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Author Topic: The Pseudosciences  (Read 13806 times)

Offline PmbPhy

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The Pseudosciences
« on: 28/02/2015 10:21:34 »
Sometimes I enjoy picking the pseudoscience's apart so I thought I'd see if anybody here would like to chat about them with me to pick some of them apart for fun.

The reason it came to mind today is that I'm watching the Smithsonian channel this morning and there's a show on about the Nazca lines in Peru. They mentioned that (you know who)'s explanation of them was as landing strips for alien spacecraft. That notion was picked apart because such beings who had traveled light years to get here wouldn't need a landing strip. In my opinion there's no reason that lines would need to be drawn for landing. That's just a dumb idea. He also asked the question "Who did the Nazca people draw the artwork on the ground for?" where (you know who) speculated that it must be to beings in spaceships in the sky since that's the only place where they can be seen. It seems more reasonable that, as like all ancient peoples, they wanted to appease their gods, who are also in the sky, and in doing so they drew the same pictures as one would draw for aliens in spacecraft. However the "for the gods" is much more likely due to our knowledge of the countless tribes all over the world who worshipped some sort of God at one point in their history.


 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #1 on: 28/02/2015 11:37:12 »
But most pre-judaeochristian gods lived underground or in trees, which is far more logical. Where did they get the idea of a sky fairy from, unless they had indeed been visited by one?

So far, human technology has not eliminated the need for a decent landing ground on the Moon or Mars - gravity has a nasty habit of making things awkward if you land any sort of craft on a hill or a bog. And despite the introduction of GPS, airports still broadcast identity signals. It's very difficult to determine surface wind, particularly over a desert, so a few lines on the ground in the direction of the prevailing or strongest wind can be very helpful too.

Having met some of the guys who wove a balloon from native Peruvian reeds and flew it wth a smoky fire, I'm inclined to to their theory that the Nazca lines were for entertainment. Nothing has changed - I'm just about to drag the old Cessna out for today's "100 bacon sandwich", including a look at the coastline at low tide, and a few drawings on the chalk downs.     
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #2 on: 28/02/2015 11:58:26 »
Quote from: alancalverd
But most pre-judaeochristian gods lived underground or in trees, which is far more logical.
Where did you get that from? In all my religious studies I don't recall that. And why is it more logical to you? To me a god of ancient people is a spiritual being responsible for the creation of the cosmos and controlling the elements. In any case the Nazca Lines were created between 400 and 650 AD and thus well within the Christian era.

Quote from: alancalverd
Where did they get the idea of a sky fairy from, unless they had indeed been visited by one?
Not really. I.e. that's not a logical conclusion. It's easier to argue that instead of placing their next round of gods in the earth that they placed them in the sky.
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #3 on: 28/02/2015 19:11:35 »
Quote from: alancalverd
But most pre-judaeochristian gods lived underground or in trees, which is far more logical.
Where did you get that from? In all my religious studies I don't recall that.

It fits in with the religions of tribes which had not had contact with civilisations imposing later gods on them. The old gods were spirits that lived in caves, trees, animals, the wind, water, etc.

I'm not sure it was any more logical, but it was more direct than the idea of a remote God in the sky controlling everything - that idea came later when people were looking for a top dog amongst the gods. The Sun god is clearly very powerful, so that's probably why the sky won out, though none of the big religions today appear to tie the top god to the sun, unless we count Inti.
 

Offline Colin2B

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Re: Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #4 on: 28/02/2015 23:16:06 »
I notice this started with the Nazca lines.

Could be interesting to pick a few apart, but are the pseudoscience 'theories' growing into a very large number? Can only scratch the surface.
 

Offline Ophiolite

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Re: Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #5 on: 01/03/2015 07:35:13 »
And while the pseudoscience surrounding the Nazca lines dominates popular discussion of them, serious work is conducted:

http://www.davidpublishing.com/davidpublishing/Upfile/7/14/2013/2013071470633881.PDF

 A joint project of Peruvian and German scientists was launched in 2005 to perform geoscientific studies including geophysical, petrophysical, geochemical and petrographic investigations in the desert of Nazca and Palpa. The project aimed at a better understanding of the structures and processes on the geoglyph sites compared with areas of undisturbed desert soil to deliver suggestions for conservation options.

