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Pseudoscience ( ancient Greek ψεύδω Pseudomonas , German , I pretend ' ), even after science , pseudo-science or pseudo-doctrine , is a term for allegations teachings, theories, practices and institutions that claim scientifically to be or appear to be scientific, but the claims in terms of scientificity, in particular the criterion of verifiability. The term is used analytically - descriptively as well as pejoratively.

Two basic currents of pseudoscience can be distinguished: science denial such as B. denial of man-made global warming or homeopathy and the promotion of pseudo theories such. B. Astrology . Both basic currents are motivated differently: While science deniers are primarily concerned with denying certain established scientific findings, and they accordingly present undisputed research results as controversial, the representatives of pseudo theories pursue the intention of first establishing their own statements and therefore presenting them as conforming to the state of research . Scientific statements are only disputed to the extent necessary to establish their own statements.


Many popular suggestions for a rough definition agree on at least two points:

  1. Pseudosciences appear with the claim to be scientific.
  2. Pseudosciences contradict the accepted scientific methods.

Both these two conditions and their further details are, however, controversial. Such a minimum definition allows at least a distinction to other types of ideas or theses, for example:

  1. Religions , insofar as they do not assert facts that are in conflict with academically established, scientific knowledge. Whether the theology of different religious traditions avoids this conflict is, however, controversial among religious philosophers and theologians. Hilary Putnam, for example, argues that genuinely religious doctrines cannot in principle come into conflict with scientific theses, since they are separate areas. Others, however, deny this - modern forms of creation science or intelligent design are even treated by many theorists of science as paradigmatic examples of pseudosciences.
  2. Esotericism or obscurantism , insofar as no scientific claims are made here either;
  3. According to the current state of knowledge, outdated theories, which, however, at the time of their elaboration did not conflict with contemporary, well-confirmed and established scientific theories or methods. Examples would be the different ether hypotheses . However, this delimitation is also controversial.

The further specification of the criteria for valid research methods is a question whose possible answers have been controversially debated in the epistemological discussion of the past decades. For example, criteria of institutionalized research such as falsifiability , intersubjective verifiability or openness to corrections and revisions are mentioned. Criteria for the distinction of pseudosciences are discussed, for example: systematic isolation from refutation and criticism, selectivity against empirical data that is not rationally justified , representation of a closed alternative instead of a step-by-step expansion of previous theories and research practice.


Hypotheses are created with the aim of subjecting them to scientific scrutiny so that they can be verified or falsified. They are part of the deductive procedure. In the natural sciences , predictions made by deduction must be empirically verifiable.

Parascience differs from pseudoscience in that it only has legitimate doubts about its scientific nature. Mostly they refer to unclear, rare and controversial anomalies that are explained by a scientific theory, but the theory seems too far-fetched and implausible according to the state of research . Often these are phenomena for which no established explanations have yet been found.

Most religions or esoteric or "spiritual" teachings do not make any (unredeemed) scientific claims. Insofar as this is the case, their doctrines and world views are therefore generally not referred to as pseudosciences (differently e.g. Sokal, see above). A borderline case exists when religious statements are in direct conflict with scientific theories in terms of content, without being themselves supported by scientific methods (but, for example, relying on a higher authority such as divine revelations or experiences of enlightenment ).

“Cargo cult science” is a term used by Richard Feynman . The term is intended to denote a lack of scientific integrity, which, in contrast to pseudoscience, occurs in the scientific community itself. This relates, for example, to the uncritical citation of third-party research results and the unchecked assumption of their correctness, or also to the acceptance of a partial result, whereby, however, essential conditions for its occurrence are ignored. The expression is a metaphorical parallel formation to the ethnological concept of the cargo cult , it is intended to denote a practice that works methodically correct or, on the surface, delivers coherent results, but which has become meaningless.

“Protoscience” or “pre-science” denotes theories that do not have a scientific character, but whose representatives strive for one and try to correct the problematic elements so that scientific statements can be made in the future. When a completely new research field is opened, it is generally in this status for a certain period of time.

Some scientific theories that are accepted today were accused by the scientists of the time of being pseudoscientific, irrational, or blatantly wrong. Today recognized sciences often went through a preliminary stage as protoscience. Often a potentially scientifically capable core was actually interwoven with pseudoscientific, religious or ideological elements, so that a scientific core only gradually began to crystallize. When distinguishing between pseudoscience and protoscience, it is essential that the latter has the potential to develop further according to all criteria of the currently recognized state of science. Examples of theories that contemporaries have called pseudosciences include: a. the theory of the Big Bang or the black holes , the continental drift , the electromagnetic fields , germs as pathogens , meteorites or modern psychiatry .

