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Topics characterized as pseudoscience

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2012 millenarianism Astronomy and space sciences a belief that cataclysmic and apocalyptic events were to occur in the year 2012. The proposal was derived from the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar which by most proposed alignments with the Gregorian calendar reached a calendar rollover that year. Doomsday mechanisms were predicted to occur by means of a "galactic alignment", "solar storm", "pole shift", or catastrophic collision with an asteroid, comet, or planet Visibility
366 geometry or Megalithic geometry Earth sciences posits the existence of an Earth-based geometry dating back to at least 3500 BC, and the possibility that such a system is still in use in modern Freemasonry. According to Alexander Thom and, later, Alan Butler and Christopher Knight, megalithic civilizations in Britain and Brittany had advanced knowledge of geometry, mathematics, and the size of the Earth. Butler correlates Thom's megalithic yard to the polar circumference of Earth using a circle divided into 366 degrees Visibility
Acupressure Acupuncture manual non-invasive stimulation of acupuncture points Visibility
Acupuncture Traditional Chinese medicine use of fine needles to stimulate acupuncture points and balance the flow of qi. There is no known anatomical or histological basis for the existence of acupuncture points or meridians.[228][232] Some acupuncturists regard them as functional rather than structural entities, useful in guiding evaluation and care of patients.[226][233][234] Dry needling is the therapeutic insertion of fine needles without regard to TCM knowledge. Acupuncture has been the subject of active scientific research since the late 20th century,[235] and its effects and application remain controversial among medical researchers and clinicians.[235] Because it is a procedure rather than a pill, the design of controlled studies is challenging, as with surgical and other procedures.[226][235][236][237][238] Some scholarly reviews conclude that acupuncture's effects are mainly placebo,[239][240] and others find likelihood of efficacy for particular conditions Visibility
Acupuncture points Acupuncture collection of several hundred points on the body lying along meridians. According to TCM, each corresponds to a particular organ or function Visibility
Agricultural sciences Life sciences Visibility
Alternative medicine Health and medicine as a category, has been described as pseudoscientific. The National Science Foundation has conducted surveys of the "Public Attitudes and Public Understanding" of "Science Fiction and Pseudoscience", which includes studying the popularity of alternative medicine. It considers belief in alternative medicine a matter of concern, defining it as "all treatments that have not been proven effective using scientific methods". After quoting the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's listing of alternative medicine as one of many pseudoscientific subjects, as well as mentioning the concerns of individual scientists, organizations, and members of the science policymaking community, it comments that "nevertheless, the popularity of alternative medicine [with the public] appears to be increasing."[66] "At least 60 percent of U.S. medical schools devote classroom time to the teaching of alternative therapies, generating controversy within the scientific community."[66] In contrast, it has been reported that universities are "increasingly turning their backs on homoeopathy and complementary medicine amid opposition from the scientific community to 'pseudo-science' degrees Visibility
Ancient astronauts Astronomy and space sciences proposal by Erich von Däniken (1968) that Earth was visited by ancient astronauts.[5] Such beings have been claimed to have initiated the rise of human civilization or provided significant technological assistance to various ancient cultures Visibility
Animal mutilations Paranormal and ufology cases of animals, primarily domestic livestock, with seemingly inexplicable wounds. These wounds have been said to be caused by extraterrestrials, cults, covert government organizations, or cryptids such as el chupacabra, when in fact they were caused by natural predation Visibility
Anthroposophic medicine Health and medicine a school of complementary and alternative medicine[70] founded in the 1920s by Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman based on the spiritual philosophy of anthroposophy. It is an individualized holistic and salutogenic approach to health, deemphasizing randomized controlled trials.[71][72] Anthroposophic medications are formulated to stimulate healing by matching "key dynamic forces" with symptoms,[73] and are prepared for external, oral, or parenteral introduction in various dilutions ranging from whole to homeopathic.[74] The use of vaccinations, antibiotics, and antipyretics is generally not recommended or delayed by practitioners.[75][76][77] Skeptics, such as Robert Carroll, liken to sympathetic magic the anthroposophic principle that curative plants may be identified by distortions or abnormalities in their morphology or physiology.[78] Carroll and others state that the system is not based in science.[78][79][80] Edzard Ernst suggests that no thorough scientific analysis of the efficacy of anthroposophical medicine as a system independent of its philosophical underpinnings has been undertaken; and that no evidence-based conclusions can be drawn as to the overall efficacy of the system Visibility
