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It's Time To Bring Pseudoscience Into the Science Classroom

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the for-a-few-object-lessons dept.

Education 470

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "'Roughly one in three American adults believes in telepathy, ghosts, and extrasensory perception,' wrote a trio of scientists in a 2012 issue of the Astronomy Education Review. 'Roughly one in five believes in witches, astrology, clairvoyance, and communication with the dead (PDF). Three quarters hold at least one of these beliefs, and a third has four distinct pseudoscientific beliefs.' Now Steven Ross Pomeroy writes in Forbes Magazine that it's time to bring pseudoscience into public schools and universities. 'By incorporating examples of pseudoscience into lectures, instructors can provide students with the tools needed to understand the difference between scientific and pseudoscientific or paranormal claims,' say Rodney Schmaltz and Scott Lilienfeld." (Read more, below.)"According to Schmaltz and Lilienfeld, there are 7 clear signs that show something to be pseudoscientific: 1. The use of psychobabble – words that sound scientific and professional but are used incorrectly, or in a misleading manner. 2. A substantial reliance on anecdotal evidence. 3. Extraordinary claims in the absence of extraordinary evidence. 4. Claims which cannot be proven false. 5. Claims that counter established scientific fact. 6. Absence of adequate peer review. 7. Claims that are repeated despite being refuted. Schmaltz and Lilienfeld recommend incorporating examples of pseudoscience into lectures and contrasting them with legitimate, groundbreaking scientific findings. For example, professors can expound upon psychics and the tricks they use to fool people or use resources such as the Penn & Teller program "Bullshit".

But teachers need to be careful or their worthy efforts to instill critical thinking could backfire. Prior research has shown that repeating myths on public fliers, even with the intention of dispelling them, can actually perpetuate misinformation. "The goal of using pseudoscientific examples is to create skeptical, not cynical, thinkers. As skeptical thinkers, students should be urged to remain open-minded," say Schmaltz and Lilienfeld. "By directly addressing and then refuting non-scientific claims, science educators can dispel pseudoscience (PDF) and promote scientific skepticism, while avoiding the unhealthy extremes of either uncritical acceptance or cynicism.""

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470 comments

needs some (0, Redundant)

kqc7011 (525426) | about 4 months ago | (#46668737)

AGW? Had to do it, just to get things going.

Re:needs some (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669139)

Roughly one in three American adults believes in telepathy, ghosts, and extrasensory perception," wrote a trio of scientists in a 2012 issue of the Astronomy Education Review.

Yes we must use government institutions to regulate what people believe! If we start young we can change the next generation.

Really if you want to see pseudoscience in action take a good look at all the assumptions behind cosmology and astronomy. Redshift = distance is an ASSUMPTION and Edwin Hubble himself was the first to point that out. Or start being honest enough to teach students that LOTS of biologists as well as physicists like Sir Hoyle have valid doubts about the theory of evolution, and no they are not creationists. Their main problem with evolution being that it is so often presented as settled established fact when it really has a lot of serious problems that need to be worked out. Just saying that is some kind of heresy in most English-speaking areas. Truth is many scientists would love to replace evolution with a better theory.

I don't think people care (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668745)

Even if you show them that what they believe is bullshit, they still choose to believe it.
Just look at religions all over the world.

Re:I don't think people care (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668863)

Or open source fanboys. ;)

Re:I don't think people care (0)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 4 months ago | (#46669145)

Or believing scientific researchers are always altruistic and truthful.

Re:I don't think people care (5, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about 4 months ago | (#46668927)

Just because you're paranormal doesn't mean ghosts aren't following you.

Re:I don't think people care (2)

MightyYar (622222) | about 4 months ago | (#46668995)

Those people are (mostly) a lost cause. The point of this is to equip youngins with critical thinking skills.

Re:I don't think people care (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669197)

Those people are (mostly) a lost cause. The point of this is to equip youngins with critical thinking skills.

When you actually have had experiences that you cannot scientifically explain you tend to realize that there is this huge domain called the Universe At Large and then there is this much smaller domain called What Mankind Currently Accepts And Understands.

There was a time when science did not know about microorganisms and pathogens and had no clue that they could cause disease. A microscope was invented and suddenly a whole new world of exploration opened up. Before that anyone claiming germ theory would have had no evidence and been dismissed just as arrogantly. This could happen too with what are now called paranormal events.

As a matter of fact back when Newtonian physics was the state of the art, many prominent scientists lamented that there was nothing left to discover! A few generations later they realized what atoms were and particle physics was born and we entered the atomic age.

How many times does an institution have to be humbled before they stop being so arrogant next time? The moment it's unacceptable to question the current experts is the moment you convert them into a priesthood. Science cannot follow this pattern of religion with its dogmas and heretics and priests and expect to remain scientific.

Re:I don't think people care (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669057)

Even if you show them that what they believe is bullshit, they still choose to believe it.
Just look at religions all over the world.

Or that Tesla can do no wrong.

Unfalsifieable (5, Insightful)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#46669107)

The core problem with psuedo-science is a lot of it is unfalsifiable. Sure, you can show in a double-blind study that magic magnet bracelets have no significant effect on mood or back pain, but ghosts, ESP, etc? At most you can prove that individual instances are hoaxes, but you can't scientifically disprove their existence as a class. To claim they are bullshit as a class is itself an unscientific claim - at worst they are a hypothesis unsupported by evidence.

