Have you ever wondered what and who decides whether something is science or not?
For example, why is astrology not a science – or is it?
Well, the ‘actual’ boundaries of the scientific field are still being debated on today by scientists and intellectuals, yet no agreements are seen to be reached. These disagreements on the classification of different concepts bring forth a cool, brand new term: pseudoscience.
We use the term pseudosciences to collectively refer to any idea, claim or information that is asserted via scientific arguments or/and methodologies, yet does not meet certain standards that scientific studies require: most importantly, according to philosopher Karl Popper, falsifiability.
Like Popper, many intellectuals and specialist scientists in the field argue that science is falsifiable, meaning that an idea/claim/information cannot be considered scientific if one cannot somehow irrefutably prove that it’s either true or false.
In this case, astrology is not considered a science as one cannot irrefutably prove that all Virgo people are way too painstaking, or all Capricorn’s are workaholics, putting all of their efforts and focus on their career/educational lives.
At this point, I need you to focus on the “all”s that I have used.
My Virgo aunt is, in fact, highly cautious and painstaking. I, as a Capricorn, am in fact, a person that is focused on her career and education much more than anything else.
The thing that renders astrology a pseudoscience is that me and my aunt do not and cannot represent all the people on this planet. Perhaps we are exceptions, or cases of coincidence where some skeptical information happened to be accurate by chance.
In terms of how to approach and deliberate pseudosciences -including astrology- from a scientific perspective, science historian Dr. Micheal Gordin suggests that “pseudoscience is science’s shadow” and to gain a better understanding of any pseudoscience, we should think about how they relate to actual science rather than studying their own special, undecided features. Now, let’s evaluate astrology from this certain perspective.
Astrology refers to the belief that astronomical phenomena, such as the displacement of planets or locations of certain stars, hold the power to influence a person in terms of both their personality and everyday life. In this case, we could argue that astrology is a shadow of astronomy, which is basically the science of the universe and the physics of the objects it contains. It might be true that astrology and astronomy overlap on certain points, yet remains the lack of supportive evidence and falsifiability of astrological claims to call astrology a “science”.
As the discussions on whether pseudosciences are ‘real’ or not continue, many people still believe in different pseudoscientific claims and information, possibly connecting to their spiritual values and/or emotional status.
Do you believe in pseudosciences? If you do, what provides your trust for them?
Share your opinions in the comments section!