Applied kinesiology Health and medicine a diagnostic method using manual muscle-strength testing for medical diagnosis and a subsequent determination of prescribed therapy, which proponents believe can identify health problems or nutritional deficiencies through practitioner assessment of external physical qualities such as muscle response, posture, or motion analysis. A variety of therapies are prescribed based on tested weakness or smoothness of muscle action and a conjectured viscerosomatic association between particular muscles and organs. For example, a practitioner will give the patient a jar containing a substance to hold in one hand, then test for muscle strength in the other hand; if there is little resistance, the practitioner may conclude that the patient is allergic to that substance. The sole use of Applied Kinesiology to diagnose or treat any allergy[82] or illness[83] is not scientifically supported, and the International College of Applied Kinesiology requires concurrent use of standard diagnostic techniques.[84] Applied kinesiologists are often chiropractors, but may also be naturopaths, physicians, dentists, nutritionists, physical therapists, massage therapists, and nurses.[83][85] Applied kinesiology should not be confused with kinesiology, the scientific study of human movement. Visibility
Applied sciences Visibility
Architecture Physical sciences Visibility
Aryanism Scientific racism the claim that there is a distinct "Aryan race" which is superior to other putative races,[335] was an important tenet of Nazism, and "the basis of the German government policy of exterminating Jews, Gypsies, and other 'non-Aryans Visibility
Astrology Astronomy and space sciences refers to any of several systems of divination based on the relative positions and movement of various real and construed celestial bodies Visibility
Astronomy and space sciences Physical sciences Visibility
Attachment therapy Psychology common name for a set of potentially fatal[269] clinical interventions and parenting techniques aimed at controlling aggressive, disobedient, or unaffectionate children using "restraint and physical and psychological abuse to seek their desired results."[270] (The term "attachment therapy" may sometimes be used loosely to refer to mainstream approaches based on attachment theory, usually outside the USA where pseudoscientific form of attachment therapy is less known.) Probably the most common form is holding therapy in which the child is restrained by adults for the purpose of supposed cathartic release of suppressed rage and regression. Perhaps the most extreme, but much less common, is "rebirthing", in which the child is wrapped tightly in a blanket and then made to simulate emergence from a birth canal. This is done by encouraging the child to struggle and pushing and squeezing him/her to mimic contractions.[6] Despite the practice's name it is not based on traditional attachment theory and shares no principles of mainstream developmental psychology research.[271] In 2006 it was the subject of an almost entirely critical Taskforce Report commissioned by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC).[272] Not all forms of attachment therapy are coercive and since the Candace Newmaker case there has been a move towards less coercive practices by leaders in the field Visibility
Autodynamics Physics alternative to special relativity proposed by Ricardo Carezani based on revised Lorentz transformations. In addition to failing to make accurate predictions at relativistic velocities, the proposed transformations do not correspond to classical velocity addition. Promoters also propose several revisions to the "particle zoo" of subatomic physics, including the nonexistence of neutrinos Visibility
Baraminology Creation science taxonomic system that classifies animals into groups called "created kinds" or "baramins" according to the account of creation in the book of Genesis and other parts of the Bible. Visibility
Bates method for better eyesight Health and medicine an educational method developed by ophthalmologist William Bates intended to improve vision "naturally" to the point at which it can allegedly eliminate the need for glasses by undoing a habitual strain to see.[101] In 1929 Bates was cited by the FTC for false or misleading advertising in connection with his book describing the method, Perfect Sight Without Glasses,[102] though the complaint was later dismissed.[103] Although some people claim to have improved their eyesight by following his principles, Bates' ideas about vision and accommodation have been rejected by mainstream ophthalmology and optometry. Visibility
Biodynamic agriculture Agricultural sciences method of organic farming that treats farms as unified and individual organisms. Biodynamics uses a calendar which has been characterized as astrological. The substances and composts used by biodynamicists have been described as unconventional and homeopathic. For example, field mice are countered by deploying ashes prepared from field mice skin when Venus is in the Scorpius constellation Visibility
Biorhythms Health and medicine hypothesis holding that human physiology and behavior are governed by physical, emotional, and intellectual cycles lasting 23, 28, and 33 days, respectively. The system posits that, for instance, errors in judgment are more probable on days when an individual's intellectual cycle, as determined by days since birth, is near a minimum. No biophysical mechanism of action has been discovered, and the predictive power of biorhythms charts is no better than chance.[6][109][110][111] For the scientific study of biological cycles such as circadian rhythms, see chronobiology Visibility
Body memory Health and medicine hypothesis that the body itself is capable of storing memories, as opposed to only the brain. This is used to explain having memories for events where the brain was not in a position to store memories and is sometimes a catalyst for repressed memories recovery.[112] These memories are often characterised with phantom pain in a part or parts of the body – the body appearing to remember the past trauma. The idea of body memory is a belief frequently associated with the idea of repressed memories, in which memories of incest or sexual abuse can be retained and recovered through physical sensations Visibility
