Detecting bogus science (and other assertions)

Robert Park identifies The Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science which is needed because

There is, alas, no scientific claim so preposterous that a scientist cannot be found to vouch for it. And many such claims end up in a court of law after they have cost some gullible person or corporation a lot of money. How are juries to evaluate them?

What can be interesting is to compare these warning signs with some of the well known logical fallacies.

  • The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.
  • The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.
  • The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection.
  • Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.
  • The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries.
  • The discoverer has worked in isolation.
  • The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.
  • Scientists evaluate their work by discussing what they do with other scientists. When others can achieve the same results or cannot find flaws in the reasoning or help establish the proper precision and accuracy is when the value of a finding is understood.

    Supression by a conspiracy hits two points at once. One is the ‘poor little me’ and the other is the coverup. Many of the other warning signs involve rationalizing a poor credibility for the evidence.

    Keep your eyes open. Look for these warning signs to keep from wandering off into the twighlight zone.

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