Concept history

The English term pseudoscience , which corresponds to the term “pseudoscience” , can already be found in English publications in the first third of the 19th century. An early use of the term can also be found in a French text by the physiologist and member of the Paris Academy of Sciences, François Magendie . In 1843 he described phrenology as "a pseudo-science of today". In 1887 the term was used by Thomas Huxley in two essays - Scientific and Pseudo-Scientific Realism and Science and Pseudo-Science . Huxley, a staunch defender of Darwinian evolution and at the time former President of the Royal Society , takes a critical look at certain non-causal views of the nature of scientific laws in these essays. Such views were advocated by opponents of evolutionary theory, but also in the book Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation - an early publication before Darwin's On the Origin of Species that advocated ideas of evolution. For Huxley, such a non-causal natural law theory is linked to pseudoscience:

“In fact, the habitual use of the word“ law, ”in the sense of an active thing, is almost a mark of pseudo-science; it characterizes the writings of those who have appropriated the forms of science without knowing anything of its substance. "

“In fact, the constant use of the word“ law ”in the sense of something active is almost the mark of a pseudo-science. Such usage is characteristic of the writings of those who adhere to the external form of science but have no idea of ​​its essence. "

History of ideas in the philosophy of science

Karl Popper: Non-falsifiability and reinforced dogmas

The coining of the term in the discussion of the philosophy of science in the 20th century goes back to Karl Popper . By his own admission, Popper had dealt with the subject of pseudoscience from 1919. His aim was to characterize science in terms of what distinguishes it from pseudoscience. His answer was that someone who proposes a scientific theory should answer the question under what conditions he would be willing to admit that it was untenable. He did not consider the question of truth to be a priority. A lack of accuracy or measurability were also not his basic problem. Rather, he had felt intuitively that there were theories that presented themselves as sciences, but actually had more in common with myths than with science . Popper named Marxism , psychoanalysis , individual psychology and astrology as examples of pseudosciences, and Einstein's theory of relativity as a counter-example . Only later did Popper extend this delimitation criterion to the general problem of delimitation between empirical-scientific statements on the one hand, and metaphysical statements on the other, in particular, but also philosophical, mathematical, mythological, religious and pseudoscientific statements.

Thus the delimitation criterion in Popper only deals with the advantageous characteristics of the scientific statements - their empirical refutability - a characteristic that pseudoscience lacks. William Warren Bartley saw a second criterion in relation to Popper's pseudoscientific concept, which constitutes its essential disadvantageous property: the criterion of reinforced / tightened dogmas or "doubly entrenched dogmatism". It characterizes theories that include built-in strategies for automatic immunization against criticism. These can be theories on scientific issues, but also on ethical, political and other issues. What makes such theories attractive is, above all, their apparently comprehensive explanatory power for everything that lies within their scope (see also conspiracy theory ). Studying such theories has the effect of intellectual conversion or revelation. The reader's eyes seemed to open to new truths that remained hidden from the "uninitiated". “Unbelievers” appeared as people who refused to acknowledge this truth. A special characteristic of such theories, Popper described, is that there is a constant stream of verifications for them. Each new case is viewed in the light of previous "experiences" and is thus assessed as further evidence of the correctness of the theory. This makes it clear that the apparent strength of these theories - the all-encompassing explanatory power - is in fact their weakness.

In his main work, Logic of Research (1935), Popper only deals with the falsifiability criterion; the problem of characterizing pseudoscience does not appear in it. For the philosopher Hans-Jürgen Wendel , in a commentary on the logic of research, metaphysics and pseudoscience with regard to the delimitation from empirical sciences appear to be "at least related, in part perhaps even identical and therefore problematic for similar reasons." that the limitation to the problem of metaphysics was primarily based on discussions with the Vienna Circle , in whose environment the publication took place. Popper later admitted that when writing the "Logic of Research" he had assumed that non-falsifiable theories could not be discussed rationally, and admitted that he had changed his mind on this point.

Criticism of the falsifiability criterion

According to widespread positions, pseudoscientificness always goes hand in hand with nonscientificness, nonscientificness in turn with a lack of falsifiability : empirical findings cannot make a theory appear false. In the various epistemological currents of analytical philosophy , when delimiting science, reference is sometimes made to a version of the term “falsifiability” adapted to the respective epistemological direction.

The scientific theorist Imre Lakatos rejected such a falsifiability criterion to distinguish science and pseudoscience, but for practical rather than theoretical reasons. Usually it is considered an exegetical error to ascribe such a falsifiability criterion to Karl Popper. The usability as a delimitation criterion between pseudoscience and science is exegetically and thematically questionable, since the criterion can only differentiate between empirical-scientific and non-empirical-scientific theories. (In Karl Popper's Critical Rationalism, on the other hand, as explained, a theory is pseudoscientific if it appears to be a scientific theory from the outside world, but contains reinforced dogmas . This means that there is no possibility of criticizing the doctrine, since it does so is designed to be able to reinterpret or reject every criticism in its own way. One possible form of such strategies are conspiracy theories , which reject every criticism as falsification and propaganda of the conspirators While any theory can be immunized with ad hoc hypotheses through unscientific procedures, reinforced dogmas compel immunization even when placed in a scientific, critical, and rational context.)

