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Pathological science

Pathological science is a term created by the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Irving Langmuir; this term designates a psychological process in which a scientist, orignally conforming to scientific method, unconsciously veers from that method, and begins a pathological process of wishful data interpretation. Criteria for pathological science are:

  • The maximum effect that is observed is produced by a causative agent of barely detectable intensity, and the magnitude of the effect is substantially independent of the intensity of the cause.
  • The effect is of a magnitude that remains close to the limit of detectability, or many measurements are necessary because of the very low statistical significance of the results.
  • There are claims of great accuracy.
  • Fantastic theories contrary to experience are suggested.
  • Criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses thought up on the spur of the moment.
  • The ratio of supporters to critics rises and then falls gradually to oblivion.

Examples include N rays, polywater theory, Homeopathy

See also: Pseudoscience, Protoscience

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