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use your knowledge of science terminology and pseudoscience techniques to sell me an idea.


Your job in this assignment is to use your knowledge of science terminology and pseudoscience techniques to sell me an idea. Convince me of a product or an idea that you believe, as the inventor, would be of benefit to society. I am making this very open ended, but I will be looking for creativity of an idea, use of convincing scientific language, and citations and actual scientific premises to help prove your idea. Again, this is a reflection of what you have learned about pseudoscience and how well you can apply the ideas that you have learned in this unit and from what you have learned about the scientific method.

1-What is Pseudoscience?

First, we must define what pseudoscience is and then figure out why pseudoscience is problematic. Read this article by Michael Shermer (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. from Scientific American.

Induction and Deduction | Realism and Antirealism

The history of the philosophy of science has its roots in philosophy, and emerged as an autonomous discipline sometime in the nineteenth century. Until the 18th and 19th centuries, there was no real distinction between scientist and philosopher, and many of the great scientist-philosophers of antiquity were also theologians.

Science gave philosophy a way of empirically testing theories and concepts, whilst philosophy has helped to develop the scientific method used today.

We discussed in previous lesson three philosophical ways to gain knowledge. Rationalism and empiricism are both use in science to gain knowledge. Scientist combine the empirical experimentation with math and logic, combining data collected through our senses with reasoning and intuition.

Science is not only a process of gaining knowledge is as well based on arguments and reasoning.

We can define two main way of reasoning: deductive and inductive reasoning.

  • Deduction, also called top-down logic, is a method of reasoning in which a conclusion is logically reached from premises. For example, if we know the current relative positions of the moon, sun, and Earth, as well as exactly how these move with respect to one another, we can deduce the date and location of the next solar eclipse.
  • Induction is a method of reasoning in which a generalization is argued to be true based on individual examples that seem to fit with that generalization. For example, after observing that trees, bacteria, sea anemones, fruit flies, and humans have cells, one might inductively infer that all organisms have cells.

The process of science requires both deductive and inductive reasoning.


A long-standing and continuing controversy exists regarding the role of induction and deduction in reasoning and in scientific inquiry.

Plato, one of the first philosophers of science, stated that everything had a perfect potential abstract form, and that any knowledge gained through observation and experiment was filtered by the senses. For Plato, Empirical knowledge, was mere opinion. Therefore, he reasoned, that pure knowledge could be advanced by deduction alone.

Aristotle, by contrast, believed that Plato had everything the wrong way around, and that knowledge could only be gained by comparing it with what was already known and perceived. Aristotle believed that inductive reasoning was required to establish some basic premises before scientific demonstrations.

During the scientific process, deductive reasoning is used to reach a logical true conclusion. Inductive reasoning has its place in the scientific method. Scientists use it to form hypotheses and theories. Deductive reasoning allows them to apply the theories to specific situations.

Physicists generating beautiful and elegant mathematical theories to explain the cosmos are far closer to Plato than Aristotle. What do you think biologist use, deductive or inductive, or both…?


Another important idea to understand when we talk about philosophy of science is the difference between Realism and Antirealism.

First of all it is important to note that both theories accept the reality of the world. So it is important not to confuse either with skepticism. The difference between them has to do with the status of scientific theories, on the one hand, and observable phenomenon on the other.

Scientific Realism and Antirealism

Debates about scientific realism concern the extent to which we are entitled to hope or believe that science will tell us what the world is really like. Realists tend to be optimistic; antirealists ( also called instrumentalist) do not.

A realist is someone who thinks that scientific theories aim at describing the world as it is (of course, within the limits of human epistemic access to reality), while an anti-realist is someone who takes scientific theories to aim at empirical adequacy, not truth. So, for instance, for a realist there truly are electrons out there, while for an anti-realist “electrons” are a convenient theoretical construct to make sense of certain kinds of data from fundamental physics, but the term need not refer to actual “particles.” It goes without saying that most scientists are realists, but not all.

No-one doubts that our current scientific theories are enormously successful in terms of both prediction and manipulation of empirical phenomena but realism and antirealism are two sides of a philosophical debate behind the whole basis of accepted scientific truth.

These contrasting views dictate how the observations generated by science are applied to the world. Although applicable to science, the wider debate involves many areas, including religion, politics and everyday life.

In science, the debate is a very important undercurrent, questioning the boundary between theory and applied science. It is not so critical when maybe talking about pH and basic chemistry, but it is in areas such as quantum physics and cosmology.

Realists and anti-realists will behave identically when doing scientific research, and both are happy to use the fruits of science as guides in their daily lives. The only difference is that the realist adds an extra and unnecessary assumption that the reason our best theories are so empirically useful is that they accurately describe the world as it is, whereas the anti-realist prefers not to make that assumption.