Brain Gym Health and medicine commercial training program that claims that any learning challenges can be overcome by finding the right movements, to subsequently create new pathways in the brain. They claim that the repetition of the 26 Brain Gym movements "activates the brain for optimal storage and retrieval of information",[114] and are designed to "integrate body and mind" in order to improve "concentration, memory, reading, writing, organizing, listening, physical coordination, and more."[115] Its theoretical foundation has been discredited by the scientific community, which describe it as pseudoscience.[116][117][118][119] Peer reviewed scientific studies into Brain Gym have found no significant improvement in general academic skills. Its claimed results have been put down to the placebo effect and the benefits of breaks and exercise. Its founder, Paul Dennison, has admitted that many of Brain Gym's claims are not based on good science, but on his "hunches" Visibility
Brainwashing Psychology A theoretical indoctrination process which results in "an impairment of autonomy, an inability to think independently, and a disruption of beliefs and affiliations. In this context, brainwashing refers to the involuntary reeducation of basic beliefs and values". The term has been applied to any tactic, psychological or otherwise, which can be seen as subverting an individual's sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision making. In 1983, the American Psychological Association (APA) asked Margaret Singer to chair a taskforce called the APA Task Force on Deceptive and Indirect Techniques of Persuasion and Control (DIMPAC) to investigate whether brainwashing or "coercive persuasion" did indeed play a role in "cult" recruitment. The APA found that brainwashing theories were without empirical proof, and rejected the DIMPAC report because the report "lacks the scientific rigor and evenhanded critical approach necessary for APA imprimatur".[273][274] Two critical letters from external reviewers Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi and Jeffery D. Fisher accompanied the APA's rejection memo. The letters criticized "brainwashing" as an unrecognized theoretical concept and Singer's reasoning as so flawed that it was "almost ridiculous Visibility
Channeling Paranormal and ufology communication of information to or through a person allegedly from a spirit or other paranormal entity Visibility
Chiropractic Health and medicine is an alternative medicine practice focused on finding vertebral subluxations and treating them with spinal adjustments. Many modern chiropractors target solely mechanical dysfunction, and offer health and lifestyle counseling.[121][122] Many others, however, base their practice on the vitalism of D.D. Palmer and B. J. Palmer, maintaining that all or many organic diseases are the result of hypothetical spinal dysfunctions known as vertebral subluxations and the impaired flow of Innate intelligence, a form of putative energy.[123][124] These ideas are not based in science, and along with the lack of a strong research base are in part responsible for the historical conflict between chiropractic and mainstream medicine.[125][126][127][128] Recent systematic reviews indicate the possibility of moderate effectiveness for spinal manipulation in the management of nonspecific lower back pain.[129][130][131] The effectiveness of chiropractic spinal manipulation has not been demonstrated according to the principles of evidence-based medicine for any other condition.[132] Adverse symptomatic events, which are all qualified as relatively mild in the referenced report, with possible neurologic involvement following spinal manipulation, particularly upper spinal manipulation, occur with a frequency of between 33% and 61%. Most events are minor, such as mild soreness, fainting, dizziness, light headedness, headache, or numbness or tingling in the upper limbs; serious complications such as subarachnoid hemorrhage, vertebral artery dissection, or myelopathy are observed infrequently Visibility
Christian Science Religious and spiritual beliefs is generally considered a Christian new religious movement. However, some have called it "pseudoscience" because its founder, Mary Baker Eddy, used "science" in its name, and because of its former stance against medical science. Also, "Eddy used the term Metaphysical science to distinguish her system both from materialistic science and from occult science."[374] The church now accepts the use of medical science. Vaccinations were banned, but in 1901, Eddy, at the age of 80, advised her followers to submit to them Visibility
Climate change denial Earth sciences politically contentious arguments disputing aspects of global warming have been identified as being pseudoscientific. Visibility
Colon cleansing Health and medicine encompasses several alternative medical therapies intended to remove fecal waste and unidentified toxins from the colon and intestinal tract. Practitioners believe that accumulations of putrefied feces line the walls of the large intestine and that they harbor parasites or pathogenic gut flora, causing nonspecific symptoms and general ill-health. This "auto-intoxication" hypothesis is based on medical beliefs of the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks, and was discredited in the early 20th century Visibility
Conversion therapy Psychology sometimes called reparative therapy, seeks to change a non-heterosexual person's sexual orientation so they will no longer be homosexual or bisexual.[276] The American Psychiatric Association defines reparative therapy as "psychiatric treatment ... which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change their sexual homosexual orientation Visibility
