Debunking Denialism

Fighting pseudoscience and quackery with reason and evidence.

Falsifiability is a useful method in the skeptical toolbox

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Skepticism

Knowledge Base: Skepticism

Scientific skepticism is an approach that is based on evaluating questionable claims using scientific evidence, logic, reason and critical thinking. Many people and groups do not like to have their ideological beliefs questioned. A common reaction they have to skeptical investigation is to make up myths about skepticism. This section aims to refuse those claims.


Fact: Falsifiability is a useful method in the skeptical toolbox

Basic:

Falsifiability helps us to identify fanatical positions for which evidence is deemed irrelevant. http://wp.me/P18AZ8-obp

Intermediate:

Some positions are so vague that they are compatible with any fact or discovery and some people are unable to come up with any hypothetical evidence that would refute their position and make them change their minds. This shows that falsifiability has a practical usefulness in scientific skepticism efforts.

Some positions make claims about the world that can be tested by science. If those experiments fulfill the predictions of the position, it is corroborated by the evidence. If not, the evidence counts against the position. Introducing falsifiability allows us to separate out positions that are so vague that they would be compatible with all measurements and discoveries. It also a tool that can be used to identify and point out fanatical stances that people would never give up regardless of the evidence. It also helps us to think critically about claims and being open to being wrong.

Some people wrongly think that falsifiability is not a useful criteria for distinguishing science from pseudoscience or as a practical tool in scientific skepticism efforts. In reality, falsifiability is more than just testability. A position that is compatible with all measurements can be subjected to a test (in the sense of comparing prediction with measurement), but that does not mean that it can be refuted by data. The fact is that falsifiability can also be used as a method to identify fanatical beliefs. If nothing can convince you that you are mistaken, is that not merely fanaticism? Falsifiability is not perfect, but it does not need to be.

References:
– Lett, J. (1990). A Field Guide to Critical Thinking. Skeptical Inquirer Volume 14.2, Winter. Accessed: 2017-02-26.
– Understanding Science. (2017). Misconceptions about science. University of California Museum of Paleontology. Accessed: 2017-02-26.

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