lecture 1: science and pseudoscience n 1. science n 2. protoscience n 3. pseudoscience n 4....
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Lecture 1: Science and Pseudoscience n 1. Science n 2. Protoscience n 3. Pseudoscience n 4. Pathological Science n 5. Fraud in Science n 6. Conclusions Slide 2 Science n No clear set of defining characteristics to differentiate science from non- science. n Karl Popper's notion of falsifiability is important... Slide 3 Marxism - non-falsifiable? Slide 4 Psychoanalysis - non-falsifiable? Slide 5 Benchmarks of Science n Good science can be thought of as meeting a number of benchmarks. n Not all sciences, particularly social sciences, meet all of the benchmarks fully (Edge et al, 1986). n Parapsychology will be considered against some of these benchmarks in a subsequent lecture. Slide 6 Protoscience n Stent (1972) defines prematurity in science as follows: A discovery is premature if its implications cannot be connected by a series of simple logical steps to canonical, or generally accepted, knowledge Slide 7 Alfred Wegener: Continental Drift (1912) Slide 8 Thomas Kuhns Scientific Revolutions n Importance of paradigms (or the disciplinary matrix) n Normal vs. revolutionary science n Will parapsychology force a paradigm shift? Slide 9 The roots of chemistry Slide 10 The roots of physics Slide 11 The roots of astronomy? Slide 12 Radner & Radners (1982) Marks of Pseudoscience n (1) Non-falsifiability - e.g., aspects of Creationism... Slide 13 Geological and Fossil Evidence? Slide 14 Light from distant stars? Slide 15 Tree rings in the Garden of Eden? Slide 16 Work of God or Satan? Slide 17 Conspiracy Theories n Government and military cover-ups of UFOs n Ritualised Satanic child abuse... Slide 18 Radner & Radners (1982) Marks of Pseudoscience (2) The grab-bag approach to evidence: Pseudoscientists have the attitude that sheer quantity of evidence makes up for any deficiency in the quality of individual pieces of evidence. They pile up prodigious amounts of questionable data in support of their pet theories. Pseudoscientists have the attitude that sheer quantity of evidence makes up for any deficiency in the quality of individual pieces of evidence. They pile up prodigious amounts of questionable data in support of their pet theories. Slide 19 Books on UFOs report sighting after sighting of mysterious objects. Slide 20 Charles Berlitz and his Bermuda triangle followers give case after case of ships and planes disappearing without a trace. Slide 21 Von Daniken trots out artifact after artifact in support of his hypothesis about extraterrestrial visitation in ancient times. Slide 22 Radner & Radners (1982) Marks of Pseudoscience n (3) Looking for mysteries: The assumption that if conventional theorists cannot supply completely watertight explanations for every single case that is put before them, then they should admit that the pseudoscientific claim is valid. n Is this reasonable? Slide 23 Reluctance to allow critical investigation... Slide 24 Radner & Radners (1982) Marks of Pseudoscience n (4) Excessive reliance upon ancient myths and legends as being literally true... Slide 25 Von Daniken and Elijah... Slide 26 Radner & Radners (1982) Marks of Pseudoscience n (5) Argument from the basis of spurious similarity... Slide 27 Radner & Radners (1982) Marks of Pseudoscience n (6) Refusal to revise ideas in the light of criticism... Slide 28 Mario Bunges (1980) criteria for a Pseudoscience n its theory of knowledge is subjectivistic, containing aspects accessible only to the initiated n its formal background is modest, with only rare involvement of mathematics or logic n its fund of knowledge contains untestable or even false hypotheses which are in conflict with a larger body of knowledge Slide 29 Mario Bunges (1980) criteria for a Pseudoscience (cont.) n its methods are neither checkable by alternative methods nor justifiable in terms of well-confirmed theories n it borrows nothing from neighbouring fields, there is no overlap with another field of research Slide 30 Mario Bunges (1980) criteria for a Pseudoscience (cont.) n it has no specific background of relatively confirmed theories n it has an unchanging body of belief, whereas scientific enquiry teems with novelty n it has a world-view admitting immaterial entities, such as disembodied minds, whereas science countenances only changing concrete things Slide 31 Pathological Science n Wolpert (1992) summarizes Langmuir's criteria for pathological science as follows: n the maximum effect observed is very small, near the limit of detectability n the magnitude of the effect seems independent of the cause n claims of great accuracy n usually a fantastic theory n criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses. Slide 32 Examples of Pathological Science n The canals of Mars - Schiaparelli, 1877; then Flammarion and Lowell Slide 33 Blondlots N-rays n Discovered in 1903 increased the brightness of electrical spark emitted by Sun, flames and incandescent objects, as well as the nervous system secondary sources of N-rays, such as the fluid in the eye, would absorb N-rays and re-emit them n Dozens of replications, but... Slide 34 N-rays dont exist! n As shown by Robert Wood, American physicist. Slide 35 Polywater n Discovered by Russian scientists in 1960s n Hundreds of papers published n Unusual properties probably caused by impurities in ordinary water! Slide 36 Homeopathy n Based upon two principles: Like cures like Dilution INCREASES potency Slide 37 Martin Gardner (1991) n A moderate homeopathic dose, called "30 c," is arrived at by first diluting the drug to a hundredth part and then repeating the process 30 times. As someone pointed out, it is like taking a grain of a substance and dissolving it in billions of spheres of water, each with the diameter of the solar system. Slide 38 Benveniste et al. (1988) n Reported effects of an antiserum when diluted to one part in 10 120 n Cf. 10 20 stars in the universe! n Replication attempt under the scrutiny of a team from Nature: John Maddox (editor) Walter Stewart (chemist, expert in fraud) James Randi (conjuror and sceptic) Slide 39 Critical Report n The series of experiments were: statistically ill-controlled subject to systematic error including observer bias data which did not fit the hypothesis had been simply excluded n BBCs Horizon reported a update on this case, including another failed attempt at replication Slide 40 Cold Fusion (1989) n Cold fusion refers to the release of energy from the fusion of deuterium nuclei within a palladium electrode at room temperature. n Reported by B. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, chemists at the University of Utah, on 23 March 1989 n Replication attempts failed Slide 41 Common Themes n 1) the adoption of various strategies to render the original claims non-falsifiable; n 2) the influence of human bias, allowing investigators to fool themselves (and others) into seeing what they want to see; n 3) a tendency to bypass the usual channels of dissemination for scientific results with prior release directly to the world's media. Slide 42 Fraud in Science n A problem in all areas of science (Broad & Wade, 1982) n Not all cases are clear-cut Slide 43 Conclusion 1 Universally acceptable criteria to distinguish science from non-science do not exist. It may be more useful to think in terms of a number of benchmarks of good science vs bad science and to recognise that fields of intellectual activity will vary with respect to the degree to which they meet these criteria. Slide 44 Conclusion 2 Similarly, it has not proved possible to produce sets of non-problematic criteria to clearly and unambiguously characterise fields as pseudosciences. Although certain common themes run through most such attempts, it is notable that different commentators often produce radically different sets of allegedly defining features. Slide 45 Conclusion 3 Consideration of these issues is useful, however, in that it casts light upon the human face of science and may serve to alert us to the ever-present dangers of our own biases. Slide 46 Acknowledgement With thanks to Hilary Evans, proprietor of the Mary Evans Picture Library, for permission to use illustrations featured in this presentation. These illustrations must not be reproduced in any form without permission from the Mary Evans Picture Library.