Wikipedia:WikiProject Skepticism

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This is the page for the WikiProject Skepticism, which is focused on scientific skepticism and clarifying the distinction between science and pseudoscience. This project needs new members, join us and get involved!

Project overviewEdit

WikiProject Skepticism is a WikiProject dedicated to creating, improving, and monitoring articles related to Scientific skepticism, including articles about claims which are contrary to the current body of scientific evidence, or which involve the paranormal. The project ensures that these articles are written from a neutral point of view, and do not put forward invalid claims as truth.

The project is focused on clarifying the distinction between science and pseudoscience, history and pseudohistory, and between philosophy and pseudophilosophy. The project is not concerned with articles whose subject matter deals with the foundational concepts of philosophical skepticism, which is covered by the Wikiproject Philosophy.

Some examples of the areas which the project monitors are alternative medicine, magic, psychics, dowsing, Ancient astronauts, etc.

This WikiProject aims primarily to coordinate the efforts of Wikipedians who wish to promote science and reason in an effort to improve the general quality and range of Wikipedia articles on various topics, while maintaining a neutral point of view, generally with particular emphasis on the Fringe guidelines.

The goals of this WikiProject are as follows:

  1. To create new articles relating to science and reason.
  2. To improve articles that are not scientifically sound, using resources that include the Skeptic's Dictionary, Quackwatch and Pubmed.
  3. To place {{WikiProject Skepticism}} tags on articles related to Scientific skepticism.
  4. To review articles and help those of an appropriate quality through the processes of Good Article and Featured Article review.
  5. To clean up those articles which need help.
  6. To serve as a nexus and discussion area for editors interested in doing such work.

Rational skepticism or Scientific skepticism (British English spelling: scepticism) sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry, is a scientific, or practical, epistemological position in which one questions the veracity of claims based on the empirical evidence offered for them, or lack thereof. In practice, a scientific skeptic generally focuses on critically examining claims and theories and determines whether they are scientifically valid, or are beyond the mainstream of science.

Scientific skepticism is different from philosophical skepticism, which questions our right to claim knowledge about the nature of the world and how we perceive it. Scientific skepticism utilizes critical thinking and attempts to oppose claims made which lack suitable evidential basis.

New participants

Here are tips on where to start, using the resources listed at WP:SKEPTIC:

  2. Read/update the To do list
  3. Review the new pages log, adding the {{WikiProject Skepticism}} tag on the talk pages of relevant articles and as necessary, nominating inappropriate articles for deletion; when the articles meet inclusion criteria, help to improve them and watchlist them
  4. Read WP:FTN and WT:SKEPTIC and participate there; start a new thread there as necessary when needing input about problematic articles
  5. Track article alerts and participate to relevant discussions
  6. Patrol changes to sensitive articles by watchlisting them or using the Related Changes feature on extra watchlists or categories (also see the skeptic's watchlist)
  7. Participate to article talk page discussions, while thinking about WP:NOTFORUM

To doEdit

See also : How to add this to-do list to a talk page or user space

(edit or discuss this box)

Items inactive for too long can be removed



Use {{#section-h:Wikipedia:WikiProject Skepticism|Monitoring}} to embed on a user page

(Alerts archive)

Articles for deletion

Redirects for discussion

Good article nominees

Requests for comments

Peer reviews

Requested moves

Articles to be merged

Articles to be split

Articles for creation

New pages search log (New articles for more, rules)

The following articles are subject to problematic edits and require constant attention. You can help monitor their recent changes by adding them to your watchlist:
Acupuncture · Chiropractic · Climate change · Intelligent design · Genetically modified organisms · Homeopathy · Pseudoscience · DMT
More articles on the skeptic watchlist (related changes).
Assessment changes to articles monitored by this project:
Log · Assessment



This is a partial list of articles related to scientific skepticism. To explore all articles that have been tagged into this project, use the cleanup tool, or see the articles sorted by importance and quality.

Valid scienceEdit

The solar eclipse of May 29, 1919. Einstein predicted the position of stars during the event with his theory of general relativity. Refutable predictions distinguish valid science from pseudoscience.

Lists about skepticismEdit






Promoters of pseudoscientific ideasEdit

This list includes promoters of all non-scientific claims, including those within the realms of pseudohistory, pseudomathetics, etc.

