The Science Corner: Debunking Pseudoscience

The Science Corner: Debunking Pseudoscience - Mental Health @ Home

With bachelor’s degrees in pharmacy and nursing, as well as a master’s in psychiatric nursing, I’ve spent a lot of time in school.  I have a strong science background and I know how to read and understand a research paper.

All of that combined means I have a finely tuned bullshit-detector.  Debunking pseudoscience makes my mind do a happy dance, and I invite you along for the ride!  I also like to tackle misinformation around public health issues.

Hallmarks of Pseudoscience

  • Starting with a belief, and then working back from there
  • Broad statements about what something does, but no scientifically sound mechanism is described
  • Explanations based on quantum physics coming from people with no physics background
  • Energies and energy flows are described without any actual evidence of their existence
  • “Natural” is used as synonymous with “good”
  • While science takes an “until you prove it, it doesn’t exist” approach, pseudoscience takes the approach that “it exists until you can prove it doesn’t”

How to Spot Pseudoscience talks more about how to fine-tune your BS radar.

Debunking Pseudoscience

  • Astrology: Is it scientifically accurate – does the positioning of constellations that exist only from the earth’s frame of reference have any bearing on our lives?
  • Chakras: the New Age gets a lot more literal with an ancient spiritual concept
  • Crystals: do they have healing powers?
  • Dopamine Fasting: there’s actually no such thing as literally fasting from dopamine
  • Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT): includes things like energy field polarity reversals and a rather odd way of looking at proof
  • Essential Oils: yes, they’re lovely, but do they have medicinal properties, or are they just a placebo??

Health conditions & practices

  • Adrenal Fatigue: there’s no evidence that such a thing actually exists
  • Chiropractic: lying beneath the better-known aspects of management of back pain are some perhaps surprisingly quacky origins
  • Colon Cleanses: should you consider shooting coffee up your butt?
  • Homeopathy: why is the Canadian government funding an international aid group using homeopathy, when the principles of homeopathy go against science?
  • Reiki: are there actually energy fields that can be manipulated with the hands?

Law of attraction

Public Health


Vaccines and immunity

Media, Research, & Scientific Literacy

There are good sources of information out there, and there is crap.  Literacy comes into play in distinguishing the good from the crap.

diagram of the scientific method as an ongoing process
Whatiguana, Wikimedia Commons