Science, Pseudoscience, and Irrationalism
Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University
of Wisconsin - Green Bay
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What's Here and Not Here, And Why
Things on this site generally fit one of the following criteria:
- They're within my area of technical expertise (earth science, physical
- They pertain to the general nature of science
- They pertain to other areas where I have personal experience (military
- They pertain to topics where blatantly fallacious logic is involved
Although there is plenty of pseudoscience related to medical fads, diets, and
the paranormal, I don't deal with them much because they are outside my formal
There are certain things I don't put here because this is a site hosted by a
- Partisan political positions. Goofy court decisions based on bad
reasoning, dumb remarks by politicians or the press, and politically
endorsed pseudoscience movements are fair game. The science or supporting
logic are the issue, not the party or candidate.
- Religious proselytizing. If your religion says something that conflicts
with objective evidence, your religion is wrong. That's the case
whether you're an Indian who wants to dispose of Kennewick Man because you
believe your tribe has always lived there, or a Christian who believes in a
young earth, or a Mormon who believes the Indians descended from the Israelites, or a Muslim who rejects evolution. Those doctrines are
fair game here. But my own private beliefs, or yours, except insofar as they
can be analyzed with logic and data (and that is a lot more than some people
believe and a lot less than others believe), are not. And if your religion
refuses to admit the possibility of correction, it's not just wrong on some
specific point, it's wrong - period.
- The existence or nonexistence of God is not a topic for this site.
Claims that science can be used to settle the issue one way or the other?
Make my day.
- Generally, the less direct contact people in a debate have with the
opposition, the more prone they are to demonizing and stereotyping. In
several cases I have paired pages dealing with conflicts where both extremes
are guilty of very similar factual and logical fallacies.
Every so often I get e-mails from people complaining I don't treat these
topics or their believers with respect.
There is nothing in crank movements worthy of respect.
First of all, cranks don't treat the orthodox with respect. They can accuse
science of willfully neglecting or falsifying evidence. They can accuse their
own nation of bringing down skyscrapers and causing thousands of deaths, or
deliberately breaching levees to flood New Orleans, but aim a little critical
language at them, and they howl about being "disrespected." Aww, poo'
They're right. I do disrespect them.
Then there's the sheer waste of it all. Cities are increasingly privatizing
their public libraries, but there always seems to be money to support crackpot
movements. We can't drum up enthusiasm for space travel but we can hold
conventions as Roswell to commemorate UFO's. These people are parasites. They do
nothing to advance real learning in our society and drain resources into crank
movements that will never benefit anyone except charlatans.
Respect? Take it to someone who cares.
The Anatomy of Science
The Anatomy of Pseudoscience and Irrationalism
The Great Plagiarism Witch Hunt
Science and Pseudoscience at the Movies
- The Science of James Bond
- Playing in the Water: Jaws, Titanic,
Classics Reclassified: Starship Troopers, Nightfall, Spider Man
When the Wells Run Dry: Time Machine, War of
Don't Throw Rocks: Asteroid, Deep Impact,
Having a Blast: Dante's Peak, Volcano
- Meet the Neighbors: Contact, Independence Day, Men in Black, Signs
Star Trek, the Movies
Fun With DNA: Jurassic Park I-III, Evolution,
Reign of Fire, Locusts
Xena, Warrior Environmentalist: Locusts,
Getting Animated: Atlantis, Final Fantasy, Titan
A.E., Finding Nemo
Too Silly for Words: Lost in Space, Anaconda, Escape from L.A.
The Future That Never Happened: Sky Captain and
the World of Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow
Spielberg: A. I., Minority Report
Political Thrillers: Sum of All Fears, K-19
Apocalypse by the Numbers: 12 Monkeys, 28 Days Later
Plan Nine From Inner Space: The Core
Plan Ten From Inner Space: 10.5 and 10.5:Apocalypse
Three Chick Flicks and Their Unintended Message
On Second Thoughts, It Was a Dumb Movie
Kings: The Apocalypse Now of the Gulf War (and that's not a Compliment)
Nazi With A Puppy Dog
Improbable Movie Biology
Improbable Movie Technology
Apocalypse Then: The Cold War and the Ultimate
Kingdom of Heaven: Bashing a Film for the Wrong Reasons
Two Serious But Misinterpreted Films: The
Constant Gardener and V For Vendetta, with a nod to Children of Men
I Am Legend
Indiana Jones and Nuking the Fridge
When the Moon in the Sky/ Means We're All
Gonna Die/ That's an...Impact
Science and Pseudoscience in the Media
Catastrophes and Other Marvels
Science and Religion
Practical Pseudoscience: Junk Science and Wishful Thinking
Is There Reality? The Ultimate Anti-Intellectualism
Bad Logic, Bad Policy
Global Warming: A Swim in the Skeptic Tank
Irrationalism in the Wake of September 11, 2001
Return to Professor Dutch's Home Page
Created 3 February 1998, Last Update
02 April 2012
Not an official UW Green Bay site