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Re: [Phys-l] Prof. Hal Lewis resigns from APS

Ok this is one definition of pseudoscience. But of course we do not have a
language police who can definitely define words, unlike the French.

So here is a partial take from the Wikipedia:
The term "pseudoscience" is inherently pejorative, because it is used to
assert that something is being inaccurately or deceptively portrayed as
science.[2] Accordingly, those labeled as practicing or advocating
pseudoscience normally dispute the characterization.[2]

By one account, being able to tell science apart from "pseudo-science, such
as astrology, quackery, the occult, and superstition"[3][4] is part of
gaining scientific literacy. There is, however, disagreement among
philosophers of science and commentators in the scientific community as to
whether there is a reliable way of distinguishing pseudoscience from
non-mainstream science.[5][6]
I did say "or" in my point. So for example the Ptolemaic universe had
validity as a scientific model before Kepler managed to fit the data
somewhat better. Now we would label the earth centric idea as
pseudoscience, but it is properly a deprecated (unfashionable?) model.

In either case the use by Lewis of this term would not constitute a correct
usage. Scientific "truth" is what the majority says it is, based on the
evidence that they see as relevant. So certainly the Bermuda triangle comes
under the limited definition, but global warming probably would not. He
essentially used as a pejorative or a debating point.

English language definitions are not refutable because they depend on
current common usage. The term pseudoscience is an obvious example, and it
probably should not be used at all.

In some ways the snarky definition is correct! Try to reason with someone
who believes in young Earth Creationism! Using the term pseudoscience is
not helpful there because nothing will convince them. So while I would tend
to use pseudoscience according to the more limited definition, the actual
definition as used by the majority may be quite different. Is cold fusion

John M. Clement
Houston, TX

Pseudoscience has nothing to do with holding an unpopular position outside
the current consensus. I wish people would stop stating this as if there
were some weighty truth to it. There are specific criteria for
pseudoscience: irrefutable arguments, exegesis, non-reproducible data,
etc. One can easily show how certain topics like "Bermuda Triangle",
Chioropractry, Iridology, etc., meet the criteria. "Popularity" is not
one of those criteria.