Pseudoscience Classes #18-21

Class #18: Qualitative Psychology

In short: Our final case-study from mainstream psychology relates to the scientific implications of ‘Qualitative Psychology’.

Targeted reading:
Hughes, Chapter 12 (pp. 168-170)
Morgan, ‘Qualitative Research…Science or Pseudo-science?’ [file also includes replies from Cooper & Stevenson and Sherrard, and a post script by Morgan]
From the Blog: When correlation does not imply “casualness”

Class #19: Why is Pseudoscience so Popular?

In short: While people can find reasoning difficult, we still need to account for their gravitation toward pseudoscience. This might be due to factors such as a fear of negative change or of technology.

Targeted reading:
Hughes, ‘Alternative Medicine as Tradition in a Changing World’
From the Blog: Are conservatives less intelligent? Let’s ask a liberal…; Why is this paper still cited?

Class #20: More Reasons for Pseudoscience: Mysticism, Postmodernism, Economics

In short: Popularity of pseudoscience may also result from a need for mysticism, the lobbying of postmodernists, or economic (cost-benefit) considerations.

Targeted reading:
Hughes, Chapter 11 (pp. 152-155)
Sosis & Alcorta, ‘Signaling, Solidarity, and the Sacred: The Evolution of Religious Behavior’
Sokal, ‘Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity’
Sokal, ‘A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studies’
Caplan, ‘Rational Ignorance versus Rational Irrationality’

Class #21: Conclusion: Why Bother?

In short: Pseudoscience is often seen as trivial, but it is worth bothering about because: (a) it has direct and indirect costs; (b) it undermines the benefits of mass scientific literacy; and (c) it is unethical.

Targeted reading/viewing:
Makgoba, ‘Politics, the Media and Science in HIV/AIDS: The Peril of Pseudoscience’
Boudry et al., ‘Irreducable Incoherence and Intelligent Design: A Look into the Conceptual Toolbox of a Pseudoscience’
From the Blog: Cancer: Misinformation is a risk factor too; Guess what: Cancer vaccines don’t cause cancer; Reiki, cancer, and the problem of informed consent; How to argue illogically: Tony’s ten top tips

The End!