Difference between Science and Pseudoscience

Published on November 14, 2016

Knowing what real science and pseudoscience are all about is important, especially now when information is just a mouse click or a screen swipe away. There is nothing geeky about this if you want to be on the side of reason and objectivity. Let us go and know the difference.

Definitions

Science vs Pseudoscience
Science is all about providing accurate information.

The term science refers to a highly organized system of pursuing and acquiring knowledge about the natural world. From discovering the universe to learning how things work to explaining phenomena that boggle the mind, scientists are driven by the prospects of figuring out the unknown.

Science seeks to provide us with reliable, accurate and powerful information that can save lives, make life easier for the disadvantaged or explain the unexplainable. It is possessed with a never-ending search for the truth equaled only by the need to refine and expand our understanding of everything that exists in the universe.

Scientists use the scientific method when conducting research, and scientific research makes use of hypotheses, i.e., possible explanations of events based on previous knowledge. These hypotheses are then put to the test through experiments.

Science and the scientific method go hand in hand. These methods include identifying a question or problem, investigating the problem by gathering facts and suggesting ideas and testing them out through experiments. Once an acceptable answer to the problem is acquired, people are made aware of it through scientific journals or publications. However, a scientific article may only be published after a peer review. This is where other scientists go over the article and check the explanations. After the articles are published, other scientists may recreate the experiment with the aim to produce the same results. These are the only ways of vetting the data for accuracy.

Pseudoscience
Alchemy is an example of pseudoscience.

Pseudoscience, just like science, is a practice, claim or belief offered as a result of scientific research and experimentation. However, unlike science, it does not follow any scientific method. Even if it adheres to most of the norms of scientific research but fails to follow the scientific method, the practice or claim is still considered pseudoscience.

Pseudoscience is usually described as having unprovable, exaggerated and conflicting claims. It relies heavily on confirmation of its explanations instead of proactive attempts at debunking its own explanations. Pseudoscience does not have rationally developed theories, nor would it present its findings to evaluations by other experts. Advocates of pseudoscience are accused of suggesting inaccurate ideas deceptively presented as scientific facts.

It is distinct from spirituality or theology, as pseudoscience claims to conduct research using empirical methods to acquire knowledge about the natural world. Alchemy, medical quackery, astrology and creation science mixed with scientific concepts are usual sources of these pseudoscientific beliefs.

Science vs Pseudoscience

So what’s the difference between science and pseudoscience? Scientific methods are essential to science, while pseudoscience claims to adhere to it when it really does not. Scientific findings go through rigorous testing and validation. Findings are pseudoscientific in source when they are not open to expert evaluation. Scientists use hypotheses based on previous scientific ideas and knowledge, whereas pseudoscience advocates work with ill-conceived, irrationally developed theories.

Any scientific field can demonstrate being consistent and rigid about the norms of scientific research. In contrast, pseudoscience makes it appear that it adheres to scientific norms because it simply just cannot stick to these rules.

While it is possible to recreate results acquired from scientific experiments, findings and explanations are hard to prove in pseudoscience, and they are often full of inconsistencies and contradictions.

Comparison Chart

Science Pseudoscience
Based on scientific methods. Does not adhere to scientific methods.
Findings open to evaluation and validation. Findings are closed off to evaluation and testing.
Uses hypotheses based on previous ideas or research. Hypotheses are illogically constructed.

Video

Watch this YouTube video discussing an important difference between the two.