Responding to pseudoscience was Re: A stronger will than mine.

Robert Grumbine (
29 Apr 1994 13:39:41 -0400

In article <>,
Scott Tzibra Leah <> wrote:
>Now, not meaning to be rude, but if this topic is so stupid, why haven't
>you just put all the AAT threads into a kill file? Then, after your paper
>is done you could start threads about topics which interest you.

No comment regarding the specific people involved, or specifically
regarding the AAT stuff (I skip all threads which obviously are about that).

But a common
observation made when someone seriously argues against pseudoscience
(i.e., starts pointing to research literature which disproves various
points required by the pseudoscientific theory) is along the lines
of 'There must be something to the theory, otherwise you wouldn't
be arguing against it.'

That sets up the heads I win, tails you lose situation. If you (a
person knowledgeable about the science) argue the pseudo theory, it
lends that sort of credibility to the pseudo theory. If you don't, then
people who don't know the science think that it means that the theory
really is good, because after all, nobody disputed it.

The question is more where the balance of the effect lies. And
guessing that is a nontrivial problem. I favor blowing the pseudo science
out of the water by establishing the basic science that the pseudo
violates. So in a different group, I post things regarding the
violations of observation by Velikovskian theory. This does run
in to the problem of lending credence by seriously debating, but
it is my guess that putting up the wonderfully interlocking structure
of real science is better than leaving V's stuff unopposed. Some
of those knowledgeable about the AAT-related science share that sentiment,
while others think the balance lies in more harm than good being done
-- hence the calls to terminate the thread/topic.

So, is more harm than good done by debating the AAT rather than ignoring

Bob Grumbine
Sagredo (Galileo Galilei) "You present these recondite matters with too much
evidence and ease; this great facility makes them less appreciated than they
would be had they been presented in a more abstruse manner." Two New Sciences