List of pseudosciences and pseudoscientific concepts


List of pseudosciences and pseudoscientific concepts

This is a list of fields of endeavor and concepts regarded as pseudoscientific by organizations within the international scientific community or by notable skeptical organizations. The existence of such expressed opinions suffices for inclusion in this list, and inclusion on this list does not necessarily indicate consensus for every entry.

Critics may have explicitly described a field or concept as "pseudoscience" or used synonyms, some of which are identified in the references section below. Also included are important concepts associated with the main entries, and concepts that, while notable and self-evidently pseudoscientific, have not elicited commentary from mainstream scientific bodies or skeptical organizations. Notable parodies of pseudoscientific concepts are also included.

Some subjects in this list may be questioned aspects of otherwise legitimate fields of research, or have legitimate ongoing scientific research associated with them. For instance, while some proposed explanations for hypnosis have been criticized for being pseudoscientific, the phenomenon is generally accepted as real and scientific explanations exist.

Pseudoscientific concepts per scientific consensus

The following have broad consensus concerning their pseudoscientific status. Indicative of this are assertions by mainstream, specialized scientific bodies (e.g., a society of plasma physicists) or one or more national- or regional-level Academies of Science, or expert scientists have challenged the legitimacy of these ideas and no other expert scientists have contradicted them.

*Apollo moon landing hoax accusations made by a small number of people claiming that parts of the Apollo program were hoaxed and subsequently covered up. While many of the accusations are best categorized under conspiracy theories, some do attempt to use faulty science to prove that the moon landing couldn't have happened, qualifying them as pseudoscience.article on the website of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. [http://www.astrosociety.org/education/resources/pseudobib.html] ] cite web|url=http://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/News/2001/News-MoonLanding.asp |title=The Moon Landing Hoax |accessdate=2007-12-02 |last=Knier |first=Gil |coauthors=Becky Bray |date=2001-03-30 |publisher=NASA "Did we actually send humans to the Moon in the 1960's? Of course we did!" ]

