Pathological science

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Pathological science is the process in science in which "people are tricked into false results ... by subjective effects, wishful thinking or threshold interactions".[1][2] The term was first used by Irving Langmuir, Nobel Prize-winning chemist, during a 1953 colloquium at the Knolls Research Laboratory. Langmuir said a pathological science is an area of research that simply will not "go away" —long after it was given up on as 'false' by the majority of scientists in the field. He called pathological science "the science of things that aren't so". [3]

Bart Simon lists it among practices pretending to be science: "categories [.. such as ..] pseudoscience, amateur science, deviant or fraudulent science, bad science, junk science, and popular science [..] pathological science, cargo-cult science, and voodoo science ..".[4] Examples of pathological science may include Martian "canals", N-rays, polywater, water memory, and cold fusion. The theories and conclusions behind all of these examples are currently rejected by the majority of scientists, with only a tiny number of exceptions.

Henry H. Bauer, Professor Emeritus of chemistry and science studies and a controversial advocate of AIDS denialism, has criticised the term saying that " 'pathological science' is not scientific misconduct (nor is it pathological)", that "it lacks justification in contemporary understanding of science studies (history, philosophy, and sociology of science)", and that "it is time to abandon the phrase".[5]


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