Features of Pseudoscience

Feautures of pseudoscience

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  • Created by: alice
  • Created on: 10-10-12 13:57


Pseudoscience: A practice or approach that claims to be scientific but does not adhere to the key princibles of the scientific process.

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Lacks Falsifiability

  • The aim of the scientific process is to test hypotheses and falsify them.
  • E.g. a study may find no evidence of ESP, and appear to disproof the hypothesis that ESP exsists.
    -However some paranormal psychologists claim that the lack of supporting evidence occurs becuase sceptics are present and the phenomena disappear becuase of this.
  • The end result is a non-falsifiable hypothesis.
  •  Many hypotheses related to anomalous experience are of this nature.
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Lack of Carefully Controlled, Replicable Research

  • There are many studies of paranormal phenomena that claim to be highly controlled but arn't
  • There are also many examples of failure to replicate studies of paranormal phenomena, especially by non-believers.
    -Recently Burn (2011) Produced evidence that people can sense future events before they happen. His research involved testing participants recall of words. Normally a person would be able to remember words that were previously rehersed better than those not rehersed. In this study Burn demonstrated that people remember better if rehersal occured afterwards; so a future event was affecting the present. However a team of 3 UK sceptical researchers seporately failed to replicate this result.
  • The fact that sceptics invariably fail to get the same results as believers challenges the objective nature of the research.
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Lacks Theories to Explain the Effects

  • The aim of scientific research is to construct theories.
  •  Most paranormal phenomena have not, as yet, been given theoretical explinations.
    - E.g. How does ESP happen? Or what is it that allows some people to move objects without touching them.
  • The Society for Psychial Research (SPR) acknowledges this, "Psychial research will not attain scientific respectability untill it had agreed some theoritical basis" (SPR, 2011).
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Burden of Proof Misplaced

  • Supporters of psi phenomena argue that the burden of proof is not theirs and say its upto sceptics to disproof psi phenomena.
  • Such disproof is difficult becuase, for example, it is not always simple to proof a photo is fake.
  • In science, the burden of proof usually lies with the believer and not the sceptic.
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Lack of Ability to Change

  • A key element of science is that explinations are adapted as a result of hypothesis testing.
  •  If a scientist fails to find support for a hypothesis, the responce is to develop a new explination/hypothesis.
  • This is not the case with psi phenomena which have continued to be explained in the same way for centuries, despite the lack of evidence.
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