Larry Laudan thinks the falsifiability criterion is unsuitable because it is too indulgent: it would make any bizarre assertion by astrologers, creationists, or whomever scientific as long as it states which observation they would accept as a refutation of their theory. For Richard McNally, the falsifiability criterion is also useless for purposes of delimitation, since a large number of the theories that are considered pseudoscientific are entirely falsifiable, even refuted. On the other hand, some established scientific theories did not meet the falsification criterion or other delimitation criteria. Such criticisms receive contradiction from Michael Ruse, for example . In an answer to L. Laudan, Ruse criticizes that the falsifiability criterion is misunderstood in such counter-arguments. It is not intended to be the sole criterion, but always together with other methodological criteria, and falsifiability is also only required of empirical sciences, but not, for example, of mathematics and logic .


Other suggestions refer to the concept of “verifiability”, which is more in the tradition of Rudolf Carnap . However, Carnap himself pointed out that empirical verifiability is only a necessary but not a sufficient criterion for scientific quality. It only delimits potentially scientific and cognitively meaningless sentences. The latter are meaningless to him and can therefore neither be false nor true (in Carnap's diction also “false sentences”, “metaphysical sentences”). On the other hand, Carnap regards typical pseudoscientific hypotheses, for example from astrology, as cognitively meaningful, but not scientific.

Proposals also go in this direction to consider the simple impossibility of empirical confirmation as a criterion for pseudosciences. Conversely, for Martin Gardner , for example, confirmation of a theory through evidence and the competence of the researcher are good criteria for scientificity.

The demarcation of pseudosciences by violating those criteria that are constitutive for the confirmation (“testing”) of scientific theories is, conversely, related to the problems of working out a manageable and theoretically precise concept of confirmation. Since the 1960s in particular, attempts have been made to find a satisfactory answer to the problem of knowledge-expanding reasoning (so-called induction problem) , which was already classically formulated by David Hume . Many theorists of science consider this problem in the form posed to be unsolvable, but consider it replaceable by the question of a pragmatic or statistical elaboration of the concept of confirming a theory (see also abduction , conclusion on the best explanation ). In addition, a wide variety of methodologies are proposed for the theoretical reconstruction of scientific knowledge and methods.

For example, it is even controversial whether a “conservative” attitude with regard to the current leading theory is justified, even if many attempts to confirm it fail. Thomas Samuel Kuhn had very prominently represented that the history of the replacement of different theories was not shaped by rational arguments, but by “strategies of mass persuasion” and that this had to be the case, since an objective comparison of the plausibility of competing theories is often impossible in principle. because these theories themselves u. a. go hand in hand with different conventions about what can be regarded as confirmation or refutation (the bundle of all these factors belongs to Kuhn in the term “paradigm”). In the context of so-called epistemological structuralism, as developed by Sneed et al. a. was drafted, has Stegmüller attempts to reconstruct key shares this view. Since theories are not understood as a bundle of sentences in this methodological framework, a failed confirmation attempt is not in direct contradiction to a theory, but can, for example, be treated in such a way that the system to which the theory was applied simply does not fall into the set of heard of this theory "intended applications". Since theories in the epistemological structuralism are linked by intertheoretical relations ("theory networks"), a rational comparison between different theories can still take place after a scientific revolution, at least in retrospect, through a "block comparison" of the structural cores even in the case when a term -to-term comparison is no longer possible due to incommensurability between the individual expressions of the different theories.

In any case, as stated, the overwhelming majority opinion, conversely, is not everything that relates to such epistemological elaborations of the terms examination, confirmation, scientific rationality or methodology, already pseudoscience, but must also appear, for example, with the claim of scientificity or other additional criteria fulfill.

Criteria pluralism

Paul R. Thagard suggests the existence of theorising, research community, and historical context factors to characterize science. His proposed definition reads: “A theory or a discipline that claims to be scientific is pseudoscientific if and only if it has made less progress over a long period of time than alternative theories and faces many unsolved problems, but if the community of practical working scientist makes little attempt to develop the theory further in such a way that it solves these problems, and if this community takes little care to compare the theory with alternative theories, and if this community is very selective in what they consider to be affirmations and what to be Failure considered. "

More vague definitions: family resemblance of sciences

Sometimes the demarcation of science and non- science by means of strict criteria, which are both necessary and sufficient, is also declared to be factually or in principle impossible. A moderate alternative to such attempts at clarification consists in sticking to the term, but capturing its vagueness by understanding it according to the model of family similarity relationships or as a range of a spectrum with only clearly defined extreme points.

Science is then alternatively understood, for example, as a generic term that can only be described by the concept of family resemblance. This term originally comes from Ludwig Wittgenstein and tries to answer the problem of the vagueness of type terms. If three items a, b, c are only "family-like", u. a. be the case that there can be common features between a and b and between b and c, without there having to be common features between a and c. Wittgenstein's examples include a. the very divergent types of games: it is difficult to name features that board games, parlor games, etc. are necessarily common and are sufficient to individualize games as such. This has a certain similarity to the so-called prototype semantics , according to which we understand, for example, a bird, which is similar to what we have come to know as a typical example of birds (say, a sparrow). The same can be said for science: in extreme cases there are neither necessary nor sufficient criteria for something to count as science, but there are relations of family resemblance between individual sciences or a proximity to typical prototypes.

