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Science and Pseudo-Science
Theoretical vs empirical - stats, methods* section of article, quality of data*
What makes social science scientific?
The Baloney Detection Kit
oBelieves some things to be true, lots of evidence
oMoral sense, social sense, challenged authority of feudal regime
o10 questions that help detect baloney
1. How reliable is source of claim?
2. Does source make similar type of claims?
3. Have claims been verified by someone else?
4. Does this fit with the way the world works?
a. Consistent with reality
b. Nigeria lotto money
5. Has anyone tried to disprove claims? – critics
6. Where preponderance of evidence point to?
a. Theory of evolution
b. Evidence wilfully ignored
c. Wrongfully convicted
7. Is the claimant playing by the rules of science? –method
8. Is the claimant providing positive evidence in favour of theory? –
9. Does new theory account for phenomena as old theory?
a. Account/cover same aspect of world as dd theory
10. Are personal beliefs driving the claim? – biases
a. Problem of normality
i. Recognition of normality
ii. Recognition that no one is neutral – interests
iii. Frame questions in their own way
iv. Moral questions are embedded in questions we ask
as social scientists
v. Should lead to ought to be
First nations – subject of over policing + poor
Why many first nations are in prison? – social science question
Reflexivity – reflective of one’s own biases in research – peer review
Stinge code provision – evidence disappears
Read technique – get person to confess
Can’t control human research – social science experiments
.Stanley milgram, prison experiment
Burdened With Problem of Contingence
.Can’t repeat as natural sciences
.Conclusions would always be contingent, indeterminate
.Giving up idea of certainty, will to believe is enough, always question what you
.Pseudo: fake, false
.Claims some factual validity w/o verification
.Reaches congenial conclusions
.Extreme: psychics, astrologers, therapeutic touch
.Grey area: profiling, brain science and criminology – certain amount of
1) Self questioning 1) Preserve ancient beliefs
.Question what we think
.Forget what we believe, start
2) Self-Deception: beliefs are valid
The Question of Standards – chart on ppw
Junk Science and “Crossover”
.Pseudo-science produced by experts in one field, dabbling in another of which
they have no expertise – no formal training
.Other forge or suppress data that clash with their preconceptions (Big Pharma,
.Some produced by individuals with a small amount of specialized or technical
training, and think of themselves as scientists.
oBrain science and criminology
.Prominent from 17-80’s-1850
.Precursor to eugenics movement, 20th century conceptions of Deviance and
Lobroso’s Positivist Criminology
.Discounted as quackery, but is this a fair assessment
1. The brain is the organ of the mind
2. The brain is an aggregation of about 301 separate organs or faculties, such as
Combabtiveness, Covetiveness and Destructiveness, that function independently
3. The more active an organ, the larger its size