What is the difference between science and pseudo-science?

Two traditional views of the difference:

a.) science is inductive, non-science is deductive, right?

b.) science is verifiable, pseudo-science isn’t, right?

Well, actually, lots of pseudo-science is based on lots of empirical evidence.

And it’s easy to find data to verify pseudo-scientific theories.

Confirmation bias makes this extremely easy.

The most essential difference between science and pseudo-science is that science is falsifiable. Is the theory of evolution falsifiable? Yes.

It would take only one rabbit foot fossil from the pre-Cambrian to disprove Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. The bad news for creationists: 150 years later not even one such foot has turned up. Is creationism falsifiable?


A second factor distinguishing science from pseudo-science is the quality of experimental data. How often have the experiments been repeated?

What is the size and quality the samples used? If we are talking about medical claims are the results based on large, double blind randomized control trials?

A third criterion is predictive capacity. Have the predictions forecast by the theory come to pass? How does the track record differ from that of alternatives?

A related question is: are the social sciences really sciences? or are they partisan ranting in drag?

How many times has an economist or a political scientist conducted an experiment that has resulted in a finding that conflicts with that predicted by his partisan bias?

Almost never in my experience.

Might it be fair to say that with respect to the social sciences, partisan bias drives basic premises which drive the framing of questions which drive the design of experiments which determines the results? A harsh but fair conclusion perhaps.

A solution could be to have all policy-related studies be done by bipartisan teams.