There is some interesting background to early research on the lines in this book review:
http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu//full/1988JHAS...19R..88S/0000091.000.html
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #6 on: 01/03/2015 11:05:53 »
Discussion of modern physics as pseudoscience is off-topic for this thread, and has been appended to:
Why don't an atom's electrons fall into the nucleus?

....Evan (Moderator)
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #7 on: 01/03/2015 17:56:22 »
Quote from: David Cooper
It fits in with the religions of tribes which had not had contact with civilisations imposing later gods on them. The old gods were spirits that lived in caves, trees, animals, the wind, water, etc.
I was referring to the "most" part of his statement since I'm well aware of the rest of it (I went to a religious college where you had to take courses in religion).

Quote from: David Cooper
I'm not sure it was any more logical, ...
and that part too.

Quote from: David Cooper
...but it was more direct than ...
While that may be interesting its not relevant to this thread since the Nazca lines were created well after the creation of Judeo-Christian religions.
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #8 on: 01/03/2015 20:43:00 »
While that may be interesting its not relevant to this thread since the Nazca lines were created well after the creation of Judeo-Christian religions.

They were created before they had any contact with Judeo-Christian religions, so your objection is not relevant.
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #9 on: 02/03/2015 01:56:27 »
Quote from: David Cooper
They were created before they had any contact with Judeo-Christian religions, so your objection is not relevant.
I guess you're right. Damn! I hate it when I'm wrong. Lol!!

Yes. That argument is invalid. However my argument being wrong does not mean that alancalverd's objection is correct either. In fact when it comes to the Nazca culture he turns out to be quite wrong in fact. See: http://www.ancient.eu/Nazca_Civilization/
Quote
The principal Nazca god seems to have been the Oculate Being who is represented in art as a flying deity figure wearing strings of trophy-heads.
« Last Edit: 02/03/2015 01:58:29 by PmbPhy »
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #10 on: 03/03/2015 08:44:30 »
"Seems to have been" is a good historian's phrase, indicating that what follows is prejudice and guesswork. The OB's big eyes are characteristic of Little Green Men throughout the world, and the illustration shows no sign of flight. The drawing of the OB is ridiculously crude compared with the graphic precision of the Lines: it's difficult to believe that they are connected by a single culture or purpose.

Now which seems more logical: drawing something that can be seen and used or enjoyed by real people who you have seen flying above you, or making a drawing in the vain hope that an invisible sky fairy for whose existence, appearance and characteristics you have no evidence or experience, might be pleased by it?

I think the assumption of religion does a disservice to the considerable intellect and ingenuity of our forbears.

As for the weight of numbers, I think the number of Hindu, Roman, Inuit and Aboriginal gods and spirits that live on or under the ground, is vastly greater than even the Greek sky god collection - never mind the leprechauns and piskies. 
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #11 on: 03/03/2015 13:51:28 »
Quote from: alancalverd
"Seems to have been" is a good historian's phrase, indicating that what follows is prejudice and guesswork.
Never in my entire life have I ever interpreted it to mean that. To me it's always been used as a substitute for having very good reasons to believe so but not yet being absolutely certain.

In any case we're dwelling on the Nazca lines far too much. The point is to explain pseudoscientific reasoning such as the alien astronaut theory which is based only on the supposition that the only possible explanation is that only aliens can see the Nazca lines. It's not about proving the alternates to be true, only that there exist alternate explanations. Dwelling on that point will only serve to take away from considering other examples of pseudoscientific reasoning and their faults.

E.g. another example of pseudoscientific reasoning is the claim that aliens appear in medieval art. That has been debunked. See http://ancientaliensdebunked.com/references-and-transcripts/ufos-in-ancient-art/

I was watching a show on this and one of the things pointed out was that in the books published on this subject the photos were reprinted with poor quality and thus not allowing the reader to see the flaws in their arguments.
« Last Edit: 03/03/2015 13:58:15 by PmbPhy »
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #12 on: 03/03/2015 15:47:04 »
Another area of pseudoscience is the bogus claim that aerodynamics can be used to prove that bumblebees can't fly. People who make this claim never look into who made such a claim nor do they challenge the validity of the resulting prediction, which they should since they know that their claim is false.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #13 on: 03/03/2015 18:59:08 »
Invalid predictions include such nonsense as jccc's insistence that atoms are held together by magic because electrostatics would make them collapse.

