Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Signs of Bogus Science

The hairs on the back of your neck ought to stand on end when you hear any of the following - based on this article by Robert L. Park.* Read the whole thing to understand the context and for clarification of the seven signs of bogus science:

1 - The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.
2 - The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.
3 - The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection.
4 - Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.
5 - The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries.
6 - The discoverer has worked in isolation.
7 - The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.

As he says:

I began this list of warning signs to help federal judges detect scientific nonsense. But as I finished the list, I realized that in our increasingly technological society, spotting voodoo science is a skill that every citizen should develop.

*A professor of physics at the University of Maryland at College Park and the director of public information for the American Physical Society. The author of Voodoo Science: The Road From Foolishness to Fraud (Oxford University Press, 2002).

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