Of course there could still be great value in bringing them into the classroom to compare and contrast with scientific claims and the methods used to verify them - given the number of people willing to dismiss inconvenient science as a "belief" as though it had no more certainty to it than any random religious or pseudo-scientific doctrine our schools are clearly doing a poor job at conveying the qualitative difference in the level of certainty science brings to the table. But debunking should not be part of the science curriculum, it just isn't possible and claiming otherwise harms the very integrity of science we're trying to convey.

Re:Unfalsifieable (2)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 4 months ago | (#46669215)

It's the same problem as proving that God doesn't exist, essentially--you're getting suckered into accepting that the wrong thing needs to be proven.

Re:Unfalsifieable (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669237)

Nobody listens to an admitted nutcase like you http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] , get it?

Frosty! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668749)

Piss... with grits, naked and petrified.

15 years later, I still have it.

-CM

The Religious Right will have your head on a plate (5, Insightful)

EWAdams (953502) | about 4 months ago | (#46668771)

You can't teach critical thinking in schools. The Texas state Republican party platform is explicitly opposed to it.

Re:The Religious Right will have your head on a pl (1)

Xiph1980 (944189) | about 4 months ago | (#46668905)

Not quite all of us live in TX (or AZ, OH for that matter) mate...

Re:The Religious Right will have your head on a pl (1)

Xiph1980 (944189) | about 4 months ago | (#46669045)

Bleh, I ment AL, not AZ :)

Re:The Religious Right will have your head on a pl (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668913)

Critical thinking, like Common Core??

You must still be under the delusion that public schools, as they sit, are effective..

And that's all the republicans fault right?

Lotard.

Common Core (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669047)

Remember when Common Core dropped cursive as a requirement and I think implemented keyboarding (typing)?

Why it shouldn't be dropped is mentioned below. (Is there a chance Common Core is economically focused?)

https://web.archive.org/web/20100720143204/http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2164109/10_reasons_to_teach_cursive_writing.html?cat=4

Re:Common Core (2)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 4 months ago | (#46669251)

As a left-hander, I submit that the article you linked to consists of roughly equal parts of wishful thinking and of hogwash.

Re:Common Core (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669275)

Aha! You're a left-handed admitted nutjob http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] that nobody listens to!

Re:Common Core (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669295)

considering the source, an admitted nutcase like you http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] ? Please. Go away. Nobody pays you any heed. You're nuts and mentally deficient as well as weak.

Re:The Religious Right will have your head on a pl (3, Insightful)

Brian_Ellenberger (308720) | about 4 months ago | (#46669065)

You can't teach critical thinking in schools. The Texas state Republican party platform is explicitly opposed to it.

--
I piss off bigots

Your sig is ironic since your opinion is quite bigoted. There is a great deal of pseudoscience belief on both sides of the isle. The left has irrational beliefs on nuclear power, GMO foods, etc. There was an article in the Washington Post about Democrats believing in horoscope and astrology more than Republicans/Independents: http://www.washingtonpost.com/... [washingtonpost.com]

Re:The Religious Right will have your head on a pl (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#46669105)

Shh.. you will bust his bublble and make him snap. You all know how dangerous a critical thimker can be when he finds out he is wrong. He will use his mentsl powers to give you migrain headackes from acrosd the county.

Re:The Religious Right will have your head on a pl (0)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 4 months ago | (#46669179)

Yep. Every single crystal-rubber I have met was a Dem.

Don't forget anti-vaxers (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 4 months ago | (#46669263)

Since there's people both on the left and right that are against vaccination.(RFK jr is an example of one on the left and there's various religious groups that oppose vaccination.)

Re:The Religious Right will have your head on a pl (0)

Sam36 (1065410) | about 4 months ago | (#46669069)

Actually, the bible teaches critical thinking quite well. From needing discernment of what is God's Will to identifying false religions and cults, there is plenty of critical thinking to go around. Too bad it is practically banned from public now.

Evolution destroys all that though. Ask any high school or college age person why they believe in evolution and they won't be able to answer. They were just told that it was 'true', no thinking needed. Plus text books show us that pretty hand drawn family tree looking thing.

If you want to harbor good critical thinking, lets start with what they teach in schools first. http://www.unmaskingevolution.... [unmaskingevolution.com]

Re:The Religious Right will have your head on a pl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669285)

Ask any high school or college age person why they believe in antibiotics and they won't be able to answer.
Ask any high school or college age person why they believe in general relativity and they won't be able to answer.
Ask any high school or college age person why they believe in the semiconductor physics that power their computers and they won't be able to answer.
Ask any high school or college age person why they believe in evolution and they won't be able to answer.

The thing about science is that it doesn't require your belief. Physical reality will proceed with or without it.

Yeah, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668775)

Roughly one in one Slashdotter believes in FTL travel, wormhole travel, colonizing the universe... That's any better?

Re:Yeah, so? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 4 months ago | (#46668931)

FTL proof will be given to mankind in 2024.

--
"By 2024 the Fermi Paradox will be shown to be incomplete."

Re:Yeah, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668957)

This. Professional physicists sit often in these debates countering various pseudoscience phenomenons, but even something like the big bang theory isn't certain.

Re:Yeah, so? (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about 4 months ago | (#46668999)

Big bang isn't certain, but it certainly is falsifiable. Every experiment set up to date has verified it, though.

Re:Yeah, so? (-1, Troll)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#46669153)

That's so cute. But nothing hss verified the big bang. Plenty of experiments support it though.

I guess they should include getting dvience right for the wrong reasons as psudoscience too. Or maybe this is already covered by overstating claims?