Former promoters of pseudoscientific ideasEdit

Victims of pseudoscientific ideasEdit

  • Eliza Jane Scovill - daughter of HIV-positive AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore, who died of AIDS at age 3, following a pregnancy in which her mother refused to take antiretroviral drugs or other measures which reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Events in pseudoscienceEdit



Health and healingEdit

Paranormal and science denialEdit

Valid philosophyEdit





  • Ad hominem An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument to the person", "argument against the man") is a logical fallacy consisting of replying to an argument by attacking or appealing to the person making the argument, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument. It is most commonly used to refer specifically to the ad hominem abusive, or argumentum ad personam, which consists of criticizing or personally attacking an argument's proponent in an attempt to discredit that argument.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]
  • Anecdotal evidence Information passed along by word-of-mouth but not documented scientifically is anecdotal evidence. In science, anecdotal evidence has been defined as: "information that is not based on facts or careful study"[9] or "non-scientific observations or studies, which do not provide proof but may assist research efforts"[10] or "reports or observations of usually unscientific observers"[11] or "casual observations or indications rather than rigorous or scientific analysis"[12]
  • Anti-intellectualism Anti-intellectualism describes a sentiment of hostility towards, or mistrust of, intellectuals and intellectual pursuits. This may be expressed in various ways, such as an attack on the merits of science, education, or literature. Anti-intellectuals often perceive themselves as champions of the ordinary people and egalitarianism against elitism, especially academic elitism. These critics argue that heavily educated people form an insular social class that tends to dominate political discourse and higher education (academia).[13][14][15][16][17][18]
  • Antiscience Antiscience is a position critical of science and the scientific method. It has been considered the "self-defeating...essentially anti-intellectual, rhetoric of many activists."[19]
  • Charlatan A charlatan is a person practicing quackery or some similar confidence trick in order to obtain money or advantage by false pretenses. If the ascription is false, then "charlatan" is derogative; if it is true, then the description "charlatan" is not defamation.[20]
  • Confirmation bias In psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias (or confirmatory bias) is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions, leading to statistical errors. Confirmation bias is a type of cognitive bias and represents an error of inductive inference toward confirmation of the hypothesis under study.[21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28]
  • Consciousness causes collapse Consciousness causes collapse is the theory that observation by a conscious observer is responsible for the wavefunction collapse in quantum mechanics. It is an attempt to solve the Wigner's friend paradox by simply stating that collapse occurs at the first "conscious" observer. Supporters claim this is not a revival of substance dualism, since (in a ramification of this view) consciousness and objects are entangled and cannot be considered as separate. Nevertheless, the doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with Quantum Mechanics and with facts established by experiment."[29]
  • Controversial science The phrase controversial science describes ideas and theories at odds with mainstream science. These ideas have often been advanced by individuals either from outside the field of science, or by scientists outside the mainstream of their own disciplines.[30][31]
  • Crank (person) "Crank" is a pejorative term for a person who holds some belief which the vast majority of his contemporaries would consider false, clings to this belief in the face of all counterarguments or evidence presented to him. The term implies that a "cranky" belief is so wildly at variance with some commonly accepted truth as to be ludicrous, arguing with the crank is useless, because he will invariably dismiss all evidence or arguments which contradict his cranky belief. Common synonyms for "crank" include kook and crackpot.[32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39]
  • Folk science[40][41][42]
  • Fraud In the broadest sense, a fraud is a deception made for personal gain. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and is also a civil law violation. Many hoaxes are fraudulent, although those not made for personal gain are not technically frauds. Defrauding people of money is presumably the most common type of fraud, but there have also been many fraudulent "discoveries" in art, archaeology, and science.[43]
  • Fringe science Fringe science is a phrase used to describe scientific inquiry in an established field that departs significantly from mainstream or orthodox theories.[44]
