenes noted the angle of a stick's (gnomon's) shadow. These "dots" were pointing somewhere important; they were large and close to one another, I think we could argue. The conclusion could have been that the Sun was closer than expected, but adding a parallel ray set of "dots", the radius of the Earth become known.

A yellow to white Sun would involve another set of dots but I hate to be boorish, especially when the dots exceed your screen width.

The dots are a simple pictorial representation of Boolean reasoning, perhaps. They aren't useful unless they can represent the nuance differences such as what is afoot now. Perhaps they can if we use them to address the merit (size) of each. I don't know.

George
2019-Jan-18, 05:42 PM
Which brings us to another nice way to distinguish science and pseudoscience: science is designed to be able to convince others who are skeptical,... Yes, designed with given specifications (objective evidence, math, testability).

... pseudoscience is designed to be able to convince themselves. So I would ask-- what skeptics has Muldrum convinced, or has he only convinced himself? Yes, but their goal is to convince others, and "science by consensus" has a finger in this same pie.


One person can "do science" to the extent of trying their best to adhere to the scientific method in their investigation, analysis and presentation, but it's the "long argument" that eventually incorporates their findings into the body of scientific knowledge (or not). How a person engages with responses to their presentation, how they re-present in the light of criticism, how they go about seeking answers to outstanding questions - all that is an important part of how tell whether they are engaged with science, or dressing up arguments as science. Nicely put especially when we compare quality scientific work with poor scientific work, though both could be considered science, up to a point, I think.

It seems to me that poor reasoning produces poor science, but is it not falsification (if only the objective evidence; premises) that pushes poor science into the pseudoscience realm (Sillyville)?

George
2019-Jan-18, 05:46 PM
I think maybe a good analogy might be a murder investigation. Either you have a real investigation, or maybe you just have a fit-up/framing. Yes, the procedures and need for objective evidence makes for a fair comparison here, but science doesn't allow conclusions that are purely circumstantial, I don't think.

George
2019-Jan-18, 05:53 PM
I guess I'm at a loss why anyone wants an analogy in the first place. Reasoning from analogy is always fraught with danger, and it's not like there are difficult concepts to grasp, here. Most people don't really get it, unfortunately. A few hours ago, a friend was interested in the forthcoming lunar eclipse and he thought that all the phases of the Moon involved the Earth's shadow. There's a host of topics that need ways to help delineate all degrees of science and scientific-looking product. Some are very difficult like climate change and many religious topics that have some overlap with science, for instance.

The Backroad Astronomer
2019-Jan-18, 07:00 PM
Most people don't really get it, unfortunately. A few hours ago, a friend was interested in the forthcoming lunar eclipse and he thought that all the phases of the Moon involved the Earth's shadow. There's a host of topics that need ways to help delineate all degrees of science and scientific-looking product. Some are very difficult like climate change and many religious topics that have some overlap with science, for instance.
Maybe he saw this guy doing three experiments to prove the Earth is flat.
https://youtu.be/ArXmZ1mGrm0

George
2019-Jan-18, 08:09 PM
Maybe he saw this guy doing three experiments to prove the Earth is flat.
https://youtu.be/ArXmZ1mGrm0 I think I heard him say "8 inches per mile squared" for Earth's curvature. This isn't even a dot to allow any connection. Such things are what initiated Phil to start the Bad Astronomy Board.

Ken G
2019-Jan-19, 12:55 AM
My favorite was his argument that if you could see the Moon in the sky, and you could see the Sun in the sky, such that you know the Earth's shadow can't be on the Moon, then if the Moon was lit up by the Sun you should see a full Moon. Since you don't, it means the Moon has to create its own light. (No explanation of why this light the Moon creates comes out only on one side, nor why that side changes.) But I just love the logic-- the authorities are lying to us when they tell us that the shadow of the Earth causes the phases of the Moon. Why else would so many people think that-- must be the authorities are wrong.

grant hutchison
2019-Jan-19, 01:09 AM
I guess I'm at a loss why anyone wants an analogy in the first place. Reasoning from analogy is always fraught with danger, and it's not like there are difficult concepts to grasp, here.Most people don't really get it, unfortunately.Your example is about someone who doesn't get some specific example of scientific reasoning. Often, we can explain the error and make the misconception goes away.
I was saying that I don't get how analogy might help someone understand how to reason scientifically. Tbere's an irreducible minimum at which an analogy is more complicated than just thinking about the idea presented.

Grant Hutchison

Strange
2019-Jan-19, 09:49 AM
Yes, that's the discussion I was alluding to. One person can "do science" to the extent of trying their best to adhere to the scientific method in their investigation, analysis and presentation, but it's the "long argument" that eventually incorporates their findings into the body of scientific knowledge (or not). How a person engages with responses to their presentation, how they re-present in the light of criticism, how the go about seeking answers to outstanding questions - all that is an important part of how tell whether they are engaged with science, or dressing up arguments as science.

