It is unsurprising when we hear that experts in Art can’t always agree what ‘is’ and ‘is not’ Art. We might say that the distinction between what ‘is’, and what ‘is not’ art, is not always clear. Similar to the question of what is art, the distinction between science and pseudoscience is also not clear. Analyze this claim.
The distinction between science and pseudoscience can also be known as The Demarcation Problem. One approach to distinguishing between science is pseudoscience is using falsification, which was proposed by Karl Popper. Falsification distinguishes between the two by looking at whether something can be proved to be untrue, or falsifiable. In other words, according to this, science is anything that can be proved wrong. If something cannot be falsified, then it is not science. Popper also believed that science was based on disproving theories rather than searching for the truth. For example, according to falsification, the claim “Rocks form when melted rocks cool and harden” is science as it can be falsified. One can investigate into the formation of rocks, and see whether or not rocks actually form from melted rocks.
However, it can be argued that the distinction between science and pseudoscience is not simply this clear. There are aspects in the sciences that cannot be falsified, but is still considered science. For example, in chemistry, chemists are often trying to synthesize chemicals and create new ones. By doing this, they are not trying to falsify any existing hypotheses. The creation of a new chemical is also difficult to falsify, as if it has been created, then it must be true that it is possible to create it. It wouldn’t be possible to design an experiment aimed at proving that the creation of that chemical is not actually possible. There may be methods that would lead to the creation of the chemical being impossible, but if it has been created with one method, it must be possible again. Thus, using falsification to distinguish what is science is not very reliable as there are things in science that cannot be falsified/are not aimed at disproving existing theories.
There are also cases where the distinction between science and pseudoscience is simply a matter of personal belief. For example, herbalism, which is the practice of using herbal supplements to treat medical conditions, is something that does not clearly fall into the category of either science or pseudoscience. Some people may strongly believe in its effective this, and thus think that it works based on scientific evidence, while some people may think that it is not an effective way of treating medical conditions as there isn’t solid scientific evidence, and thus consider it a pseudoscience. Therefore, the distinction between science and pseudoscience is clearly very blurred, as there are many factors that come into play, and also many different ways of differentiating between the two.