I wouldn't class all invalid predictions as pseudoscience since they tend to arise from rational but incomplete observation. It is indeed puzzling how some insects fly if you only use laminar flow aerodynamics: fact is that they exploit nonlinear behaviour that the large-scale aerodynamicist considers "within the bounds of experimental error". Likewise jccc's collapsing atoms. But like atomic orbitals, it's much more difficult to analyse insect flight from the facts (you need a damn good wind tunnel, and a lot of experimental skill) than it is to (wrongly) predict it by extrapolation from gliders and aeroplanes.

I categorise pseudoscience as the imposition of wholly unsupported hypotheses on perfectly good observations, badly sampled observations, or even on no observations at all.   

 
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #14 on: 03/03/2015 19:56:51 »
Quote from: alancalverd
Invalid predictions include such nonsense as jccc's insistence that atoms are held together by magic because electrostatics would make them collapse.
I'm not talking about invalid predictions because that's part of normal science and happens all the time. I'm talking about predictions made in an illogical fashion. In the case of Von D**iken's case he illogically concluded that since the Nazca lines can only be seen from the air and since aliens are in their spaceships are in the air then it must have been aliens.

Actually he used a sleazy ploy to rake in all the people who are fascinated by the notion of aliens visiting the Earth. He never said "We must therefore conclude that..." but used the phrase "Is it possible that ...?" and therefore never exposed himself to true ridicule. So while he never actually made the argument its one that he pushes. Also, the fact that he leaves out other more logical conclusions by never presenting his readers with other possibilities without aliens is also sleazy. That's because it wouldn't sell books.

Quote from: alancalverd
I wouldn't class all invalid predictions as pseudoscience ...
I also never would and if the readers will notice, I never did.  :)

Quote from: alancalverd
Likewise jccc's collapsing atoms.
jccc isn't really making that argument. He's only trying to rile people up and irritate everyone. He's a little weasel for doing that in my opinion. What makes it worse is that he denies it as if we're all to stupid not to see if and take it as a likely possibility. Would you agree?


I categorise pseudoscience as the imposition of wholly unsupported hypotheses on perfectly good observations, badly sampled observations, or even on no observations at all.   
[/quote]

I go with the actual definition rather than making up my own. I' strongly opposed against creating my own definitions or using that of others. This is Wikipedia's definition.
Quote
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief or practice which is falsely presented as scientific, but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status.

This is the one from Practical Logic: An Antidote for Uncritical Thinking by Douglas J. Soccio and Vincent E. Barry, page 384
 
Quote
Pseudoscience, a term coined by Martin Gardner, refers to a certain category of theories, systems, and explanations, which though claiming to be "scientific," in fact use only the trappings of genuine science and avoids all the rigors of the checks and balances of the scientific method or the scrutiny of disinterested experts.
This is the definition given in the glossary too. The texts lists all of the characteristics of pseudoscience. Would anybody like me to list them out for them? I ask because the list is a bit long (8 items) so it would take a bit of effort to type them all in and I'd rather not if nobody is going to read them or could care less about them.

By the way; this is a wonderful book for those interested in the subject.
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #15 on: 03/03/2015 20:18:56 »
He's got a good point, I think. These images were only visible from the air, so it's obvious that aliens were the intended audience. These ancient peoples who looked to gods in the heavens, and who likely regarded the condor as a god too (the Incas did), would clearly have had no interest in trying to talk to these, so their minds would naturally have turned to the idea of other planets (even though they probably weren't aware that they were standing on a planet themselves) and of alien beings living there who might make spaceships (even though they probably knew nothing about space) to fly here and look down at their art. It all stands to reason, in a barking kind of way. But there is a huge audience of fools out there who are desperate to be separated from their money, so it is very tempting to exploit that and feed them what they want.
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #16 on: 03/03/2015 20:31:30 »
Quote from: David Cooper
He's got a good point, I think. These images were only visible from the air, so it's obvious that aliens were the intended audience.
Are you serious? First of all we can't know what the Nazca Indians thought of any beings in the sky. I can't see them actually believing that such beings lived on planets revolving around stars so many light years away. We can't even speculate what the thought of the origin of such individuals in "sky machines" were so we can't legitimately claim that they thought they were aliens because that's a very modern idea. The notion of stars being objects like our Sun was not known to them. All they could conceive of them being were spirits in the sky and not aliens.

