What is Pseudoscience? And why we live in a banana republic age of scientific consensus, ruled by SSkeptics.
In the September 2011 Scientific American Skeptic editorial, Michael Shermer tendered, in my opinion, an untenable definition of Pseudoscience. A definition which is crafted to lend legitimacy to the unethical act of classifying subjects a priori into forbidden domains; involving power which appropriates and corrupts the use of peer review and research, making them no longer tools on the part of true experts in a field of study, rather the pretentious actions of controlling social figures and campaigns. A definition which seeks instead to promote science as a form of democratic popularity contest adjudicated by all those appointed the right to vote by the very power wielding SSkeptics themselves. A contest of politics wherein it is the number of people in a social club who have an opinion, and not the data, research and work of the true investigators (see Discovery Science), which determines the tenets of what is considered an acceptable conclusion of science.
All this passed off under the pretense of socially responsible jargon, that somehow this broad non-expert opinion survey constitutes “egalitarian rather than elitist” principles and is “bottom up rather than top down.” In other words “We cannot rely upon people conducting observations and doing research to guide us, we need the vote of our social order, trained through filtered channel propaganda.”
“Let science consumers in the marketplace of ideas determine (vote) what constitutes good science, starting with the scientists themselves and filtering through the editors, educators, and readers. As for potential consumers of pseudoscience (that means everyone), that’s what skeptics are for…” (Michael Shermer, “What is Pseudoscience?”, Scientific American; Vol 305, No. 3; p. 92)
Michael Shermer is wrong here in my opinion. He has not only crafted an non-viable definition of the term pseudoscience, but has assumed a position of power on the part of he and his Cabal, which they do not merit. What is actually practiced is nothing akin to an egalitarian consensus, rather is a Social Technology (a forthcoming blog on why it does not take a conspiracy theory in order for good persons to produce evil outcomes) crafted by those who seek power. SSkeptics develop an iniquitous and incompetent framing of the processes which lead to the presumption of what is and is not pseudoscience. Below I will outline why Pseudoscience, in Ethical Skepticism is an action and a pretense on the part of those claiming to represent science, and not a disposition of a topic by controlling interests. There are five principal fatal problems inherent in defining pseudoscience as a disposition of a topic, tendered by today’s version of democratic science.
Why Pseudoscience is an ACTION and a PRETENSE, and cannot ethically be a research subject, topic, belief or faith
Ethical Problem 1: The Marketplace is informed of the vote results by SSkeptics
If you have ever been to a party, where a scientist will quietly speak his mind on one of the Forbidden 121 topics but mentions that he would never be able to speak in public about such things, nor heaven forbid, actually conduct observations inside the subject, much less do any science – then you know first hand the all-too-common witch hunt mentality which exists inside science today. This witch hunt is not a conspiracy theory, rather a real and damaging zeitgeist crafted by, and painted by the SSkeptic Cabal. The problem with Michael Shermer’s version of the Marketplace of Science , is that the results of the vote, or if you will what is the new fashion rage for this spring, or the results of this year’s Academy Awards of Authorized Science, are informed and presented to the democratic body, by the very SSkeptics themselves. This is a stark conflict of interest. People with a singular religious view, informing people as to what to believe, is not science. “As for potential consumers of pseudoscience (everyone), that’s what skeptics are for…” In other words, we live in a banana republic, where one party informs the voters of the tally of the vote.
And is this party honest? No. In the coming millennium this will not even be in question. As our minds continue to expand and be informed, today’s SSkeptic movement will be replaced by true scientific method and ethics (see The Tower of Wrong).
Ethical Problem 2: The Science ‘Marketplace’ includes a majority of non-expert voters, who are an easy sell for SSkeptics, and who are inappropriately called the ‘scientists themselves’
Ahh, I see. So science is a popularity contest inside a club of non-experts, non-researchers, non-interested persons who simply hold a status and title (“the scientists themselves”). A democracy of popular vote among a constituency of persons who win the right to vote by simply being in the club; and not by having actually conducted real research into the idea in question. Since I have a title, I am deemed able to make pronouncements on any subject I desire, and be counted in the vote. SSkeptics ignore the fact that, in regard to those subjects deemed “pseudosciences” – very few of scientists are actually experts in the subject in question at all.
Corollary 2a. There are far fewer true experts than there are opinionated non-expert voters
There at least 200 sciences comprised by Natural, Social, Medical, Engineering, and Mathematical discipline groupings. This is a very successful focus and career advancement structure. But the weakness therein is that any participant in the body of science intrinsically only holds expertise on .5% to 4% of the given knowledge base. I have spent 30 years pursuing my career subject, replete with 8 years of undergrad and graduate work. I am considered one of the top 3 persons in my field. This as a result of working 6 days a week and 12 to 16 hours a day on the cutting edge of my field. I still do not have an adequate grasp of my field after all this time. It is still not enough for me to begin to dictate what is right inside of sister disciplines. At most I have a 4% grasp on industry as a whole. I am a non-expert on much of my broad science grouping. Understanding this is a key tenet of Ethical Skepticism.