  • Intellectual dishonesty Intellectual dishonesty is the advocacy of a position known to be false. Rhetoric is used to advance an agenda or to reinforce one's deeply held beliefs in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence. If a person is aware of the evidence and the conclusion it portends, yet holds a contradictory view, it is intellectual dishonesty. If the person is unaware of the evidence, their position is ignorance, even if in agreement with the scientific conclusion.[45]
  • Junk science[46][47][48]
  • Logical fallacy[49][50][51][52][53]
  • Pejorative[54][55][56]
  • Pathological science Pathological science is a neologism that describes the process in science in which people are tricked into false results by subjective effects, wishful thinking or threshold interactions. It found resonance among skeptical scientists, who enjoy debunking recurrent pseudoscientific views and claims.[57]
  • Plagiarism Plagiarism is the practice of claiming, or implying, original authorship, or incorporating material from someone else's written or creative work in whole or in part, into ones own, without adequate acknowledgment. The written or creative work which is plagiarized may be a book, article, musical score, film script, or other work. Unlike cases of forgery, in which the authenticity of the writing, document, or some other kind of object, itself is in question, plagiarism is concerned with the issue of false attribution.[58][59][60]
  • Pseudoscience Pseudoscience, or junk science, is any body of knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that claims to be scientific but does not follow the scientific method.[61] Pseudosciences may appear scientific, but they do not adhere to the testability requirement of the scientific method[62] and are often in conflict with current scientific consensus.
  • Pseudoskepticism[63]
  • Quackery Quackery is a derogatory term that is defined as the "medical practice and advice based on observation and experience in ignorance of scientific findings. The dishonesty of a charlatan."[64] A "quack" is "a fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill. A person who pretends, professionally or publicly, to have skill, knowledge, or qualifications he or she does not possess; a charlatan."[65] "Health fraud" is often used as a synonym for quackery, but this use can be problematic, since quackery can exist without fraud, a word which always implies deliberate deception.[66] The word "quack" derives from "quacksalver," an archaic word originally of Dutch origin (spelled kwakzalver in contemporary Dutch), meaning "boaster who applies a salve."[67] The correct meaning of the German word "quacksalber" is "questionable salesperson (literal translation: quack salver)." In the Middle Ages the word quack itself meant "shouting. The quacksalvers sold their wares on the market shouting in a loud voice."[68]
  • Scientific misconduct[69][70][71]
  • Self-deception Self-deception is a process of denying or rationalizing away the relevance, significance, or importance of opposing evidence and logical argument. When one can believe their own "lie" (i.e., their presentation that is biased toward their own self-interest), the theory goes, they will consequently be better able to persuade others of its "truth." Self-deception enables someone to believe their distortions, and they will not present such signs of deception and will therefore appear to be telling the truth.[72][73][74]
  • Self-serving bias A self-serving bias occurs when people are more likely to claim responsibility for successes than failures. It may also manifest itself as a tendency for people to evaluate ambiguous information in a way beneficial to their interests. This happens in a way that could be unknown consciously to the person, flattering their own views.[75][76]
  • Skepticism In ordinary usage, skepticism or scepticism (UK spelling) refers to an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object, the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain, or the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism that is characteristic of skeptics (Merriam–Webster). In philosophy, skepticism refers more specifically to any one of several propositions. These include propositions about the limitations of knowledge, a method of obtaining knowledge through systematic doubt and continual testing, the arbitrariness, relativity, or subjectivity of moral values, a method of intellectual caution and suspended judgment, a lack of confidence in positive motives for human conduct or positive outcomes for human enterprises, that is, cynicism and pessimism (Keeton, 1962).[77][78][79][80][81][82][83][84][85][86]
  • Straw man[87][88]
  • True-believer syndrome True-believer syndrome is a term used by skeptics to describe an irrational, persistent belief in the paranormal or concepts that have been proven by science to be false and unverified.[89]
  • Wishful thinking Wishful thinking is the formation of beliefs and making decisions according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of by appealing to evidence or rationality.[90][91]
Show references