However there are plenty of reasons to assume that they were directed to the beings that they worshipped and there's no reason to worship beings which have such a complex existence since they'd be unable to know it and I doubt that they'd just make up something that complex and tell everyone to start worshiping the beings they created an idea of.

In any case even if it was true, his rational for it isn't logical. The best that could be said was that it was one of the possibilities and not that it had to be aliens. See my point?
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #17 on: 03/03/2015 21:21:35 »
Quote from: David Cooper
He's got a good point, I think. These images were only visible from the air, so it's obvious that aliens were the intended audience.
Are you serious?

I hope you don't think I was being serious!
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #18 on: 03/03/2015 21:33:04 »
Quote from: David Cooper
I hope you don't think I was being serious!
Yeah! You scared me there for a moment. Whew! Lol!
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #19 on: 03/03/2015 23:30:29 »
First of all we can't know what the Nazca Indians thought of any beings in the sky.
The most important point of the argument!
Quote
we can't legitimately claim that they thought they were aliens because that's a very modern idea.
On the contrary, it's one of the oldest ideas that human tribes possess. The word itself derives from Latin - "other"  - and is at  least 3000 years old.
Quote
All they could conceive of them being were spirits in the sky and not aliens.
That involves two sophisticated and rather modern concepts: of a disembodied spirit, and that the sky can contain and support anything. Too big an assumption.

Quote
However there are plenty of reasons to assume that they were directed to the beings that they worshipped
What makes you think they worshipped anything? And what reasons do you have for the assumption? Why do you think they were as gullible as christians and muslims?   
Quote
I doubt that they'd just make up something that complex and tell everyone to start worshiping the beings they created an idea of.
Why not? There are at last a dozen different crucified saviour sons of an invisible god, born of virgins, in written mythology, and you can still be killed for not pretending to believe in the right sort of mystical crap. Why do you think the Nazcas were any more or less stupid than us?

So let's stick to the facts. There are enormous drawings, of considerable graphic precision, that are only visible from the air. Why?
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #20 on: 03/03/2015 23:36:49 »
alancalverd - My last post to David was to see if he was serious but it was a distraction since I don't want to be stuck on one example of pseudoscience. As I said. At least for me, this part of the thread is over. So if you're communicating with me then you're wasting your time. The reason being because when people want to discuss pseudoscience itself they use various examples from it (or at least I did). That doesn't mean staying with one and only one example. That only happens when someone has to win an argument and can't let it go. So I'm just dropping it. Of course you're quite free to discuss it with whomever you choose.
« Last Edit: 03/03/2015 23:43:23 by PmbPhy »
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #21 on: 03/03/2015 23:59:50 »
I'm still with you on debunking pseudoscience! My favourite targets are devices that protect you from the harmful electromagnetic radiation of your mobile phone.
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #22 on: 04/03/2015 00:44:59 »
I'm still with you on debunking pseudoscience! My favourite targets are devices that protect you from the harmful electromagnetic radiation of your mobile phone.
I think I have a paper on that somewhere. The fact is that the field strength just isn't strong enough inside the brain from the phone and it doesn't emit ionizing radiation so there's zero justification for it.
 

Offline jeffreyH

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #23 on: 04/03/2015 02:43:53 »
So let's stick to the facts. There are enormous drawings, of considerable graphic precision, that are only visible from the air. Why?

I don't necessarily think viewing them was the purpose. This site discusses different theories which mainly don't require an aerial view.

http://www.unmuseum.org/nazca.htm
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: The Pseudosciences
« Reply #24 on: 04/03/2015 04:01:54 »
Quote from: jeffreyH
I don't necessarily think viewing them was the purpose.
Exactly!
 

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