The Swedish philosopher Sven Ove Hansson understands the term pseudoscience within a spectrum that ranges from “scientific” to “unscientific” to “pseudoscientific” and “non-scientific”. Unscientific means the contradiction to recognized facts, non-scientific nature the renunciation of any rational and empirical claim. According to this understanding, one can only speak of pseudoscience if a teaching is presented that is in conflict with research based on rational and empirical criteria. Individual elements can certainly incorporate scientific findings or at least be presented as such. In contrast, doctrines that get by completely without rational scientific knowledge are non-science. Examples of Hanssons are u. a. Religion or esotericism. The part of the spectrum that describes a contradiction to accepted theories can include very different phenomena: counterfeiting, poorly crafted science, or unorthodox and even innovative theories, which, however, cannot establish themselves in the scientific community.

Alan Sokal defines pseudoscience as a set of ideas or reasoning that:

  1. Claims of phenomena or causal relationships which modern science rejects as unlikely and which
  2. seeks to back up their claims with reasoning or evidence that falls far short of modern science's criteria of logic and verification.

According to Sokal's definition, this also includes statements about the world that are part of the doctrines of many religions. Furthermore, according to Sokal, some - but not all - would be pseudosciences:

  • describe yourself as scientific;
  • tie their claims to real science, particularly the latest scientific discoveries;
  • not an isolated assertion, but rather a complex and logically coherent system that claims to explain a multitude of alleged phenomena;
  • subject their “professionals” to a long process of training and accreditation.

Similar to Hansson and Sokal, Philip Kitcher sees a continuum between evidence-based science and pseudosciences; fixed delimitation criteria are dispensable anyway.

Indefinability of the term

The science theorist Larry Laudan criticizes the term pseudoscience. It is mainly used for the purpose of evaluation and exclusion, but is not rationally or intersubjectively based. A certain definition is possible. But if this only serves to justify the inclusion or exclusion of certain disciplines, then this is a purpose alien to science. There is in fact no clear dividing line between science and non-science or between science and pseudoscience, if only because no proposal "would receive the approval of a majority of philosophers". Laudan demands that the term pseudoscience no longer be used. It is a "hollow phrase" that only expresses our feelings.

The British psychology professor Richard McNally (Harvard, Newcastle), who himself deals with the criticism of marginal therapy directions, considers the term pseudoscience to be unusable for clear delimitations in advance. The term has little analytical content. For the reasons given, he considers defining the term by the falsifiability criterion to be unusable. Concrete, doubted theories should simply be examined for logical or empirical weaknesses and, if necessary, criticized.

Some opinions that speak out against the fact that strict criteria can be specified and conclude that they have to give up the term pseudoscience are accused by some opponents of contradiction, because it is denied that a judgmental term such as pseudoscience can be used, but it is qualitative evaluations would still be made. One tries, for example, to avoid sliding into a relativism by distinguishing between “good” and “bad” science. GA Reisch argues that a judgment about “bad science” is ultimately implicitly demarcated. However, this is not a demarcation based on criteria, but rather a so-called network demarcation, as had already been proposed by Otto Neurath .

In his book Loss of Truth (Original: Paradigms Lost , 1989) John L. Casti gives the following characteristics of pseudosciences, which are also cited by Massimo Pigliucci in his book Nonsense on Stilts (2010):

  • Anachronistic thinking. Pseudoscientific theories have often long been refuted by science.
  • Search for secrets. The subject of pseudoscientific theories are often bizarre phenomena such as UFOs, yetis, spontaneous combustion, etc.
  • Appeal to myths. The older a fairy tale, the more conclusive it has.
  • Negligent use of evidence. Confirmations are quoted, refutations ignored.
  • Irrefutable hypotheses. Pseudoscientific hypotheses are often not verifiable because nothing can speak against them (example: creationism ).
  • Apparent similarities. Pseudoscientific theories often use individual parts of accepted, proven theories and reinterpret them (example: biorhythm ).
  • Explanation by scenario. Instead of designing possible scenarios from facts, pseudoscientists often design scenarios without a factual basis (for examples see Immanuel Velikovsky ).
  • Research through interpretation. Pseudoscientists like to claim that every scientific factual assertion is a matter of interpretation.
  • Refusal to appeal. Pseudoscientists mistakenly consider it a sign of quality that their theories remain unchanged over time. The reason, however, is that they are immune to criticism.

The term in the skeptic movement

The so-called skeptic movement , which popularized the term, has existed since the 1960s - mainly in industrialized countries . A popular use of the term can be found with authors close to her such as Richard Dawkins , Mario Bunge , Carl Sagan and James Randi . These authors view pseudoscience as harmful and understand its advocacy as an outgrowth of political interests or as a deliberate deception for financial gain. In extreme cases, they see a health and safety hazard from the spread of these theories and practices; for example, in the case of medical or psychiatric treatment or when assessing safety risks.