Re:Yeah, so? (2)

prefec2 (875483) | about 4 months ago | (#46668967)

This is different. While slashdotters might believe in the possibility of an scientific and technological advancement which is yet not realized. These pseudoscience believers think the things they believe in exist even that there is no prove or even prove that they are wrong.

Furthermore, even if your argument would be true, that both believes are structural identical. This would not make your argument valid. As it is a problem that people believe in pseudoscience, it is also a problem when another group believes in some other hokum. They do not cancel each other out.

Re:Yeah, so? (1)

gtall (79522) | about 4 months ago | (#46669293)

Look, all the ancient alien theorists cannot be wrong. The sky-people will be along any day now to validate their claims...yes, even the Greek fellow with the electric hair and suntan from hell...errr....alien radiation.

Only works if the teacher isn't the one in three (2)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | about 4 months ago | (#46668777)

When I was in high school, one of our teachers told us voodoo magic was real, and that contrary to popular belief, it would work on you even if you didn't believe in it. Try to make teachers talk about astrology and you'll end up with them going around the classroom with shit like, "That's because you're a Virgo".

Re:Only works if the teacher isn't the one in thre (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#46668799)

When I was in high school, one of our teachers told us voodoo magic was real

I bet the teacher has a Geforce now. You can't change these people.

Re:Only works if the teacher isn't the one in thre (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 4 months ago | (#46669015)

When I was in high school, one of our teachers told us voodoo magic was real

I bet the teacher has a Geforce now. You can't change these people.

Ah, yes. Enjoy this obligatory metaphorical response. [imgur.com]

Re:Only works if the teacher isn't the one in thre (2)

Quince alPillan (677281) | about 4 months ago | (#46668989)

Well, he was partially right. Some of voodoo magic is chemical or potion based. See for example zombie powder which is actually a combination of drugs (one to induce a coma in a death-like state and another to make the person pliable and open to suggestion in a trance-like state).

Now if he was talking about voodoo dolls and curses? No, that's bunk. They only work on people that fully believe in it, giving a huge placebo effect that has been scientifically researched and documented. In fact, one scientist when confronted with someone "cursed" and suffering from a life threatening placebo effect had to "uncurse" the man, "curing" him by convincing him he wasn't cursed any more. It wasn't the curse itself that was killing him, but his belief in the curse was so strong that his brain was shutting down his own body.

Pseudo-science in the Survey! (3, Informative)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 4 months ago | (#46669031)

It also only works if there isn't pseudo-science in the survey. One of the questions was "Is an electron smaller than an atom" to which it appears they assumed the answer was yes. This is fine if you thin of the atom as a mini-solar system (the Bohr model) but this is wrong. The size of the atom is determined by the size of the electrons' 3D standing waves that are bound to the nucleus. So actually the size of an atom is literally the size of the electrons in it.

The problem is that the "size" of an electron depends on its state as anyone with an understanding of undergrad quantum mechanics should know. So did students answering 'no' to this question do so because they had no clue about atoms and electrons or because they actually understood the quantum wave description of the atom?

Apart from that the survey is very poorly worded for example the statement: "There are phenomena that physical science and the laws of nature cannot explain.". I could easily say "strongly agree" to that and think "dark matter" which is something that physical science cannot explain at the moment but which I'd hope we will eventually explain. So does the statement mean "cannot ever explain" or "cannot at the moment explain"?

So perhaps the survey authors ought to worry a bit more about pseudo-scientific surveys and a little less about pseudo-scientific beliefs among undergrads.

Re:Pseudo-science in the Survey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669117)

You stated "The size of the atom is determined by the size of the electrons' 3D standing waves that are bound to the nucleus. So actually the size of an atom is literally the size of the electrons in it.". So you're kinda answering "yes" to the question in the survey. Note the use of plural here. You have to account for ALL the 3D standing waves. So unless you're talking about a Hydrogen atom, an electron in smaller by any means than the atom it's bound to.

It would be interesting to do the same with "God" (1)

snugge (229110) | about 4 months ago | (#46668787)

...and other commin deities.

Re:It would be interesting to do the same with "Go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668821)

"commin"? Is that some kind of street lingo or youth slang for communist?

Re:It would be interesting to do the same with "Go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669021)

It's what God says as he drops his load in Zeus.

Distinguishing Science From Pseudoscience (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668789)

How do they recommend making the distinction?

Re:Distinguishing Science From Pseudoscience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668813)

1. The use of psychobabble – words that sound scientific and professional but are used incorrectly, or in a misleading manner.
-Using Strawman Null hypotheses is widespread
2. A substantial reliance on anecdotal evidence.
-Define substantial, also isn't this determined by ability to get funding?
3. Extraordinary claims in the absence of extraordinary evidence.
-Define Extraordinary
4. Claims which cannot be proven false.
- Any claim that cannot make a precise prediction falls into this category
5. Claims that counter established scientific fact.
- "Established facts" do not exist.
6. Absence of adequate peer review.
- Peer review is something that began in the 1960s, there is no evidence it is helpful.
7. Claims that are repeated despite being refuted.
- 70-90% of claims from recent medical research have been "refuted"

Re:Distinguishing Science From Pseudoscience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668833)

"Define Extraordinary"

"Peer review is something that began in the 1960s, there is no evidence it is helpful."

That's one...

From wiki

"The first recorded editorial pre-publication peer-review process was at the Royal Society of London in 1665 by the founding editor of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Henry Oldenburg."

Oh but there are no established facts! (Except yours!) How handy for you.

Re:Distinguishing Science From Pseudoscience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668835)

http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/three-myths-about-scientific-peer-review/

Re:Distinguishing Science From Pseudoscience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668847)

Sorry, there are no established facts. Except those that make you a brave maverick, unlike all those sheep.

