Re: virus: Questions to help distinguish a pseudoscience from a protoscience

Tim Rhodes (
Tue, 4 Feb 1997 22:53:01 -0800 (PST)

I hate to bring up old threads everyone ignored (or, like myself, never
got around to answering) while the dust is still settling on our little
war, but I think some of these points may be relavant.=20
On Sat, 25 Jan 1997, David McFadzean wrote:

> Found on the web at
> I think it would be interesting to see how these questions apply to the=
> alleged nascent science of memetics.
> Questions to help distinguish a pseudoscience from a protoscience=20
> (a new science trying to establish its legitimacy)=20
> 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 Columbi=
> Skeptics Society)=20
> 1.Has the subject shown progress?=20
> 2.Does the discipline use technical words such as "vibration" or "energy"=
> without clearly defining what they mean?=20

Or "create" or "reality"? No, strike that, let's not go back into the
definition battle again.

> 3.Would accepting the tenets of a claim require you to abandon any well=
> established physical laws?=20

Well, David, would it?

> 4.Are popular articles on the subject lacking in references?=20
> 5.Is the only evidence offered anecdotal in nature?=20
> 6.Does the proponent of the subject claim that "air-tight" experiments=20
> have been performed that prove the truth of the subject matter, and=20
> that cheating would have been impossible?=20
> 7.Are the results of the aforementioned experiments successfully repeated=
> by other researchers?=20

When this was first posted I wanted to ask, "How could we carry out such
experiments on Memetics?" Now, if we believe in the "consperacy", one is
being carried out here (or is that what They WANT us to think ;->). But
how do you compile the data and check the claims?

> 8.Does the proponent of the subject claim to be overly or unfairly
> criticized?=20


> 9.Is the subject taught only in non-credit institutions?=20
> 10.Are the best texts on the subject decades old?=20
> 11.Does the proponent of the claim use what one writer has called=20
> "factuals" - statements that are a largely or wholly true but=20
> unrelated to the claim?=20
> 12.When criticized, do the defenders of the claim attack the critic=20
> rather than the criticism?=20

Oh, no! We may be in big trouble on this one!!!

> 13.Does the proponent make appeals to history (i.e. it has been around=20
> a long time, so it must be true)?=20
> 14.Does the subject display the "shyness effect" (sometimes it works,=20
> sometimes it doesn't)?=20
> 15.Does the proponent use the appeal to ignorance argument ("there are=20
> more things under heaven =85 than are dreamed of in your philosophy =85")=
> 16.Does the proponent use alleged expertise in other areas to lend=20
> weight to the claim?=20
> --
> David McFadzean
> Memetic Engineer
> Church of Virus

So, any takers on the thread this time around or are we all still to busy
finding out who the "real" ones are (I'll give you a hint: I'm no more
real than you think I am, really).=20

-Prof. Tim