Examples of Pseudoscience

The following represent some, but certainly not all, of the different forms pseudoscience may take. These four examples are diverse enough to ensure that the student will be better able to recognize a pseudoscientific claim when one is made.

Flat Earth:
One of the main supporters of this idea is the International Flat Earth Research Society whose basic beliefs are: the earth is flat and plane and that it does not spin and whirl at 1000 miles/hour. They assert that modern astronomical science is a fraud, myth, and false religion.

This society came from Christian Catholic Apostolic Church- founded in Zion Il. Headed by Wilbur Glenn Voliva. In 1930 published tract to inspire people to do "some original thinking before they accept modern astronomy and reject the Bible".

They say that the belief that earth is sphere is prejudice-nothing to support it, and that pictures prove nothing. Also that astronauts are a fraud. Astronomy is not exact science. Newton said sun is 54 million miles from earth. Modern astronomy says 104 million miles. Copernicus said sun is stationary. Other astronomers say whole solar system is moving. Who can be believed?

The explanation they give is: Earth is circle. North Pole in center and South Pole is spread around edge. When go around the world you travel around the circle. Objects seem to disappear when they go away because of the laws of perspective. The further the object is the smaller it gets.

They assert that Earth cannot be moving through space. Would have to be traveling at several thousand miles/hr:

  1. if person jumped into air and stayed there for only one sec, etc.
  2. if object dropped from tower, etc
  3. if earth traveling through space nothing could stay in place. Everything would blow away.

Common sense supports the notion of a stationary earth that is flat.
For further information, including membership details, follow the appropriate links below.

Flat Earth Stuff

The basic hypothesis of this theory is that everyone has good days and bad. These are determined in advance and if you know these you can gain some control. Leads to biorythm charts, guidebooks, clocks, computer programs, etc.

This idea first came to US in 1964, with publication of book "Is This Your Day" by George Thommen. Original idea came from associates of Freud at turn of century. It proposes that you have 23 day male cycle, 28 day female cycle, 33 day intellectual cycle. Mother's cycle determines day of birth and sex of child. Cycles start together at birth and continue for rest of life. No deviation. Cycles determine onset of illness and date of death.

Biorhythm Links
Also try Web-O-Rhythm

This is one example of a wide variety of authors of books who attempt to explain prehistory or myths. Here the basic question concerns the Bible. You have stories of flood, manna from heaven, sun standing still, etc. Stories are common to other cultures. Why were ancient calendars shorter than modern?

Explained by Velikovsky-Russian psychoanalyst wrote book "Worlds in Collision", published in 1950, book vigorously denounced, scientists threatened textbook boycott. Publisher turned book over to competitor and fired editor. The thesis of the book was: A large comet was expelled from planet Jupiter and passed close to earth in 1500 BC. Comet's tail touched earth, dust and cinders darkened sky, Earth's rotation slowed down or halted, had hurricanes, tidal waves, earthquakes, poles rearranged, earth started rotating in different direction, etc. Earth nudged into larger orbit and time of year lengthens to about 360 days.

This theory asserts that this happened during the time of Exodus. Account of plagues in Egypt were caused by this. Comet returns 52 years later. Makes second pass and earth stands still when Joshua commands sun to stop at Gibeon.

Comet turned out to be the planet Venus. Returned in 8th century BC. In close encounter caused Earth's orbit to lengthen to 365 days.

Book made series of predictions that proved to be true. Venus is hot, atmosphere contains hydrocarbons, Jupiter emits radio noises, lunar rocks show remnants of magnetism.

Check out these sites for more on Velikovsky:
Immanuel Velikovsky Page
Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky
Catastrophism including Velikovsky

Wide variety of phenomena under this ranges from people who can bend spoons to premonitions-almost every family has its own story of this. Some efforts have been made to scientifically investigate; i.e., Institute for Parapsychology at Duke. Tried to find ESP by card guessing-have pack of 25 cards of five each of five different symbols. Number of correct guesses by chance alone is 20%. Most test subjects managed to score higher than this. Experiments are interesting but have been criticized for:

  1. improper design- in some cases you could see the symbols through the cards.
  2. lack of controls-have recording errors and bias by experimenters.
  3. suspicion of cheating
Many Links to Parapsychology
Be sure to check if you have ESP or PSI