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[*] posted on 22-11-2013 at 09:14
Pseudoscience & Willful Ignorance


Since there's so much disinformation spread about the internet and so many people are willing to suspend critical thinking faculties in order to believe it, why not have a topic dedicated to these fallacies and possibly disproving them?

For a start, here's a short list of nonsense that some people actually believe:<ul><li><em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemtrail_conspiracy_theory" target="_blank">'chemtrails'</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /></em></li><li><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_fluoridation_controversy#Conspiracy_theories" target="_blank">fluoridation myths</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /></li><li><em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxyhydrogen#Fringe_science_and_fraud" target="_blank">HHO</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /></em></li><li><em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollow_earth" target="_blank">hollow Earth</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /></em></li><li><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nascent_hydrogen" target="_blank"><em>nascent hydrogen</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /></em></li><li><em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penta_Water" target="_blank">penta water</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /></em><li><em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_memory" target="_blank">water memory</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /></em></ul>
Some articles of interest:<ul><li><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong" target="_blank">Not even wrong</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /> (my signature)</li><li><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathological_science" target="_blank">Pathological science</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /></li><li><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoscience" target="_blank">Pseudoscience</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /></li></ul>

[edit] <strong>Notice:</strong> I will prune any political commentary from this topic. Check your political ideologies at the door. Yes, I know that's a bit odd for a topic in Legal and Societal Issues; but it's an attempt to avoid Detritus.

[Edited on 24.11.13 by bfesser]




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[*] posted on 22-11-2013 at 10:00


Well, they do make for a good laugh.



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[*] posted on 22-11-2013 at 17:42


Don't forget psuedomath and mathematical cranks

For example, William "Isaac Newton of Information Theory" Dembski:


Quote:

As we will show, Dembski’s work is riddled with inconsistencies, equivocation, flawed use of mathematics, poor scholarship, and misrepresentation of others’ results. As a result, we believe few if any of Dembski’s conclusions can be sustained.
Several writers have already taken issue with some of Dembski’s claims (e.g., [23, 71, 72, 92, 78, 22, 94, 32]). In this paper we focus on some aspects of Dembski’s work that have received little attention thus far.


Ouch.




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[*] posted on 22-11-2013 at 18:51


Wow. That's quite a paper.



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[*] posted on 22-11-2013 at 19:38


Homeopathy is quite hilarious especialy when the doctors invoved often lack medical degrees.
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[*] posted on 23-11-2013 at 19:49


The true meaning of being open minded is not caring about appearances or reputatiion


Quote: Originally posted by franklyn  
So called psuedo science is often just poorly expressed in the accepted academic standard ,
not that there is anything faulty in the logic. Rather snobish and blind to unseen possibilities.


Imagination is more important than knowledge.
— Albert Einstein

Seek and you will find , refuse to open a door and what is behind remains by defintion unknown , which cannot be equated to unknowable.

If not so please explain magic.
Conspiracy theories arise because people refuse ' logically ' to accept the improbable ( that they are wrong ) no matter how factual it is , and ' logically ' ad hoc attempt to explain away the inevitable inconsistencies to avoid contending with them ( denial )

It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is , it doesn't matter how smart you are.
If it doesn't agree with experiment , it's wrong.
— Richard P. Feynman

Just one example _
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2509/is-the-ninja-d...

__________________________________________________________________


On a mathematical note why do peculiar conventions arise ?

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1036/why-are-there-...

See page 150 , 151 etc. here _
http://books.google.com/books?id=FyoDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA150&a...


.
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[*] posted on 23-11-2013 at 20:06


One must be open-minded, but not so open-minded that one's brains fall out.
Homeopathy is bunk- it has been proven to be bunk (it's no better than placebo), and the supposed theoretical basis for it has been proven to be bunk. And magic doesn't exist, either.




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[*] posted on 23-11-2013 at 20:16


It's human nature to trust the opinions of those we feel are knowledgeable without doing the leg work or experiments ourselves. The world used to be flat, after all.

