Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pseudoscience: A Changing Definition

A simple definition for the word pseudoscience is a collection of beliefs or practices that are mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method. Some pseudoscientific beliefs can rather easily be dismissed as folklore, myth, or fallacy. On the other hand, some pseudoscientific beliefs seem to bridge a very small gap of science and fiction, lending themselves to appeal to both skeptics and believers alike. For this blog post I wanted to take a slightly different direction and examine the possibility that some modern pseudoscientific beliefs may not be pseudoscientific forever.

Science, to me, is a constantly growing, improving, but most of all, changing field. Every year new ideas are brought about, old ideas are squashed or proven, and more and more questions are always raised. Going back to the times of the native Americans or early civilizations such as the Myans, Aztecs, Egyptians, etc., many things that they believed and were part of their reality were not questioned as they were commonplace. A civilization can such as the ancient Egyptians can go through their society's entire lifespan following practices such as creating an entire room with all the necessities for the afterlife and never question it because it is the way of life. In that same civilization if someone were to come out and make a claim that is common religious practice now but not back than it would be dismissed as crazy. But, obviously, nowadays there are plenty of believes that are commonplace and the majority of people do not believe in mummification, burial rooms with numerous belongings and pets, etc.

My point is that many things are cyclical in nature and many things come in and out "of fashion". There are many things that were "fact" in certain civilizations realities which are now dismissed as pseudoscience. There are also many things that are dismissed as pseudoscience now that may very well become common reality and fact in the future. Many things such as perpetual motion that define "known" laws of science can turn from pseudoscience to fact in the blink of an eye as science continues to grow, improve, and change.

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