Re:Distinguishing Science From Pseudoscience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668855)

Name an established scientific fact.

Re:Distinguishing Science From Pseudoscience (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 4 months ago | (#46669035)

Thou shall not eat lobster.

Re:Distinguishing Science From Pseudoscience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668845)

Please, name an established fact and explain how this differs from a normal fact.

Re:Distinguishing Science From Pseudoscience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668861)

Sorry, we were talking about established scientific facts. What is a fact BTW?

Re:Distinguishing Science From Pseudoscience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668873)

I dunno, sounds like an example of "words that sound scientific and professional but are used incorrectly, or in a misleading manner". There are observations. Perhaps by "established scientific fact" they mean "repeated independent observations".

Re:Distinguishing Science From Pseudoscience (1)

geoskd (321194) | about 4 months ago | (#46669155)

Please, name an established fact and explain how this differs from a normal fact.

Force equals mass times acceleration.

The equation yeilds accurate predictions for 100% of use cases where velocity is less than 0.01C, and distances are greater than 0.1 nm.

This fact differes from other facts becasue it involves a usefull method of predictiing behaviors of systems. It is verifiable, and falsifiable (although it has only been falsified for very high speeds where it is replaced by a more complicated set of equations, and very small distances where it is replaced by even more complicated equations). The point is that scientific facts are theroies that are overwhelmingly supported by evidence, and are falsifiable by nature. Much of the trouble people have understanding this concept stems from the unending stream of bullshit advertising they see on TV to the affect of "Our new dieting pull is scientifically proven to reduce your body mass index in just three minutes!", and other such nonsense.

Teaching critical thinking in school will only help so much because people inherently believe what they want to believe, even scientists. That is why there is so much faking of data in the science community. They are only human after all. A better solution would be a group who are granted the copyrights to most science related words like "scientifically", and "proves". This group could prevent most crap science just by suing advertisers out of existence who insist on improperly using these terms. After the media is forced to stop using the terms incorrectly, people will slowly stop using them incorrectly as well.

I agree with this (5, Insightful)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | about 4 months ago | (#46668803)

A lot of the pseudo-science out there has, in a sense, adapted to having common knowledge applied. Take vaccines for example. A class might teach how they work, discuss the history of how they have stopped many diseases, but what is one to do when presented with the latest anti-vaccine goal-shifted argument, like the 'too many too soon' line? When you have people who will continuously invent new arguments as their basic premise is yet again demonstrated to be false, it is best to teach people the basics of pseudoscience along with science, so that the former can be spotted for what it is. The same applies for a slew of other common nonsenses, which could be used as case studies. I suspect giving clear case studies may be particularly beneficial. My personal anecdote, I was raised to believe in young earth creationism, and it was the realization that I was being expected to commit the same kinds of errors as homeopaths & other woo-woos that helped me to realize that what I had been taught was wrong in a great many ways.

Re:I agree with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668911)

> Too many too soon
It's not like vaccines have some kind of time limit or lose potency with a child's age.

Re:I agree with this (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#46669209)

Umm. Yes, some of them do. That is why you sometimes need booster shots.

Re:I agree with this (1)

Livius (318358) | about 4 months ago | (#46668971)

...a slew of other common nonsenses

Very insightful. People won't learn common sense without seeing the contrast between common sense and common nonsense.

Re:I agree with this (1)

Dan Askme (2895283) | about 4 months ago | (#46668973)

A lot of the pseudo-science out there has, in a sense, adapted to having common knowledge applied. Take vaccines for example. A class might teach how they work, discuss the history of how they have stopped many diseases, but what is one to do when presented with the latest anti-vaccine goal-shifted argument, like the 'too many too soon' line? When you have people who will continuously invent new arguments as their basic premise is yet again demonstrated to be false, it is best to teach people the basics of pseudoscience along with science, so that the former can be spotted for what it is. The same applies for a slew of other common nonsenses, which could be used as case studies. I suspect giving clear case studies may be particularly beneficial. My personal anecdote, I was raised to believe in young earth creationism, and it was the realization that I was being expected to commit the same kinds of errors as homeopaths & other woo-woos that helped me to realize that what I had been taught was wrong in a great many ways.

Clearly, there needs to be more focus on basic English classes.

Look at me, I am a paragraph!

AGW vs Vaccine (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669033)

I always find it interesting on /. how the thought is AGW is real and not to be questioned but anti-vaccers are fake and not to be listened to when they are both very similar.
Both have been supported by scientists who are "experts" in the fields.
Scientists for both have been shown to falsify their data to get the results they wanted.
Both have been scientifically proven to be bunk (anti-vaxer isn't real, IPCC predictions have always been significantly wrong)
On and on with similarties.

I'm just amused how the pro-AGW people just contatntly bash the anti-vaxers for having "faith" thier science is right when you have to not question anything to believe the pro-AGW angle. Why do they bash people for beliving a scientist and then turn around and bash people for not believing a scientist? They cliam that the anti-vaxer guy admitted to doing things wrong, but so has Phil Jones who wrote the majority of the research for the early IPCC reports.

Its obviously a political issue. The best I can come up with is the pro-AGW stance is big governemnt and more taxes, and the pro-vaxer stance is government telling you what to do, while the opposite stances are anti-government politically.

Witches Are Real (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668805)

It's a real religion with real practitioners.

Re:Witches Are Real (3, Informative)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 4 months ago | (#46668841)

Beat me to it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
And its time to stop ignoring and demonizing them just because of our historic Christian past.

