Tuesday, August 13, 2013

11 Reasons why people believe in Pseudoscience

Why do some people believe in pseudoscience?

It's a question that I'm sure that many skeptics have asked when they encounter someone who believes in something that has been discredited for years (sometime centuries).

Doing a little bit of research into the subject, as well as a bit of thinking, I've come up with quite a few reasons why some people actually believe in pseudoscience.

11. It goes along with their beliefs.

Due to either religious or personal beliefs (or a combination of both) some people will believe in the pseudoscientific explanation for something, rather than the scientific explanation for something, if the pseudoscientific explanation goes along with their beliefs. Sometimes this will even go so far as to out right reject and ignore the scientific explanation, so long as the pseudoscientific explanation goes along with their beliefs, and the scientific explanation does not.

Examples of this would be people who have strong biblical beliefs rejecting the theory of evolution in place of intelligent design because intelligent design goes along with the creation story, or people who reject modern medicine in place of alternative medicine or believe in claims that vaccines cause autism because they believe pharmaceutical companies are evil, or people who believe that GMO foods are bad for you because they believe that organic foods are better for you and that GMO foods aren't tested or regulated.

10. Real science can be difficult to understand.

I have to admit, there are some things in science that are just difficult to understand, and unless you already have a decent amount of knowledge about a certain scientific field, you probably aren't going to understand whats going on if someone is discussing something about that scientific field.

Pseudoscience on the other hand is usually much easier to understand than real science, and because pseudoscience tends to be much easier to understand than real science, it can attract some people who have become frustrated with real science and their inability to understand it.

9. It sounds more awesome.

Besides being difficult to understand, science can also be boring to some people.

Because some people find the real scientific explanations to certain things to be boring and uninteresting, some people will go over to the pseudoscientific explanations, because it sounds a lot more exciting.

An example of this would be the explanation by ancient astronaut theorists that the Great Pyramid at Giza was constructed by aliens using their advanced technology for reasons unknown. Sounds a lot more exciting than the actual scientific explanation in that it was a giant monument and tomb constructed over a 20 year period by thousands of people for some egotistical Pharaoh.

8. It sounds more logical.

For some people that don't have a good understanding of both how science and logic works, a pseudoscientific explanation can actually sound a lot more logical than an actual scientific and/or logical explanation for certain things.

Lets take crop circles for example. Some people believe that crop circles are made by aliens as a way to send us a message. To some people this sounds more logical than the actual explanation of a bunch of pranksters getting together and creating these geometric shapes in wheat fields using rope and 2x4s.

7. It makes them feel smart.

Because real science can be hard to understand, it can make certain people feel dumb when they try to understand it and just can't. On the other hand because many things in pseudoscience are easy for most people to understand, and because of the false assumption that it is real science, it can make people feel smart when they understand it.

Because of the fact that they can understand it (and because they feel that it makes them look smart because they understand it) they might be more inclined to believe in it.

6. They were taught it and have yet to be exposed to the facts.

Most of the time when a person believes in a pseudoscience it's because it either makes them feel smart due to their lack of knowledge in the field of science, or they're just being stubborn in their beliefs that don't go along with the scientific and/or logical explanation. Sometimes of course it could also be that they were taught the pseudoscientific explanation, and never was exposed to the facts.

This could come in two different means: First, it could be because of an overbearing parent who refuses to allow their child to learn the scientific explanation for something in place of their own personal and/or religious beliefs (as is the case with many fundamentalist Christian parents who homeschool their children and only teaches them "intelligent design"). Second, it could be because what a person believes to a science fact is really a scientific misconception and they've had no reason to find out if it was true or not.

5. A celebrity believes in it.

Celebrities, much like the rest of us, are only human, and because of this many celebrities believe in some pseudosciences. Because celebrities can also be so influential to certain people, and can give off the misconception that they are smart, it can make some people believe that it's cool or okay to believe in that pseudoscience because this celebrity believes in it, and that it must be true because they believe that celebrity is smart, which may or may not be the case.

Most of the time this harmless because the pseudoscience the celebrity believes in is harmless. Sometimes it's not.

4. A scientist endorses it.

Much like celebrities, scientists are also humans as well. Because of this sometimes scientists will endorse a pseudoscience too.

Because an actual scientist, or doctor, or engineer officially endorses a pseudoscience, it can cause some people to not only believe in that pseudoscience, but even refuse to believe otherwise despite a majority of scientists, or doctors, or engineers who say otherwise and can back up their reasons why.

3. It was once considered real science.

There are several different types of pseudosciences out there that at one time were considered to be real sciences, but was either discredited by, or over taken by real science.

Because somethings were once considered to be real science, some people might be inclined to believed that it is still considered to be real science. Or, it could because they don't believe it should be outright abandoned.

2. The possibility it could be real.

There are some pseudosciences that exist not because the subject at hand is real, but because of the possibility that it is real.

Because there are certain pseudoscientific subjects that could be real (no matter how remote) this could lead some people to believing it really is real. Or, this could cause some people to believe in a pseudoscience is real just incase it ever is proven to be real and they don't look like a fool.

1. It goes along with something they are trying to sell.

Sometimes belief in a pseudoscience doesn't just make logical sense to some people, it can also make finical sense as well, especially if they are selling some product or service based on pseudoscience (like alternative medicine). This can be due to the combination of wanting something you're selling to work, and customers telling you that it works.

1 comment:

  1. If you are scientifically illiterate, everything is magic and plausible.