Thursday, May 03, 2007

Quotes on pseudoscience and other pseudoinformation

Einstein on real science:
If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.

Feinman on Cargo Cult Science:
there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science....[namely] a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty...
the idea [in real science] is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another.

The easiest way to explain this idea is to contrast it, for example, with advertising.

BDL on payola punditry:
Say...that there are
(i) people who write what they believe;
(ii) people who write what they are paid to write; and
(iii) people who write what they are paid to write but who want you to think they write what they believe.
People in category (iii) are--by their own actions--less credible and less trustworthy than people in categories (i) and (ii). Evaluating their arguments is difficult, time consuming, and requires constant research and fact checking.

Given that there are many too many good people working hard in categories (i) and (ii) to read, is there ever any reason to ever read anybody in category (iii)?
...[and] is there ever any reason to read anybody...who tells us that it doesn't matter which category--(i), (ii), or (iii)--people are in?

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