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Philosophy vs. pseudoscience[edit]

I have no particular objection to having it both ways, but vitalism is in fact pseudoscience -- it makes assertions about the nature of reality that should be testable. Fundamentally vitalistic thinking preaches that there is something inherently and qualitatively different between life and non-life -- call it life force, qi, whatever you wish. Considering virtually everything we know about biology is based on complex chemical interactions, and considering we know from the Wöhler synthesis and the Miller-Urey experiment that the building blocks of life can easily be created in a non-living situation, vitalism as a theory doesn't survive the Occam's razor test. However, as it is still presented as a unifying principle by lots of people (people who really ought to know better IMHO), it most definitely qualifies as pseudoscience given what we know now. I've no particular objection to Category:Philosophy, but it definitely belongs in Category:Pseudoscience as well. EVDebs 14:37, 14 June 2008 (EDT)

I am currently in a massive dispute about vitalism and theories based around vitalism not being classified as pseudoscience. It is moments like this that separate the niche that RationalWiki has over Wikipedia. tmtoulouse frustrate 14:33, 14 June 2008 (EDT)

Feel free to borrow any of my arguments. Wikipedia, I love ya, but you've got this false-dichotomy thing going... will they ever stop being so postmodern about scientific issues? EVDebs 14:40, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
<nitpick>The construction "seperate the niche that RW has over WP" is... bizarre, Tmt</nitpick> Anyway, what exactly is this advantage we have over Wikipedia? That we get to decide what's true? <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Partly smurple, partly jelly, partly tentacles. 15:13, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
Wikipedia long ago in its ancient history decided that the scientific point of view was not neutral point of view. This decision makes it difficult then when dealing with pseudoscience articles since the science point of view can not be presented as reality. You have to give appropriate weight to the contrary view point. In practice the scientific view point usually winds up coming out on top in high traffic articles with lots of devoted editors, but it takes a lot of energy and policy fights to pull it off. For smaller articles that only a few people edit regularly the science is usually buried and a lone defender of reality doesn't really have any policy to fall back on to support reality based information. tmtoulouse frustrate 15:16, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
Sorry? What is the "scientific point of view"? I was under the impression that WP's neutrality was a fairly scientific way of collecting information. Where are these articles in which unscientific ideas are given equal weight? Does the Creationism article include the sentence "however, these evolutionist theories fail to explain why creationists usually win at debates"? <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Partly smurple, partly jelly, partly tentacles. 15:24, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
Neutral point of view is anything but scientific. In science the merits of ideas is based on empirical evidence and some ideas are just wrong. You can not say that creationism is wrong on wikipedia. Now as I said high traffic articles with lots of editors like creationism and intelligent design can usually do okay but still have to go through massive contortions of verse to even get the word pseudoscience in the article. tmtoulouse frustrate 15:32, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
You can't say creationism is wrong? "When scientific research produces conclusions which contradict a creationist interpretation of scripture, the strict creationist approach is either to reject the conclusions of the research, its underlying scientific theories, and/or its methodology. For this reason, both creation science and intelligent design have been labeled as pseudoscience by the mainstream scientific community." That seems pretty explicit to me. When such ideas are rejected by the scientific community, Wikipedia reports that accurately. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Partly smurple, partly jelly, partly tentacles. 15:36, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
Nope you can not say creationism is wrong, and that is some serious verbal twisting to even be allowed to call it pseudoscience. It becomes basically a "he said she said" style of writing that Ed Poor just loves but fails to accurately state just how wrong and obtuse and idea really is. Sources are often given equal weight with a peer review journal published in a high impact journal be "countered" in wikipedia text with a source in a low rank CAM magazine. Look, I like wikipedia a lot and participate regularly on the project and am a strong defender and supporter. But the NPOV policy creates problems for certain kinds of articles, like the anti-vaxers and other quacks, or the anti-science religious zealots. Thats the niche that the NPOV policy at wikipedia carves for RW, where we call bullshit as bullshit. tmtoulouse frustrate 15:44, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
Crucially, you decide what bullshit is for yourself. And the creationism article clearly states that the theory has no scientific merit -- complaining that it doesn't say "creationism is wrong" is like complaining that the Holocaust article never says "Hitler was bad". The relative worth of different sources according to WP is really a different issue -- and one that certainly should be remedied, if your summary there is correct. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Partly smurple, partly jelly, partly tentacles. 15:48, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
Bullshit is decided by evidence. And the article does not clearly state that it has no scientific evidence, instead that has to be couched in "he said" language. Saying Creationism is criticized by mainstream scientist as not having any evidence, or other such verbiage. And the ability to even say that much took several books worth of discussion and arb com decisions. tmtoulouse frustrate 15:51, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
Nevertheless, it got there eventually, and I think it is phrased in a perfectly satisfactory way. It tells you the truth and the whole of the truth -- what more do you ask? <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Partly smurple, partly jelly, partly tentacles. 15:55, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
No it doesn't. The whole truth would be that creationism is wrong, that it is pseudoscience, and that it has no place in modern scientific theories or discussion. Instead we are treated to language that "scientist say that creationism is pseudoscience." These are not synonymous concepts. There is a big difference between saying "creationism is pseudoscience" and saying "he says creationism is pseudoscience". tmtoulouse frustrate 15:58, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
To most people, the sentence "labeled as psuedoscience by the scientific community" leaves little room for misunderstanding. A flat statement like "creationism is wrong" would have an inappropriate tone for an encyclopedia article. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Partly smurple, partly jelly, partly tentacles. 16:07, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
  • Looka me, no indent! okay, one... Anyway, in the reality-based world, scientific POV should override all other concerns. But current thinking is pervasively postmodern, and the more politicized someone is, the more likely they're going to accept only that which pushes their agenda. Wikipedia's idea of NPOV is very much postmodern in that regard and there is no way in hell anyone is ever going to change it. Even Jimbo doesn't have that kind of power, and it's whispered that he doesn't even really understand his own creation anyway. RationalWiki HAS to provide SPOV, because that's our mission. Granted defending science often involves large amounts of beer and ridicule... EVDebs 16:20, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
Science has no point of view. It is objective truth, or it is something else altogether. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Partly smurple, partly jelly, partly tentacles. 16:22, 14 June 2008 (EDT)

