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Brian Hughes

On jargon

It is true that science is more about falsifiability, objectivity, and empiricism, and less about white coats, bunsen burners, and laboratories. However, it is certainly the case that the common stereotyped view of most people is that  science focuses more on these latter superficialities than on the philosophical underpinnings. One feature of science that pseudoscientists often attempt to imitate is its use of technical language, or “jargon”.

It is often said that a precise technical vocabulary is necessary, but not sufficient, for good science.  This means that developing an extensive lexicon of technical-sounding terms might be a feature of science—but on its own it doesn’t amount to science. Unfortunately, pseudosciences often take advantage of the public stereotypes of science and scientists and develop strange but technical sounding terms to describe what it is that they do. Thus acupuncturists talk about “meridiens”, chiropractors talk about “subluxations”, and homoeopaths talk about “succussions”, despite the fact that these technical-sounding terms are so poorly defined as to be virtually meaningless.  However, without background knowledge, the general public often considers such technical-sounding vocabulary to be an indication that the practitioner knows what they are talking about and that the activity concerned is scientific. Continue reading “On jargon”

Creation myth…

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