The basis behind realism is the acceptance that non-observable phenomena actually exist.

A strong realist would argue that both observable phenomenon and non-observable phenomenon are true descriptions of the world out there, whereas an strong anti-realist would say that only observable phenomenon are true, and theories based on non-observable phenomenon are neither true of false.

None of us would think that observable phenomenon are not real, that when I see a donkey there isn’t a donkey out there.

What isn’t so certain is that all theories really point to something out there. This is because much of the basis of many scientific theories actually point to phenomena that we cannot observe. If we cannot see something, then how can we say that it is part of the world? We cannot literally see inside of the atom. We only have theoretical pictures of what they look like, and we do not know if at that level the universe really looks like that at all. Do we still believe the scientific atomic theory?

The realist would say that we cannot see inside the atom but we can detect the existence of atoms by ionization when they are passed through a cloud chamber. The anti-realist, however would say that, all we know is real is the ionization trails themselves, and we cannot not know whether the atoms are real or not, just as we should confuse the trail that a plane leaves in the sky with the plane itself. The realist will say, the trails are the prove for the existence of the plane, even if you don’t see the plane.

When we look at the history of atomic theory it does appear that we are getting a progressive understanding of the structure of atom, and it would seem entirely bizarre that the theory would predict what we ought to see, and at the same time being entirely false.

Another great example of assuming existence is black holes. No scientist has ever seen a black hole, but theory predicts that they exist. The observation of vast clouds of matter swirling around super-dense objects leads many physicists to state that they should be regarded as truth. The data suggest that entities that we can’t observe, called black holes, exist. The antirealist would say, we can’t know for sure if black hole exist or not.

Antirealist believe that science is full of theories that are proved incorrect, and that the majority of theories ultimately are rejected or refined. Great theories, such as Newton’s laws, have been proved incorrect.

Realist believe that the theories are the best explanation of the real world we have at a particular moment in time and theories are improved when more data and knowledge is gained.

No scientific research can ever be accepted as fact, the boundary between theory and research is blurred. The main support for this idea is that science should be regarded as approximately true.

The realism and antirealism debate is very complex and, as with most philosophy, there is a vast grey area.

For example, I have never been to Australia, but I am sure that it exists. I have no solid evidence to base this upon, but it is accepted by fact by most people in the world.

By contrast, if I say “I have never seen a quark, but I believe that they exist”, this is part of a more complex debate. Theorists have only ever seen quarks indirectly, but there is a chance that other phenomena may be explained by the existence of an entity scientist called quark.

In this respect, some people argue there is a small dividing line between extreme science and religion. Saying that God exists is not too dissimilar to saying that Quark’s exist, although it is more likely that empirical evidence will become available for the latter and the existence of quarks is predicted by empirical data.

The slow accumulation of observations, and the testing of small hypotheses, in order to construct a larger theory, is one way of avoiding potential problems with realism and antirealism.

This is the attitude of most scientists; they try to ignore the debate and let the philosophers decide the fine details about the nature of reality!

2- https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=MYnZgJeOqqg


Popper’s Falsification

From inductivism to Popper’s falsification

From: Philosophy and the Science for Everyone by Michela Massimi. ISBN: 9781138785434

Karl Popper

Philosophers of science are interested in understanding the nature of scientific knowledge and its distinctive features. For a very long time, they strove to find what they thought might be the distinctive method of science, the method that would allow scientists to make informed decisions about what counts as a scientific theory.

The importance of demarcating good science from pseudo-science is neither otiose nor a mere philosophical exercise. It is at the very heart of social policy, when decisions are taken at the governmental level about how to spend taxpayers’ money.

Karl Popper (28 July 1902 – 17 September 1994) was, undoubtedly, one of the most influential philosophers of the early twentieth century to have contributed to the debate about demarcating good science from pseudo-science. In this section we very briefly review some of his seminal ideas.

Popper’s battleground was the social sciences. At the beginning of the twentieth century, in the German-speaking world, a lively debate took place between the so-called Naturwissenschaften (the natural sciences, including mathematics, physics, and chemistry) and the Geisteswissenschaften (the human sciences, including psychology and the emergent psychoanalysis), and whether the latter could rise to the status of proper sciences on a par with the natural sciences.

This is the historical context in which Popper began his philosophical reflections in the 1920s. Popper’s reflections were influenced by the Vienna Circle, a group of young intellectuals from different branches of science. The philosophical view adopted by the Vienna Circle is known as logical empiricism:knowledge comes in two kinds; the first kind is knowledge of logical truths (truths independent of experience); the second is empirical knowledge, whose truths are based on experience.

Popper’s influential book The Logic of Scientific Discovery was first published in 1934 (the English translation came much later, in 1959) in the Vienna Circle series edited by Schlick; and it dealt precisely with the problem of how to demarcate good science from pseudoscience.