Grant Hutchison

I think a related diagnostic feature of pseudoscience is certainty.

A scientist might say something like, "the evidence we currently have would appear to be consistent, to some extent, with the possible existence of a Bigfoot-like animal, however more work is needed to analyse this data and to eliminate other possibilities."

Whereas a pseudoscientist would say, "this print proves the existence of Bigfoot".

Ken G
2019-Jan-19, 01:54 PM
And yet there are also deviations from that. Scientists sometimes purport too much confidence that they are right, and also tend to overstate how "shocking" their own new findings are. Every time a scientist says "we were shocked to discover...", they are alluding to the presence of a kind of certainty prior to the discovery that would generally not have been appropriate in the first place. Also, pseudoscientists sometimes hide behind skepticism-- they say their findings raise the tantalizing possibility that Bigfoot is real, though more study will be required to be certain (a vast overstatement, usually). They try to sound like good scientists, so that people can't tell the difference.

In a similar vein, they also use the "provocative question" approach, like "does this mean Bigfoot is real? You decide!" This is part of why it's pseudoscience-- the pretense of scientific validity, the pretense of skepticism. They might say as good scientists, "we must maintain the possibility that Bigfoot is real." On the surface, that is certainly true, but it's an overstatement because you could put absolutely anything in place of "Bigfoot." The real question is, why single out Bigfoot for this special attention, among all the myths and stories that humans tell, and all the hoaxes and cons being promoted all the time? The scientist must do more than be skeptical of both existence and nonexistence, they also have to have some plausible evidence to pick one topic to given special consideration to. They are free to study whatever they want, of course, but why are we hearing about it?

grant hutchison
2019-Jan-19, 02:56 PM
In a similar vein, they also use the "provocative question" approach, like "does this mean Bigfoot is real? You decide!"In journalism, this is referred to as "Questions to which the answer is 'No'." A bald statement would require a responsible journalist to provide some good supporting evidence; a question does not, and yet delivers the idea into the reader's head. So there a rule of thumb that all newspaper headlines written in the form of a question can be answered "No".

Grant Hutchison

George
2019-Jan-19, 07:53 PM
Your example is about someone who doesn't get some specific example of scientific reasoning. Often, we can explain the error and make the misconception goes away.
I was saying that I don't get how analogy might help someone understand how to reason scientifically. Tbere's an irreducible minimum at which an analogy is more complicated than just thinking about the idea presented.That is certainly true for some or many, but there are many people -- usually the less educated -- who need an analogy or a couple of favored metaphors to augment the concepts presented. Those who struggle with more difficult topics can feel a little less intimidated given a metaphor or two. A metaphor means the point in the presentation is important enough to pause and take another stab at it if only to give the listener both more time to "get it" and see it from perhaps a better angle. They may not always work and they may make matters worse, but there should be plenty that are effective since science is so heavily based on human experience.

George
2019-Jan-19, 08:09 PM
They are free to study whatever they want, of course, but why are we hearing about it?Would you like the Drake Equation approach to the this given the many terms involved, though they're all simple? :)

Superluminal
2019-Jan-20, 12:24 AM
And yet there are also deviations from that. Scientists sometimes purport too much confidence that they are right, and also tend to overstate how "shocking" their own new findings are. Every time a scientist says "we were shocked to discover...", they are alluding to the presence of a kind of certainty prior to the discovery that would generally not have been appropriate in the first place. Also, pseudoscientists sometimes hide behind skepticism-- they say their findings raise the tantalizing possibility that Bigfoot is real, though more study will be required to be certain (a vast overstatement, usually). They try to sound like good scientists, so that people can't tell the difference .
I remember when the Universe was discovered to be expanding and accelerating. There were a lot of, "We were shocked," comments. One researcher involved said, "We're wrong. I know we're wrong and one day we'll be proven wrong." So far, their research seams to be standing up.
I'm surprised no one has mentioned, "proving a negative." How do you prove Bigfoot exists? That's easy, go catch one. How do you prove they don't exist? As long as there's a patch of woods big enough that a large animal could, hypothetically, live undetected. Bigfoot will always be with us. Maybe one day we'll out grow it, the way we out grew the ancient Roman and Greek gods. But I doubt it.

Superluminal
2019-Jan-20, 12:28 AM
Would you like the Drake Equation approach to the this given the many terms involved, though they're all simple? :)
Or do you mean the Flake Equation?
https://xkcd.com/718/

Ken G
2019-Jan-20, 02:00 AM
Too true.

George
2019-Jan-20, 05:54 PM
Or do you mean the Flake Equation?
https://xkcd.com/718/Nice. :)

gzhpcu
2019-Jan-21, 08:40 PM
The Dunning-Kruger effect might also play a role...

The Backroad Astronomer
2019-Jan-21, 09:05 PM
I would agree to that plus probably several other factors.