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Parasciences (Greek para- “besides, beyond”) are claims to knowledge that are on the edge or outside of the academic sciences.

Parascience usually denotes a generic term for on the one hand pseudosciences and on the other hand claims to alternative knowledge that do not claim to be scientific at all. For the latter, too, this evaluative use states that the alternative findings claimed are incorrect. If a claim is made to be scientific, then a parascience is directly referred to as a pseudoscience.


The term “parascience” did not come into use in the German-speaking world until the 1980s. The biologist and scientific theorist Martin Mahner suggests this definition: “A para-science (gr. Para: next to) is a field of knowledge outside of the sciences (but not necessarily outside of university operations), the theory and practice of which are largely based on illusory thinking. This means that the claim of such a knowledge enterprise to obtain or have obtained reliable knowledge about the world or people cannot be fulfilled. "

Another definition comes from Edgar Wunder . According to this, parasciences are understood to mean "systems of statements that explicitly or implicitly claim to be scientific or to be verifiable or verifiable using scientific methods, but where there is a greater or lesser doubt as to whether they can actually meet this claim". According to this, para-science is not an evaluative term: a para-science can either prove to be a protoscience (as a science “in the making”) or a pseudoscience . An example of a former protoscience is Wegener's continental drift hypothesis , which for a long time was regarded as pure speculation and which, when confirmed, eventually became part of plate tectonics , a part of the science of geology . From today's perspective, an example of a pseudoscience is phrenology .

In addition, the term “ para- science” is also used in such a way that it refers to the research of so-called para-phenomena , i.e. is defined in terms of the examined phenomenon, or that it is intended to denote “ non-institutionalized forms of science”. However, these linguistic uses could not establish themselves.


Web links

Wiktionary: Parascience  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. z. B. John Ziman: Real Science: What it Is, and what it Means . Cambridge University Press, 2000, p. 269: "folk epistemology holds that scientific knowledge is full of 'mysteries' and 'marvels' [...] academic science is surrounded by a penumbra of parascience, where such mysteries and marvels are elaborately interwoven."
  2. Cf. Martin Mahner : Demarcating Science from Non-Science. In: TAF Kuipers (Ed.): Handbook of the Philosophy of Science . Volume 1: General Philosophy of Science - Focal Issues . North Holland, Amsterdam 2007, pp. 515-575, here pp. 547 f. with further evidence. Similarly, z. B. also Jan Such: Multiformity of Science . Rodopi, Amsterdam / New York 2003, p. 171.
  3. Martin Mahner: Parawwissenschaft - Pseudoswissenschaft , accessed on May 21, 2012.
  4. a b E. Miracles: Parascience - what is it? In: Skeptics. Volume 10, 1997, pp. 125-130.
  5. ^ Parascience - Pseudoscience. on, accessed May 23, 2017.
  6. Interview: Dr. Martin Mahner. on, accessed on May 23, 2017.
  7. E. Miracle: Parascience - what is it? In: Skeptics. Volume 10, 1997, p. 125.