Questions to help distinguish a pseudoscience from a protoscience
(a new science trying to establish its legitimacy)
adapted from Lee Moller's on-line article "BCS
Debates a Qi Gong Master," Rational Enquirer, Vol 6,
No. 4, Apr 94 (published by the British Columbia Skeptics
- Has the subject shown progress?
- Does the discipline use technical words such as "vibration"
or "energy" without clearly defining what
- Would accepting the tenets of a claim require you to abandon
any well established physical laws?
- Are popular articles on the subject lacking in references?
- Is the only evidence offered anecdotal in nature?
- Does the proponent of the subject claim that "air-tight"
experiments have been performed that prove the truth of the
subject matter, and that cheating would have been impossible?
- Are the results of the aforementioned experiments successfully
repeated by other researchers?
- Does the proponent of the subject claim to be overly or
- Is the subject taught only in non-credit institutions?
- Are the best texts on the subject decades old?
- Does the proponent of the claim use what one writer has called
"factuals" - statements that are a largely or
wholly true but unrelated to the claim?
- When criticized, do the defenders of the claim attack the
critic rather than the criticism?
- Does the proponent make appeals to history (i.e. it
has been around a long time, so it must be true)?
- Does the subject display the "shyness effect"
(sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't)?
- Does the proponent use the appeal to ignorance argument
("there are more things under heaven
than are dreamed
of in your philosophy
- Does the proponent use alleged expertise in other areas
to lend weight to the claim?