*Astrology refers to any of several systems of understanding, interpreting and organizing knowledge about reality and human existence, based on the relative positions and movement of various real and construed celestial bodies. cite web|url=http://www.astrosociety.org/education/astro/act3/astrology.html |title=The Universe At Your Fingertips Activity: Activities With Astrology |accessdate=2007-12-03 |publisher=Astronomical Society of the Pacific "These activities help students to understand the difference between science and pseudoscience by investigating some of astrology's claims." ] statement from the California Academy of Sciences. [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/8408_statements_from_scientific_and_12_19_2002.asp#calacad] ] statement from the Iowa Academy of Science. [http://www.iacad.org/download/positionstatements/ias_statement_psudoscience.pdf] ] statement from the Russian Academy of Sciences. [http://www.ufn.ru/ufn99/ufn99_5/ufn995h.pdf] ] cite book | last = National Science Board | first = | authorlink = National Science Foundation | coauthors = | title = Science and Engineering Indicators – 2002 | publisher = National Science Foundation | year = 2002 | location = Arlington, VA | pages = ch. 7 | url = http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7/c7s5.htm | doi = | id = | isbn = 978-0160665790 "Belief in pseudoscience is relatively widespread... More than 25 percent of the public believes in astrology, that is, that the position of the stars and planets can affect people's lives." ]
*Creation science is the belief that the origin of everything in the universe is the result of a first cause, brought about by a creator deity, and that this thesis is supported by geological, biological, and other scientific evidence.statement from the International Council for Science. [http://www.icsu.org/3_mediacentre/INSIGHT_12_2005.html] ]
**Biblical scientific foreknowledge asserts that the Bible makes accurate statements about the world that science verifies thousands of years later.
**Creation biology is the subset of creation science that tries to explain biology without evolution.
**Creationist cosmologies are ones which, among other things, allow for a universe that is only thousands of years old.
**Flood geology is the creationist form of geology that advocates most of the geologic features on Earth are explainable by a global flood.
**Modern geocentrism, citing uniform gamma-ray bursts distribution, and other arguments of this type, as evidence that we are at the center of the universe.
**Intelligent design is a version of creation science [ "In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents." ] stated in secular terms, "viz." that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." [Discovery Institute, Center for Science and Culture. Questions about Intelligent Design: What is the theory of intelligent design? "The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." [http://www.discovery.org/csc/topQuestions.php#questionsAboutIntelligentDesign Questions About Intelligent Design] ]
***Irreducible complexity is the claim that some systems are so complex that they cannot have evolved from simpler systems. It is used by proponents of intelligent design to argue that evolution by natural selection alone is incomplete or flawed, and that some additional mechanism (an "Intelligent Designer") is required to explain the origins of life.
***Specified complexity is the claim that when something is simultaneously complex and specified, one can infer that it was produced by an intelligent cause (i.e., that it was designed) rather than being the result of natural processes.
*Crop circles are geometric designs of crushed or knocked-over crops created in a field. Aside from skilled farmers or pranksters working through the night, explanations for their formation include UFOs and anomalous, tornado-like air currents. The study of crop circles is termed "cerealogy" by proponents. [ [http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0208/30/i_ins.01.html "They call it cerealogy"] , CNN.com]
*Crystal healing is the belief that crystals have healing properties. Once common among pre-scientific and indigenous peoples, it has recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity with the new age movement. [cite journal|first=Edward|last=Campion|journal=New England Journal of Medicine|year=1993|title=Why Unconventional Medicine|doi=10.1056/NEJM199301283280413|volume=328|pages=282|pmid=8418412] [cite web |url=http://skepdic.com/crystals.html |title=crystal power |accessdate=2007-07-28 |format= |work=The Skeptic's Dictionary|author=Carroll, Robert Todd ] [cite book |author=Stephen S. Carey |title=A Beginner's Guide to Scientific Method |publisher=Wadsworth Publishing |location=Belmont, CA |year= |pages= |isbn=0-534-58450-0 |oclc= |doi=]
*Dianetics is L. Ron Hubbard's pseudoscience that purports to treat a hypothetical reactive mind by means of an E-meter, a device which Hubbard was later legally forced to admit "does nothing". [cite book | author=Christopher Riche Evans | title=Cults of Unreason | publisher=Farrar, Straus and Giroux | year=1974 | isbn=0-374-13324-7 Chapter 6.] [cite book | author=Russell Miller | title=Bare-faced messiah: The true story of L. Ron Hubbard | publisher=Key Porter] [ [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/06/09/MNGO572ISD1.DTL Dr. Peter Banys] in the SF Chronicle] [ [http://skepdic.com/dianetic.html defined as pseudoscience] at Skeptic's Dictionary] ["Dianetics, that unholy alliance of psychoanalysis and cybernetics, rates a special chapter." - "Some Comments on Popular-Science Books", John Pfeiffer, Science (New Series), Vol. 117, No. 3042 (Apr., 1953), pp. 399-403, referencing Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science by Martin Gardner]
*Dogon people and Sirius B a series of claims that the Dogon tribe knew about the white dwarf companion of Sirius despite it being invisible to the naked eye.
*Erich Von Däniken proposed that Earth was visited by ancient astronauts.
*The Face on Mars (in Cydonia Mensae) is a rock formation on Mars asserted to be evidence of intelligent, native life on the planet. High resolution images taken recently show it to appear less face-like. It features prominently in the pseudoscientific speculations of Richard C. Hoagland.
*Homeopathy is the belief in giving a patient with symptoms of an illness extremely dilute solutions of substances that produce those same symptoms in healthy people given larger doses. These preparations are often diluted beyond the point where any treatment molecule is likely to remain. Studies of homeopathic practice have been largely negative or inconclusive. cite journal|title=Benefits and Risks of Homoeopathy|journal=The Lancet|date=2007-11-17|first=Ben|last=Goldacre|coauthors=|volume=370|issue=|pages=1672|doi= 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61706-1|url=|format=|accessdate=2008-01-30 "Five large meta-analyses of homoeopathy trials have been done. All have had the same result: after excluding methodologically inadequate trials and accounting for publication bias, homoeopathy produced no statistically significant benefit over placebo." ] cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Homoeopathy's benefit questioned | date=2005-08-25 | publisher= | url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4183916.stm | work =BBC News | pages = | accessdate = 2008-01-30 | language = "Professor Egger said: "We acknowledge to prove a negative is impossible. "But good large studies of homeopathy do not show a difference between the placebo and the homoeopathic remedy, whereas in the case of conventional medicines you still see an effect."" ] cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Homeopathy: systematic review of systematic reviews | date= | publisher=Bandolier | url =http://www.jr2.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/band116/b116-8.html | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2008-01-30 | language = "None of these systematic reviews provided any convincing evidence that homeopathy was effective for any condition. The lesson was often that the best designed trials had the most negative result" ] cite web|url=http://nccam.nih.gov/health/homeopathy/ |title=Questions and Answers About Homeopathy |accessdate=2008-01-30 |date=2003-04 |publisher=National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine "In sum, systematic reviews have not found homeopathy to be a definitively proven treatment for any medical condition." ] No scientific basis for homeopathic principles has been substantiated. [cite web|url=http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7/c7s5.htm#c7s5l2|title=Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Public Understanding Science Fiction and Pseudoscience|publisher=National Science Foundation|author=CSICOP, cited in National Science Board Subcommittee on Science & Engineering Indicators|year=2000|accessdate=2007-07-13 ] [cite web|url=http://www.ncahf.org/pp/homeop.html|title=NCAHF Position Paper on Homeopathy|publisher=National Council Against Health Fraud|year=1994|accessdate=2007-07-14] cite web|author=Beyerstein, BL|title=Distinguishing Science from Pseudoscience|year=1997|url=http://www.sfu.ca/~beyerste/research/articles/02SciencevsPseudoscience.pdf|accessdate=2007-07-14|format=PDF] cite web|url=http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/pdf/SenseAboutHomeopathy.pdf |title=Sense About Homeopathy |accessdate=2008-01-29 |last=Tyler |first=Chris |date=2006-09 |format=PDF |publisher=Sense About Science "The scientific evidence shows that homeopathy acts only as a placebo and there is no scientific explanation of how it could work any other way." ] cite web|url=http://nccam.nih.gov/health/homeopathy/ |title=Questions and Answers About Homeopathy |accessdate=2008-01-30 |date=2003-04 |publisher=National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine "a number of its key concepts do not follow the laws of science (particularly chemistry and physics)." ] cite web|url=http://www.cancer.org/docroot/NWS/content/NWS_2_1x_What_is_Homeopathy_.asp |title=What is Homeopathy |accessdate=2008-01-30 |date=2000-01-05 |publisher=American Cancer Society "Most scientists say homeopathic remedies are basically water and can act only as placebos." ] "In a statement, the Royal College of Pathologists said they were "deeply alarmed" that the regulation of medicine had "moved away from science and clear information for the public"." [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6085242.stm Scientists attack homeopathy move] , BBC News, 25 October 2006. Retrieved 2 February 2008.]
*Immanuel Velikovsky proposed that ancient texts refer to the collision of astronomical bodies as in "Worlds in Collision".
*Lunar effect is the belief that the full moon influences human behavior.
*Paranormal subjects [ [http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind00/access/c8/c8s5.htm Indicators 2000 - Chapter 8: Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Public Understanding - Belief in the Paranormal or Pseudoscience ] ]
**Channeling is the communication of information to or through a person allegedly from a spirit or other paranormal entity. [ [http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7/c7s5.htm Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Public Understanding - Science Fiction and Pseudoscience] ]
**Dowsing refers to practices said to enable one to detect hidden water, metals, gemstones or other objects.
**Electronic voice phenomenon is the alleged communication by spirits through tape recorders and other electronic devices. [http://parapsych.org/glossary_e_k.html#e Parapsychological Association website, Glossary of Key Words Frequently Used in Parapsychology, Retrieved January 24, 2006] cite web | last = Alcock | first = James E | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Electronic Voice Phenomena:Voices of the Dead? | work = | publisher = Committee for Skeptical Inquiry | date = | url = http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/evp.html | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-03-08 ] Carroll, Robert Todd, "The Skeptic's Dictionary" 2003, Wiley Publishing Company, ISBN 0471272426] [cite news |last=Shermer |first=Michael |title=Turn Me On, Dead Man |year=2005 |month=May |publisher=Scientific American |url=http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000EB977-12BE-1264-8F9683414B7FFE9F |accessdate=2007-02-28] [Terrence Hines, "Pseudoscience and the Paranormal: A Critical Examination of the Evidence", Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1988. ISBN 0-87975-419-2.Thagard (1978) "op cit" 223 "ff"]
**Extra-sensory perception is the paranormal ability (independent of the five main senses or deduction from previous experience) to acquire information by means such as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychic abilities, and remote viewing. [ [http://parapsych.org/glossary_e_k.html#e Parapsychological Association website, Glossary of Key Words Frequently Used in Parapsychology] , Retrieved December 24, 2006] [" [http://www.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?va=extrasensory%20perception extrasensory perception] " Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. ] [ [http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7/c7s5.htm Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Public Understanding - Science Fiction and Pseudoscience] ] cite book | last = National Science Board | first = | authorlink = National Science Foundation | coauthors = | title = Science and Engineering Indicators – 2002 | publisher = National Science Foundation | year = 2002 | location = Arlington, VA | pages = ch. 7 | url = http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7/c7s5.htm | doi = | id = | isbn = 978-0160665790 "Belief in pseudoscience is relatively widespread... At least half of the public believes in the existence of extrasensory perception (ESP)." ]
**Levitation, in this sense, is the act of rising up from the ground without any physical aids, usually by the power of thought.
**Materialization is the supposed creation or appearance of matter from unknown sources.
**Psychic surgery is a type of medical fraud, popular in Brazil and the Philippines. Practitioners use sleight of hand to make it appear as though they are reaching into a patients body and extracting "tumours". [cite book| last = Randi | first = James | authorlink = James Randi | year = 1989 | title = The Faith Healers | publisher = Prometheus Books | isbn = 0-87975-535-0 ] [ David Vernon in "Skeptical - a Handbook of Pseudoscience and the Paranormal", ed Donald Laycock, David Vernon, Colin Groves, Simon Brown, Imagecraft, Canberra, 1989, ISBN 0731657942, p47 ] [cite web |url=http://caonline.amcancersoc.org/cgi/content/abstract/40/3/184 |title="Psychic surgery" -- 40 (3): 184 -- CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians |accessdate=2007-07-28 |format= |work=] [cite web |url=http://www.skepdic.com/psurgery.html |title=Psychic Surgery |accessdate=2007-07-28 |work=The Skeptic's Dictionary|format= |author=Carroll, Robert Todd ] [cite web |url=http://www.filipinoreporter.com/archive/3327/headline03.htm |title= Psychic surgeon charged |date=June 17-23, 2005 |accessdate=2007-07-28 |format= |work=The Filipino Reporter]
**Séances are ritualized attempts to communicate with the dead.entry in The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience.]
**Psychokinesis is the paranormal ability of the mind to influence matter or energy at a distance.
*Therapeutic touch is a form of vitalism where a practitioner, who may be also a nurse, cite web|url=http://www.csicop.org/articles/therapeutic-touch/ |title="Therapeutic Touch" Fails a Rare Scientific Test |accessdate=2007-12-05 |last=Wallace |first=Sampson |coauthors=Lewis Vaughn |date=1998-03-24 |work=CSICOP News |publisher=Committee for Skeptical Inquiry "Despite this lack of evidence, TT is now supported by major nursing organizations such as the National League of Nurses and the American Nurses Association." ] passes his or her hands over and around a patient to "realign" or "rebalance" a putative energy field. A recent Cochrane Review concluded that " [t] here is no evidence that [Therapeutic Touch] promotes healing of acute wounds." cite journal|title=Therapeutic touch for healing acute wounds|journal=Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews|date=2003/2006|first=DP|last=O'Mathuna|coauthors=RL Ashford|volume=2003|issue=4|pages=CD002766|doi= 10.1002/14651858.CD002766|url=http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab002766.html|format=|accessdate=2008-01-27 ] No biophysical basis for such an energy field has been found. cite web|url=http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/tt2.html |title=Further Notes on Therapeutic Touch |accessdate=2007-12-05 |last=Courcey |first=Kevin |publisher=Quackwatch "What's missing from all of this, of course, is any statement by Krieger and her disciples about how the existence of their energy field can be demonstrated by scientifically accepted methods." ] cite web|url=http://nccam.nih.gov/health/backgrounds/energymed.htm |title=Energy Medicine: An Overview |accessdate=2007-12-05 |date=2007-10-24 |publisher=National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine "neither the external energy fields nor their therapeutic effects have been demonstrated convincingly by any biophysical means." ]
*Perpetual motion is a class of proposed machines that violate one of the Laws of Thermodynamics. Perpetual motion has been recognized as extrascientific since the late 18th century, but proposals and patents for such devices continue to be made to the present day.
**Free energy is a particular class of perpetual motion which purports to create energy (violating the first law of thermodynamics) or extract useful work from equilibrium systems (violating the second law of thermodynamics). Of particular note are proposals involving the extraction of zero point energy, a real energy found in quantum mechanics that cannot be used to do work.
**Water-fuelled cars are an instance of perpetual motion machines.cite web| last= Ball| first=Philip| authorlink = Philip Ball| title=Burning water and other myths| url= http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070910/full/070910-13.html| work= Nature News| date= September 14, 2007| accessdate= 2008-08-19] Such devices are claimed to use water as fuel or produce fuel from water onboard with no other energy input.
*Quantum mysticism builds on a superficial similarity between certain New Age concepts and such seemingly counter-intuitive quantum mechanical concepts as the indeterminacy principle, entanglement, and wave–particle duality, while generally ignoring the limitations imposed by quantum decoherence. [cite book | last = Park | first = Robert L. | authorlink = Robert L. Park | coauthors = | title = Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud | publisher = Oxford University Press | year = 2000 | location = New York, New York | pages = 39 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 0-19-513515-6 " [People] long to be told that modern science validates the teachings of some ancient scripture or New Age guru. The purveyors of pseudoscience have been quick to exploit their ambivalence." ] cite news | first=Victor J. | last=Stenger | coauthors= | title=Quantum Quackery | date=1997-01 | publisher=Committee for Skeptical Inquiry | url =http://csicop.org/si/9701/quantum-quackery.html | work =Skeptical Inquirer | pages = | accessdate = 2008-02-07 | language = "Capra's book was an inspiration for the New Age, and "quantum" became a buzzword used to buttress the trendy, pseudoscientific spirituality that characterizes this movement." ] cite book | last = Gell-Mann | first = Murray | authorlink = Murray Gell-Mann | coauthors = | title = The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and Complex | publisher = Macmillan | year = 1995 | location = | pages = 168 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 0805072535 "Then the conclusion has been drawn that quantum mechanics permits faster-than-light communication, and even tha claimed "paranormal" phenomena like precognition are thereby made respectable! How can this have happened?" ] cite news | first=Fred | last=Kuttner | coauthors= Bruce Rosenblum | title=Teaching physics mysteries versus pseudoscience | date=2006-11 | publisher=American Institute of Physics | url =http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-59/iss-11/p14.html | work =Physics Today | pages = | accessdate = 2008-02-08 | language = "We should not underestimate how persuasively physics can be invoked to buttress mystical notions. We physicists bear some responsibility for the way our discipline is exploited." ] One of the most abused ideas is Bell's theorem, which proves the nonexistence of local hidden variables in quantum mechanics. Despite this, Bell himself resisted mystical interpretations of the theory.cite book | last = Bell | first = J. S. | authorlink = John Stewart Bell | coauthors = | title = Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics | publisher = Cambridge University Press | year = 1988 | location = | pages = 170 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 0521523389 "So I think it is not right to tell the public that a central role for conscious mind is integrated into modern atomic physics. Or that 'information' is the real stuff of physical theory. It seems to me irresponsible to suggest that technical features of contemporary theory were anticipated by the saints of ancient religions ... by introspection." ]
*Ufology is the study of unidentified flying objects (UFO) and frequently includes the belief that UFOs are evidence for extraterrestrial visitors. [http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=RecordDetails&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED460829&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=eric_accno&objectId=0900000b8006f304 Scientific American] ] cite book | last = National Science Board | first = | authorlink = National Science Foundation | coauthors = | title = Science and Engineering Indicators – 2002 | publisher = National Science Foundation | year = 2002 | location = Arlington, VA | pages = ch. 7 | url = http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7/c7s5.htm | doi = | id = | isbn = 978-0160665790 "Belief in pseudoscience is relatively widespread... A sizable minority of the public believes in UFOs and that aliens have landed on Earth." ]
**Close encounters are events where persons witness UFOs, or purportedly meet and/or communicate with alien beings.