My beautiful new edit button[edit]

Science is not objective truth, it is a body of evidence and "best bet" interpretations that has been vetted using a specific methodology. The methodology has a great deal of inherent a priori beliefs about reality, evidence, and hypothesis construction. Science clearly rejects many ideas as wrong, and offer specifics reasons why these ideas are wrong. SPOV is the point of view that science and the scientific method produces the best source of knowledge we can have about the world. NPOV sees science as only one of many equal approaches towards vetting reality. tmtoulouse frustrate 16:27, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
It clearly doesn't, tmt. I ask you again, where are these articles that present unscientific theories as equal to science? Your criticism of NPOV is, in reality, just that it distinguishes between scientific facts and the prevailing view of the scientific community. I don't see any flaw in that distinction. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Partly smurple, partly jelly, partly tentacles. 16:31, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
They are all over wikipedia, here try the anti-vaccination article wp:Vaccine controversy one giant construction of "he said she said" that gives equal weight to the patently and dangerously wrong anti-vaxers. tmtoulouse frustrate 16:34, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
Looks interesting. Gimme a little while to read that, would you? <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Partly smurple, partly jelly, partly tentacles. 16:40, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
Gotta go by groceries anyway, so we can pick it back up later if you want. tmtoulouse frustrate 16:41, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
Alright. I had just finished, though. I guess I'll... read it again. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Partly smurple, partly jelly, partly tentacles. 16:51, 14 June 2008 (EDT)