draft1 - Peter Luckow 3/10/06 Science, Pseudoscience and...

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Peter Luckow 3/10/06 Science, Pseudoscience and Scientific Hoaxes Final Paper Science and Pseudoscience The pursuit of scientific knowledge has largely been a priority for humans. People seek to understand their surroundings and the way in which the universe works. However, the drive to explain myths and other unexplainable things has lead to a stark difference in whether something is to truly be considered science. If a scientific claim is made, but due to such things as a lack of evidence and a flawed scientific method, it is usually considered to be a pseudoscience. Although some similarities exist, there is a stark difference between something that is science versus something that is pseudoscience. Similarities: Science and Pseudoscience When pseudoscience is not looked at critically it can be mistaken for science because of some common characteristics between the two. The curiosity of the human mind drives people to explain the unfamiliar things that they encounter. Both science and pseudoscience seek an explanation for the unknown. For example, when an eyewitness sees what appears to be a flying saucer in the air, he or she seeks an explanation for what kind of unidentifiable object it could have been. This type of sighting happened frequently in 1947. Kenneth Arnold first reported witnessing a “crescent shaped” aircraft flying in the sky. In the following months, his report was followed by hundreds of similar sightings throughout the United States. Unable to come up with a probable explanation
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of what these unidentifiable flying objects were, people began to conclude, without proper research, that they were extraterrestrial spacecraft. In actuality, these flying objects were most likely weather balloons. 5 Similarly, in the 1980s when a significant amount of homosexual men began coming down with a fatal illness, people sought to know what it was that was killing these people. With proper, thorough research, it was determined that these people were dying of AIDS. 3 Generally, people desire to better understand the things in which they encounter. Often, one will seek such understandings through whatever seems to most to oneself, be it science or pseudoscience. In addition to the pursuit of science and pseudoscience to fulfill the curiosity of the human mind, the monetary and other selfish rewards that come with scientific discovery often are the motivation for the quest of knowledge. Fame, glory and money often come with great discoveries, regardless of whether they are true science, pseudoscience or even simply scientific hoaxes. In the case of Woo Suk Hwang, a Korean scientist who fraudulently claimed to produce stem cells from cloned embryos, the fame and glory drove him to manipulate his research. His study pushed the small scientific community of South Korea to the forefront of the field. Hwang received many noble acknowledgments from the Korean government as well as from leading scientific journals. After the hoax was exposed, Hwang said, “We became crazy for our work and
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draft1 - Peter Luckow 3/10/06 Science, Pseudoscience and...

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