Reference books

Philosophy of science
  • Martin Curd / JA Cover (eds.): Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues , 1998, 27–82, ISBN 0-393-97175-9 ; therein u. a. Article by Paul Thagard, Michael Ruse.
  • Gerald L. Eberlein: School science, parascience, pseudoscience. Wissenschaftliche Verlagsges., 1997 ISBN 3-8047-1168-5 .
  • Patrick Grim (ed.): Philosophy of Science and the Occult , State University of New York Press, Albany 2nd A. 1990; therein u. a .: Daniel Rothbart: Demarcating Genuine Science from Pseudoscience (94-); Roger Cooter: The Conservatism of Pseudoscience ; Robert Feleppa: Kuhn, Popper, and the Normative Problem of Demarcation ; Clark Glymour / Douglas Stalker: Winning Through Pseudoscience 1990 (75-86).
  • Marsha P. Hanen, Margaret J. Osler, Robert G. Weyant (eds.): Science, Pseudo-Science, and Society , Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press 1980. Darin et al. a .: Roger Cooter: Deploying Pseudoscience: Then and Now ; Paul Thagard: Resemblance, Correlation, and Pseudoscience
  • Philip Kitcher : Abusing Science , MIT Press, Cambridge, MA 1982.
  • Philippe Patry: Science and Pseudoscience . A contribution to the problem of delimitation, dissertation 2004, DM Verlag, Saarbrücken 2008, ISBN 978-3-639-04245-0 .
  • Michael Ruse (ed.): But Is It Science ?: The Philosophical Question in the Creation / Evolution Controversy , Buffalo: Prometheus Books 1988; therein u. a. Article by Larry Laudan.
  • Fred Wilson: The Logic and Methodology of Science and Pseudoscience , Canadian Scholars Press, Toronto 2000, ISBN 1-55130-175-X .
  • Massimo Pigliucci , Maarten Boudry: - Philosophy of Pseudoscience , University of Chicago Press.
History of ideas and literary studies
  • Dirk Rupnow, Veronika Lipphardt, Jens Thiel, Christina Wessely (eds.): Pseudoscience - Conceptions of non-scientific nature in the history of science . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-518-29497-0 . (Among other things: Veronika Lipphardt: The "black sheep" of bioscientists. Marginalization and rehabilitation of racial biology in the 20th century. Pp. 223-250.)
  • Taylor Stoehr: Hawthorne's Mad Scientists: Pseudoscience and Social Science in Nineteenth-Century Life and Letters: Pseudoscience and Social Science in Nineteenth Century Life and Letters. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon 1978, ISBN 0-208-01710-0 Presents some modern movements in their development and influence on Nathaniel Hawthorne , v. a. The Blithedale Romance : Mesmerism , Physiognomy , Phrenology , Homeopathy , Associationism , Spiritualism, etc. a.
  • Harold Beaver (Ed.): The Science Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe , Penguin Books 1976 presents Poe's reception of the speculative connections between electrochemistry, electromagnetic magnetism and "animal magnetism" , phrenology and the like. a. in front.
  • John Van Wyhe: Phrenology and the Origins of Victorian Scientific Naturalism , Ashgate 2004, ISBN 0-7546-3408-6 .
  • Frank Miller Turner: Between science and religion : The reaction to scientific naturalism in late Victorian England. New Haven: Yale University Press 1974.
  • Alison Winter: Mesmerized: Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain , University of Chicago Press 1998, ISBN 978-0-226-90219-7 .
  • Martin Willis, Catherine Wynne (eds.): Victorian Literary Mesmerism , Rodopi 2006, ISBN 90-420-2008-3 .
  • Robert Darnton: Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France , Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press 1968
  • Arthur Wrobel (ed.): Pseudo-science and society in nineteenth century America , Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky 1987
  • Walter Gratzer: The Undergrowth of Science: Delusion, Self-Deception and Human Frailty , Oxford University Press 2000, ISBN 0-19-850707-0 .
  • Kent S. Simons: Taming the Powers of the Air : Science, Pseudoscience, and Religion in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Diss.Emory University 1985
  • A. Cunningham / N. Jardine: Romanticism and the Sciences , Cambridge: CUP 1990
  • Christa Knellwolf / Jane Goodall (eds.): Frankenstein's Science Experimentation and Discovery in Romantic Culture, 1780-1830, Ashgate 2008, ISBN 978-0-7546-5447-6 .

see also article in Hanen / Osler / Weyant 1980

Sociology and psychology
  • Roy Wallis (ed.): Sociological Review Monograph. No. 27: On the Margins of Science: The Social Construction of Rejected Knowledge , Keele University Press, Keele 1979, 237-70.
  • Thomas Hardy Leahey / Grace Evans Leahey: Psychology's occult doubles : Psychology and the problem of pseudoscience. Nelson-Hall, Chicago 1983.
  • Marjaana Lindeman: Motivation, cognition and pseudoscience , in: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 39/4 (1998), 257-265
  • Scott O. Lilienfeld et al. (Ed.): Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology . New York / London 2003.

