Essay on pseudoscience


Rationalists and skeptics generally follow the idea:. Obliviously they will still fail the "humanity test" and be subject to the associated human failings. Nevertheless this group makes a positive statement about what they will believe in given the right circumstances and, while we are going to be guilty of generalising, we can be a lot more confident about our generalising. There is a good chance that such individuals are atheists or at least highly skeptical agnostics.

Their political views may vary but they have a tendency to be left of centre. They reject pseudoscience and the supernatural and frequently their only interest in religion will be in criticizing it.


The narrow definition of atheism as a negative belief has sometimes led to attempts to produce more broader or more positive descriptions. For instance the brights movement denies everything supernatural. Others - such as the philosopher A.

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Grayling - have the suggested the term naturalist as a positive description for a person who only believes in naturalistic explanations. As an aside, it seems to me that these suggestions for broader terms tend to come from European atheists looking for a more all-encompassing framework for their views and tend to be rejected by atheists in the US who I suspect see themselves as a beleaguered minority who need to defend the term. But I have no real data to back this up and present it only as an opinion. Given the fact that atheism is defined by a single lack of belief it is difficult to see what a fundamentalist atheist could be fundamentalist about.

In intellectual terms not believing in Gods is about as profound as not believing in homoeopathy I accept that in some parts of the world it may be socially very profound and consequently talking about a "fundamentalist atheist" seems to me to make about as much sense as calling an outspoken critic of homoeopathy a "fundamentalist ahomeopathist".

Obliviously there certainly are some atheists who are considerably more outspoken than others, but calling them "fundamentalists" seems to me to be simply an ad hominem or snarl word which attempts to dismiss them as fanatics and so avoid engaging with the points they raise. There is no way to know what an atheist believes beyond the denial of God, and we usually don't even know if an individual has a rational reason for that denial. Consequently the possibility of an atheist making a weird or surprising statement is no higher or lower than such a statement being made by a member of the general population.

Richard Feynman on Pseudoscience

Expressing surprise at this state of affairs indicates either a possible lack of understanding of what atheism is, or alternatively, it may indicate a conflation of the terms "atheist" and "rationalist" - as irrational statements made by people who claim to be rationalists would certainly be worthy of mention. Finally we need to remember the existence of the balance fallacy and note that if one group of individuals are utter lunatics and another group disagrees with them that doesn't mean that reality lies somewhere in between.

Jump to: navigation , search. This essay is an original work by Bob M. It does not necessarily reflect the views expressed in RationalWiki's Mission Statement , but we welcome discussion of a broad range of ideas. See RationalWiki:Copyrights. Feel free to make comments on the talk page , which will probably be far more interesting, and might reflect a broader range of RationalWiki editors' thoughts.

However, horoscopes are vague, and they are set up that way so it can apply to everyone.

Psychology, on the other hand, does have scientific ground to it. The steps for the scientific method is to ask a question, do background research, make a hypothesis, test your hypothesis by doing an experiment, and lastly analyze your data and draw a conclusion then report the results. The Stanford prison experiment is when a man named Philip Zimbardo wanted to study brutality reports among guards in American prisons. McLeod, Even though his experiment was not ethical, through his experiment, we learned that when people are given too much power they end up becoming sadistic tyrants.

Zimbardo had to go through all the steps in the scientific method to acquire this information that he learned about what people do when they have too much power. Science is about understanding the world that we live in and using that information to possibly make the world a better place. Psychology is a sibling of philosophy. Therefore, psychology was influenced by people in Greece from people like Socrates or Aristotle McLeod, However, psychology and philosophy are not the same fields; psychology is designed to study human behavior and why humans behave the way that they do, and philosophy looks how people relate to knowledge.

Wundt analyzed the human mind in a different way than philosophy does. By doing this, he separated psychology from philosophy by coming up with ideas such as introspection and structuralism.

Why people fall for pseudoscience (and how academics can fight back)

Structuralism looks at the structure of the minds and introspection looks at internal thoughts and feelings. This approach focuses on how psychologists should focus on why and how people do what they do. Another famous psychologist that helped to make psychology a real science is Sigmund Freud also known as the father of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis tries to explain and understand human behavior and it is a form of therapy when treating mental illness. This theory says that all mental problems comes from the unconscious mind.

This type of theory is very influential in our society today. Freud analyzed people by getting his patients to talk about their dreams, fantasies, their childhood memories. Freud came up with the terms libido, id, ego, super ego, repression, etc. In contrast, to Freud psychoanalysis theory is behaviorism.

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This theory was launched by Jon Watson also known as the father of behaviorism. Academics have a reputation for being blinkered, arrogant, patronising and intolerant of those whose specialities differ from their own.

And it means that if people have put their weight behind a belief, they are invested in it, and are likely to fight its corner. This leads us to confirmation and selection bias : we look for evidence to support a theory, and ignore evidence to the contrary. Any random set of data looks like it has clusters of points in it.


Strange enthusiasms: a brief history of American pseudoscience

The less you know, the more likely you are to perceive yourself as an expert. Conversely, the more you know, the more likely you are to doubt your own competence. Behrenbruch dedicates at least three hours a day to dispelling pseudoscience. All over the planet, there are rafts of small public companies that take money from gullible investors with poor science — but once they are hooked, they are hooked.

As a health condition degrades and there become fewer and fewer treatment options, the tendency to try anything rises. The confounding part of this equation is the concept of human hope — and that, unfortunately, is what undermines science every time. We hope that something will work, we believe that something will work.