Field of Science

Real vs. fake science: How can you tell them apart?

Yesterday, I posted at Double X Science a checklist of 10 questions anyone should ask themselves when assessing a claim that purports to have a scientific basis. It starts like this: 


Pseudoscience is the shaky foundation of practices--often medically related--that lack a basis in evidence. It's "fake" science dressed up, sometimes quite carefully, to look like the real thing. If you're alive, you've encountered it, whether it was the guy at the mall trying to sell you Power Balance bracelets, the shampoo commercial promising you that "amino acids" will make your hair shiny, or the peddlers of "natural remedies" or fad diet plans, who in a classic expansion of a basic tenet of advertising, make you think you have a problem so they can sell you something to solve it. 

Pseudosciences are usually pretty easily identified by their emphasis on confirmation over refutation, on physically impossible claims, and on terms charged with emotion or false "sciencey-ness," which is kind of like "truthiness" minus Stephen Colbert. Sometimes, what peddlers of pseudoscience say may have a kernel of real truth that makes it seem plausible. But even that kernel is typically at most a half truth, and often, it's that other half they're leaving out that makes what they're selling pointless and ineffectual.

If we could hand out cheat sheets for people of sound mind to use when considering a product, book, therapy, or remedy, the following would constitute the top-10 questions you should always ask yourself--and answer--before shelling out the benjamins for anything, whether it's anti-aging cream, a diet fad program, books purporting to tell you secrets your doctor won't, or jewelry items containing magnets: 

Read more... and download a handy cheat sheet at Double X Science.

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