The instant information of our society today compounds the problem. Most don't do the work or experiments themselves to validate and take information as truth.
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[*] posted on 24-11-2013 at 05:35


franklyn - none of those quotes support accepting pseudoscience or taking it seriously. To me, they essentially say "try new stuff and see what happens" and "when you try it, accept the outcome". If anything, the Feynman quote would advocate against giving pseudoscience any attention.

This is how science is (obviously) supposed to work. Pseudoscience tends to fail at the experimental stage with either untestable claims or claims that fail tests. There's nothing wrong with slapping the 'pseudoscience' label on that, because it is pseudoscience (if it is still claimed to be science). That which cannot be tested by science is not science and should be given no further scientific consideration. That which fails scientific tests is rejected scientifically. That doesn't automatically mean it is bad unless it is masquerading as science, in which case it should be labelled as pseudoscience and fraudulent.

As for the article - that's not about pseudoscience. Most of it is about explanations for things that may not be immediately obvious. No scientists are claiming to fully understand the human body, so why should it come as a surprise that we don't fully understand the human body?

Interestingly, you have previously said:
Quote: Originally posted by franklyn  
Contemplating confounded opinions , rather than eschewing them upon recognition
of what they are , is knowingly wasting time with idiosyncratic mental chewing gum
that has no intellectual edible or nutritional value. Being fascinated by it is tantamount
to addiction. Resist being seduced into dignifying mediocrity by manifesting superiority ,
which is often the draw in outlandish claims or assertions. A bullshit filter takes effort
to cultivate.
which seems to be in contradiction to the general spirit of what you're saying here.

It seems that you want it both ways. I think I have a pretty decent bullshit filter and it's going mental right now.
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[*] posted on 24-11-2013 at 07:11


Kind of on this subject some of my friends believe in big foot also they believe that aliens built the great pyramids and I try to use logic to show them truth but they just refuse to listen and there's no way that I can actually prove them wrong. It's really frustrating!



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24-11-2013 at 10:29
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[*] posted on 3-12-2013 at 14:21


Quote: Originally posted by DraconicAcid  

Homeopathy is bunk- it has been proven to be bunk (it's no better than placebo), and the supposed theoretical basis for it has been proven to be bunk.


I'd argue that vaccines are actually an example of homeopathy that works: they use a dilute, attenuated sample of the disease-causing agent (rather than a counteracting agent as in allopathy) to prevent disease.

For some reason though, homeopaths often don't like to be told as much. *trollface*





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[*] posted on 3-12-2013 at 14:25


Quote:

I'd argue that vaccines are actually an example of homeopathy that works: they use a dilute, attenuated sample of the disease-causing agent (rather than a counteracting agent as in allopathy) to prevent disease.


Homeopathy relies on water memory, there is no actual agent inside.




One shouldn't accept or resort to the mutilation of science to appease the mentally impaired.
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[*] posted on 3-12-2013 at 14:30


The principle behind vaccines is sound. On the other hand, the very different principle behind homeopathy is not. Vaccines are not "dilute": a dilute sample of a virulent pathogen will still be infectious. Rather, they are, as you said, attenuated.

Homeopathy claims that inordinately dilute doses of "medicine" are effective, and more so than conventional medicine.

For giggles:
http://xkcd.com/765/




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[*] posted on 3-12-2013 at 16:23


If you look at the clinical test results for almost any drug, the placebo always shows some curing power and negative side effects as well, often almost as much as the drug under test.

I also read an article that stated something like 80% of the things people go to see doctors for would go away without any treatment.

So homeopathy probably appears to work quite well.
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[*] posted on 3-12-2013 at 18:31


I'm not sure I agree that the doctrine of "like treats like" is synonymous with the proposed mechanism of water memory, but I appreciate the points made.



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[*] posted on 4-12-2013 at 06:10


I've posted <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0" target="_blank">this</a> <img src="../scipics/_yt.png" /> before.



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[*] posted on 4-12-2013 at 17:00


Another complication that I keep in mind when making these sorts of assessments is that a phenomenon can be very real, while the pseudoscience lies in the social, cultural, political, and economic motivations and interpretations that surround the phenomenon.