Before Popper, the received view about scientific knowledge and the method of science was inductivism: on this view, scientific theories are confirmed by inductive inferences from an increasing number of positive instances to a universally valid conclusion.

For example, Newton’s second law seems confirmed by many positive instances from the pendulum, to harmonic oscillators and free fall, among others. We can think of scientific theories as sets of sentences, i.e. laws of nature; and laws of nature, as taking the form of true universal generalizations, ‘For all objects x, if Fx then Gx’ (e.g. Newton’s second law would read as follows: if an external force acts on a body of mass m, then the body will accelerate). And we can think of true universal generalizations as being confirmed when a sufficiently large number of positive instances (and no negative instances) have been found for them. Inductivism was at work in the logical empiricists’ criterion of verification: namely the idea that any claim or statement is scientific if there is a way of empirically verifying it (i.e. if there is a way of finding positive empirical instances confirming that claim or statement).

The problem with inductive methodology – according to Popper – is that it is too liberal as a method for demarcating good science from pseudo-science.

Political theories such as Marxism or Freud’s psychoanalysis would equally meet the requirements of inductivism. A Freudian psychoanalyst could appeal to plenty of positive instances of people’s dreams that can confirm the validity of Freud’s analysis of the Oedipus complex, for example. But is this per se sufficient to license the scientific status of Freud’s psychoanalysis? People that read horoscopes can similarly claim that there are positive instances in their monthly working schedule confirming the horoscope’s warning that it is going to be a very demanding month for Aquarians! Does it mean that horoscopes are scientific? Positive instances are where one wants to find them. Thus, to demarcate good science from pseudo-science, Popper thought, we need to probe a little deeper.

The problem – as Popper saw it – is that theories such as psychoanalysis do not make specific predictions, and their general principles are so broadly construed as to be compatible with any particular observations, whereas scientific theories such as Copernicus’ heliocentric theory or Einstein’s relativity do make novel predictions, i.e. predictions of new phenomena or entities. Remember our assignment about Astronomy?

As the historian Koyré once said, the amazing thing about Copernican astronomy is that it worked, despite the overcast sky of Copernicus’ Poland! Using Copernican astronomy, Galileo could predict the phases of Venus, a novel phenomenon not predicted by Ptolemaic astronomy and observed by Galileo himself with his telescope. Or consider Einstein’s general relativity, which predicted light-bending, a phenomenon indeed observed by Arthur Eddington’s expedition to Brazil in 1919. What makes Copernicus’ or Einstein’s theory ‘scientific’ is not just having positive instances, but instead, being able to make very specific and precise predictions about previously undreamt-of phenomena – predictions that may turn out to be wrong.

Popper’s conclusion was that scientists should be looking for instances that are risky predictions, namely potential falsifiers (predictions that if proved wrong, would reject the theory). Having no potential falsifiers is the hallmark of dubious scientific standing.

Pseudo-scientific theories have a tendency to accommodate evidence, as opposed to predicting novel, risky phenomena. But no matter how many positive instances of a generalization one has observed or accommodated, there is still no guarantee that the next instance will not falsify it. No matter how many white swans we might have observed, nothing excludes the possibility that the next observed swan will be black, as indeed explorers found in Australia. Hence, Popper’s conclusion that the distinctive method of science does not consist in confirming hypotheses, but in falsifying them, looking for one crucial piece of negative evidence that may refute the whole theory.

According to Popper, science proceeds by a method of conjectures and refutations: scientists start with bold (theoretically and experimentally unwarranted) conjectures about some phenomena, deduce novel undreamt-of predictions, and then go about finding potential falsifiers for those predictions. Currently accepted scientific theories have passed severe tests and have survived, without being falsified as yet. If a theory does not pass severe tests, and/or if there are no sufficient or suitable potential falsifiers for it, the theory cannot be said to be scientific. The history of science is full of theories that enjoyed a relative period of empirical success until they were eventually falsified and rejected: from the caloric theory of Lavoisier (which regarded heat as an imponderable fluid) to Stahl’s phlogiston theory in the eighteenth century, and Newton’s ether theory. Science has grown across centuries by dismantling and rejecting previously successful theories – scientific progress is characterized and made possible by falsification.

To conclude, falsificationism is the distinctive method of science, according to Popper. It is a deductive (instead of inductive) method, whereby scientists start with bold conjectures, and deduce novel predictions, which then they go about testing. If the predictions prove wrong, the conjecture is falsified and replaced with a new one. If the predictions prove correct, the conjecture is corroborated and will continue to be employed to make further predictions and pass more tests, until proven wrong.

To review the concept of Demarcation and falsificationism watch the video below


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