Pseudoscience has a strange way of popping up in our everyday lives. Or at least elements of pseudoscience do. We, as a society, are constantly bombarded with infomercial offers of miracle weight-loss diets, self-help gurus, and even miracle health cures. How do we distinguish between the truly helpful and the not-so-helpful?
Pseudoscience is one of the focuses of Chapter 1 of the Lillienfield textbook, a chapter that dealt primarily with eliminating the bias from psychology by adopting a scientific approach. As a contrast to real science, pseudoscience--especially in psychology--poses a potentially dangerous threat to society through its unproven methods. Health patients are harmed by the exaggerated claims of pseudoscience when they choose to forgo relevant scientific treatments for alternative "medicines". Especially alarming is the common use of the ad doc immunizing hypothesis in pseudoscience, meaning that it is especially resistant to any methods that would put it under intense scrutiny. And yet, even unproven, a large portion of society still holds these beliefs for the sake of comfort and by the natural functioning of our brain.
So how do we deal with the constant bombardment of pseudoscience so prevalent in our modern lives? I found the various methods to tell pseudoscience apart from real science to be the most striking aspect of the chapter. Any advertisements that feature exaggerated claims, over-reliance on single anecdotes, and the apparent lack of peer-reviewed science are often the tell-tale signs of a false science. It's easy to fall for these traps--even when something claims to be "proven", it doesn't necessarily eliminate the biases that distinguish real from pseudoscience. So next time, when you see ads for the latest miracle cure of sorts, ask yourself this--is it science or is it pseudoscience?