Pseudoscience -it's one of those words we hear every once in a while but never fully understand. What exactly is pseudoscience, and how does it differ from the real thing?
Pseudoscience comprises beliefs and claims that attempt to operate within the same field as science but, in fact, have no scientific basis whatsoever. Science requires experimentation, empirical evidence and deductive reasoning, while pseudoscience is often based on ancient and spiritual concepts. The problem comes when people confuse the two and present pseudoscientific ideas as factual while they only rely on faith and feelings.
These are some of the most popular pseudoscientific concepts that many of us wish were true because we think they’ll make our lives a lot easier.
It might be hard to believe, but some people actually reject others because they were born in the 'wrong' month. We see it all the time as well; people judging others over their astrological signs. “I hate Libras, they’re so indecisive.” Well, a lot of people are. So if we happen to meet a few Libras who struggle to make decisions, we must know that it has nothing to do with the position of the stars on the day they were born. We often use our horoscope as an excuse for our behavior and convince ourselves that our bad trait is a result of a particular zodiac sign, just so we could have something to blame.
There’s a huge difference between astrology and astronomy, and people often confuse the two; believing that horoscopes are part of the same field of study that deals with space travel and black holes. Astrology has been there for thousands of years, and for most of that time, it was considered to be factual and it was taken very seriously. However, in the 20th century, scientific theories and experiments presented its invalidity. The horoscopes we read in almost every magazine are deliberately written to be vague so that anyone could relate to it.
2. Crystal Healing
It would be nice for all of us if we could heal both our mind and body by placing a few precious stones near them. There are some shops in Cairo where they give you just that. The customer walks in, sits down and answers questions about his life and problems. Their answers are then analyzed and they are given a specific gem that contains the necessary energy to fix their problems, supposedly.
Crystal healing uses the concept of the chakras of Hinduism, where each crystal affects a specific energy center in the body. The stones are said to have energy stored within them, which could be used for healing. Although they might seem to work for some people, scientific experiments regarding crystal healing have shown that it only works as a placebo and there is no evidence proving that it affects the body in any way.
3. Conversion Therapy
There comes a point, during any heated conversation about homosexuality where someone asks, “What would you do if your child turned out to be gay?” We often hear people answer, “Well, I’ll try to treat them.” And that is one of the more humane answers we hear. However, sexual orientation is not something that could be changed, even with the help of a psychologist or a sheikh.
Conversion therapy is the attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation, and there is no evidence at all that proves it works. In facts, scientists determined that it’s harmful for the subject’s mental health, and that it goes against what they’ve discovered about sexual orientation. Whether we use religion or psychology, any effort we make to try and “treat” a homosexual is bound to fail.
Every time we hear about someone suffering from mental illness or drug induced psychosis, we also get to hear other people’s opinion on how to help them. While most of them mention taking them to a psychiatrist or helping them organize their life, someone always says, in all seriousness, “He might be possessed. He should go see a sheikh.” In this day and age, we don’t have to be scientists to know that this isn’t a valid solution to mental illness. We know so much about the human mind and the effects that drugs have on it now that we have a duty to provide accurate solutions to such serious problems.
During the Dark Ages, people with mental disabilities were thought to be possessed by demons and a lot of them were killed in fear of the demonic world. That was before we discovered anything about psychology. Now, however, what is our excuse? It’s our responsibility to learn about our own mind so that when trouble comes, we know how to fix it and who to go to for help. There is no evidence that supports exorcism or the existence of demons at all.
Who wouldn’t want hypnosis to be true? Imagine changing anything we want about ourselves by putting our mind in a trance-like state as we listen to someone talk. We might try to quit smoking, for example, by listening to a recording that promises to do so, and it might actually work, but it doesn’t mean that the hypnosis itself is what made it happen.
Hypnosis might seem like one of those treatments that are definitely effective. Our subconscious mind is so mysterious and fragile that it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that your attitude or behavior towards something has changed due to hypnosis or hypnotherapy. However, the placebo effect also plays a part in that and there’s no scientific evidence that backs it up.