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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2012 > Sep > Sep 20

Re: Separating The Pseudo From Science

From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2012 12:38:31 +0100
Archived: Thu, 20 Sep 2012 07:48:53 -0400
Subject: Re: Separating The Pseudo From Science

>From: Terry W. Colvin <fortean1.nul>
>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <post.nul>
>Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2012 10:38:24 +0700 (GMT+07:00)
>Subject: Separating The Pseudo From Science

>[forteana] Separating The Pseudo From Science
>Date: Sep 19, 2012 1:18 AM

>Sounds like this guy's book will be interesting to Forteans from
>a procedural perspective as well as for the content.



>The Chronicle Review
>September 17, 2012
>Separating the Pseudo From Science
>By Michael D. Gordin

>The term "pseudoscience" gets thrown around quite a bit these
>days, most notably in debates about the dominant consensus on
>anthropogenic climate change. Say "pseudoscience," and
>immediately a bunch of doctrines leap to mind: astrology,
>phrenology, eugenics, ufology, and so on. Do they have anything
>in common? etc

This piece about the "demarcation problem" is a victim of its
own demarcation problem - the author fails to discriminate
between the methodological process of science and what different
people may want to define as the body of scientific
knowledge/activity. Calling both of these things "science"
interchangeably results in confused thinking.

Thus he argues that falsifiability cannot identify "science"
because Creationism is falsifiable, therefore we would have to
say that Creationism is "science". This is of course a ludicrous
piece of illogic, like saying that because you can put beer in
the fridge therefore anything in the fridge must be beer. The
correct conclusion is that creationism, like anything else, can
be reasoned about scientifically to the extent that it makes its
itself amenable to testing. The science is in the method, not
the labelling of the social construct which is quite a different
type of activity

He adds "how would you know when a theory has been falsified?
Suppose you are testing a particular claim using a mass
spectrometer, and you get a disagreeing result. The theory might
be falsified, or your mass spectrometer could be on the fritz."
Well gosh, contradictory test results - I bet Popper never
thought of that!

Hmmm, how about you test the spectrometer? Redo the test?
Publish and look for replication? The point is to be able to
falsify a conjecture for practical purposes, which means showing
that it is very unlikely to have any predictive utility as part
of a future theory.

Gordin wants a definition of science that will be able to lay
down metaphysical certainties before he will grant that it has
any real-world meaning. If ever the philosophical cart was
before the horse, 'twas so here. Methinks the Professor of
History should have stuck to history.

Martin shough

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