Current Affairs

Science versus PseudoScience

News:

Increasing audiences to self-styled Health Gurus in Kerala and other parts of country.

As faith healing and quackery of yore have been replaced by their modern versions of pseudoscience in health care, the State is feared to be fast becoming a hub of individuals and groups making spurious claims about diseases and cure which experts say will have far-reaching consequences.

Their major target is evidence-based modern system of medicine.

Analysis

The word “pseudo” means fake. The surest way to spot a fake is to know as much as possible about the real thing—in this case, about science itself.

Knowing science does not mean simply knowing scientific facts (such as the distance from earth to sun, the age of the earth, the distinction between mammal and reptile, etc.) It means understanding the nature of science—the criteria of evidence, the design of meaningful experiments, the weighing of possibilities, the testing of hypotheses, the establishment of theories, the many aspects of scientific methods that make it possible to draw reliable conclusions about the physical universe.

Characteristics of PseudoScience

  1. Pseudoscience displays an indifference to facts—fiction propagators
  2. Pseudoscience “research” is invariably sloppy- pore over ancient religious or mythological works. They never investigate.
  3. Pseudoscience begins with a hypothesis—usually one which is appealing emotionally
    and spectacularly implausible—and then looks only for items which appear to support it.
  4. Pseudoscience is indifferent to criteria of valid evidence.
  5. Pseudoscience relies heavily on subjective validation.
  6. Pseudoscience depends on arbitrary conventions of human culture, rather than on unchanging regularities of nature. 
  7. Pseudoscience always avoids putting its claims to a meaningful test.
  8. Pseudoscience often contradicts itself, even in its own terms.
  9. Pseudoscience does not progress.
  10. Pseudoscience argues from ignorance, an elementary fallacy.
  11. Pseudoscience appeals to false authority, to emotion,sentiment, or distrust of established fact. 
  12. Pseudoscientists invent their own vocabulary in which many terms lack precise or unambiguous definitions, and some have no definition at all.Eg: negative energy, positive energy or quantum healing to attract the educated.

Pseudoscience can be extremely dangerous.

  • Penetrating political systems, it justifies atrocities in the name of racial purity
  • Penetrating the educational system, it can drive out science and sensibility;
  • In the field of health, it dooms thousands to unnecessary death or suffering
  • Penetrating religion, it generates fanaticism, intolerance, and holy war
  • Penetrating the communications media, it can make it difficult for voters to obtain factual information on important public issues.

ISSUES

  • Popularity in urban areas increasing via Internet and propaganda.
  • Activists see no effective steps to counter the practitioners.
  • Establishment sometimes propagate them.
  • Lack of rationalism and critical thinking in society.
  • Illiteracy and Bandwagon effect.
  • gets related to religion to take advantage of religious nature of society,

Such pseudoscience claims are gaining popularity as institutional support for the scientific system is being toned down. There’s little time to waste because pseudo-scientific quackery seem to be on the rise.

Question:

Examine the implications of Rise in Pseudoscience on society and the institutional support given to it by the Establishment.

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