reference books

  • Psiram - lies are our business. In: September 11, 2001, accessed August 11, 2020 . , informative, partlytendentious
  • William F. Williams: Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience: From Alien Abductions to Zone Therapy. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers 2000, ISBN 1-57958-207-9 .
  • Michael Shermer (Ed.): The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience. 2 volumes, ABC-CLIO 2003, ISBN 1-57607-653-9 .
  • Robert T. Carroll: The Skeptic's Dictionary. A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Delusions, and Deceptions: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions. Wiley John + Sons 2003, ISBN 0-471-27242-6 .
More general literature on the history of science
See also the main article History of Science
  • Wesley T. Mott (ed.): Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism , Greenwood 1996, ISBN 0-313-29924-2 Contains articles on various authors, ideas and currents of the 19th century.

Popular science non-fiction books

  • Robert Park: Lazy Charm. Fraud and Error in Science. How we can be tricked and protect ourselves . Europa Verlag 2002, ISBN 3-203-81005-0 .
  • Carl Sagan : The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark . Random House, 1996, ISBN 0-394-53512-X (German: The dragon in my garage or The art of science to expose nonsense . Droemer Knaur 2000. ISBN 3-426-26912-0 ).
  • Georges Charpak : Debunked !: ESP, Telekinesis, and Other Pseudoscience. Johns Hopkins University Press 2004, ISBN 0-8018-7867-5 .
  • Martin Gardner : Science - Good, Bad and Bogus . Oxford University Press, Oxford 1983.
  • Robert Schadewald: Worlds of Their Own: Insights into PseudoScience from Creationism to the End Times. SangFroid Press 2008, ISBN 0-917939-15-8 .
  • Massimo Pigliucci : Nonsense on Stilts. How to Tell Science from Bunk . The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2010, ISBN 978-0-226-66786-7 .


  • Keith Abney: Naturalism and Nonteleological Science: A Way to Resolve the Demarcation Problem Between Science and Nonscience , Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 49/3 (1997), 156-61
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  • Alexander Bird : Introduction: the nature of science , in: ders .: Philosophy of Science , London & New York: Routledge 1998, 1–24
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  • Paul Churchland : How Parapsychology could become a science , in: Inquiry 30: 3 (1987) 227ff.
  • Anthony A. Derksen: The Seven Sins Of Pseudo-Science , in: Journal for General Philosophy of Science Vol. 24, 1993, No. 1, pp. 17-42.
  • Anthony A. Derksen: The Seven Strategies of the Sophisticated Pseudo-Scientist: a look into Freud's rhetorical tool box , in: Journal for General Philosophy of Science 32/2 (2001), 329-350.
  • Thomas F. Gieryn: Boundary-Work and the Demarcation of Science from Non-Science : Strains and Interests in Professional Ideologies of Scientists, in: American Sociological Review 48/6 (1983), 781-795.
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  • Tobias Hürter, Max Rauner: Is that research or can it be eliminated? Die Zeit, October 1st, 2014
  • Imre Lakatos : Science and Pseudoscience ( Transcript from LSE ), in: Godfrey Vesey (ed.), Philosophy in the Open, Open University Press, 1974; also in: John Worrall / Gregory Currie (eds.), Introduction to Lakatos's The Methodology of Scientific Research Programs: Philosophical Papers Volume 1, Cambridge University Press, 1978.
  • Larry Laudan : The Pseudo-Science of Science? , In: JR Brown (ed.). Scientific rationality: The sociological turn. Dordrecht: Reidel, 1984, 41-73.
  • Larry Laudan: Normative Naturalism , Philosophy of science 57/1 (1990), 44-59.
  • Martin Mahner (2007): Demarcating Science from Non-Science. In: TAF Kuipers (ed.) General Philosophy of Science - Focal Issues. (Vol. 1, Handbook of the Philosophy of Science), pp. 515-575. North Holland: Amsterdam.
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  • Martin Morgenstern : Poppers Critique of Pseudosciences, in: Enlightenment and Criticism 26 (2019), Issue 1, 42–59.
  • Judge Overton: The Opinion in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education , in: Joel Feinberg, Russ Shafer-Landau (eds.): Reason and Responsibility, Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 11. A. 2000, 286-90
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  • Alvin Plantinga : Methodological Naturalism , Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 49 (1997), 143-54
  • Karl Popper : Science, Pseudo-Science, and Falsifiability in Conjectures and Refutations: the Growth of Scientific Knowledge , London: Routledge 1963. (cf. online article , 1962)
  • George A. Reisch: Pluralism, Logical Empiricism, and the Problem of Pseudoscience , in: Philosophy of Science, 65/2 (1998), 333ff.
  • A. Still, W. Dryden: The Social Psychology of "Pseudoscience": A Brief History , in: Journal of the Theory of Social Behavior 34 (2004), 265-290
  • J. Stump: Art. Pseudoscience , in: Maryanne Cline Horowitz (ed.): New Dictionary of the History of Ideas, Thomson Gale 2005, Vol. 5, ISBN 0-684-31382-0 , 1950f
  • Gerhard Vollmer: What pseudosciences are good for. Arguments from the theory of science and scientific practice, in: Universitas 47 (1992), 155–168 (newly published in: Gerhard Vollmer: Wissenschaftstheorie im Einsatz. Contributions to a self-critical philosophy of science. Stuttgart 1993, 11–29).