Topics which notable skeptical groups consider to be pseudoscientific

The following are subjects closely related to pseudoscience by notable skeptical bodies such as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly CSICOP). Some of these items are not considered pseudoscientific by these groups in and of themselves: only certain aspects, explanations, and/or applications of them have been thus classified. (See an item's description text for more information on this.)

Earth and Earth sciences

*The Bermuda Triangle is a region of the Atlantic Ocean that lies between Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and (in its most popular version) Florida. Frequent disappearances and ship and aircraft disasters in this area have led to the circulation of stories of unusual natural phenomona, paranormal encounters, and interactions with extraterrestrial.

Paranormal and Ufology

*Pseudoarchaeology is the investigation of the ancient past using alleged paranormal or otherwise means which have not been validated by mainstream science.
**Ancient astronauts are extraterrestrials said to have initiated the rise of human civilization or provided significant technological assistance to various ancient civilizations. cite web|url=http://www.csicop.org/sb/2007-03/egypt.html |title=Who Were the Ancient Engineers of Egypt? |accessdate=2007-12-01 |last=Trefil |first=James |date=2007-03 |work=Skeptical Briefs |publisher=Committee for Skeptical Inquiry "the pyramids, as impressive as they are, give no evidence at all for the presence of advanced technology at work in ancient Egypt." ]
*Animal mutilations are cases of animals, primarily domestic livestock, with seemingly unexplainable wounds. These wounds have been said to be caused by natural predation, extra terrestrials, cults, or covert government organizations.
*Tutankhamun's curse was allegedly placed on the discoverers of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, causing widespread deaths and other disastrous events.
*Tunguska event is an anomalous meteor strike said to actually be the impact of a miniature black hole or a large body composed of antimatter, or Ball lightning.