  1. ^ Hurley, Patrick (2000). A Concise Introduction to Logic, Seventh Edition. Wadsworth, a division of Thompson Learning. pp. 125–128, 182. ISBN 0534520065.
  2. ^ Humbug! Online Personal Abuse Article.
  3. ^ Fallacy: Ad Hominem.
  4. ^ Fallacy: Circumstantial Ad Hominem.
  5. ^ Argumentum Ad Hominem
  6. ^ University of Winnipeg. Argumentation Schemes and Historical Origins of the Circumstantial Ad Hominen Argument
  7. ^ Argument Against the Person (Argumentum ad hominem)
  8. ^ The Fallacy Files. Argumentum ad Hominem
  9. ^ Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary
  10. ^
  11. ^ Merriam-Webster
  12. ^
  13. ^ Anti-intellectualism in American Life, by Richard Hofstadter: ISBN 0-394-70317-0
  14. ^ Anti-Intellectualism in American Media, by Dane S. Claussen: New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2004. ISBN 0-8204-5721-3
  15. ^ Evening Chats in Beijing: Probing China's Predicament, by Perry Link: New York,London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1991. ISBN 0393310655
  16. ^ Hinton, William. Hundred Day War: The Cultural Revolution at Tsinghua University. New York: New York UP, 1972. ISBN 0-85345-281-4.
  17. ^ Moynihan Commission Report, Appendix A, 7. The Cold War, footnote 103 quoted from Robert Warshow, The Legacy of the 30’s: Middle-Class Mass Culture and the Intellectuals’ Problem, Commentary Magazine (December 1947): 538.
  18. ^ "Action Will be Taken" Left Anti-Intelectualism and its Discontents by Liza Featherstone, Doug Henwood, and Christian Parenti (Left Business Observer)
  19. ^ Robert A. Aronowitz "Pure or Impure Science?" Ann. Int. Med. 1997 127(3), 250-254
  20. ^ Definition of charlatan
  21. ^ Wason, P.C. (1960). On the failure to eliminate hypotheses in a conceptual task. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 12, 129-140.
  22. ^ Wason, P.C. (1966). Reasoning. In B. M. Foss (Ed.), New horizons in psychology I, 135-151. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.
  23. ^ Wason, P.C. (1968). Reasoning about a rule. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 20, 273-281.
  24. ^ Mynatt, C.R., Doherty, M.E., & Tweney, R.D. (1977). Confirmation bias in a simulated research environment: an experimental study of scientific inference. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 29, 85-95.
  25. ^ Griggs, R.A. & Cox, J.R. (1982). The elusive thematic materials effect in the Wason selection task. British Journal of Psychology, 73, 407-420.
  26. ^ Nickerson, R.S. (1998). Confirmation bias: A ubiquitous phenomenon in many guises. Review of General Psychology, 2, 175-220.
  27. ^ Fugelsang, J., Stein, C., Green, A., & Dunbar, K. (2004). Theory and data interactions of the scientific mind: Evidence from the molecular and the cognitive laboratory. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 58, 132-141.
  28. ^ Skeptic's Dictionary: confirmation bias Teaching about confirmation bias
  29. ^ Bernard d'Espagnat, Scientific American, Nov. 1979. The Quantum Theory and Reality 158-181
  30. ^ Controversial Science: From Content to Contention by Thomas Brante et al.
  31. ^ Communicating uncertainty: Media coverage of new and controversial science by Sharon Dunwoody et al.
  32. ^ Dudley, Underwood (1987). A Budget of Trisections. New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 0-387-96568-8.
  33. ^ Dudley, Underwood (1992). Mathematical Cranks. Washington, D.C.: Mathematical Association of America. ISBN 0-88385-507-0.
  34. ^ Dudley, Underwood (1996). The Trisectors. Washington, D.C.: Mathematical Association of America. ISBN 0-88385-514-3.
  35. ^ Dudley, Underwood (1997). Numerology: Or, What Pythagoras Wrought. Washington, D.C.: Mathematical Association of America. ISBN 0-88385-524-0.
  36. ^ Eves, Howard (1972). Mathematical Circles Squared; A Third Collection of Mathematical Stories and Anecdotes. Boston: Prindle, Weber & Schmidt. ISBN 0-87150-154-6.
  37. ^ Gardner, Martin (1957). Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. New York: Dover. ISBN 0-486-20394-8 LCCN 57-3844.
  38. ^ Kruger, Justin & David Dunning (1989). "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments" (PDF). J. Pers. and Soc. Psych. 71: 1121–1134. A classic paper on a common phenomenon in social psychiatry which in extreme cases is strongly associated with crackpottery.