Re:Witches Are Real (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669201)

"And its time to stop ignoring and demonizing them just because of our historic Christian past."

I think the Wiccan's would be quite happy to be ignored...

Freedom of Religion is for all religions, not just Christians and Jews...

Re:Witches Are Real (2)

Livius (318358) | about 4 months ago | (#46668975)

And as effective as any other religion.

Re:Witches Are Real (3, Insightful)

holiggan (522846) | about 4 months ago | (#46669121)

It's a real religion with real practitioners.

So as "true" and "trustworthy" as all the other religions then...

The best example of pseudoscience (-1, Troll)

Stumbles (602007) | about 4 months ago | (#46668807)

Use global warming or climate change or whatever the word/phrase the charlatans are now using.

Re:The best example of pseudoscience (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 4 months ago | (#46669211)

Climate Change is real - the climate has changed in the past and is still changing...

And... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668811)

Most people believe in neoliberalism, Marxism, or some other fundie extreme.

Most people believe there is an objective point to life, when there's no reason not to just die except the one you make up for yourself.

Most people believe that hypotheses which cannot be falsified are even relevant to science, then get all hyper about people's belief in them because SCIENCE RAWRRRRR.

So who's going to defend the principal (2)

smchris (464899) | about 4 months ago | (#46668823)

This is one of the more compelling arguments for national standards where local administration would have the excuse that they were "forced" to follow imposed guidelines. Otherwise, every nutter in the community will rally to tar and feather the administration.

southpark equation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668837)

Seems the south park equation needs to be adjusted 1 in 4 Americans is retarded.

It seems that America just grown more stupid now its 1 in 3.

People need to understand the scientific method. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668843)

If they then fail to apply their knowledge, there's nothing the schools can do. Don't waste time explaining pseudoscience when you barely have the time and resources to explain science.

Re:People need to understand the scientific method (1)

prefec2 (875483) | about 4 months ago | (#46669007)

True! Including critical thinking. And that you have to question things where you only have believe in but no prove.

Sounds like a bad idea to me (0)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 4 months ago | (#46668865)

The point of school is it give people a background is solid useful skills and knowledge, not tell them what to believe.
What is next, the pseudoscience of global warming? Why evolution have never been proved?

And Witches exist, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] . It is a real religion with a large following that dates back many years. Just because the Christian church has replace publicly burning them for publicly denouncing their existent does not make it any less oppression.

Re:Sounds like a bad idea to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669167)

Pseudoscience? Evolution never proved? Sir, you need to get your head off the bible and Rush Limbaugh way more often... And yes, witches do exist, but as somebody else said before me, they are as effective as any other religion...

Re:Sounds like a bad idea to me (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 4 months ago | (#46669247)

You're being too literal (on purpose, I think). They weren't referring to someone in a religion, they were referring to someone who can actually cast spells. Those don't exist. And no, voodoo does not cast spells, it relies on psychological reactions. There's no supernatural element at work.

It's time to bring SCIENCE into classrooms first (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 4 months ago | (#46668871)

And this isn't even a slight at the push for Creationism or similar bull on our kids. It's that we don't even teach our kids how science works. Maybe because else they could instantly debunk crap like Creationism as the pseudoscience it is.

Our school system still works along the lines of "it is that way because I say so". Critical thinking, which is the basis of the scientific method (because "doubting" basically IS the scientific method) is not what is asked for. What is wanted is simple acceptance of what you're told, rote learning and parroting. It's a rare class where you actually get to use applied thinking. Most of the times, what's required is simply rote learning, "sponge" learning as I love to call it. Soak up the crap, release again when required, no need to retain anything or do anything else with it.

As long as we don't teach our kids that science is NOT soaking up and spitting out what you get told, teaching them other pseudosciences on top of Creationism is something I'd consider rather harmful. They might not be able to tell the difference to real science, because from their point of view, there would be none.

Re:It's time to bring SCIENCE into classrooms firs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669001)

no need for critical thinking.
the science is settled.

Re:It's time to bring SCIENCE into classrooms firs (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#46669131)

An excellent point.

A lot of progress needs to be made first (1)

somepunk (720296) | about 4 months ago | (#46668875)

Science education at the primary level has long emphasized the products of science, with little regard for the process. Science teachers are a product of this system as much as everyone else. Most of them just aren't equipped to draw a distinction between science and pseudoscience.

Mumbling something about falsifiability isn't going to fly without motivating it and showing evidence, whether or not they have internalized those concepts themselves. Holding them to higher standards won't help, as there aren't enough qualified individuals to go around, unless some sort of mass teaching approach becomes the norm, and it's hard to see that working well with kids.

This is not an educational problem. It's a cultural problem, and it needs a broader approch.

Issues with this... (1)

towermac (752159) | about 4 months ago | (#46668899)

It's never wrong to attempt to apply science to, well, everything in the universe. The summary mentions those beliefs that have been scientifically tested and failed to show any repeatable results. It's likely all those things have their foundations in faith, imagination, fear,... rather than some particle or wave that a scientist could test for. But...

"4. Claims which cannot be proven false."

I guess these Schmaltz and Lilienfeld guys are teachers, and not scientists; otherwise they would have never penned a sentence like that. I think everyone here knows the scientific method, so I won't go into that, and maybe I'm being a little pedantic; but if we are talking about the classroom, then the details need to be right. And the science classroom is not the place to mock the ignorant, and even though the last paragraph says as much, it uses a whole lot of words when the phrase "learning the scientific method" would have done.