Philosophy and psychology

*Graphology is a purported psychological test based on a belief that personality traits unconsciously and consistently influence handwriting morphology - that certain types of people exhibit certain quirks of the pen. Analysis of handwriting attributes provides no better than chance correspondence with personality, and neuroscientist Barry Beyerstein likened the assigned correlations to sympathetic magic. cite web|url=http://www.pbs.org/safarchive/3_ask/archive/qna/3282_bbeyerstein.html |title=Barry Beyerstein Q&A |accessdate=2008-02-22 |work=Ask the Scientists |publisher=Scientific American Frontiers "they simply interpret the way we form these various features on the page in much the same way ancient oracles interpreted the entrails of oxen or smoke in the air. I.e., it's a kind of magical divination or fortune telling where 'like begets like.'" ] cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=The use of graphology as a tool for employee hiring and evaluation | year=1988 | publisher=British Columbia Civil Liberties Union | url =http://www.bccla.org/positions/privacy/88graphology.html | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2008-02-22 | language = "On the other hand, in properly controlled, blind studies, where the handwriting samples contain no content that could provide non-graphological information upon which to base a prediction (e.g., a piece copied from a magazine), graphologists do no better than chance at predicting the personality traits" ] cite web|url=http://www.ntskeptics.org/factsheets/graphol.htm |title=Graphology Fact Sheet |accessdate=2008-02-22 |last=Thomas |first=John A. |year=2002 |publisher=North Texas Skeptics "In summary, then, it seems that graphology as currently practiced is a typical pseudoscience and has no place in character assessment or employment practice. There is no good scientific evidence to justify its use, and the graphologists do not seem about to come up with any." ] Graphology is only superficially related to forensic document examination, which also examines handwriting.
*Phrenology was the first system to be characterized as pseudoscience in 1843.Magendie, F (1843) "An Elementary Treatise on Human Physiology." 5th Ed. Tr. John Revere. New York: Harper, p 150. Magendie refers to phrenology as "a pseudo-science of the present day" (note the hyphen).] Phrenologists believed that the mind was compartmentalized, an idea featured in modern neuro-imaging technique (see also modularity of mind or faculty psychology). [Fodor, JA. (1983) The Modularity of Mind. MIT Press. p.14, 23, 131] Phrenologists also claimed to determine character and personality traits on the basis of the shape of the head (reading "bumps").
* Primal therapy is sometimes presented as a science. [ [http://www.primaltherapy.com Primal therapy homepage] ] The Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology (2001) states that: "The theoretical basis for the therapy is the supposition that prenatal experiences and birth trauma form people's primary impressions of life and that they subsequently influence the direction our lives take... Truth be known, primal therapy cannot be defended on scientifically established principles. This is not surprising considering its questionable theoretical rationale."cite book | last = Moore | first = Timothy | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Primal Therapy | publisher = Gale Group | year = 2001 | location = | pages = | url = http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g2699/is_0005/ai_2699000587 | doi = | id = | isbn = ] . Other sources have also questioned the scientific validity of primal therapy, some using the term "pseudoscience" (see "Criticism of Primal Therapy").
*Subliminal perception is visual or auditory information that is discerned below the threshold of conscious awareness and has an effect on human behavior. It went into disrepute in the late 1970s cite web|title=Urban Legends Reference Pages: Business (Subliminal Advertising)|publisher=The Urban Legends Reference Pages|url=http://www.snopes.com/business/hidden/popcorn.asp|accessdate=2006-08-11] but there has been renewed research interest recently. [For example, processing of happy and sad faces affecting the desirability of subsequent stimulus (Westen, 2006 p.184-185).] Westen et al. 2006 "Psychology: Austraian and New Zealand edition" John Wiley.]

Health and Medicine

*Anthroposophic medicine, or Anthroposophically extended medicine, is a school of complementary medicinevon Rohr et al., [http://www.smw.ch/docs/pdf/2000_34/2000-34-245.PDF "Experiences in the realisationof a research project on anthroposophical medicine in patients with advanced cancer"] , Schweiz Med Wochenschr 2000;130:1173–84] founded in the 1920s by Rudolf Steiner in conjunction with Dr. Ita Wegman based on the spiritual philosophy of anthroposophy. Adherents practice a highly individualized holistic and salutogenic approach to health, embracing a "Fourfold Path" of healing by considering the physical body, formative processes, consciousness, and biography (ego).Klotter, Jule (May 2006). "Anthroposophical Medicine". "Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients", 24(1):274.] Medications are formulated to stimulate healing by matching "key dynamic forces" with symptoms, cite web|url=http://www.holisticonline.com/hol_miscellaneous.htm |title=Miscellaneous Holistic Remedies |accessdate=2008-02-09 |publisher=Holistic Online ] and prepared for external, oral, or parenteral introduction in various dilutions ranging from whole to homeopathic. cite web|url=http://www.ivaa.info/IVAA_new/anthroposophical_medicine.htm |title=The Position of Anthroposophic Medicine |accessdate=2008-02-09 |publisher=Internationale Vereinigung Anthroposophischer Ärztegesellschaften (International Federation of Anthroposophic Medical Associations) "Some medicines are similar to herbal medicinal products, some are prepared according to the guidelines of homeopathic pharmacopoeias." ] Skeptic Robert Carroll likens to sympathetic magic the principle that curative plants may be identified by distortions or abnormalities in their morphology or physiology. cite web|url=http://skepdic.com/anthroposophicmedicine.html |title=anthroposophic medicine |accessdate=2008-02-09 |last=Carroll |first=Robert |work=Skeptic's Dictionary ] Carroll and others suggest that the system is out of touch with conventional medicine. cite journal|title=Is Anthroposophy Science?|journal=Conceptus|year=1991|first=Sven Ove|last=Hansson|coauthors=|volume=XXV|issue=64|pages=37–49|id= |format=|accessdate=2008-02-09 "Steiner also taught many other branches of knowledge, such as agriculture, medicine and education. His source of knowledge was always the same: His own clairvoyant visions." ] Practitioners give less significance to randomized controlled trials, emphasizing balancing these with individualized diagnosis and treatment. [Helmut Kiene, "Complementary Methodology in Clinical Research - Cognition-based Medicine", Springer Publishers: Heidelberg, New York. 2001. ISBN 3-540-41022-8] Because promotion of self-healing is preferred, anthroposophical doctors and parents generally restrict or delay the use of vaccinations, antibiotics, and antipyretics; this restriction has been associated with a relative reduction in incidence of allergies in children being raised according to an anthroposophic lifestyle. [Alm, J. S., Swartz, J., Lilja, G., Scheynius, A., and Pershagen, G. (1999). Atopy in children of families with an anthroposophic lifestyle. "Lancet", 353(9163):1485-8. PMID 10232315 [http://www.waldorflibrary.org/journal_articles/rb5103.pdf Reprint copy] ] cite journal|title=Allergic disease and sensitization in Steiner school children|journal=The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology|date=2006-01|first=Helen|last=Flöistrup|coauthors=Jackie Swartz, Anna Bergström, Johan S. Alm, Annika Scheynius, Marianne van Hage, Marco Waser, Charlotte Braun-Fahrländer, Dieneke Schram-Bijkerk, Machteld Huber, Anne Zutavern, Erika von Mutius, Ellen Üblagger, Josef Riedler, Karin B. Michaels, Göran Pershagen|volume=117|issue=1|pages=59–66|doi= 10.1016/j.jaci.2005.09.039|url=http://www.jacionline.org/article/PIIS0091674905021287/abstract|format=|accessdate=2008-03-03 ] [Klotter, Jule. "Anthroposophic lifestyle & allergies in children.(Shorts)." Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients 274 (May 2006): 24(2).] No thorough scientific analysis of the efficacy of anthroposophical medicine as a system independent of its philosophical underpinnings has been undertaken; no evidence-based conclusion of the overall efficacy of the system can be made at this time. [Ernst, Edzard, "Anthroposophical Medicine: A systematic review of randomised clinical trials." Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift, ISSN 0043-5325, 2004, vol. 116, no4, pp. 128-130]
*Applied kinesiology is a means of medical diagnosis which proponents believe can identify health problems or nutritional deficiencies through practitioner assessment of external physical qualities such as muscle response, posture, or motion analysis. A variety of therapies are prescribed based on tested weakness or smoothness of muscle action and a conjectured viscerosomatic association between particular muscles and organs. The sole use of Applied Kinesiology to diagnose or treat any allergy cite web|url=http://www.massmed.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Search&section=Advocacy_State&template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentFileID=309 |title=Report of the Special Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medical Practitioners, In Opposition to the Licensure of Naturopaths |accessdate=2008-01-27 |format=PDF |publisher=Massachusetts Medical Society "Many of the means by which naturopaths diagnose these toxins and allergies are outright quackery: electrodiagnostic devices (banned by the FDA as worthless), hair analysis, applied kinesiology, iridology, and more." ] or illness cite web|url=http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/content/ETO_5_3X_Applied_Kinesiology.asp |title=Applied Kinesiology |accessdate=2008-01-27 |date=2007-05-23 |publisher=American Cancer Society "Available scientific evidence does not support the claim that applied kinesiology can diagnose or treat cancer or other illness." ] cite web|url=http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/8513/34968/358738.html?d=dmtContent |title=Applied Kinesiology |accessdate=2008-01-27 |date=2005-07-01 |publisher=Natural Standard "applied kinesiology has not been shown to be effective for the diagnosis or treatment of any disease." ] is not scientifically supported, and the International College of Applied Kinesiology requires concurrent use of standard diagnostic techniques. cite web|url=http://www.icak.com/college/status.shtml |title=Applied Kinesiology Status Statement |accessdate=2008-01-27 |date=1992-06-16 |publisher=International College of Applied Kinesiology ] Applied kinesiologists are often chiropractors, but may also be naturopaths, physicians, dentists, nutritionists, physical therapists, massage therapists, and nurses. Applied Kinesiology should not be confused with kinesiology, the scientific study of human movement.
*Attachment therapy is a set of potentially fatal cite web|url=http://www.randi.org/jr/071604an.html#7 |title=Swift: Online Newsletter of the JREF |accessdate=2007-11-17 |last=Randi |first=James |date=2004-07-16 "This is a total quack procedure that has actually killed children." ] clinical interventions and parenting techniques aimed at controlling aggressive, disobedient, or unaffectionate children using "restraint and physical and psychological abuse to seek their desired results." cite web|url=http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/at.html |title=Be Wary of Attachment Therapy |accessdate=2007-11-17 |last=Maloney |first=Shannon-Bridget ] Probably the most common form is holding therapy in which the child is restrained by adults for the purpose of supposed cathartic release of suppressed rage and regression. Perhaps the most extreme, but much less common, is "rebirthing," in which the child is wrapped tightly in a blanket and then made to simulate emergence from a birth canal. This is done by encouraging the child to struggle and pushing and squeezing him/her to mimic contractions. Despite its name it is not based on attachment theory or research. Preface to "Enhancing Early Attachments. Theory, Research, Intervention and Policy." Duke series in child development and public policy. Eds. Lisa J. Berlin, Yair Ziv, Lisa Amaya-Jackson and Mark T. Greenberg Guilford Press ISBN 1-59385-470-6 p. xvii] In 2006 it was the subject of an almost entirely critical Taskforce Report commissioned by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC).cite journal |author=Chaffin M, Hanson R, Saunders BE, "et al" |title=Report of the APSAC task force on attachment therapy, reactive attachment disorder, and attachment problems. |journal=Child Maltreat |volume=11 |issue=1 |pages=76–89 |year=2006 |pmid=16382093 |doi=10.1177/1077559505283699]
*Ayurveda is a 5,000 year old alternative medical practice with roots in ancient India based on a mind-body set of beliefs.cite web | url = http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/13638.html | title = Report 12 of the Council on Scientific Affairs (A-97) | year = 1997 | publisher = American Medical Association] cite web | url = http://www.skepdic.com/ayurvedic.html | title = Ayurvedic medicine | publisher = Quackwatch | accessdate = 2008-08-16] Imbalance or stress in an individual’s consciousness is believed to be the reason of diseases. Patients are classified by body types (three "doshas", which are considered to control mind-body harmony, determine an individual’s "body type"); and treatment is aimed at restoring balance to the mind-body system. Its beliefs and practices include: 1) obvious and well established principles; 2) herbal remedies which might be proven useful by medical research; 3) absurd ideas, some of which are dangerous. It has long been the main traditional system of health care in India, and it has become institutionalized in India's colleges and schools. Although it superficially adheres to modern institutions, the institutional practitioners are haunted by Ayurvedic vaidyas, who were trained outside the traditional medicine school and are often referred to as "quacks".cite journal | journal = Medical Anthropology Quarterly | author = Lesley A. Sharp | title = Review of Fluent bodies: Ayourvedic Remedies for Postcolonial Imbalance | url = http://www.anthrosource.net/doi/abs/10.1525/maq.2003.17.4.511 | doi = 10.1525/maq.2003.17.4.512 | issue = 4 | pages = 511–512 | month = December | year = 2003 | accessdate = 2008-08-16 | volume = 17]
*The Bates method for better eyesight is an educational method developed by ophthalmologist William Bates intended to improve vision "naturally" to the point at which it can allegedly eliminate the need for glasses by undoing a habitual strain to see. cite book | last = Quackenbush | first = Thomas R. | title = Better Eyesight The complete magazines of William H. Bates | publisher = North Atlantic Books | year = 2000 | pages = page 643 | isbn = 1-55643-351-4 ] In 1929 Bates was cited by the FTC for false or misleading advertising in connection with his book describing the method, . cite web|url=http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/eyequack.html |title=Eye-Related Quackery |accessdate=2007-11-17 |last=Worrall |first=Russell S. |coauthors=Jacob Nevyas, Stephen Barrett |date=2007-09-12 "The claims Bates made in advertising his book were so dubious that in 1929 the Federal Trade Commission issued a complaint against him for advertising "falsely or misleadingly.""] Although some people claim to have improved their eyesight by following his principles, Bates' ideas about vision and accommodation have been rejected by mainstream ophthalmology and optometry.cite web | url=http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/features/natural-vision-correction-does-it-work | title=Natural Vision Correction: Does It Work? | author=Leanna Skarnulis | publisher=WebMD | date= February 5, 2007 "No evidence was found that visual training had any effect on the progression of nearsightedness, or that it improved visual function for patients with farsightedness or astigmatism, or that it improved vision lost to diseases, including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy." ] cite book | last=Gardner | first=Martin | title=Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science | year=1957 | chapter=Chapter 19: Throw Away Your Glasses | pages = 230–241 | publisher=Reprint: Courier Dover | isbn=0-486-20394-8 | url=http://books.google.com/books?id=kWoJ8mEEJ0wC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_summary_r#PPA232,M1 "Actually, Bates' theory of accommodation (so necessary to explain the value of his exercises) is so patently absurd that even most of his present-day followers have discarded it." ] cite news | author=Robyn E. Bradley | title=ADVOCATES SEE ONLY BENEFITS FROM EYE EXERCISES | publisher=The Boston Globe (MA) | date=September 23, 2003 | url=http://visioneducators.com/articles/advocates_see_only_benefits_from_eye_exercises.pdf ] cite journal | author=Marg, E. | title="Flashes" of clear vision and negative accommodation with reference to the Bates Method of visual training. | journal=Am J Opt Arch Am Ac Opt | year=1952 | volume=29 | issue=4 | pages=167–84 | url=http://brain.berkeley.edu/pub/1952%20April%20Flashes%20of%20Clear%20Vision.pdf | format = PDF] cite web|url=http://www.randi.org/jr/2006-11/111706rampa.html#i3 |title=Swift: the weekly newsletter of the JREF |accessdate=2007-11-17 |last=Randi |first=James |date=2006-11-11 "This is pure old quackery, it’s wishful thinking, and it’s profitable."]