Craniosacral therapy Health and medicine involves the therapist placing their hands on the patient, which allows them to "tune into the craniosacral rhythm".[142] Craniosacral therapists claim to treat mental stress, neck and back pain, migraines, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and for chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia.[143][144][145] A systematic review conducted in 1999 "did not find valid scientific evidence that craniosacral therapy provides a benefit to patients", noting that "[t]he available health outcome research consists of low grade of evidence derived from weak study designs" and "[a]dverse events have been reported in head-injured patients following craniosacral therapy."[146] Craniosacral therapy has been variously characterized as pseudoscientific or discredited Visibility
Creation biology Creation science subset of creation science that tries to explain biology without macroevolution Visibility
Creationist cosmologies Creation science cosmologies which, among other things, allow for a universe that is only thousands of years old Visibility
Creation science Religious and spiritual beliefs Visibility
Crop circles Paranormal and ufology geometric designs of crushed or knocked-over crops created in a field. Aside from skilled farmers or pranksters working through the night, explanations for their formation include UFOs and anomalous, tornado-like air currents.[17] The study of crop circles has become known as "cerealogy Visibility
Cryptozoology Paranormal and ufology search for creatures that are considered not to exist by most biologists.[343] Well known examples of creatures of interest to cryptozoologists include Bigfoot, Yeren, Yeti, and the Loch Ness Monster. According to leading skeptical authors Michael Shermer and Pat Linse, "Cryptozoology ranges from pseudoscientific to useful and interesting, depending on how it is practiced Visibility
Crystal healing Health and medicine belief that crystals have healing properties. Once common among pre-scientific and indigenous peoples, it enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the 1970s with the New Age movement. Visibility
Cupping therapy Traditional Chinese medicine an ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin; practitioners believe this mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing.[245] Suction is created using heat (fire) or mechanical devices (hand or electrical pumps). Only one controlled trial of cupping has been conducted, and it did not demonstrate any effectiveness for pain relief. A book by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst claims that no evidence exists of any beneficial effects of cupping for any medical condition Visibility
Detoxification Health and medicine Detoxification in the context of alternative medicine consists of an approach that claims to rid the body of "toxins" – accumulated harmful substances that allegedly exert undesirable effects on individual health in the short or long term. Many mainstream media web sites offer articles on this practice, despite a lack of scientific evidence for either the presence of the toxins, harm from their presence, or efficacy of the removal techniques Visibility
Dogon people and Sirius B Astronomy and space sciences a series of claims that the Dogon tribe knew about the white dwarf companion of Sirius despite it being invisible to the naked eye (and knew about it for reasons other than being told about it by visiting Europeans) Visibility
Dowsing Paranormal and ufology refers to practices said to enable one to detect hidden water, metals, gemstones or other objects Visibility
Drapetomania Scientific racism was a supposed mental illness described by American physician Samuel A. Cartwright in 1851 that caused black slaves to flee captivity Visibility
Ear candling Health and medicine an alternative medicine practice claimed to improve general health and well-being by lighting one end of a hollow candle and placing the other end in the ear canal. Medical research has shown that the practice is ineffective, with a relatively low probability of injury. A survey of 122 otolaryngologists identified 21 ear injuries in total over the course of their careers.[155] The process does not help remove earwax or toxicants Visibility
Earthing therapy Health and medicine therapy that is claimed to ease pain, provide a better night's sleep, and assist in diseases with symptoms of inflammation by being in direct physical contact with the ground or a device connected to electrical ground.[157] Purportedly, the earth has an excess of electrons which people are missing due to insulating shoes and ground cover. Being in electrical contact with the earth provides the body with those excess electrons which then act as antioxidants Visibility
Earth sciences Physical sciences Visibility
Einstein–Cartan–Evans theory Physics proposed unified theory of physics due to Myron Evans, a Welsh chemist Visibility
Electrogravitics Physics hypothesis, based on the 1920s work of Thomas Townsend Brown, that an electrical charge applied to a mass can produce an (anti) gravity effect Visibility
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity Health and medicine reported sensitivity to electric and magnetic fields or electromagnetic radiation of various frequencies at exposure levels well below established safety standards. Symptoms are inconsistent, but can include headache, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and similar non-specific indications.[159] Provocation studies find that the discomfort of sufferers is unrelated to hidden sources of radiation,[160][161] and "no scientific basis currently exists for a connection between EHS and exposure to [electromagnetic fields Visibility
Electronic voice phenomenon Paranormal and ufology purported communication by spirits through tape recorders and other electronic devices Visibility
