Science and Pseudoscience

APseudo@ is a prefix meaning A false@ or Adeceptive.@  Pseudoscience is fake science, a collection of assertions that do not satisfy the requirements and practices of true science.  The following table shows some of the differences between science and pseudoscience.  If a collection of assertions displays even one of the traits in the Apseudoscience@ column, it is not true science.  No natural phenomena or processes previously unknown to science have ever been discovered by pseudoscience.




1. Uses careful observation and experimentation to confirm or reject a hypothesis. Evidence against theories and laws are searched for and studied closely.

1. Starts with a hypothesis, looks only for evidence to support it. Little or no experimentation. Conflicting evidence is ignored, excused, or hidden. The original idea is never abandoned, whatever the evidence.

2. Based on well-established, repeating patterns and regularities in nature.

2. Focuses, without skepticism, on alleged exceptions, errors, anomalies, and strange events.

3. Reproducible results are required of experiments. In case of failure, no excuses are acceptable.

3. Results cannot be reproduced or verified. Excuses are freely invented to explain the failure of any scientific test.

4. Personal stories or testimonials are not accepted as evidence.

4. Personal stories or testimonials are relied upon for evidence.

5. Consistent and interconnected; one part cannot be changed without affecting the whole.

5. Inconsistent and not interconnected; any part can be arbitrarily changed in any way without affecting other parts.

6. Argues from scientific knowledge and from the results of experiments.

6. Argues from ignorance. The lack of a scientific explanation is used to support ideas.

7. Uses vocabulary that is well defined and is in wide usage by co-workers.

7. Uses specially invented terms that are vague and applied only to one specific area.

8. Convinces by appeal to evidence, by arguments based on logical and/or mathematical reasoning.

8. Attempts to persuade by appeal to emotions, faith, sentiment, or distrust of established fact.

9. Peer review. Literature written for fellow scientists who are specialists and experts.

9. No peer review. Literature written for the general public without checks or verification.

10. Progresses; as time goes on, more and more is learned.

10. No progress; nothing new is learned as time passes. There is only a succession of fads.


The Scientific Endeavor by Jeffrey A. Lee (Addison Wesley, 2000)

A Distinguishing Science and Pseudoscience@ by Rory Coker, at


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Last modified:  Wednesday, January 09, 2008 03:33 PM