For example, I would contend that, as a phenomenon, ghosts are real. People report seeing them all the time, with apparent sincerity, and describe a consistent, complex phenomenology (for example, the clustering of ghosts into poltergeists and classical hauntings). There are even photographs and the like of things people say are ghosts.

However, the word 'ghost' refers not just to a phenomenon reported by observers, but to an interpretation of it, often invoking spiritualism. I don't share this interpretation; I think that the fact that people observe ghosts is entirely seated in human psychology and neurology. Nonetheless, it is a fact that I think deserves an answer. How to proceed is what distinguishes science from pseudoscience; let's be careful as we tease apart what exactly defines scientific inquiry.

This brings me to Morgellons, a phenomenon in which sufferers report "a range of cutaneous symptoms such as crawling, biting, and stinging sensations (formication); unusual fibers in the skin; and persistent skin lesions (e.g., rashes or sores)." It is generally written off as delusional parasitosis. I'm not convinced.

For one thing, take a look at the design of some of the studies claiming to demonstrate it.


Quote:

A computerized search of patients seen at Mayo Clinic’s site in Rochester, from 1996 through 2007, was performed using the following search terms: delusion of lice, delusional disorder with parasitosis, delusion(s) of parasitosis, delusional parasitosis, delusion(s) of parasitism, delusion(s) of parasites, parasitosis (delusional), delusional infestation, delusory parasitosis, psychogenic parasitosis, neurogenic parasitosis, neurotic parasitosis, Ekbom syndrome, formication and parasites, chronic tactile hallucination(s), dermatophobia, parasitophobia, toxic psychosis, tactile psychosis, monosymptomatic hypochondriacal psychosis, Morgellon(s), psychogenic dermatitis, neurotic dermatitis, neurogenic dermatitis, self-induced excoriations, and psychogenic excoriations.


In other words, their sample was of a bunch of people who were suffering from psycho-dermal conditions, plus some people with Morgellons. Unsurprisingly, skin biopsies of these patients showed no parasitism. But I can't help but wonder if the sampling swamped out the Morgellons phenomenon with true cases of delusional parasitosis. (The CDC recently released the results of a better study, which also found no infectious or environmental component.)

Moreover, assume that the chief finding is correct, and Morgellons is not caused by parasites. The conclusion of delusional parasitosis is not yet warranted. The belief that one's symptoms are parasitic may be incorrect, but that is not the same as it being delusional, which has specific neurological and psychological connotations. If one is suffering from symptoms which one's doctor is consistently not able to treat or explain, it may even be a rational decision not to believe their claims about the cause of the symptoms.

And all of this presumes that the sufferer holds the belief that they are parasitized. I have talked to people who identify as Morgellons sufferers but believe that their symptoms are environmental. What are we to make of such people?

Finally, even if Morgellons is a subset of delusional parasitosis, the question remains: Why do people have delusional parasitosis? Is the Morgellons presentation a distinct subtype, or is it a cultural mask on a generic illness? These are all questions that I think are valid, despite thinking that the most popularly proposed mechanism for Morgellons is pseudoscientific (OMG CHEMTRAIL NANOBOTS BE EATING ME!!)

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the Bermuda Triangle. I was dismayed when my brother once dismissed it by claiming it was 'merely' a statistical artifact. After all, he reasoned, mustn't there be a hot spot for sea disappearances somewhere?

This wasn't a satisfactory answer for me, because it didn't address the phenomenology I was reading about; indeed, the number of disappearances was the least interesting part to me: Why did survivors report anomalies like glowing fogs and malfunctioning compasses? Why is the area a UFO hotspot? Why was the ocean reported to glow? I think that if I had been given an answer which addressed the phenomenology (for example, by pointing to the psychological effects of long-distance travel, luminescent algae, electrical phenomena, or the fact that people sometimes make shit up ) I would have been more satisfied - though I probably would have wanted to know more about each of these new phenomena.

I guess the point I'm getting at is that pseudoscience can lie in the interpretations and behaviors that surround a kernel of truth, and we should be careful in isolating exactly what it is in a particular case of pseudoscience that offends us, and what core observations it flows from and whether they offer insight into real phenomena.







