Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Is 'Pseudoscience' a Fair Tag?

Is the "pseudoscience" tag always a fair dismissal? I am not a scientist, and I will not pretend to be one on this blog. However, the nature of what constitutes fair play and objective inquiry is at least as much a matter of philosophic inquiry as it is of scientific inquiry. And when inordinate efforts are made--sometimes violent--to suppress purported discoveries or inventions from ever seeing the light of day the scientist has a duty to don the uniform of an ethicist or, at least, of serious ethical agency.

Thomas Kuhn and Michael Polanyi have written about the phenomena of what Kuhn calls scientific paradigms and both acknowledge that the work of everyday science may be characterized as an organized effort to confirm existing paradigms. Very slowly, paradigms may eventually shift and a new understanding emerges...only to form a new paradigm. In this blog, I will discuss some instances in which challenges to the prevailing orthodoxy are resisted along the lines of what Kuhn and Polanyi described, which is that of institutional enforcement or stigma that  frustrates any would-be paradigm smasher. However, a plethora of stories concerning unconventional inventions have been reportedly suppressed with heavy-handed tactics. I am referring to claims that "can't be validated" because "they can't be true" because apparently their validation would overthrow laws of physics or other paradigms.

Perhaps the most extreme, documented victim of suppression was the burning of  Wilhelm Reich's books and destruction of some of his equipment in 1956 that related to his orgone accumulators. I don't know whether or not anything in Reich's writing or his equipment  have merit, however, the conduct of the FDA in orchestrating this thuggery is terribly disconcerting. I will also mention the name of T. Henry Moray whose invention seemed to pull energy out of thin air and was witnessed by many including the much acclaimed physicist, Harvey Fletcher. 

I will go into more detail about Moray's claim and many others during the life of this blog, but in the meantime please enter replies pro or con, for or against respective to what I have said thus far. Alternative science, suppressed inventions and the possible merits of some "pseudoscience" are some of the topics that are discussed in my book, Ethical Empowerment: Virtue Beyond the Paradigms.                                                                                  

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