*Biorhythms – a hypothesis holding that human physiology and behavior are governed by physical, emotional, and intellectual cycles lasting 23, 28, and 33 days, respectively; not to be confused with Chronobiology, the scientific study of biological rhythms. The system posits that, for instance, errors in judgment are more probable on days when an individual's intellectual cycle, as determined by days since birth, is near a minimum. No biophysical mechanism of action has been discovered, and the predictive power of biorhythms charts is no better than chance. cite web|url=http://www.princeton.edu/~ota/disk1/1991/9108_n.html |title=Biological Rhythms: Implications for the Worker |accessdate=2008-02-21 |date=1991-09 |work=OTA-BA-463 Box 2-A pg. 30 |publisher=Office of Technology Assessment "No evidence exists to support the concept of biorhythms; in fact, scientific data refute their existence." ] cite web|url=http://skepdic.com/biorhyth.html |title=Biorhythms |accessdate=2008-02-21 |last=Carroll |first=Robert Todd |work=Skeptic's Dictionary "The theory of biorhythms is a pseudoscientific theory that claims our daily lives are significantly affected by rhythmic cycles overlooked by scientists who study biological rhythms." ] cite journal|title=Comprehensive Review of Biorhythm Theory|journal=Psychological Reports|year=1998|first=Terence|last=Hines|coauthors=|volume=83|issue=|pages=19–64|doi= 10.2466/PR0.83.5.19-64|url=http://ammonsscientific.com/link.php?N=10326|format=pdf (summary)|accessdate=2008-02-20 "The conclusion is that biorhythm theory is not valid." ] For the scientific study of biological cycles such as circadian rhythms, see chronobiology.

