Monday, February 11, 2008

Eternal Struggles II

In reference to Eternal Struggles:
Here is an excellent overview of pseudoscience by Rory Coker, Ph.D, on Quackwatch, (linked here on the right side of this page) entitled Distinguishing Science and Pseudoscience (2001).

Here is paragraph one:
"The word "pseudo" means fake. The surest way to spot a fake is to know as much as possible about the real thing — in this case, about science itself. Knowing science does not mean simply knowing scientific facts (such as the distance from earth to sun, the age of the earth, the distinction between mammal and reptile, etc.) It means understanding the nature of science — the criteria of evidence, the design of meaningful experiments, the weighing of possibilities, the testing of hypotheses, the establishment of theories, the many aspects of scientific methods that make it possible to draw reliable conclusions about the physical universe."
In other words, science is a verb, not a noun. I think Michael Shermer said that first, but I will borrow it here.

The whole spectrum of human primate social grooming must move on if it is to progress. I feel sometimes like my own profession (PT) is a felled tree of human primate social grooming floating down a river of evolutionary time, and I'm a survivor clinging to it, come what may; clinging seems better than any alternative I can see from river banks in sight. It's movement, but passive, not active. A lot of the intellect within it is strictly potential, not actual. Furthermore, its branches snag easily, and if it were to get permanently caught in a jam, and the river level fluctuate (which river levels do) my tree raft through life would become completely submerged.

In my opinion the retention of all these goofy anti/pseudoscientific notions inherent, if not strictly within my profession, then within certain individuals who heavily lean toward profiting from its credentials and by teaching members of it, are like thick fluffy branches, getting caught on everything and threatening to stall the progress of the tree, drowning its passengers rather than floating them to wherever a beach might beckon, wherever the tree might be made (more usefully) into a canoe shaped by collective thought. Occam's Razor is an "admonition against unnecessary hypotheses". The field I'm in desperately requires Occam's Chainsaw.

I plan to go through the list in this quackwatch article and point out how MFR (a la Barnes, Davis) fits with most if not all of the points made. Then, in good scientific form, we shall let the (wood)chips fall where they may.

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