Due to a comprehensive field of fear, I defend myself from awareness of anything outside my First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble. I don’t have to perceive accurately to survive – just be correct enough. To that end, I apply the scientific method – with a twist.
That twist is pseudoscience that I employ to hold my truths firm against a world that constantly challenges them. To continue defending my truths, I occasionally accept falsity as truth and assume evidence that may appear to support my truths – without question. When MY interpretation is THE interpretation, I get rightness and certitude.
Always better to assume rightness than question it!
Pseudoscience acts as, “certitude in the guise of genuine inquiry.” In my defensive arsenal, it serves to keep me inside the bubble, safe from the light of Third Degree of Illumination enlightened choice and Fourth Degree of Illumination gratitude.
Pseudoscience as Convincer
Pseudoscientists and my bubble-mind use the same methods to promote this “reality” as THE reality, convincing and keeping me firmly entrenched in the bubble. The more convinced I am, the less likely I am to stop assuming and apply genuine inquiry. My inner pseudoscientist (according to Gawande*):
- Sees scientific inquiry as a sort of conspiracy to suppress the truth.
- Provides its own experts to dispute contrary evidence.
- Cherry-picks the data and evidence that challenges its views as a means of discrediting and preventing genuine inquiry.
- Deploys false analogies and other logical fallacies.
- Sets impossible expectations and insist upon achieving more.
“It’s not that some of these approaches never provide valid arguments. Sometimes an analogy is useful, or higher levels of certainty are required. But when you see several or all of these tactics deployed, you know that you’re not dealing with a scientific claim anymore. Pseudoscience is the form of science without the substance.” (Gawande)
“The truth is out there…” – the famous line from The X-Files supports this very concept. It assumes I can find the truth if:
- I just look in the right place
- believe the right things
- make the right assumptions
- convince the right people
It’s all about being RIGHT! And as we’ve often discussed in the Aha Zone, being right is not all it’s cracked up to be.
What Can I do?
This brings me to what I might do to counter my inner pseudoscientist. Ah, that may take a little dose of awareness.
I might notice when I sense certainty in my inner dialog. For example, “This/that is…” “They’re wrong…” I might then shout at my inner self, “STOP!” And then ask some pertinent questions:
- What is my truth about this?
- How might that truth be incorrect?
- Why do I need this truth to be as I perceive it now?
- Who am I without this truth?
These questions are intended to challenge my assumptions about my truths – and to initiate useful inquiry. Where pseudoscience seeks to confirm, real science seeks to discover. Pseudoscience asserts where real science questions. Pseudoscience promotes and sustains ignorance while real science expands understanding.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. (Einstein)
- Extract from The Mistrust of Science, The New Yorker, 10 June 2016. Delivered by Atul Gawande as the commencement address at the California Institute of Technology, on Friday, June 10th, 2016 http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-mistrust-of-science