Pseudoscience: Objective or Subjective?

Michael Ruse
Florida State University, United States | mruse@fsu.edu

Received: 19-May-2019 | Accepted: 14-July-2019 | Published Online: 24-November-2019
Disputatio [Dec. 2019], Vol. 9, No. 13, pp. 00-00 | DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3567210
Article | [EN] | Full Text | Statistics | Copyright Notice [sp] | Vol. 9 No. 13

How to cite this article:
Ruse, Michael (2020). «Pseudoscience: Objective or Subjective?». Disputatio. Philosophical Research Bulletin 9, no. 13: pp. 00–00.


Abstract | What is pseudo-science and when do charges of pseudo-scientific thinking generally arise? These questions are answered by looking at six examples where the charge of pseudo-science has arisen: anti-vaccination and the claims that it causes illnesses, Creationism – the claim that the Bible is literally true –, chiropractic and claims about curing cancer and the like, pre-Darwinian evolution, that is developmental hypotheses before the Origin of Species (1859), Immanuel Velikovsky and his book, Worlds in Collision, and the Gaia hypothesis that the Earth is an organism. It is agreed that there is an objective foundation to charges of pseudo-science and the author’s testimony in a court case in Arkansas in 1981, arguing that Creationism is not genuine science, is used to support this claim. Karl Popper’s criterion of demarcation invoking falsifiability is a key notion here. However, it is argued that charges of pseudo-science occur most frequently when conventional practitioners are under threat. Then claims of pseudo-science are used to attack the non-conventional opposition. The examples are used to support this conclusion.
Keywords |
Pseudoscience · Falsifiability · Evolution · Velikovsky · Gaia.

Pseudociencia: ¿objetiva o subjetiva?

Resumen | ¿Qué es la pseudociencia y cuándo surgen generalmente las acusaciones de pensamiento pseudocientífico? Contesto estas preguntas analizando seis ejemplos en los cuales ha surgido tal acusación: el movimiento antivacunas, que afirma que la vacunación causa enfermedades, el creacionismo, la afirmación de que la Biblia es literalmente verdadera, la quiropraxia y afirmaciones similares sobre curar el cáncer, evolución predarwiniana, es decir, hipótesis evolucionistas anteriores a El Origen de las especies (1859), Immanuel Velikovsky y su libro Mundos en colisión, y la hipótesis de Gaia, que afirma que la Tierra es un organismo. Asumo que hay un fundamento objetivo para la pseudociencia y utilizo el testimonio del autor en un caso judicial en Arkansas en 1981, argumentando que el creacionismo no es una ciencia genuina, para respaldar dicha afirmación. El criterio de demarcación de Karl Popper, que invoca la falsabilidad, es una noción clave aquí. Sin embargo, argumento que las acusaciones de pseudociencia ocurren con mayor frecuencia cuando los profesionales convencionales están bajo amenaza. Por lo tanto, estas acusaciones se emplean para atacar posiciones no convencionales. Presento varios ejemplos para apoyar esta conclusión.
Palabras Clave | Pseudociencia · Falsabilidad · Evolución · Velikovsky · Gaia.


References

Argyll, Duke of (1867). The Reign of Law. London: Alexander Strahan.

Brewster, David (1844). “Vestiges”. North British Review no. 3, pp. 470-515.

Chambers, Robert (1844). Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. London: Churchill.

Chambers, Robert (1846). Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, Fifth Edition. 5th ed. London: J. Churchill.

Darwin, Charles (1859). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. London: John Murray.

Darwin, Erasmus [1794-1796](1801). Zoonomia; or, The Laws of Organic Life. 3rd ed. London: J. Johnson.

Darwin, Erasmus (1803). The Temple of Nature. London: J. Johnson.

Dawkins, Richard 1982. The Extended Phenotype: The Gene as the Unit of Selection. Oxford: W.H. Freeman.

Doolittle, W. Ford (1981). “Is nature really motherly?” CoEvolution 29: pp. 58-62.

Eldredge, Niles and Gould Steven Jay (1972). “Punctuated equilibria: an alternative to phyletic gradualism”. In: Models in Paleobiology. Editor T. J. M. Schopf, pp. 82-115. San Francisco: Freeman, Cooper.

Gordin, Michael D. (2012a). “How Lysenkoism Became Pseudoscience: Dobzhansky to Velikovsky”. Journal of the History of Biology, 45: pp. 443-468.

Gordin, Michael D. (2012b). The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Huxley, Thomas Henry (1854). “Vestiges, etc.” British and Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Review 13: pp. 425-39.

Huxley, Thomas Henry (1887). “Science and Pseudo-Science”. Popular Science Monthly, 31, June.

Lovelock, James E. (1979). Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Margulis, Lynn, and James E. Lovelock (1974). “Biological modulation of the Earth’s atmosphere”. Icarus 21: pp. 471-89.

Naden, Constance (1999). Poetical Works of Constance Naden. Kernville, Ca.: High Sierra Books.

Overton, William R. [1982] (1988). “United States District Court Opinion: McLean versus Arkansas”. In: But is it Science? The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy. Editor M Ruse, pp. 307-331. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus.

Postgate, John R. (1988). “Gaia gets too big for her boots”. New Scientist , no. April 7: 80.

Provine, William B. (1971). The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ruse, Michael, Editor. (1988). But is it Science? The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus.

Ruse, Michael (1996). Monad to Man: The Concept of Progress in Evolutionary Biology. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Ruse, Michael (2013). The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a Pagan Planet. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sedgwick, Adam (1845). “Vestiges”. Edinburgh Review 82: pp. 1-85.

Sedgwick , Adam (1850). Discourse on the Studies at the University of Cambridge (Fifth Edition). 5th ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Segerstrale, Ullika (2000). Defenders of the Truth: The Battle for Science in the Sociobiology Debate and Beyond. New York: Oxford University Press.

Whewell, W. 1845. Indications of the Creator. London: Parker.


© The author(s) 2020. This work, published by Disputatio [www.disputatio.eu], is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License [BY–NC–ND]. The copy, distribution and public communication of this work will be according to the copyright notice. For inquiries and permissions, please email: boletin@disputatio.eu.