Science and Pseudoscience

The Claim: The distinction between science and pseudoscience is unclear.

To prove whether or not this is true, we should first understand what science and pseudoscience is. Science is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment, in simpler words, it is a branch of knowledge, where knowledge is built and organized in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that are claimed to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method.

The claim above states that the distinction between science and pseudoscience is unclear. This means that there is no clear difference between science and pseudoscience. To begin with, the name of both topics are similar, with the exception of pseudo. The definition of pseudo is not genuine, a sham, used to mark something that superficially appears to be (or behaves like) one thing, but is something else. In other words, pseudoscience is not genuine science.

The main argument for the claim that the distinction between science and pseudoscience is clear, is because science is based on scientific experiments and data. In science, in order for something to be considered a theory or a law, it is proved through continuous testing. For example, the cell theory came to be through endless testing, and through these testings, there had been a basic pattern which is how the cell theory came to be. Science is based on well-established, repeating patterns and regularities in nature, and most importantly, consistency. Pseudoscience is a collection of assertions that do not satisfy the requirements and practices of true science, therefore there is a clear distinction between the two topics. Thomas Kuhn and Karl Popper had both made very solid claims with their idea of falsification. No amount of data can really prove a theory, but that even a single key data point can potentially disprove it. Popper advocated falsification as a tool to distinguish science from non-science (and from nonsense). This is what could have distinguished science from pseudoscience. Those that did not follow the general pattern or results are disregarded as proper science.

While it may seem simple, the difference between science and pseudoscience, we are in the day and age where science is developing so quickly. With so many experiments done, it is hard to catch up with all of the new data. Amidst all these experiments, there are many papers, many data that go against each other. If we followed Kuhn and Popper’s idea of falsification, these papers and ideas would immediately be disregarded. Popper’s idea that ‘no amount of data can confirm a theory’ can be called irrational, due to the many current theories we currently have. Nowadays, scientists usually do not need to confirm a theory one hundred percent in order to trust and use it, in more cases, a theory only needs to be good enough.  While this may go against the basic science standard of consistency, there is a reason behind every (most) ‘failure’ experiments, such as a flawed apparatus, or the statistics have gone wrong.

In conclusion, through the two arguments, I believe that there is a clear distinction between science and pseudoscience. Firstly, pseudoscience is a collection of assertations that have not been backed up by any experimental data whatsoever. It is simple claims that have come to be hypothetical ideas. Though science may not always be one hundred percent consistent, it just has to be ‘correct enough’, and be backed up by enough evidence to prove the theory true. The idea of falsification in science is an interesting idea that can be used as a guideline, but it should not be used to base whether or not a theory or law is true. Falsification does not blur the lines between science and pseudoscience, as pseudoscience is based of claims and not evidence. While falsification many prove some theories otherwise, we should only take this information with a grain of salt. In which science covers a wide range of ideas, it is important to know the clear difference between science and pseudoscience.

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Sonia

Hi! I'm Sonia, and this is my journey in Grade 6! Hope you enjoy :)

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