How Science And Pseudo-Science Differ Essay, Research Paper
In the history of mankind, we have strived to understand the world around us, to know and understand how and why things happen. Thus, science was born. Pseudo-science was born, as well. A science tries to explain how and why things happen by creating laws that dictate what Nature does. A pseudo-science is something that claims to be scientific, but really isn’t. Some examples of pseudo-science include things like astrology, numerology, and other so-called “sciences”.
The laws of a science are based upon the hypotheses of scientists. In order for a hypothesis to become theory, it must be tested. The best way to prove it true is to try to prove it false. If it succeeds the test, then it is one step closer to being proven true. The more times it is proven true, the higher the probability of it being completely true. Inductively, after it has been proven true a number of times, it has to be true. However, logically, it can never really be proven completely true, since it would take an infinite number of tests to do so.
A pseudo-science is similar, in that it has laws. However, these laws are mostly restatements of known facts. For example, in astrology, they make claims about what you are like based on what day you were born. The things they say, however, are things that are statistically common for those people. They are also very vague, making the chances of being wrong increasingly low. Also, they can be interpreted in many different ways, allowing for unbelievable flexibility in their predictions. A pseudo-scientific theory can always be proven right, which may sound good. However, in most cases, they can never truly be tested; they seem to just explain everything. True, they may be correct, but that doesn’t make them anymore scientific. If there is no way at all to prove it wrong, then it really can’t be proven right, either.
Science, then, must be able to be proven right by attempting to prove it wrong. A pseudo-science, on the other hand, is proven right by finding things that show that it is right. You can’t even try to prove a pseudo-science wrong, because it seems to just be always right. They are both inductive ways of proving things, but the scientific way is a little better, since it can survive an attempt to falsify it.
A man by the name Karl Popper developed a method, like the traditional scientific method, but more scientific. After you have made your hypothesis, rather than attempting to prove it right, you attempt to falsify it. If your hypothesis holds true, it is then a truly scientific theory, and not a pseudo-scientific theory. Basically, it encompasses the criterion for a scientific theory. This makes it really easy to distinguish a scientific theory from a pseudo-scientific theory, since the pseudo-scientific theory can’t even be tested by Popper’s method.
Therefore, Popper’s method can be used to show that a truly scientific theory is true. A pseudo-scientific theory can’t be tested by Popper’s method, making it rather obvious that it isn’t a truly scientific theory. A scientific theory must be able to have someone try to falsify it, or it really isn’t a theory, but a restatement of an already known fact. That would make it a pseudo-scientific theory.