Web links

Commons : Pseudoscience  - collection of images, videos, and audio files
Wiktionary: Pseudoscience  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Sven Ove Hansson: Defining Pseudoscience. In: Philosophia naturalis . Volume 33, No. 1, 1996, pp. 169-176.
  2. ^ "Pseudo-Science", in Ted Honderich: The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford 1995, p. 726.
  3. ^ Sven Ove Hansson: Science denial as a form of pseudoscience . In: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science . tape 63 , 2017, p. 39-47, especially 40 and 45 , doi : 10.1016 / j.shpsa.2017.05.002 (English).
  4. See the overview by Hansson 1996.
  5. ^ Hilary Putnam: On Negative Theology. In: Faith and Philosophy. Volume 14, No. 4, 1997, pp. 407-422.
  6. cf. also Overton 2000
  7. See for example Martin Mahner : Demarcating Science from Nonscience . In: Theo AF Kuipers (Ed.): General philosophy of science. Focal issues (=  Handbook of the philosophy of science ). Elsevier, Amsterdam / Oxford 2007, ISBN 0-444-51548-8 , pp. 515-576 , here p. 548 .
  8. See e.g. B. Mahner 2007, 548.
  9. ^ William F. Williams (Ed.): Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience. Facts on File, 2000, ISBN 0-8160-3351-X ; Stephen Hawking: Hawking on the Big Bang and Black Holes . World Scientific, 1993, ISBN 981-02-1078-7 (English, limited preview in Google book search): “Cosmology was thought of as pseudoscience where wild speculation was unconstrained by any possible observations” Albert Einstein: “ It is possible that there exist emanations that are still unknown to us. Do you remember how electrical currents and 'unseen waves' were laughed at? ”, [1]
  10. ^ François Magendie: An Elementary Treatise on Human Physiology . 5th edition. Harper, New York 1844, pp. 150 (English, French: Precis Elementaire de Physiologie . 1843. Translated by John Revere): “a pseudo-science of the present day”
  11. ^ TH Huxley: Scientific and Pseudo-Scientific Realism.
  12. ^ TH Huxley: Science and Pseudo-Science.
  13. ^ Scientific and Pseudo-Scientific Realism. April 1887.
  14. ^ "Incidentally, the philosopher Karl Popper coined the term, 'pseudo-science'. The examples he gave were (Western) astrology and homeopathy, the medical system developed in Germany. "VVS Sarma: Natural calamities and pseudoscientific menace . Current Science 90 : 2 (Jan 25, 2006); "The notion of pseudoscience, as coined by philosopher Karl Popper is discussed in the context of its application to library science and its implications for selection." Graham Howard: Pseudo Science and Selection. Collection Management 29 : 2 (May 24, 2005); “The very prestige that science enjoys, however, has also given rise to a variety of scientific pretenders-disciplines such as phrenology or eugenics that merely claim to be scientific. The renowned philosopher of science Karl Popper gave a great deal of consideration to this problem and coined the term "pseudoscience" to help separate the wheat from the chaff. "Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber: Deciding What You'll Swallow . Trust Us We're Experts (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher / Putnam, 2001), p. 55, ISBN 1-58542-059-X ; “'Pseudoscience'… It's the catchword of the times in the scientific community. Originally coined by Sir Karl Popper in the 1950's, the term 'pseudoscience' has become a political weapon being hurled around the scientific and pseudoscientific communities to disclaim research that disagrees with a group's political or personal convictions ”, Roberta C. Barbalace: Pseudoscience: A. Threat to Our Environment (2004).
  15. ^ Karl R. Popper: Science: Conjectures and Refutations (PDF; 62 kB). Conjectures and Refutations (1963), pp. 43-86.
  16. Unended Quest , Chapter 9
  17. ^ A b William W. Bartley: Rationality, Criticism, and Logic . Philosophia 11 : 1–2 (1982), Section XXIII (DOC; 277 KB)
  18. Herbert Keuth, p. 3.
  19. See Hans Jürgen Wendel, in: Classics Explaining: Karl Popper, Logic of Research, ed. by Herbert Keuth, 2nd edition 2004, p. 2f.
  20. Objective Knowledge , p. 40, footnote
  21. Wolfgang Balzer: Science and its methods. Basic concepts of the philosophy of science (Alber, 1997), ISBN 3-495-47853-1 .
  22. Compare Imre Lakatos , Science and Pseudoscience , 1973 (lecture transcription, which was later edited in various publications, e.g. by John Worrall and Gregory Currie (Ed.), The Methodology of Scientific Research Programs: Philosophical Papers Volume 1, Cambridge University Press , 1978 (see also London School of Economics ).
  23. “Is, then, Popper's falsifiability criterion the solution to the problem of demarcating science from pseudoscience? No. For Popper's criterion ignores the remarkable tenacity of scientific theories. Scientists have thick skins. They do not abandon a theory [merely] because facts contradict it. ")
