How Pseudosciences Form

Lately I have been doing some reading that made me think about pseudoscience. It seems like pseudosciences occur as a consequence of the following conditions:

  1. A complex subject is to be understood
  2. Some aspects of the subject are simply unknown or poorly understood
  3. An evangelist simplifies a subject to promote broad interest
  4. Members of the audience draw conclusions, in many cases supported by intuition, based only on the simplification
  5. The conclusions are further evangelized without testing

So pseudosciences may start out as legitimate sciences, with people making observations, forming hypotheses, and testing them for predictability, but when the scientific method is not followed, they go awry. For example, astrology and astronomy both have their roots in the legitimate study of celestial objects and their movements. Unfortunately, astrologers jumped to the wrong conclusions about the earthly effects of those objects, and evangelized these conclusions without testing them.

Tags: Science

Updated at: 20 February 2008 12:02 AM