The unique place occupied in our lives by science can be abused to give legitimacy to deception and fraud. When someone claims to have invented a motor that can generate electricity perpetually without using any fuel, he is abusing science to advertise a sham product. It is therefore essential for the general public to be able to distinguish between science and non-science.
The range of human endeavors that are nonscientific is huge, and I, by no means, intent to discount all of them as useless. Art, music, and literature are as useful for humans as science; and the fact that nobody confuses them with science renders a discussion of them here unnecessary. On the other hand, various forms of crackpot science are not only useless but harmful, and this requires a vigorous exposure of them, and I have done – and will be doing – that on this blog persistently.
However, there is another category of activities which are useful and necessary, but although not science, people confuse them with science. This confusion can open the door for crackpots and anti-scientists to promote their ideas – usually for financial gain – which drains the resources that could otherwise be put to good use,1 and more disturbingly, promotes irrationality and illiteracy with which most Americans are afflicted. Therefore, in characterizing the following disciplines as non-science, I am not challenging their usefulness, only their perceived designation as science.
- The adults in the US spend nearly $40 billion a year on alternative medicine. ↩