Distinguishing Real from Fake Science

Quack Medicine:  A vintage jar that once contained radioactive water, thought to be a health tonic.  (Courtesy of the Museum of Interesting Things, photo by Aaron Sylvan)

Quack Medicine: A vintage jar that once contained radioactive water, thought to be a health tonic. (Courtesy of the Museum of Interesting Things, photo by Aaron Sylvan)

I often hear people refer to science as if it’s a body of knowledge. As if, “science is one point of view, and there are also others.”

This is a fundamental misunderstanding.

Science is not a noun; it’s a verb. It refers to the process of making observations, developing ideas based on those observations, testing those ideas to see if they’re right, then observing those results, and the cycle continues.

Science means “changing one’s views when there is new evidence.” It’s not a particular view or opinion, but the concept of adapting views when there is a reason which can be tested.

Science does not conflict with religion – taken purely they can co-exist just fine. But fanatics about each will sometimes borrow the language of the other, in order to gain following.

At TEDxFultonStreet, we take “the scientific method” quite seriously, and will not allow science-like claims to be made on stage without peer-reviewed evidence to support them.

A fantastic article by Emily Willingham in Forbes discussed this quite eloquently:

10 Questions To Distinguish Real From Fake Science

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