Energy Physical sciences Visibility
Extra-sensory perception Paranormal and ufology paranormal ability (independent of the five main senses or deduction from previous experience) to acquire information by means such as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychic abilities, and remote viewing Visibility
Faith healing Health and medicine act of curing disease by such means as prayer and laying on of hands. No material benefit in excess of that expected by placebo is observed.[6][163][164] Visibility
Feng-shui Architecture Feng shui, a Chinese system of architecture is often regarded as a pseudoscience for its superstitious elements. Visibility
Finance Applied sciences Visibility
Flat Earth Earth sciences a theory that the Earth is flat rather than spherical. Still supported by some fringe groups.[ Visibility
Flood geology Creation science creationist form of geology that advocates most of the geologic features on Earth are explainable by a global flood. Visibility
Fomenko's chronology History argues that the conventional chronology is fundamentally flawed, that events attributed to antiquity such as the histories of Rome, Greece and Egypt actually occurred during the Middle Ages Visibility
Free energy Perpetual motion particular class of perpetual motion which purports to create energy (violating the first law of thermodynamics) or extract useful work from equilibrium systems (violating the second law of thermodynamics). This is in contrast to proposals made most notably by Harold Puthoff[44] which involve the extraction of zero point energy,[45] a real energy which in quantum mechanics is thought not to be available to do work Visibility
Ghost hunting Paranormal and ufology use of scientific methods and instrumentation in an unverifiable manner to prove supposed hauntings Visibility
Graphology Psychology psychological test based on a belief that personality traits unconsciously and consistently influence handwriting morphology – that certain types of people exhibit certain quirks of the pen. Analysis of handwriting attributes provides no better than chance correspondence with personality, and neuroscientist Barry Beyerstein likened the assigned correlations to sympathetic magic.[6][45][280][281][282][283] Graphology is only superficially related to forensic document examination, which also examines handwriting Visibility
Health and medicine Applied sciences Visibility
History Visibility
Hollow Earth Earth sciences proposal that Earth is either entirely hollow or consists of hollow sections beneath the crust. Certain folklore and conspiracy theories hold this idea and suggest the existence of subterranean life Visibility
Holocaust denial History The Leuchter report attempted to demonstrate on a forensic level that mass homicidal gassings at Nazi extermination camps did not take place Visibility
Homeopathy Health and medicine the belief that giving a patient with symptoms of an illness extremely dilute remedies that are thought to produce those same symptoms in healthy people. These preparations are often diluted beyond the point where any treatment molecule is likely to remain.[167] Studies of homeopathic practice have been largely negative or inconclusive.[168][169][170][171] No scientific basis for homeopathic principles has been substantiated Visibility
Hongcheng Magic Liquid Energy a 1983 pseudoscience incident in China where an inventor claimed that he could turn water into a usable fuel by just adding a few drops of his "secret formula" liquid. The government of China and the Chinese Communist Party were alarmed by pseudoscience developments like this one and issued a joint proclamation condemning the recent decline of public education in science Visibility
Hydrinos Energy are a supposed state of the hydrogen atom that, according to proponent Randell Mills, are of lower energy than ground state and thus a source of free energy. Visibility
Hypnosis Psychology state of extreme relaxation and inner focus in which a person is unusually responsive to suggestions made by the hypnotist. The modern practice has its roots in the idea of animal magnetism, or mesmerism, originated by Franz Mesmer.[284] Mesmer's explanations were thoroughly discredited, and to this day there is no agreement amongst researchers whether hypnosis is a real phenomenon, or merely a form of participatory role-enactment.[6][285][286] Some aspects of suggestion have been clinically useful.[287][288] Other claimed uses of hypnosis more clearly fall within the area of pseudoscience. Such areas include the use of hypnotic regression beyond plausible limits, including past life regression. Visibility
Innate intelligence Chiropractic form of putative energy, the flow of which is considered by some chiropractors to be responsible for patient health. Chiropractic historian Joseph C. Keating, Jr. stated: "So long as we propound the 'One cause, one cure' rhetoric of Innate, we should expect to be met by ridicule from the wider health science community. Chiropractors can't have it both ways. Our theories cannot be both dogmatically held vitalistic constructs and be scientific at the same time. The purposiveness, consciousness and rigidity of the Palmers' Innate should be rejected. Visibility
Intelligent design Creation science maintains that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection Visibility
Iridology Health and medicine means of medical diagnosis which proponents believe can identify and diagnose health problems through close examination of the markings and patterns of the iris. Practitioners divide the iris into 80–90 zones, each of which is connected to a particular body region or organ. This connection has not been scientifically validated, and disorder detection is neither selective nor specific.[179][180][181] Because iris texture is a phenotypical feature which develops during gestation and remains unchanged after birth (which makes the iris useful for Biometrics), iridology is all but impossible Visibility
