How To Spot Pseudoscience

Updated 1/1/2019

The next time you read about the latest all natural cure for whatever, ask a few of these questions:

1) Does the claim meet the qualifications of a scientific theory? Does it use all known evidence of the topic to explain a phenomena with the expectation that further research will result in revision as our understanding changes

2) Is the claim said to be based on ancient knowledge? Is the Appeal to the Ancients logical fallacy being used here?

3) Was the claim first announced through mass media, or through scientific channels? Legitimate claims will undergo peer review first.

4) Is the claim based on the existence of an unknown form of “energy” or other paranormal phenomenon? Energy can be measured in all of its forms. How is it measured?

5) Do the claimants state that their claim is being suppressed by authorities? Big Pharma? The government?

6) Does the claim sound far fetched? Is it too good to be true?

7) Is the claim supported by marketing prior to its release? Properly developed technologies will take years of development to reach release stage.

8) Does the claim pass the Occam’s Razor test? Is the explanation of the mechanism the most simple explanation?

9) Does the claim come from a source dedicated to supporting it? Where does the funding come from?

10) Are the claimants up front about their testing? Can it be reproduced? Is there sufficient published data for reproduction?

11) How good is the quality of data supporting the claim? Does it meet statistical significance?

12) Do the claimants have legitimate credentials? Are they published in credible journals? Trace their academic pedigree.

13) Do the claimants state that there is something wrong with societal norms? (“The food we eat is killing us”)

14) Is the claim said to be “all natural?” Is the Appeal to Nature fallacy in effect here?

15) Does the claim have support that is political, ideological, or cultural?

If something fails more than a few of these marks, you should seriously consider the claim to be questionable at best and fraudulent at worst.