*Brain Gym – a commercial training program that claims that any learning challenges can be overcome by finding the right movements, to subsequently create new pathways in the brain. They claim that the repetition of the 26 Brain Gym movements "activates the brain for optimal storage and retrieval of information", [cite web |url=http://www.braingym.org/faq#How_does_movement_affect_the_brain__Do_actual_physical_changes_in_the_brain_occur_through_the_use_of_BRAIN_GYM___ |title=Brain Gym - FAQ |publisher=The Official Brain Gym Web Site |accessdate=2008-08-11 |quote=BRAIN GYM works by facilitating optimal achievement of mental potential through specific movement experiences. All acts of speech, hearing, vision, and coordination are learned through a complex repertoire of movements. BRAIN GYM promotes efficient communication among the many nerve cells and functional centers located throughout the brain and sensory motor system.] and are designed to "integrate body and mind" in order to improve "concentration, memory, reading, writing, organizing, listening, physical coordination, and more." [http://www.braingym.org/about About Brain Gym] ] Its theoretical foundation has been thoroughly discredited by the scientific community, who describe it as pseudoscience. [cite web |url=http://www.tlrp.org/pub/documents/Neuroscience%20Commentary%20FINAL.pdf |title=Neuroscience and Education: Issues and Opportunities |publisher=the ESRC's Teaching and Learning Research Programme website |accessdate=2007-08-03 |quote=The pseudo-scientific terms that are used to explain how this works, let alone the concepts they express, are unrecognisable within the domain of neuroscience.] [cite journal |last=Goswami |first=Usha |year=2006 |month=May |title=Neuroscience and education: from research to practice? |journal=Nature |volume= 7|issue= |pages=406–413 |doi=10.1038/nrn1907 |url=http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v7/n5/abs/nrn1907.html |format=fee required|accessdate=2008-08-11 |quote=Cognitive neuroscience is making rapid strides in areas highly relevant to education. However, there is a gulf between current science and direct classroom applications. Most scientists would argue that filling the gulf is premature. Nevertheless, at present, teachers are at the receiving end of numerous 'brain-based learning' packages. Some of these contain alarming amounts of misinformation, yet such packages are being used in many schools.] [cite web |url=http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/233/ |title=Sense About Science - Brain Gym |publisher=Sense About Science |accessdate=2008-04-11 |quote=These exercises are being taught with pseudoscientific explanations that undermine science teaching and mislead children about how their bodies work. ... There have been a few peer reviewed scientific studies into the methods of Brain Gym, but none of them found a significant improvement in general academic skills.] [cite journal
last=Hyatt
first=Keith J.
year=2007
month=April
title=Brain Gym - Building Stronger Brains or Wishful Thinking?
journal=Remedial and Special Education
publisher=SAGE Publications
volume=28
issue=2
pages=117–124
issn=0741-9325
url=http://rse.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/28/2/117
doi=10.1177/07419325070280020201
format=fee required
quote=a review of the theoretical foundations of Brain Gym and the associated peer-reviewed research studies failed to support the contentions of the promoters of Brain Gym®. Educators are encouraged to become informed consumers of research and to avoid implementing programming for which there is neither a credible theoretical nor a sound research basis.
accessdate=2008-09-12
] Peer reviewed scientific studies into Brain Gym have found no significant improvement in general academic skills. Its claimed results have been put down to the placebo effect and the benefits of breaks and exercise. Its founder, Paul Dennison, has admitted that many of Brain Gym's claims are not based good science, but on his "hunches". [cite news
url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article3671213.ece
title=News in brief
date=2008-04-05
publisher="The Times"
accessdate=2008-09-01
quote=Paul Dennison, a Californian educator who created the programme, admitted that many claims in his teacher’s guide were based on his 'hunches' and were not proper science.
]

*Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) is a reported sensitivity to electric and magnetic fields or electromagnetic radiation of various frequencies at exposure levels well below established safety standards. Symptoms are inconsistent, but can include headache, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and similar non-specific indications.cite journal | last = Roosli | first = Martin | coauthors = M Moser, Y Baldinini, M Meier, C Braun-Fahrlander | title = Symptoms of ill health ascribed to electromagnetic field exposure--a questionnaire survey | journal = Int J Hyg Environ Health | volume = 207 | issue = 2 | pages = 141–50 | month = February | year = 2004 | url = http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=15031956 | doi = 10.1078/1438-4639-00269] Provocation studies find that the discomfort of sufferers is unrelated to hidden sources of radiation,cite journal | last = Rubin | first = G James | authorlink = | coauthors = Jayati Das Munshi, Simon Wessely | title = Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: A Systematic Review of Provocation Studies | journal = Psychosomatic Medicine | volume = 67 | pages = 224–232 | year = 2005 | doi = 10.1097/01.psy.0000155664.13300.64 | accessdate = | pmid = 15784787 ] cite web|url=http://www.badscience.net/2007/06/electrosensitives-the-new-cash-cow-of-the-woo-industry/ |title=Electrosensitives: the new cash cow of the woo industry |accessdate=2007-11-17 |last=Goldacre |first=Ben ] and "no scientific basis currently exists for a connection between EHS and exposure to [electromagnetic fields] ." cite web|url=http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs296/en/index.html |title=Electromagnetic fields and public health |accessdate=2007-11-17 ]
*Faith healing is the act of curing disease by such means as prayer and laying on of hands. No material benefit in excess of that expected by placebo is observed.cite book | last = National Science Board | first = | authorlink = National Science Foundation | coauthors = | title = Science and Engineering Indicators – 2002 | publisher = National Science Foundation | year = 2002 | location = Arlington, VA | pages = ch. 7 | url = http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7/c7s5.htm | doi = | id = | isbn = 978-0160665790 "Belief in pseudoscience is relatively widespread... Polls also show that one quarter to more than half of the public believes in ... faith healing." ] cite web|url=http://www.csicop.org/si/2005-01/congress.html |title=In the Land of Galileo, Fifth World Skeptics Congress Solves Mysteries, Champions Scientific Outlook |accessdate=2007-12-18 |last=Frazier |first=Kendrick |date=2005-01 |work=Skeptical Inquirer |publisher=Committee for Skeptical Inquiry "The majority of rigorous trials show no effect beyond placebo." (Edzard Ernst) ]
*Hypnosis is a state of extreme relaxation and inner focus in which a person is unusually responsive to suggestions made by the hypnotist. The modern practice has its roots in the idea of animal magnetism, or mesmerism, originated by Franz Mesmer. cite web|url=http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/content/ETO_5_3X_Hypnosis.asp |title=Hypnosis |accessdate=2008-02-25 |publisher=American Cancer Society ] Though Mesmer's explanations were thoroughly discredited, hypnosis itself is today almost universally regarded as real. It is clinically useful for "e.g." pain management, but some claimed uses of hypnosis outside of hypnotherapy clearly fall within the area of pseudoscience. Such areas include the use of hypnotic regression beyond plausible limits, including past life regression. Citation| first=Steven Jay | last=Lynn| coauthors=Timothy Lock, Elizabeth Loftus, Elisa Krackow, and Scott O. Lilienfeld| contribution=The remembrance of things past: problematic memory recovery techniques in psychotherapy| title=Science and Pseudoscience in Psychotherapy| editor-first=Scott O.| editor-last=Lilienfeld| coeditors=Steven Jay Lynn, Jeffrey M. Lohr| publisher=Guilford Press| place=New York| pages=219–220| date=2003| year=| isbn = 1572308281| contribution-url=| format=| accessdate=2008-02-25 "hypnotically induced past life experiences are rule-governed, goal-directed fantasies that are context generated and sensitive to the demands of the hypnotic regression situation." ] Also see false memory syndrome.
*Iridology is a means of medical diagnosis which proponents believe can identify and diagnose health problems through close examination of the markings and patterns of the iris. Practitioners divide the iris into 80-90 zones, each of which is connected to a particular body region or organ. This connection has not been scientifically validated, and disorder detection is neither selective nor specific. cite web|url=http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH?d=dmtContent&c=358826&p=~br,IHW/~st,24479/~r,WSIHW000/~b,*/ |title=Iridology |accessdate=2008-02-01 |date=2005-07-07 |publisher=Natural Standard "Research suggests that iridology is not an effective method to diagnose or help treat any specific medical condition." ] Ernst E. Iridology: not useful and potentially harmful. "Arch. Ophthalmol." 2000 Jan;118(1):"120-1". PMID 10636425] cite web|url=http://www.ama-assn.org/apps/pf_new/pf_online?f_n=browse&doc=policyfiles/HnE/H-175.998.HTM |title=H-175.998 Evaluation of Iridology |accessdate=2008-02-01 |publisher=American Medical Association "Our AMA believes that iridology, the study of the iris of the human eye, has not yet been established as having any merit as a diagnostic technique." ] Because iris texture is a phenotypical feature which develops during gestation and remains unchanged after birth (which makes the iris useful for Biometrics), Iridology is all but impossible.
*Magnetic therapy is the practice of using magnetic fields to positively influence health. While there are legitimate medical uses for magnets and magnetic fields, the field strength used in magnetic therapy is too low to effect any biological change, and the methods used have no scientific validity. [cite book | last = Park | first = Robert L. | authorlink = Robert L. Park | coauthors = | title = Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud | publisher = Oxford University Press | year = 2000 | location = New York, New York | pages = 58–63 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 0-19-513515-6 "Not only are magnetic fields of no value in healing, you might characterize these as "homeopathic" magnetic fields."] cite book | last = National Science Board | first = | authorlink = National Science Foundation | coauthors = | title = Science and Engineering Indicators – 2002 | publisher = National Science Foundation | year = 2002 | location = Arlington, VA | pages = ch. 7 | url = http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7/c7s5.htm | doi = | id = | isbn = 978-0160665790 "Among all who had heard of [magnet therapy] , 14 percent said it was very scientific and another 54 percent said it was sort of scientific. Only 25 percent of those surveyed answered correctly, that is, that it is not at all scientific." ]
*Radionics is a means of medical diagnosis and therapy which proponents believe can diagnose and remedy health problems using various frequencies in a putative energy field coupled to the practitioner's electronic device. The first such "black box" devices were designed and promoted by Albert Abrams, and were definitively proven useless by an independent investigation commissioned by "Scientific American" in 1924.cite news | first=Mark | last=Pilkington | coauthors= | title=A vibe for radionics | date=2004-04-15 | publisher= | url =http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2004/apr/15/farout | work =The Guardian | pages = | accessdate = 2008-02-07 | language = "Scientific American concluded: 'At best, [ERA] is all an illusion. At worst, it is a colossal fraud.'" ] The internal circuitry of radionics devices is often obfuscated and irrelevant, leading proponents to conjecture dowsing and ESP as operating principles.cite news | first= Radionic Association, cited by BBC | last= | coauthors= | title=10 lesser-known alternative therapies | date=2006-05-23 | publisher=British Broadcasting Corporation | url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/5007802.stm | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2008-02-07 | language = " Radionics is a technique of healing using extrasensory perception (ESP) and an instrument." ] cite web|url=http://www.radionic.co.uk/What_is_radionics.htm |title=What is Radionics |accessdate=2008-02-07 |publisher=The Radionic Association "This subtle field cannot be accessed using our conventional senses. Radionic practitioners use a specialised dowsing technique to both identify the sources of weakness in the field and to select specific treatments to overcome them. " ] Similar devices continue to be marketed under various names, though none is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration; there is no scientific evidence for the efficacy or underlying premise of radionics devices. cite web|url=http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/content/ETO_5_3X_Electromagnetic_Therapy.asp |title=Electromagnetic Therapy |accessdate=2008-02-06 |publisher=American Cancer Society "There is no relationship between the conventional medical uses of electromagnetic energy and the alternative devices or methods that use externally applied electrical forces. Available scientific evidence does not support claims that these alternative electrical devices are effective in diagnosing or treating cancer or any other disease." ] Citation| first=David | last=Helwig| coauthors=| contribution=Radionics| title=The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine| editor-first=Jacqueline L.| editor-last=Longe| coeditors=| publisher=Gale Cengage| place=| pages=| date=2004-12| year=| isbn=978-0787674243 | contribution-url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g2603/is_0006/ai_2603000616| format=| accessdate=2008-02-07 ] The radionics of Albert Abrams and his intellectual descendants should not be confused with similarly named reputable and legitimate companies, products, or medical treatments such as radiotherapy or radiofrequency ablation.
*Scientific racism is the claim that scientific evidence shows the inferiority or superiority of certain races.cite book | last = Gould | first = Stephen Jay | authorlink = Stephen Jay Gould | coauthors = | title = The Mismeasure of Man | publisher = W W Norton and Co. | year = 1981 | location = New York, NY | pages = 28–29 | url = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mismeasure_of_Man | doi = | id = | isbn = 0-393-01489-4 "Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within." ] cite web|url=http://www.csicop.org/si/2004-09/scientific-ethics.html |title=Can the Sciences Help Us to Make Wise Ethical Judgments? |accessdate=2007-12-01 |last=Kurtz |first=Paul |date=2004-09 |work=Skeptical Inquirer Magazine |publisher=Committee for Skeptical Inquiry "There have been abundant illustrations of pseudoscientific theories-monocausal theories of human behavior that were hailed as "scientific"-that have been applied with disastrous results. Examples: ... Many racists today point to IQ to justify a menial role for blacks in society and their opposition to affirmative action." ]
*Traditional Chinese Medicine. Practices such as acupuncture, qigong and ideas such as chi are held as "quackery" and pseudoscientific by skeptic groups like CSICOP [http://www.csicop.org/si/9609/china.html] [http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/acu.html] .

Religious and spiritual beliefs

Spiritual and religious practices and beliefs are normally not classified as pseudoscience. [Carl Sagan, [http://www.godslasteraar.org/assets/ebooks/Sagan_Carl_Does_truth_matter_-_Science_pseudoscience_and_civilization_-_includes_related_articles.pdf "Does Truth Matter? Science, Pseudoscience, and Civilization"] , Skeptical Inquirer, 1996] At least one prominent skeptical source relates the following to pseudoscience in some way, however:
*The Shroud of Turin is a length of linen cloth believed by some members of the Christian community to have been Jesus' death shroud. Radiocarbon dating of the original material has shown that it dates from the 13th or 14th century, cite journal|title=Radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin|journal=Nature|date=1989-02|first=P. E.|last=Damon|coauthors=D. J. Donahue, B. H. Gore, A. L. Hatheway, A. J. T. Jull, T. W. Linick, P. J. Sercel, L. J. Toolin, C. R. Bronk, E. T. Hall, R. E. M. Hedges, R. Housley, I. A. Law, C. Perry, G. Bonani, S. Trumbore, W. Woelfli, J. C. Ambers, S. G. E. Bowman, M. N. Leese, M. S. Tite|volume=337|issue=6208|pages=611–615|doi= 10.1038/337611a0|url=http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v337/n6208/abs/337611a0.html|format=|accessdate=2007-11-18 ] though some claim that the material tested was not representative of the whole shroud.Rogers, Raymond N.: " [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6THV-4DTBVHC-1&_user=10&_handle=B-WA-A-W-WE-MsSAYWA-UUA-AAUYYDZUYC-AAUZVCZYYC-YZEWAVVVC-WE-U&_fmt=full&_coverDate=01%2F20%2F2005&_rdoc=26&_orig=browse&_srch=%23toc%235292%232005%23995749998%23553672!&_cdi=5292&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=3d89246a5d4144616be7657f0d83b6cf Studies on the radiocarbon sample from the shroud of turin] ." "Thermochimica Acta", Volume 425, Issue 1–2 (January 20 2005), pages 189–194] Ball, Philip. "To Know a Veil". "Nature" [http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050124/full/news050124-17.html online] , 28 January 2005.] Analyses of the paint and the herringbone twill weave of the cloth similarly point to a medieval origin. cite web|url=http://www.csicop.org/list/listarchive/msg00455.html |title=PBS "Secrets of the Dead" Buries the Truth About Turin Shroud |accessdate=2007-11-18 |last=Nickell |first=Joe "the scientific approach allows the preponderance of evidence to lead to a conclusion: the shroud is the work of a medieval artisan" ]

Other

*Laundry balls are spherical or toroidal objects marketed as soap substitutes for washing machines.
*Stock market prediction can involve prediction of stock prices using technical analysis techniques based purely on charts of past price behavior or patterns in various metrics.cite journal | author = Lo, A.W. | coauthors = Mamaysky, H.; Wang, J. | year = 2000 | title = Foundations of Technical Analysis: Computational Algorithms, Statistical Inference, and Empirical Implementation | journal = The Journal of Finance | volume = 55 | issue = 4 | pages = 1705–1765 | doi = 10.1111/0022-1082.00265] These techniques are dubiously justified, and violate the efficient market hypothesis.Burton Malkiel, "A Random Walk Down Wall Street"]

Parody pseudoscience

The following are notable parodies of other pseudosciences and pseudoscientific concepts, or scientific jokes posing as serious theories.