Koranic scientific foreknowledge Religious and spiritual beliefs Koranic Science (or Qur'anic science or Hadeeth science) asserts that foundational Islamic religious texts made accurate statements about the world that science verified hundreds of years later. This belief is a common theme in Bucailleism Visibility
Law of attraction Psychology the maxim that "like attracts like" which in New Thought philosophy is used to sum up the idea that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life.[293] Skeptical Inquirer magazine criticized the lack of falsifiability and testability of these claims.[294] Critics have asserted that the evidence provided is usually anecdotal and that, because of the self-selecting nature of the positive reports, as well as the subjective nature of any results, these reports are susceptible to confirmation bias and selection bias.[295] Physicist Ali Alousi, for instance, criticized it as unmeasurable and questioned the likelihood that thoughts can affect anything outside the head Visibility
Leaky gut syndrome Health and medicine in alternative medicine, a proposed condition caused by the passage of harmful substances outward through the gut wall. It has been proposed as the cause of many conditions including multiple sclerosis and autism, a claim which has been called pseudoscientific.[182] According to the UK National Health Service, the theory is vague and unproven.[183] Some skeptics and scientists say that the marketing of treatments for leaky gut syndrome is either misguided or an instance of deliberate health fraud Visibility
Levitation Paranormal and ufology act of rising up from the ground without any physical aids, usually by the power of thought Visibility
Life sciences Visibility
Lightning Process Health and medicine a system claimed to be derived from osteopathy, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and life coaching.[184] Proponents claim that the Process can have a positive effect on a long list of diseases and conditions, including myalgic encephalomyelitis, despite no scientific evidence of efficacy.[185] The designer of the Lightning Process, Phill Parker, suggests certain illnesses such as ME/CFS arise from a dysregulation of the central nervous system and autonomic nervous system, which the Lightning Process aims to address, helping to break the "adrenaline loop" that keep the systems' stress responses high. Visibility
Lunar effect Astronomy and space sciences the belief that the full Moon influences human behavior Visibility
Lysenkoism Earth sciences denotes the biological inheritance principle propounded by Trofim Lysenko, which derives from theories of the heritability of acquired characteristics.[35] Lysenkoism is a theory of biological inheritance which departs from Mendelism, and which Lysenko named "Michurinism". Lysenko's theories came to prominence in the Soviet Union during the late 1940s and early 1950s, when genetics was declared a "bourgeois science" in the wake of the famines caused by Joseph Stalin's collectivization campaign. The Soviet Union quietly abandoned Lysenko's agricultural practices in favor of modern agricultural practices after the crop yields he promised failed to materialize. By the mid-1950s, his influence had declined considerably. Today Lysenko's agricultural experimentation and research is largely viewed as fraudulent Visibility
Magnet therapy Health and medicine practice of using magnetic fields to positively influence health. While there are legitimate medical uses for magnets and magnetic fields, the field strength used in magnetic therapy is too low to effect any biological change, and the methods used have no scientific validity Visibility
Maharishi Ayurveda Health and medicine traditional Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old alternative medical practice with roots in ancient India based on a mind-body set of beliefs.[188][189] Imbalance or stress in an individual's consciousness is believed to be the cause of diseases.[188] Patients are classified by body types (three doshas, which are considered to control mind-body harmony, determine an individual’s "body type"); and treatment is aimed at restoring balance to the mind-body system.[188][189] It has long been the main traditional system of health care in India,[189] and it has become institutionalized in India's colleges and schools, although unlicensed practitioners are common.[190] As with other traditional knowledge, much of it was lost; in the West, current practice is in part based on the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1980s,[191] who mixed it with Transcendental Meditation; other forms of Ayurveda exist as well. The most notable advocate of Ayurveda in America is Deepak Chopra, who claims that Maharishi's Ayurveda is based on quantum mysticism. Visibility
Melanin theory Scientific racism belief founded in the distortion of known physical properties of melanin, a natural polymer, that posits the inherent superiority of dark-skinned people and the essential inhumanity and an inferiority of light-skinned people Visibility
Memetics Psychology approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer based on the concept that units of information, or "memes", have an independent existence, are self-replicating, and are subject to selective evolution through environmental forces. Starting from a proposition put forward in the writings of Richard Dawkins, it has since turned into a new area of study, one that looks at the self-replicating units of culture. It has been proposed that just as memes are analogous to genes, memetics is analogous to genetics. Memetics has been deemed a pseudoscience on several fronts.[296] Its proponents' assertions have been labeled "untested, unsupported or incorrect"[296] though the same book contains Susan Blackmore's counter article "Memes as Good Science". Supporters of memetics include EO Wilson, Douglas Hofstadter and many others Visibility
