Tuesday, May 9, 2017

NPR on Pseudoscience

here, some excerpts and musings:

001. at npr.org, Tania Lombrozo writes in "What Is Pseudoscience?" (2017-05-08):


"drawing the boundary between science and pseudoscience isn't always straightforward [...]";

but this doesn't mean it isn't 'possible or usually straightforward'. 

"amid the clear extremes [upp!] is a murky territory occupied by bad science, fraudulent science, and sometimes even religion [...]"; 

I'm not sure these areas are "murky".  I think 'unreviewed shallow fringe science' which looks promising is murky.  When is an article of faith that doesn't care about evidence murky?  When is fake science murky science?  Of course, the laity may not be able to even define science never mind differentiate.

"many individual and institutional decisions depend upon our best understanding of the natural world — an understanding that science is uniquely poised to provide. Social and natural sciences inform medical decisions, legal decisions, and public policy — not to mention our own decisions about what to eat, how to manage illness, and how to lead our lives [...] because pseudoscience typically tries to pass for science, filtering out the genuine from the counterfeit can be tricky, and yet doing so effectively can affect the quality of our public and private decisions [...]";

sure, sure. 

"falsifiability [is] an idea that the philosopher Karl Popper summarized like this: 'statements or systems of statements, in order to be ranked as scientific, must be capable of conflicting with possible, or conceivable observations.' In other words, a statement is scientific if it could at least in principle be falsified by some piece of data.  This idea is familiar to many scientists and non-scientists alike. But the view is far from universally accepted among philosophers of science. In fact, discussions are rife with challenges and alternatives [...] one approach is to amend Popper's criterion by adding in some requirement for scientific progress. It matters not only that a claim be falsifiable, but that it be part of a scientific program of research that actively seeks to test hypotheses and revise them in light of new evidence [...] to identify pseudoscience [...] we consult a checklist of warning signs, symptoms that science has gone wrong. These warning signs could include reliance on an individual's authority as a guide to what's true, unwillingness to test claims or revise them in light of new data, and reliance on experiments that have failed to subsequently replicate [...]";

ah, to quote my middle school general science teacher Mr. Rotundaro: "science is organized, systematized, self-testing and self-correcting."
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