*Intelligent falling is a parody of intelligent design which attacks gravitation in the same way intelligent design attacks origin theories. [ [http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512 Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory] , The Onion]
*Dihydrogen monoxide hoax dhmo.org is a web site purporting to be set up by concerned citizens to examine "the controversy surrounding dihydrogen monoxide" including evidence of its environmental, health, and other problems. Dihydrogen Monoxide is H2O (also known as water). cite web
last = Gnad
first = Megan
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = MP tries to ban water
work =
publisher = New Zealand Herald
date = 2007-09-14
url = http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10463579
format =
doi =
accessdate =
]

Idiosyncratic ideas

The following concepts have only a very small number of proponents, yet have become notable.

*Autodynamics is an alternative to special relativity proposed by Ricardo Carezani based on revised Lorentz transformations. In addition to failing to make accurate predictions at relativistic velocities, the proposed transformations do not correspond to classical velocity addition. Promoters also propose a number of revisions to the "particle zoo" of subatomic physics, including the nonexistence of neutrinos. cite web|url=http://www.autodynamics.org/main/index.php?module=pagemaster&PAGE_user_op=view_page&PAGE_id=53&MMN_position=60:60 |title=No Neutrinos |accessdate=2008-02-07 |publisher=Society for the Advancement of Autodynamics ] cite news | first=Kristen | last=Philipkoski | coauthors= | title=Shedding Light in the Dark | date=1999-07-13 | publisher= | url =http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/1999/07/20663 | work =Wired News/Wired | pages = | accessdate = 2008-02-07 | language = "Mainstream physicists have considered autodynamics a crackpot theory for decades" ]

*Bogdanov Affair was an academic dispute regarding the legitimacy of a series of theoretical physics papers written by French twin brothers Igor and Grichka Bogdanov. [cite book | title = Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law for Unity in Physical Law | first = Peter | last = Woit | isbn = 0465092764 | pages = 213]

*Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe is a proposed theory of everything made by an autodidact with allegedly the world's highest IQ.

*Einstein-Cartan-Evans Theory is a proposed theory of everything made by a Welsh chemist, Myron Evans. [cite book | first=Myron W. | last=Evans | year=2005 | title="Generally Covariant Unified Field Theory" | publisher=Abramis | isbn=1-84549-054-1 ]

*Electrogravitics is based upon the original work of Nikola Tesla and advanced by Thomas Townsend Brown that attempts to connect gravity and electromagnetism.cite book|title=The Planets|author=Byron Preiss|year=1985|publisher=Bantam Books|isbn=0553051091|pages=27]

*Hutchison effect is a proposed explanation for purported levitation caused by devices made by John Hutchison.

*Lawsonomy was a proposed philosophy and system of claims about physics made by baseball player Alfred William Lawson. [cite book | title = Fads And Fallacies In The Name Of Science | author = Martin Gardner | pages = pp. 69–79 | isbn = 978-0486203942 | publisher = Dover Publications | year = 1957| accessdate = 2008-01-10 ]

*Scalar field theories are a set of proposals that modify electromagnetic theory in various non-standard ways.

*Kauko Armas Nieminen is a self-published Finnish autodidact proposing various alternative physical ideas.

*Nucleonic energy is a technological concept developed by Canadian autodidact and inventor Mel Winfield. [Winfield, Mel E. (2004). The Science of Actuality. Vancouver: University Press. ISBN 0-9739347-0-0.]

*Ousiograph is a device created by schizophrenic Steven Green to detect the messages that are sent to one's brain. [Ousiograph, Dressler, Cases and Materials on Criminal Law, Fourth Edition, pages 648-655, 2007]

*Penta Water is a claimed acoustically-induced structural reorganization of liquid water into long-lived small clusters of five molecules each. Neither these clusters nor their asserted benefits to humans have been shown to exist.cite news | first=Ben | last=Goldacre | coauthors= | title=Testing the water | date=2005-01-27 | publisher=Guardian News and Media, Ltd. | url =http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/research/story/0,,1399100,00.html | work =The Guardian | pages = | accessdate = 2008-04-29 | language = ] [ [http://www.chem1.com/CQ/clusqk.html Structured Water Pseudoscience and Quackery] ]

*Polywater is a hypothetical polymerized form of water proposed in the 1960s with a higher boiling point, lower freezing point, and much higher viscosity than ordinary water. It was later found not to exist, with the anomalous measurements being explained by biological contamination. cite journal|title=Case Studies in Pathological Science|journal=American Scientist|date=1992-01|first=Denis L.|last=Rousseau|coauthors=|volume=80|issue=1|pages=54–63|id= |url=http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1992AmSci..80...54R|format=|accessdate=2008-04-29 ]

*Theory of radial momentum is a proposal by Ed Seykota, a commodities trader, which claims to clarify "problems" with the application of the Bernoulli principle.

*Time Cube is a proposed theory of everything which holds that time is cubic. Its creator, Gene Ray, finds those who are ignorant of or in disagreement with his theory to be "stupid and evil." According to his own web site, he is a diagnosed schizophrenic. [Ray, Gene. " [http://www.timecube.com Time Cube] ". 12 Mar. 2007]

*Welteislehre is a notion by the Austrian Hans Hörbiger that ice was the basic substance of all cosmic processes. [ [http://www.fwf.ac.at/en/public_relations/press/pv200801-en.html Science gone wrong] ]

Previously disputed unusual natural phenomena

Certain unusual natural phenomena have previously been considered pseudoscientific but are no longer doubted by modern science:

*Meteorites are objects composed of stone and/or metal that fall from space onto the surface of the Earth. This was contested by skeptical scientists in the 18th century, especially those of the French Academy. Ernst Chladni demonstrated their celestial origin in 1794, and a substantial fall of meteorites in France in 1803 dispersed the skepticism. [William F. Williams, "Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience", ISBN 0-8160-5080-5, p. 215]
*Ball lightning is a slow-moving, luminous sphere which is up to 30cm in diameter, explanations for which have ranged from combusted hydrocarbon gas to "Will o' the wisp" creatures. The phenomenon is now better understood [ [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=10676954&dopt=Citation NIH discussion] ] and contemporary scientific consensus clearly accepts the existence of a phenomenon which mimics some reports of ball lightning, but is on a much smaller scale. [ [http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn1720 New Scientist] ] [Abrahamson J, Dinniss J., "Ball lightning caused by oxidation of nanoparticle networks from normal lightning strikes on soil", "Nature". 2000 Feb 3;403(6769):519-21.]

See also

* Cargo cult science
* Crank (referencing a disagreeable person)
* Falsification
* Fringe science
* Occam's razor
* Paradigm
* Paradigm shift
* ’Pataphysics
* Pathological science
* Philosophy of science
* Protoscience
* Pseudophilosophy
* Pseudoscience
* Pseudoskepticism
* Science
* Scientific consensus (describes the majority views of scientists)
* Superseded scientific theories

Further reading

* Abell, George O. and Barry Singer, "Science and the Paranormal: Probing the Existence of the Supernatural", Charles Scribner's, 1981, ISBN 0-684-17820-6
* Collins, Paul S. (2002) "Banvard's Folly: Thirteen Tales of People Who Didn't Change the World". Picador. ISBN 0-312-30033-6
* Gardner, Martin, "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science
* Gardner, Martin, "Science, Good, Bad, and Bogus"
* Randi, James, "Flim-Flam: Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and other Delusions", Prometheus, 1982, ISBN 0-87975-198-3
* Sagan, Carl, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark". Ballantine Books, March 1997 ISBN 0-345-40946-9, 480 pgs. 1996 hardback edition: Random House, ISBN 0-394-53512-X, xv+457 pages plus addenda insert (some printings).
* Schick, Theodore and Lewis Vaughn. (1998) "How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age". Mayfield. ISBN 0-7674-0013-5
* Shermer, Michael. (2002) "Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time". Owl Books. ISBN 0-8050-7089-3

Notes and references


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