When I observe scientists or SSkeptics pretending to be experts on a broad array of subjects, I KNOW it is a load of baloney. They have not had enough time to gain this insight. It is a pretense and a masquerade.
So, because a group of astronomers, physicists, psychologists, nuclear technologists and mathematicians do not like the idea of a North American Primate, then the subject is given the final fatal disposition of a ‘pseudoscience’ – despite none of the ‘scientists themselves’ (or voters, in this context) in question actually having done ANY research at all into the subject. Couple this with the fact that those who actually DO research, are declared to be not-scientists, or are relegated to and less than SSkeptics’ subjectively convenient “dismissible margin,” and one has witnessed the establishment a social construct. There is a problem, there is a flaw in the system which creates a social order and not a science, when the following state exists in the voting input. This state exists for much of what is deemed “Pseudoscience” by the Social Skeptics:
Sum of Expert Input < Dismissible Margin
Corollary 2b. PhD level or other technicians are often counted in the vote as ‘scientists’
A definitive weakness in the ‘count everyone’s vote’ egalitarian method of science is that we allow the definition of the term ‘scientist’ to include degreed field and research technicians, when indeed these individuals are simply there to follow the guidance, follow the rules, and make sure that everything works. A technician, a PhD level engineer, graduate IT developer, or degreed lab tech, may be called a scientist in slang, but are not really considered expert researchers. They may even hold several advanced degrees. Technicians in most disciplines include psychologists, sociologists, information technologists, human factors engineers, electrical chemical or mechanical engineers, project and program managers, finance managers, lab techs, research aides, statistical analysts, methods analysts, or non-tenured research associates. While I have immense respect for these areas of research and development, they should not typically comprise a part of the base which qualifies as ‘the scientists themselves’ – but you will find people with really 8 years in program management, or 7 years in PhD engineering project roles being called ‘scientists’ – when in fact they are not
Many so called ‘scientists’ really only occupy technician or teaching roles
Technicians beef up the non-expert vote count
Technicians distinguish themselves by being good at following the instructions
You will find more SSkeptics in the Information Technology, Psychology and Engineering realms than you will find in true Science
In reality, technicians make their merit, distinguish themselves in their careers by how well they follow the rules. If you think outside the box, you are not going to do well in an engineering curriculum typically. Laplacian Transformations, Golden Section Algorithms, Reactor Core Design theory development academic proficiencies are all typically programs which demand rigorous rule following, and are not typically designed to encourage the participant to develop new ‘out of context ideas” Having hired and worked with over 400 engineers over the years in profit-based and demanding professional businesses, as well as cutting edge research environs, I have observed this to be very common. Technicians follow the rules. They will spout the dogma. As they move into management they rarely promote maverick thinking, and are rather irritated by it. They will cast their vote the way they are told to vote. That is how they made the cut to begin with.
Ethical Problem 3: The Club voting membership is educated, regulated and qualified solely by those who have an investment in the outcome of the vote
The “editors, educators…and skeptics” role is to filter data and acceptance of voters, so that the outcome they desire is ensured in the popular vote. We have stacked the jury and ensured that we have an OJ Simpson verdict on subjects in which we have conducted NO research whatsoever – simply because we do not like the subject. We have dismissed an idea by popular prejudice, method, education and media propaganda, and not by evidential merit.
I have several excellent scientists working for me. They all maintain pre-concluded presumptions as to the validity and veracity of alternative medicine, human neolithic history, UFO’s and various forms of paranormal data collection. They have been trained to hold these beliefs. They are NOT experts on the subjects, they cannot cite falsification Test 1 on any topic. But SSkeptics would have us all believe that they are fully accepted and qualified members of the voting “scientists themselves.”
Ethical Problem 4: Status declarations imply successful falsifications by science which indeed have never actually been tested for, nor achieved
SSkeptics, often feel that the end game of their duty is to simply provide a Plausible Deniability scenario, when confronted with a challenging piece of evidence or data. This is fake skepticism (see Pseudo-Skeptics: Marcello Truzzi, Founding Co-chairman of CSICOP). While the simplest explanation is certainly an appropriate lead construct in a pluralistic argument, it by no means demarcates the end state of our duty, and it by no means indicates that falsification of all other compelling constructs has been achieved.
Corollary 4a. Seeking anecdotal evidence supporting Plausible Deniability scenarios is NOT science, it is Promotification
I watched a famed SSkeptic stand in as the ‘skeptic’ in a paranormal program the other night. Good job on that for the courageous skeptic, but I guess it is their job to deflect this stuff from the consideration of disdainful academics. The SSkeptic, as a representative of rational SSkepticism, only set up testing protocols to provide evidence of support for a Plausible Deniability scenario he had in mind. This is NOT falsification, does not add value and does not offer clarity in the process. It is not science. Simply establishing that a Plausible Deniability scenario is possible, does not add value to the argument. We need falsification, not propaganda fuel. The SSkeptic will simply find what he is looking for and take that back to reassure his arrogant 15 year olds that all is well. There are no ghosts.