  24. See the example in Richard J. McNally, "Is the pseudoscience concept useful for clinical psychology?"  The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice / Fall ~ Winter 2003 Volume 2 Number 2
  25. Michael Ruse: Response to Laudan's Commentary: Pro Justice . In: Science Technology and Human Values ​​7/41 (1982), pp. 19-23. Reprinted in: M. Ch. La Follette (Ed.): Creationism, Science and the Law: The Arkansas Case . MIT, Cambridge, MA 1983, pp. 150-160. Reprinted in: Michael Ruse (ed.): But Is It Science? The Philosophical Question in the Creation / Evolution Controversy , Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY 1988.
  26. Carnap: Testability and Meaning , in: Philosophy of Science 4.3 (1936), pp 419-471.
  27. For example, in a publication by the American National Academy of Sciences, when defining science, reference is made to such a concept of testability: “Definition of Science: The use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process. "National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine (2008). Science, Evolution, and Creationism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Page 10 (After online registration here free runterladbar)
  28. Schilpp, PA (Ed.): The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap , Cambridge University Press, La Salle (Illinois) 1963.
  29. ^ Gardner, Fads and Fallacies. In the Name of Science, 1957
  30. See for example Wolfgang Stegmüller: Problems and Results of the Philosophy of Science and Analytical Philosophy, Vol. 2/1 (1974) and 2/2 (1985) and 4 (1973) as well as this: The problem of induction: Hume's challenge and modern reply
  31. For an easily accessible overview of classical positions and a moderately rationalist proposal cf. W. Newton-Smith: The Rationality of Science , London: Routledge Kegan & Paul 1981, ISBN 0-7100-0870-8
  32. Compare Wolfgang Stegmüller: Problems and Results of the Philosophy of Science and Analytical Philosophy, Vol. 2/2 (1985)
  33. Paul Thagard: Why Astrology is a Pseudoscience (PDF; 926 kB), in: Proceedings of the Biennal Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association (PSA) 1 (1978), Vol. 1, 223-234; also in: M. Curd, JA Cover (ed.): Philosophy of Science. The Central Issues , Norton, New York and London 1998, ISBN 0-393-97175-9 , pp. 27-37.
  34. “A theory or discipline which purports to be scientific is pseudoscientific if and only if: it has been less progressive than alternative theories over a long period of time, and faces many unsolved problems; but the community of practitioners makes little attempt to develop the theory towards solutions of the problems, shows no concern for attempts to evaluate the theory in relation to others, and is selective in considering confirmations and disconfirmations "(Paul Thagard: Why Astrology is a Pseudoscience , in: Proceedings of the Biennal Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association (PSA) 1 (1978), Vol. 1, 223-234)
  35. See Reisch 1998, Williams 2000.
  36. ^ Alan Sokal: Pseudosciences et postmodernisme, adversaires ou compagnons de route? Odile Jacob, Paris 2005, pp. 43-47.
  37. See e.g. B. Philip Kitcher: Good science, bad science, dreadful science, and pseudoscience. in: Journal of College Science Teaching 14 (Dec. 1984 / Jan. 1985), pp. 168-173, here p. 170, ISSN  0047-231X .
  38. ^ "There is no demarcation line between science and non-science, or between science and pseudoscience, which would win assent from a majority of philosophers" (Larry Laudan, Beyond Positivism and Relativism, Boulder: Westview Press, 1996), p. 210.
  39. : “If we would stand up and be counted on the side of reason, we ought to drop terms like 'pseudo-science' and 'unscientific' from our vocabulary; they are just hollow phrases which do only emotive work for us ”, Larry Laudan, Beyond positivism and relativism: Theory, method, and evidence. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996, pp. 218-219, pp. 222
  40. ^ Richard J. McNally: Is the pseudoscience concept useful for clinical psychology? . The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice 2 : 2 (Fall / Winter 2003)
  41. John Dupre and Philip Kitcher, for example, described creationism as an extremely bad or very bad science (GA Reisch, Philosophy of Science, 65/2, 1998, 333), but L. Laudan also has no reservations about a subject as either good or classifying bad science: "Laudan has no reservations about talk about" good "and" bad "science as measured by their results and the evidence on behalf of their claims." Archived copy ( Memento of February 6, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  42. George A. Reisch: Pluralism, Logical Empiricism, and the Problem of Pseudoscience, in: Philosophy of Science, 65/2 (1998), 333ff
  43. John L. Casti : Loss of Truth. Disputes of the natural sciences , Munich 1992, ISBN 3-426-77004-0 , chapter “Characteristics of pseudoscience”, p. 89 ff.