Meridians Traditional Chinese medicine are the channels through which qi flows, connecting the several zang-fu organ pairs.[224][247] There is no known anatomical or histological basis for the existence of acupuncture points or meridians Visibility
Modern flat Earth beliefs Astronomy and space sciences proposes that the earth is a flat, disc-shaped planet that accelerates upward, producing the illusion of gravity. Proposers of a flat Earth, such as the Flat Earth Society, do not accept compelling evidence, such as photos of planet Earth from space Visibility
Modern geocentrism Creation science citing uniform gamma-ray bursts distribution, and other arguments of this type, as evidence that we (being in the Milky Way galaxy) are at the center of the cosmos.[385][386][387] Proponents got their initial belief from the Bible, then they cherry-pick scientific evidence to justify their position and claim that geocentrism is supported by science Visibility
Moon landing conspiracy theories Astronomy and space sciences claims that parts of the Apollo program were hoaxed and subsequently covered up. While many of the accusations are best categorized under conspiracy theories, some do attempt to use faulty science to prove that the Moon landing could not have happened, thus qualifying them as pseudoscientific claims Visibility
Moxibustion Traditional Chinese medicine application on or above the skin of smoldering mugwort, or moxa, to stimulate acupuncture points Visibility
Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques Applied kinesiology claim to be an alternative diagnosis and treatment of allergies and related disorders. Reviews of the available evidence conclude that the diagnostic techniques used in NAET, primarily a form of applied kinesiology, are ineffective at diagnosing allergies[86][87][88][89][90][91][92][93] and several medical associations advise against using applied kinesiology in this way.[92][94][95][96][97][98] The few available reviews in the literature that discuss NAET directly state that it lacks any supporting evidence and that its claims are unsubstantiated.[93][99] The theoretical basis of NAET has been criticized for lacking scientific rationale[97][100] and the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy advise against the use of NAET Visibility
Naturopathy Health and medicine is a type of alternative medicine based on a belief in vitalism, which posits that a special energy called vital energy or vital force guides bodily processes such as metabolism, reproduction, growth, and adaptation.[192] Naturopathy has been characterized as pseudoscience.[193][194] It has particularly been criticized for its unproven, disproven, or dangerous treatments.[195][196][197][198] Natural methods and chemicals are not necessarily safer or more effective than artificial or synthetic ones; any treatment capable of eliciting an effect may also have deleterious side effects Visibility
Neuro-linguistic programming Psychology an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created in the 1970s. The title refers to a stated connection between the neurological processes ("neuro"), language ("linguistic") and behavioral patterns that have been learned through experience ("programming") and can be organized to achieve specific goals in life.[297][298] According to certain neuroscientists[299] psychologists[300][301] and linguists,[302][303] NLP is unsupported by current scientific evidence, and uses incorrect and misleading terms and concepts. Reviews of empirical research on NLP indicate that NLP contains numerous factual errors,[304][305] and has failed to produce reliable results for the claims for effectiveness made by NLP’s originators and proponents.[301][306] According to Devilly,[307] NLP is no longer as prevalent as it was in the 1970s and 1980s. Criticisms go beyond the lack of empirical evidence for effectiveness; critics say that NLP exhibits pseudoscientific characteristics,[307] title,[299] concepts and terminology.[302] NLP is used as an example of pseudoscience for facilitating the teaching of scientific literacy at the professional and university level.[303][308][309] NLP also appears on peer reviewed expert-consensus based lists of discredited interventions.[301] In research designed to identify the "quack factor" in modern mental health practice, Norcross et al. (2006)[310] list NLP as possibly or probably discredited, and in papers reviewing discredited interventions for substance and alcohol abuse, Norcross et al. (2008)[311] list NLP in the "top ten" most discredited, and Glasner-Edwards and Rawson (2010) list NLP as "certainly discredited" Visibility
Nibiru cataclysm Astronomy and space sciences prediction first made by contactee Nancy Lieder that a mythological planet Nibiru would collide with Earth. After having adjusted her prediction many times, she later claimed the year of the occurrence to be 2012 Visibility
Numerology Numerology set of beliefs in a divine, mystical, or other special relationship between a number and coinciding events. Numerology is regarded as pseudomathematics or pseudoscience by modern scientists.[367][368][369] It is often associated with the paranormal, alongside astrology and similar divinatory arts Visibility
Orgone Energy is a pseudoscientific concept described as an esoteric energy or hypothetical universal life force, originally proposed in the 1930s by Wilhelm Reich Visibility