[Edited on 5-12-2013 by mayko]




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[*] posted on 5-12-2013 at 06:08


Quote: Originally posted by mayko  
For example, I would contend that, as a phenomenon, ghosts are real. People report seeing them all the time, with apparent sincerity, and describe a consistent, complex phenomenology (for example, the clustering of ghosts into poltergeists and classical hauntings). There are even photographs and the like of things people say are ghosts.

However, the word 'ghost' refers not just to a phenomenon reported by observers, but to an interpretation of it, often invoking spiritualism. I don't share this interpretation; I think that the fact that people observe ghosts is entirely seated in human psychology and neurology. Nonetheless, it is a fact that I think deserves an answer. How to proceed is what distinguishes science from pseudoscience; let's be careful as we tease apart what exactly defines scientific inquiry.
Ghosts!? For serious? Can you even begin to provide a plausible explanation for how ghosts can exist? Never underestimate the ability of the subconscious to interject what simply isn't there.

[Edited on 5.12.13 by bfesser]




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[*] posted on 5-12-2013 at 06:24


Quote: Originally posted by bfesser  
Can you even begin to provide a plausible explanation for how ghosts can exist?
They can exist as subjective mental phenomena, which is almost-but-not-quite what mayko already said.

That said, there are people who don't believe in the existence of subjective mental phenomena. They would think I'm wrong. I think they're idiots.
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[*] posted on 5-12-2013 at 06:32


Check out the show Ghost Mine. If nothing else, the redhead investigator is pleasing to the eyes. I don't know what it is, but there is some kind of effect in all the sitings surrounding that gold mine and town.
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[*] posted on 5-12-2013 at 07:07


Quote: Originally posted by bfesser  
Ghosts!? For serious? Can you even begin to provide a plausible explanation for how ghosts can exist? Never underestimate the ability of the subconscious to interject what simply isn't there.


You answered your own question ;) Things like paredolia and wishful thinking are a plausible explanation for the existence of the ghost phenomenon. More interesting to me is the role that abnormal neurological states, such as hypnogogia, aura, or neuroelectromagenetism in developing the phenomenology.





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[*] posted on 5-12-2013 at 08:34


What about actual physical manifestations where welts are recorded after someone reports being pinched when nothing is there?
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[*] posted on 5-12-2013 at 11:14


References please. (It helps if they are reputable sources.)



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[*] posted on 5-12-2013 at 11:41


Quote: Originally posted by hyfalcon  
What about actual physical manifestations where welts are recorded after someone reports being pinched when nothing is there?


Admittedly having done little research, psychosomatic phenomena come to mind. The brain can effect actual physical symptoms where there is no real physical cause. See "conversion disorder" as a good example, on the somatoform disorder wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somatoform_disorder

Broadly similar to the placebo effect, in my eyes. If the mind believes something strongly enough, it can be enough to manifest physical effects. Interesting stuff.
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[*] posted on 5-12-2013 at 12:01


Nutrition and health recommenedations. You see ads with fruit saying full of vitamin and they list everything including protein. Saying an apple is a good source of vitamin is foolish and dangerous practice. When actual nutritional data is checked the reality is much worse. Absolutely miniscule amounts of some minerals let alone fat soluble vitamins.



Eating a fruit "full of vitamin and minerals" to meet your RDA of everything is absolutely foolish and dangerous practice that many parents employ. Maybe 10kg of that fruit would for example meet your calcium RDA.



Not saying that eating fruit is bad just telling an example.




Another thing is fat loss and pills that reduce fat. There is no way this is possible.

Fat contains 3500 calories per pound and the only way to reduce is to spend it in exercise. That is if you don't also metabolize muscle in that process which has a lot less cals.


Another thing is BMI and overweight people. What matters is your bodyfat percentage in terms of ratio between fat and lean body mass not your overall weight for health.


I hate when people talk bullshit and the thing is nutrition is one of the main causes for bad or good health in the long term.




There are also things like cancer healing essential oils. When my mother tells me about some new magical essential oil that cures cancer I always ask her: so how do you know? What is the active ingradient that does it?


Then I go to wiki and see that active ingradient might actually cause some problems in higher doses with no anticancer properties.. :mad:
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