But I do see why some would be hesitant. Take ESP for example. They apply the scientific method in some controlled experiment. They have a narrow sample of 30 kids, so they are going to have to repeat the tests and take averages. But they only have 55 minutes. They don't have the resources to pursue a course of research if the initial results are... interesting.

So out of, say 15 science classes that day, most will find the ESP test results are about the same as the random control, a couple will find that ESP is significantly worse at predictions than random, and one that finds that ESP significantly increases accuracy over the random control. The bell rings and those kids have to go to PE. You've sort of proven, to 30 out 450 kids, that ESP is real...

Re:Issues with this... (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 4 months ago | (#46668921)

Exactly, Science is never about adding truth, but removing falsehood.
(By definition what is left must be closer to the truth)

Apparently these authors never heard of PEAR which proved human consciousness could influence random numbers.
Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research
https://www.princeton.edu/~pea... [princeton.edu]

Throw in other high-faluting BS (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 4 months ago | (#46668909)

Like "the universe is a simulation", multi-verse, anthropic principle.

momkind new clear options all spirit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668919)

where any notion of justice is based completely on mercy.. no bomb us more mom us.. we'll learn eventually http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mom+love or die crying.. little miss dna cannot be wrong..

Penn & Teller support pseudoscience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46668945)

Their Bullsh!t program notably espouses free-market fundamentalism, and they are both Libertarians - one of the biggest set of anti-science/pseudo-science ideologues around today:
"Penn & Teller are both H.L. Mencken research fellows with the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penn_%26_Teller:_Bullshit!#Libertarian_skepticism

Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (4, Interesting)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 4 months ago | (#46668993)

https://www.princeton.edu/~pea... [princeton.edu]
"The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) program, which flourished for nearly three decades under the aegis of Princeton University's School of Engineering and Applied Science, has completed its experimental agenda of studying the interaction of human consciousness with sensitive physical devices, systems, and processes, and developing complementary theoretical models to enable better understanding of the role of consciousness in the establishment of physical reality."

Disclaimer: I worked in a joint program with them when I was managing the PU robotics lab in the 1980s. The program was funded in part by the McDonnell Foundation (of McDonnell-Douglas) in part because supposedly strange unexplainable things happened in fighter cockpits especially to pilots under stress in emergency situations. Rather that give the money just to the PEAR lab, it was decided to give the money to a group of labs that would work together somehow exploring aspects of human consciousness (or something like that, not saying how effective all that was). Dean Radin is the researcher who connected the groups back then and has been active in parapsychology work since: http://www.deanradin.com/ [deanradin.com]

Another person active in this field of consciousness studies is Charles Tart (unrelated to PU, but interesting in the field).
http://www.paradigm-sys.com/ [paradigm-sys.com]
http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/... [ucdavis.edu]

Related items at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (founded in 1973 by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell) which include mention of Dean Radin and Charles Tart:
http://www.noetic.org/search/?... [noetic.org]

Mainstream science has been apparently useful, even if it is more the tinkerers and engineers who actually invent and bring to production useful things. But ultimately, if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit we don't very much understand the nature of consciousness or the deeper nature of reality, which together, as much as we think we know about them, still form a "great mystery" (a term some Native Americans used for God and such). And, no, mapping a few or even many neural pathways or having a chemical analysis of brain neuro-transmitters does not equate to understanding the mystery of consciousness. As Charles Tart points out, there is a step where many otherwise good scientists move from apparently solid ground in their specialties to claiming fallacious things like "absence of evidence is evidence of absence" and so create essentially a new religion of "Scientistic Materialism".
http://blog.paradigm-sys.com/a... [paradigm-sys.com]
"His [Tart's] and other scientists' work convinced him that there is a real and vitally important sense in which we are spiritual beings, but the too dominant, scientistic, materialist philosophy of our times, masquerading as genuine science, dogmatically denies any possible reality to the spiritual. This hurts people, it pressures them to reject vital aspects of their being."

Anyway, mass compulsory schooling in "classrooms" (intended by 1920s eugenicists to segregate people by social class so they interbreed and stratify, see Gatto) is also in general another way of hurting people:
http://www.johntaylorgatto.com... [johntaylorgatto.com]
"The shocking possibility that dumb people don't exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the millions of careers devoted to tending them will seem incredible to you. Yet that is my central proposition: the mass dumbness which justifies official schooling first had to be dreamed of; it isn't real. ... Our official assumptions about the nature of modern childhood are dead wrong. Children allowed to take responsibility and given a serious part in the larger world are always superior to those merely permitted to play and be passive. At the age of twelve, Admiral Farragut got his first command. I was in fifth grade when I learned of this. Had Farragut gone to my school he would have been in seventh. ... The secret of American schooling is that it doesn't teach the way children learn and it isn't supposed to. It took seven years of reading and reflection to finally figure out that mass schooling of the young by force was a creation of the four great coal powers of the nineteenth century. Nearly one hundred years later, on April 11, 1933, Max Mason, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, announced to insiders that a comprehensive national program was underway to allow, in Mason's words, "the control of human behavior." ... Something strange has been going on in government schools, especially where the matter of reading is concerned. Abundant data exist to show that by 1840 the incidence of complex literacy in the United States was between 93 and 100 percent, wherever such a thing mattered. Yet compulsory schooling existed nowhere. Between the two world wars, schoolmen seem to have been assigned the task of terminating our universal reading proficiency. ... Presumably humane utopian interventions like compulsion schooling aren't always the blessing they appear to be. For instance, Sir Humphrey Davy's safety lamp saved thousands of coalminers from gruesome death, but it wasted many more lives than it rescued. That lamp alone allowed the coal industry to grow rapidly, exposing miners to mortal danger for which there is no protection. What Davy did for coal producers, forced schooling has done for the corporate economy ..."

