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"Astrologers and fortune-tellers, who practise palmistry and calculate nativities, guess at things past by the motion of a sieve, and show undimmed truth in a looking-glass or in a cup of water, are publicly tolerated; such people are, indeed, not without their use; they predict to men they'll make their fortune, to girls they shall marry their sweethearts, console those children whose fathers are too long dying, and calm the restlessness of young women married to old men; in a word, they deceive, but not at a very high rate, those who wish to be deceived."--The Characters of Jean de La Bruyère (1688) by Jean de La Bruyère

This page Pseudoscience is part of the mysticism series. Illustration: The Temple of the Rose Cross
This page Pseudoscience is part of the mysticism series.
Illustration: The Temple of the Rose Cross

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Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that are claimed to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method. Pseudoscience is often characterized by contradictory, exaggerated or unfalsifiable claims; reliance on confirmation bias rather than rigorous attempts at refutation; lack of openness to evaluation by other experts; absence of systematic practices when developing hypotheses; and continued adherence long after the pseudoscientific hypotheses have been experimentally discredited. The term pseudoscience is considered pejorative, because it suggests something is being presented as science inaccurately or even deceptively. Those described as practicing or advocating pseudoscience often dispute the characterization.

The demarcation between science and pseudoscience has philosophical and scientific implications. Differentiating science from pseudoscience has practical implications in the case of health care, expert testimony, environmental policies, and science education. Distinguishing scientific facts and theories from pseudoscientific beliefs, such as those found in astrology, alchemy, alternative medicine, occult beliefs, religious beliefs, and creation science, is part of science education and scientific literacy.

Pseudoscience can be harmful. For example, pseudoscientific anti-vaccine activism and promotion of homeopathic remedies as alternative disease treatments can result in people forgoing important medical treatment with demonstrable health benefits.

Related concepts

pseudo-, science

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pseudoscience" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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