UPDATE : 2020.10.19 월 23:58

[Vol.82] Pseudoscience, under the Mask of Science

속지 말아야할 유사과학 한지은 기자l승인2019.11.29l수정2020.10.06 16:11

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 Have you ever tried a personality type test about each blood type? Is personality type based on blood type scientifically proven? No. This may seem scientific, but it is pseudoscience.

 Pseudoscience is a word that combines science with the Greek word 'pseudo’ which signifies fake and means false science. That is, they include content created without scientific research and certification, but they are claimed to be scientific content.

 Then, what is the cause of the spread of pseudoscience? According to psychologists' analysis, "selective perception" and "confirmation bias" are mentioned as causes. Selective perception means not accepting all information objectively, but choosing only what is in peoples’ favor.

 The bias is strengthened through "confirmation bias," a tendency to seek and accept only the information corroborated with information which selected previously by selective perception. In other words, those who think their personality will be different depending on their blood type will only accept the corresponding information.

 Although unexplained by scientific methodologies, there is a positive assessment that pseudoscience has helped the development of modern science. For instance, Alchemy does not conform to scientific methodologies. However, it is appraised that the various experimental methods and instruments used in alchemy could have resulted in the basic classification of chemicals.

 In contrast to this positive assessment of pseudoscience, it can cause serious damage. The representative example is the "Radon Bed Situation" that occurred last year. The bed used an ore called monazite to produce anions known to be good for the body, which caused radon above the standard level. At this time, the argument that anions have many positive effects, such as purification of the air and neutralization of blood, is pseudoscience spread through the media without a scientific basis. Rather, radon is known to cause cancer if exposed to in high concentrations continuously. Kim Jin-doo, chairman of the Korea Association of Science Journalists, called the incident a "disaster caused by pseudoscience and carelessness."

 Another example is "electromagnetic(EM) wave blocking stickers." There has been a steady sale of products that prevent EM waves because of groundless stories that electromagnetic waves from electronic goods are harmful to our bodies. Kim Ki-hoe, a researcher at the National Electron Institute, said, “We don't have to worry about EM coming out of electronics because they're too small and EM blocking products are not effective.”

 These examples are just part of many negative cases of pseudoscience, which are prevalent in our society. Yu Myung-sun, a graduate professor at Seoul National University, said, “Please think about how the media should deal with the issue of pseudoscience together,” emphasizing the media's role in preventing damage caused by pseudoscience. Besides, the scientific community is demanding people to think critically to distinguish pseudoscience from fact. Also, Professor Lee Duk-hwan of Sogang University said, “The biggest feature of pseudoscience is that it does not require any special effort from consumers and that it is used to make claims about certain products have an effect, which is not scientifically correct.” Why don't we hope that the damage from pseudoscience will be reduced through social and individual efforts not to be deceived it?

Alchemy: a form of chemistry studied in the Middle Ages, which was concerned with trying to discover ways to change ordinary metals into gold.

Ore: rock or earth from which metal can be obtained.


한지은 기자  hanjieun124-@naver.com
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