Our choices of what to research and what to invent are themselves moral and/or spiritual choices.

The fact is, religion (especially morality and moral philosophy, including moral stories) and education are inseparable. Religion (seen broadly) and science also form an interacting pair. See what Albert Einstein wrote on this for example:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/ao... [sacred-texts.com]
"For the scientific method can teach us nothing else beyond how facts are related to, and conditioned by, each other. The aspiration toward such objective knowledge belongs to the highest of which man is capabIe, and you will certainly not suspect me of wishing to belittle the achievements and the heroic efforts of man in this sphere. Yet it is equally clear that knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is, and yet not be able to deduct from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and the longing to reach it must come from another source. And it is hardly necessary to argue for the view that our existence and our activity acquire meaning only by the setting up of such a goal and of corresponding values. The knowledge of truth as such is wonderful, but it is so little capable of acting as a guide that it cannot prove even the justification and the value of the aspiration toward that very knowledge of truth. Here we face, therefore, the limits of the purely rational conception of our existence.
    But it must not be assumed that intelligent thinking can play no part in the formation of the goal and of ethical judgments. When someone realizes that for the achievement of an end certain means would be useful, the means itself becomes thereby an end. Intelligence makes clear to us the interrelation of means and ends. But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate and fundamental ends. To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations, and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual, seems to me precisely the most important function which religion has to perform in the social life of man. And if one asks whence derives the authority of such fundamental ends, since they cannot be stated and justified merely by reason, one can only answer: they exist in a healthy society as powerful traditions, which act upon the conduct and aspirations and judgments of the individuals; they are there, that is, as something living, without its being necessary to find justification for their existence. They come into being not through demonstration but through revelation, through the medium of powerful personalities. One must not attempt to justify them, but rather to sense their nature simply and clearly."

In that sense, what we need if more and deeper religion in education, not less. Religion is an essential part of being human, And by this I mean not specific religious dogma, but the deeper religious impulse that is part of humanity for many reasons.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E... [wikipedia.org]
http://evolution-of-religion.c... [evolution-...ligion.com]

Schooling is only tangentially related to education and true science though, as Gatto points out. For example, science is about inquiry and skepticism, whereas schooling is generally learning to memorize supposed facts provided from authority. Education in its higher forms included personal self-development and unfolding and becoming an empowered citizen, not just learning technical schools to become a thoughtless worker drone. See also "The Skills of Xanadu".
http://books.google.com/books?... [google.com]

Anyway, there are a lot of deeper issues here.

Re:Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 4 months ago | (#46669093)

Typos:
"What we need if more and deeper" should be "What we need is more and deeper".
"learning technical school" should be "learning technical skills"

And I should have been clearer that is was the same James McDonnell who created both the foundation and the aerospace company, not that the foundation itself is owned or controlled by the company.

Re:Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 4 months ago | (#46669245)

"the same James McDonnell who created both the foundation and the aerospace company, not that the foundation itself is owned or controlled by the company."

Wasn't it (the aerospace company) taken over by Boeing?

Critical Thinking (1)

prefec2 (875483) | about 4 months ago | (#46669003)

The real problem is that people in western countries forgot to practice critical thinking which is part of the scientific method. One central question is "Why is something?" and "How does something work?". Such thinking also results in questioning yourself, criticizing your ego. For example, the recent dispute between Kay and Linus Torvalds about the use of certain kernel parameters is a perfect example.

Some science teachers are idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669017)

Some science teachers (particularly below high school level) are not the sharpest tools in the shed. There is a pecking order, and if you are teaching 6-7th grade science you are not very high on that list.

My anecdote from 7th grade science - The teacher was discussing the concept of "vacuum" and air pressure with a demonstration of two sphere halves that he would evacuate and have kids try to pull apart. He then said you couldn't make a pure vacuum, there would always be a little air left, that's why when you open a can of vacuum packed peanuts you hear that little hiss of air escaping.....I questioned this error, that obviously even a partial vacuum results in lower air pressure in the can and the hiss was air going in not out and he just looked at me with zero comprehension.

If you are a science teacher and take offence, well, hopefully I'm not talking about you.

Re:Some science teachers are idiots (3, Informative)

Virtucon (127420) | about 4 months ago | (#46669125)

After going through the woes of public education with 4 kids I can tell you that it's no fun for the teachers. Teachers are there to teach however nowadays they're overburdened with school administrations and core curriculum/testing laws that give them little leeway to be creative or to inspire kids to learn more and get the best education possible. Couple that with the facts that there are a lot of at-risk kids out there and parents who consider schools responsible for everything and we now have teachers who have to deal with a lot more things that parents should have to deal with vs. just teaching. What needs to happen is more positive involvement in our public schools both by parents and by other people who could help. There are lots of engineers and scientists out there who could contribute to STEM education in public schools if they were only given the chance and that way you would alleviate some of the pressure on teachers to be everything to everybody and focus on curriculum and learning in the classroom instead of whether or not the teacher understood the concepts you were presenting. It sounds like he was trying to inspire your understanding by having you play tug of war with the sphere, nowadays he'd probably have been repromanded for creating a situation that could have injured the students.

