In today’s world it has become more common to share theoretical and practical information that is lacking in its scientific support. In the era of the internet and globalization, some practices and beliefs have gained a large number of followers, who faithfully believe in them without questioning them. The risk posed by this scenario is that people begin to believe these statements that cannot be supported as true .

Consequently it has become very common to hear about disciplines such as feng shui, homeopathy as well as astronomy. The similarity that all these practices have is that they cannot be verified, they are also based on approaches that present more doubts than certainties . Therefore, this set of disciplines that lack credibility are called by the name of pseudosciences.

What is pseudoscience?

The term pseudoscience is used to refer to some type of belief, set of rules or actions that they try to imitate or copy, and these do not have validity. Considering that the added compositional element “pseudo” is used to refer precisely to these characteristics; By joining the word science you will be describing a set of theories or proposals that lack veracity. 

Actually today the word pseudoscience has become more popular to refer to the set of methodologies, techniques or processes that cannot be verified or validated. These have been created in a systematic way in order to produce objective knowledge, however, these cannot be used without first questioning the proposals they describe.

Some consider that a pseudoscience is also a scientific discipline . That is, a part of the traditional scientific community studies these pseudosciences that do not have the conventional rigor that supports the sciences recognized as such. By applying various scientific methods, it is possible to differentiate those studies that can be endorsed and that really provide new objective knowledge.

A part of the scientific community also considers that pseudosciences help to develop knowledge in a more reliable way . After unsuccessful attempts or the proposal of theories that could not be demonstrated, consequently the different resources and techniques used for the creation of new content can be perfected.

What are their characteristics? 

The main characteristic of pseudosciences is that they focus their attention on conducting very diverse investigations with respect to different topics. Through the application of observation and analysis of any associated phenomenon, it is about verifying information; which however cannot be supported by some kind of formal scientific method .

It is also possible to note that most pseudosciences make vague and extreme claims . Usually there is no provision to demonstrate through systematic processes and reliable verification of the veracity of these contents.

Another characteristic of the theories on which pseudosciences are based is that they cannot demonstrate predictions or describe facts with precision. They always try to convince the public of the validity of their statements through speeches that do not show coherence or even describe little credible situations. They usually manage to attract attention but eventually arouse mistrust .

The most important characteristics that identify pseudosciences in general are described below. These elements are easier to observe in certain cases, it is also important to note that some of them will have different objectives and themes . They are as follows:

  • Occultism is contrary to traditional scientific knowledge , it is about the formulation of ideas and knowledge that have a secret character. For example, they might come up with ideas such as conspiracies or arcane knowledge.
  • They do not have official legitimacy, becoming doctrines that do not have any type of support. In addition, these same promulgate or divulge knowledge such as superstitions or myths.
  • Pseudosciences often copy or misrepresent scientific terminology and other types of languages. The purpose is to provide greater credibility to the statements made, however they cannot be adjusted to a specific topic without the inaccuracies and contradictions in the meanings of the concepts becoming easily perceptible.
  • They have a dogmatic character , which means that these beliefs are accepted or rejected equally depending on the perception of the public. In these cases it becomes more difficult to prove but also to refute.
  • They do not try to study natural or traditional laws. They generally contradict the formal human sciences .
  • They cannot be reviewed , they have detractors who find it difficult to use valid arguments. They are usually based on imprecise ideals, usually mention is made of some kind of knowledge or “divine” force which is responsible for providing such information.
  • They are immutable , which means that their proposals do not evolve and are not rethought. These, not being developed, begin to be obsolete for certain uses, and they also do not make contributions that result in the discovery of new information.
  • They show external and internal incoherence, this means that their own postulates are incoherent independently from the perspective or criterion with which they are analyzed.

Examples of pseudosciences

The best example of pseudoscience today is ufology . This is characterized by making diverse proposals of theories and investigations that try to demonstrate the existence of extraterrestrial life . In some cases, unofficial documentation is used as irrefutable evidence, however, usually professional biologists and even astronomers manage to demonstrate the lack of authenticity of these supposed evidences.

Some consider that astrology is also part of this category in conjunction with numerology . The claims made by these pseudosciences cannot be fully developed or proven from the application of a conventional scientific method. The same happens with feng shui and cryptozoology , however all of them have followers and staunch defenders of the ideas they present.

Homeopathy is still widely practiced to treat various types of medical conditions, however it cannot be considered a science. The same happens with curanderismo and alchemy , any type of performance of rites or combination of natural elements through unconventional practices that together are considered as pseudoscience.

Other popular pseudosciences are parapsychology and graphology . The first is widely recognized for focusing its efforts on studies related to ghosts, fantastic beings, esotericism and spiritism among many other associated topics. As for graphology, it is affirmed that it is possible to carry out a study of human character through the analysis of writing.

What are the differences between science and pseudoscience?

In order to differentiate a pseudoscience, it is necessary to take into account the most important characteristics of science and contrast them in these disciplines. Some of the most essential aspects are the following:

  • To differentiate the pseudosciences from the recognized sciences, it must first be considered that the latter do not have an ideology . On the other hand, pseudosciences generally pursue some type of interest based on profit or the implantation of a set of beliefs to gain followers.
  • The sciences also accept refutations and contributions . Any scientific theory tends to try to challenge other theories by disproving them, therefore generating a process in which there is an exchange of knowledge on a continuous basis.
  • Unlike the pseudosciences, the sciences as such before being accepted are exhaustively studied at the theoretical, practical and experimental levels. In this way, research is enriched with the discovery of new contributions that are made when contrasting information.
  • Science will never make claims without some kind of backing. Whether with empirical or theoretical methods , pseudoscientists always make statements of unverifiable hypothetical cases.
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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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