Commentary
9:00 am
Tue May 28, 2013

The Human Factor: That's Not Science!

A phrenology diagram from the People's Cyclopedia of Universal Knowledge (1883).
Credit Wikipedia

Throughout history snake oil salesmen have tried and succeeded at duping people with pseudo scientific nonsense:

  • Phrenology, which used the shape and contour of your skull to predict your personality
  • Subliminal messages, supposed unconscious information usually imbedded in commercials
  • The ubiquitous polygraph test

They all fail in the face of serious scientific inquiry.

They are simply not science, but they are very well dressed to look like science.

Pseudoscience appears scientific on the surface but in no way does it pass the stringent tests of the scientific method. In fact, pseudoscience is almost always overly simplistic and based on anecdotes.

Although many pseudosciences seem harmless on the surface—just the latest parlor trick—there is a danger in adopting many of these practices as legitimate science.

One extreme and terrible example is called color therapy. Color therapy uses different colored lights to “cure” a wide array of diseases. Basically you lie on a table while different colored lights are shined onto your body.

The color of the light changes based on the disorder: maybe yellow for pneumonia, blue for cancer and red for digestive problems. Although compelling to some, the practice does not adhere to scientific standards. And many people have died because they’ve relied on this practice instead of seeking professional medical care.

So, while it’s fun to discuss how a Pisces and Virgo should probably never date, we must remember that pseudoscience is not subjected to the same rigors of empirical evidence that real science is.