  39. ^ William F. Williams, editor (2000) Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience: From Alien Abductions to Zone Therapy Facts on File ISBN 0-8160-3351-X
  40. ^ Folk Science Article
  41. ^ Scientific American: Folk Science Article
  42. ^ - Education and Neuroscience: Bridging the Gap - Page 2 Article
  43. ^ Podgor, Ellen S. Criminal Fraud, (1999) Vol, 48, No. 4 American Law Review 1 Review Fraud - Alex Copola
  44. ^ CSI On-line: Scientifically Investigating Paranormal and Fringe Science Claims fringe science investigators
  45. ^ Intellectual Dishonesty Meanings Definition
  46. ^ Center for Informed Decision Making, Sound Science versus Junk Science Article
  47. ^ Dictionary: Junk Science
  48. ^ A Textbook Case of Junk Science
  49. ^ Logical Fallacies-a semi ordered list with definitions
  50. ^ Fallacies - ESGS. Europeean Society for General Semantics
  51. ^ Logical Fallacies .Info
  52. ^ Logical Fallacies and the Art of Debate
  53. ^ Logic & Fallacies: Constructing a Logical Argument
  54. ^ Wiktionary - pejorative
  55. ^ Definition
  56. ^ Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Cambridge University Press - Definition
  57. ^ Irving Langmuir, "Colloquium on Pathological Science", held at The Knolls Research Laboratory, December 18, 1953. Kenneth Steiglitz, Professor of Computer Science, Princeton University. Transcript See also: I. Langmuir, "Pathological Science", General Electric, (Distribution Unit, Bldg. 5, Room 345, Research and Development Center, P. O. Box 8, Schenectady, NY 12301), 68-C-035 (1968); I. Langmuir, "Pathological Science", (1989) Physics Today, Volume 42, Issue 10, October 1989, pp.36-48
  58. ^ UK Student Portal - Academic Directory: Plagiarism
  59. ^ Plagiarism Stoppers : A Teachers Guide
  60. ^ What is plagiarism?
  61. ^ "Pseudoscientific - pretending to be scientific, falsely represented as being scientific", from the Oxford American Dictionary, published by the Oxford English Dictionary.
  62. ^ For example, Hewitt et al. Conceptual Physical Science Addison Wesley; 3 edition (July 18, 2003) ISBN 0-321-05173-4, Bennett et al. The Cosmic Perspective 3e Addison Wesley; 3 edition (July 25, 2003) ISBN 0-8053-8738-2
  63. ^ "Marcello Truzzi, On Pseudo-Skepticism" Zetetic Scholar (1987) No. 12/13, 3-4.
  64. ^ Definition of Quackery - Online dictionary
  65. ^ Definition of quack - Online dictionary
  66. ^ Quackery: How Should It Be Defined?
  67. ^ quacksalver- American Heritage Dictionary
  68. ^ German-English Glossary of Idioms
  69. ^ Definition of Scientific Misconduct
  70. ^ Defining Misconduct in Science
  71. ^ Rethinking Unscientific Attitudes About Scientific Misconduct
  72. ^ Self-deception article
  73. ^ Self-Deception (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  74. ^ Sample Chapter for Mele, A.R.: Self-Deception Unmasked.
  75. ^ Miller, D. T., & Ross, M. (1975). Self-serving biases in the attribution of causality: Fact or fiction? Psychological Bulletin, 82, 213-225.
  76. ^ Babcock, L. & Loewenstein, G., (1997). Explaining Bargaining Impasse: The Role of Self-Serving Biases, Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), 109-26
  77. ^ Responding to Skepticism, by Keith DeRose. Introduction to Skepticism: A Contemporary Reader (Oxford University Press, 1999). Describes the main lines of response to philosophical skepticism.
  78. ^ Skepticism and the Veil of Perception, book about philosophical skepticism & perceptual knowledge
  79. ^ James Randi Educational Foundation
  80. ^ Skepticality
  81. ^ Skeptic Report
  82. ^ Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
  83. ^ Rationalist International
  84. ^ Skeptics Society
  85. ^ Peter Suber, Classical Skepticism. An exposition of Pyrrho's skepticism through the writings of Sextus Empiricus.
  86. ^ Outstanding skeptics of the 20th century - Skeptical Inquirer Magazine
  87. ^ Examples of False Positioning (Humbug! Online)
  88. ^ Nizkor: Straw man
  89. ^ W. Sumer Davis. Just Smoke and Mirrors: Religion, Fear and Superstition in Our Modern World. pp. 11–12. ISBN 0-595-26523-5.
  90. ^ A study demonstrating wishful thinking in memory
  91. ^ Examples of Wishful Thinking @ Humbug! Online.

Media promoting pseudoscienceEdit




Journals and MagazinesEdit


Quick linksEdit