Why? (1)

symes (835608) | about 4 months ago | (#46669029)

Why are scientists increasingly concerned about what some people in our society think and believe? I don't want to sound argumentative, but surely a good scientist does what a good scientist does? We are not here to force a particular world view on everyone, just carefully research and explain the world around us. In any scientific discipline there will be people with different perspectives and often these differences of opinion can boil over into quite hostile interactions. Discourse, argument and differences of opinion motivate research and science benefits from this. Research groups compete - do meticulous research to prove their view, have it peer reviewed and hopefully trash the competition in the process. This is science. This is progress. What we have here is a mentality of "you can't believe in ghosts because I am a scientist and I say so". A view that is not consistent with scientific method and smacks of arrogance. I would much rather science engaged and provoked wide eyed wonderment. I personally do not care if people want to believe in ghosts, gods, psychic powers and the like. I care that these same people can appreciate the work I do, understand it and (hopefully) find it interesting.

Re:Why? (2)

kanweg (771128) | about 4 months ago | (#46669113)

"Why are scientists increasingly concerned about what some people in our society think and believe?"

Well, if you're an astronomer studying the effects of asteroid impacts and their likelihood, you may come across evidence that it has happened in the past and that their effects are rather devastating. As we may well be able to develop the technology to divert an asteroid on a collision course. People running around that the earth is only 10 kY old are not helpful then.

Climate change same thing.

Bert

Re:Why? (0)

Virtucon (127420) | about 4 months ago | (#46669207)

Exactly, it's the growing arrogance that's plaguing all aspects of society. If you don't believe what I believe then you're an idiot.

Dangerous territory (2, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | about 4 months ago | (#46669059)

Any time you are trying to tell someone what not to think, or what not to believe, you are entering dangerous territory. This is even more important when state sponsored - aka the public educational system. If schools do their job right, then students will be able to make their own informed choices on what to believe or what not to believe, and even if a student does not adhere to what the school "wants" them to believe, that is okay - the school has done their job either way. Direct comparisons against things schools do not espouse is not necessary or appropriate in any shape or form.

To be perfectly clear, let me explain what I'm NOT talking about. Take cigarette smoking for example. There are hard scientific studies showing that smoking causes specific health problems, so it is appropriate for a school to teach that smoking is bad and then provide the evidence. Now on the other hand, suppose there are people in the world who believe smoking is beneficial (and certainly those people are out there). Is it the school's job to incorporate that into their anti-smoking teaching and attempt to specifically discredit or call out the opposite viewpoint? No. That isn't necessary or even feasible. What this story is talking about crosses far into this kind of territory.

Isin't that a religon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669149)

Seven signs of pseudoscience? So science is espousing a religious outlook? Lets look at this according to the article. item 1, psychobabble, changing definitions/making up new terms for fear science? Heard a lot of that on redifinitions of weather science. Item 2, antecdotal evidence- changing histories, changing them to match a current theory, Opps, mistroke there, er many e-mails from science departments about changing data to match to make histories sem les important thru cycle modification. #, check any alarmist blog on weather, then check the history of what they are talking about. 4, claims which cannot be proven to be false, if its not true its faqlse3, i always thought, so there must be a grey area between true and false,, which must be called almost there, or believe me. Counter established fact, fact according to the winner? or real fact, truth.Refer back to the circular arguement, of #4. ,Ah, #6,Absence of per review? And #7, crying wolf? come now, nothing here about science is changing daily, as understanding grows? Science changes, even pen and teller update their act to reflect new understandings of how to hide the obvious from the gullible.

Just push critical thinking (3, Insightful)

Shados (741919) | about 4 months ago | (#46669205)

People in general are gullible and believe whatever they hear. Being skeptical, double checking facts, looking at references...those are things people don't even think about anymore (well, they never did, its not new).

Schools need to push more on THAT. Teaching people to prove what they say, that its not because everyone says something that its true, and to learn how to separate facts from made up stuff. The rest will follow.

Fall of Rome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669213)

Totally legalized bribery and blackmail of the political process and politicians that would make Crassus blush with shame. Population distracted by bread and circuses - or Kardashians, Kanyes, Honey Booboos, and a pig-ignorant pundit class totally beholden to corporate interests. Vast standing armies and a military with outposts all over the empire. And finally, some upstart, idiotic, cult-like magical thinking taking hold of huge numbers of citizens.

Nah. Nothing to be learned from history here. Things can only get better.

Que Las Hay, Las Hay (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669221)

They could reference the hundreds of real scientists and academics - from physicists and mathematicians, to psychologists and philosphers - who have tackled the issue and meticulously accumulated whole libraries of data over a couple of hundred years. At the very least. With more than a few "fathers of science", luminaries, and "high ranking" PhDs, Doctors, and plain old Professors. And "frauds" like Edgar Cayce ... and a "few" others, of course. The 911 probability generator world sync event notwithstanding - no name only one of the more evident ones.

Fossilized Slashdot. Shame.

Sounds a lot like marketing in the computer field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46669249)

Let's see

>1. The use of psychobabble – words that sound scientific and professional but are used incorrectly, or in a misleading manner.

The Megahertz myth, see Pentium 4

>2. A substantial reliance on anecdotal evidence.

The computer just feels a whole lot faster!

>3. Extraordinary claims in the absence of extraordinary evidence.

It would take longer than civilization has been around to be able to crack this password.

>4. Claims which cannot be proven false.

"This program will help give you more insight into how you run your business."

>5. Claims that counter established scientific fact.

64-bit hardware being sold as faster than 32-bit

>6. Absence of adequate peer review.

Most database vendors won't allow performance comparisons with other databases.

>7. Claims that are repeated despite being refuted.

Our DRM servers will never go down.

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