Corollary 4b. Declaring ‘falsifiability’ is not the same thing as being falsified, and only scientific study can prove falsification
But at times SSkeptics break from the Plausible Deniability approach and range back into Falsification Testing. Well, not actually testing. That would require that we actually DO science. SSkeptic semantics shift back to falsification as a demarcating precept. But they typically only choose to focus on “falsifiability” and not the actual status of being “falsified.” A pseudoscience need only possess falsifiability and plausible deniability in order to be condemned by the SSkeptic Cabal on behalf of science. Indeed however, it is the flippant declaration of falsifiability, the swagger of plausible alternatives, and not the actual act of falsification itself which is the tool used by SSkeptics to declare a subject a pseudoscience. Only science can falsify, but science is forbidden access to falsify these topics (see What Constitutes a Religion?).
SSkeptics correctly cite “falsifiability” to be the ultimate criterion of demarcation of a science and non-science. Well, all of these subjects are falsifiable, so why do we forbid their testing by scientists? SSkeptics would dictate that falsification tests need not be conducted, since the ‘scientists themselves’ have already made a conclusion. Because I CAN falsify this, I do not need to. Scientists keep out of this and let the SSkeptics handle it.
This is pseudoscience.
Ethical Problem 5: Once a SUBJECT is deemed (by popular non-expert vote) as a “Pseudoscience,” it can never again be seriously considered despite the existence or introduction of Ockham’s Razor plurality evidence
Deniers!, Pseudoscientist! Pseudoscience! Simplest Explanation!, Woo!, Bunk!, Nonsense!, Witchcraft!, Magic! These are a part of the inventory of Weapon Words which are core to the filtering process which SSkeptics employ. These bear the hallmark employments of thought control and social order establishment. They are the means of control inside a large body of pretend experts on all subjects. They are the bricks of the Kristallnacht of Science. Please refer to the list of the 121 Forbidden Subjects.
The Principle of filtering data “through editors, educators…and skeptics” is an irresponsible configuration of activities which are not science methods, but rather a method of developing propaganda, exclusion and definition of acceptable thought. Agenda sponsors, and those who have control of the media channels imbue their prejudices into the ideas which are then fed through the sole channels available (schools, press, media, publishing, policy, governance, enforcement) to the proletariat membership. This is socialistic in its construction, and is nothing akin to science. Science is not a popular vote, it is not appropriately based on agenda campaigns, nor is it a social order of entitlement, as SSkeptics would have it.
The final declaration of an IDEA as pseudoscience, rather than a set of actions, means that we can never recover from a mistake in the popular vote, contrived by those with less-than-honorable intent. We become the victims of the surreptitious among us. It does not matter that much of The Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense promoting rationality through ridicule (from © 2010 by Crispian Jago) depicted at the right, is correct. The issue is the incorrect methodology employed to arrive at its conclusions, the social method employed to enforce those dispositions and the great probability that it is incorrect on some of this ridicule material. This type of gilt-edged fakery constitutes a net loss to mankind.
NONE of this is Science. It is pseudo-science in my opinion for two reasons:
a. It boasts specific claims about these subjects sans any research, evidence, or critical epistemology, and
b. It pretends to have employed science in the determination of its conclusions, and that science agrees with its conclusions.
In fact, Pseudoscience can NEVER be a subject, by the tenets of logic alone. Rather it is characterized by actions just like a. and b. above. A subject cannot be declared false by a set of outsiders. Those who condemn a subject to be a pseudoscience, are guilty of unethical, non-scientific practices – and being eventually proved correct does not exonerate the practitioner of such deception. It is merely a technicality.
Indeed, what follows is therefore for the Ethical Skeptic, the only viable definition of pseudoscience:
Ethical Skepticism Definition of Pseudoscience: Pseudoscience is an action, not a subject
Pseudoscience – Disposition of ideas as constituting science or non-science based on their subject matter alone, in lieu of employment of scientific method. A methodology or conclusion which over-relies upon predictive study, confirmation or dismissive skepticism. A claim or conclusion which is presented as current best science or as being derived from the scientific method, when in fact such contentions are false.
The employment of Social Technology control tactics, seeking to dictate singular thought, is Pseudoscience. This is what Michael is proposing in his editorial.
A Scientist is someone actively engaged in research in a given subject, and NOT someone holding a degree or engaged in research in another subject. These contributors add no more value or clarity than outside non-expert opinions; their inclusion can only be used for control. And remember, the goals of the Ethical Skeptic, are value and clarity; not the control of ideas.