Osteopathic manipulative medicine Health and medicine the core technique of osteopathic medicine. OMM is based on a philosophy devised by Andrew Taylor Still (1828–1917) who held that the body had self-regulating mechanisms that could be harnessed through manipulating the bones, tendons and muscles. It has been proposed as a treatment for a number of human ailments including Parkinson's disease, pancreatitis, and pneumonia but has only been found to be effective for lower back pain by virtue of the spinal manipulation used.[201][202][203] It has long been regarded as rooted in "pseudoscientific dogma".[204] In 2010 Steven Salzberg referred to the OMT-specific training given by colleges of osteopathic medicine as "training in pseudoscientific practices" Visibility
Other Religious and spiritual beliefs Visibility
Palmistry Paranormal and ufology the belief that the future can be foretold through palm reading. Predictions are based on the shape, line, and mounts of the hands. Palmists use cold reading in order to appear psychic Visibility
Paranormal and ufology Sociology Visibility
Parapsychology Paranormal and ufology controversial discipline that seeks to investigate the existence and causes of psychic abilities and life after death using the scientific method. Parapsychological experiments have included the use of random number generators to test for evidence of precognition and psychokinesis with both human and animal subjects[313][314][315] and Ganzfeld experiments to test for extrasensory perception Visibility
Perpetual motion Energy class of proposed machines that violate one of the Laws of Thermodynamics. Perpetual motion has been recognized as extrascientific since the late 18th century, but proposals and patents for such devices continue to be made to the present day. Visibility
Phrenology Psychology now defunct system for determining personality traits by feeling bumps on the skull proposed by 18th-century physiologist Franz Joseph Gall.[6] In an early recorded use of the term "pseudo-science", François Magendie referred to phrenology as "a pseudo-science of the present day".[317] The assumption that personality can be read from bumps in the skull has since been thoroughly discredited. However, Gall's assumption that character, thoughts, and emotions are located in the brain is considered an important historical advance toward neuropsychology (see also localization of brain function, Brodmann's areas, neuro-imaging, modularity of mind or faculty psychology Visibility
Physical sciences Visibility
Physics Physical sciences Visibility
Polygraphy Psychology an interrogation method which measures and records several physiological indices such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity while the subject is asked and answers a series of questions. The belief is that deceptive answers will produce physiological responses that can be differentiated from those associated with non-deceptive answers. Many members of the scientific community consider polygraphy to be pseudoscience.[319][320] Polygraphy has little credibility among scientists.[321][322] Despite claims of 90–95% validity by polygraph advocates, and 95–100% by businesses providing polygraph services,[323] critics maintain that rather than a "test", the method amounts to an inherently unstandardizable interrogation technique whose accuracy cannot be established. A 1997 survey of 421 psychologists estimated the test's average accuracy at about 61%, a little better than chance.[324] Critics also argue that even given high estimates of the polygraph's accuracy a significant number of subjects (e.g. 10% given a 90% accuracy) will appear to be lying, and would unfairly suffer the consequences of "failing" the polygraph Visibility
Primal therapy Psychology sometimes presented as a science.[325] The Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology (2001) states that: "The theoretical basis for the therapy is the supposition that prenatal experiences and birth trauma form people's primary impressions of life and that they subsequently influence the direction our lives take ... Truth be known, primal therapy cannot be defended on scientifically established principles. This is not surprising considering its questionable theoretical rationale."[326] Other sources have also questioned the scientific validity of primal therapy, some using the term "pseudoscience" Visibility
Promotion of a link between autism and vaccines Health and medicine in which the vaccines are accused of causing autism-spectrum conditions, triggering them, or aggravating them, has been characterized as pseudoscience.[256] Many epidemiological studies have found a lack of association between either the MMR vaccine and autism, or thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.[257] Consequently, the Institute of Medicine has concluded that there is no causal link between either of these varieties of vaccines and autism Visibility
Pseudoarchaeology Paranormal and ufology investigation of the ancient past using alleged paranormal or other means which have not been validated by mainstream science Visibility
Psychic surgery Paranormal and ufology type of medical fraud, popular in Brazil and the Philippines. Practitioners use sleight of hand to make it appear as though they are reaching into a patient's body and extracting "tumours". Psychic surgery is usually explicit deception; i.e., the "practitioners" are aware that they are practicing fraud or "quackery Visibility
Psychoanalysis Psychology body of ideas developed by Austrian physician Sigmund Freud and his followers, which is devoted to the study of human psychological functioning and behavior. It has been controversial ever since its inception.[327] Karl Popper characterized it as pseudoscience based on psychoanalysis failing the requirement for falsifiability.[328][329] Frank Cioffi argued that "though Popper is correct to say that psychoanalysis is pseudoscientific and correct to say that it is unfalsifiable, he is mistaken to suggest that it is pseudoscientific because it is unfalsifiable. […] It is when [Freud] insists that he has confirmed (not just instantiated) [his empirical theses] that he is being pseudoscientific Visibility
Psychokinesis Paranormal and ufology paranormal ability of the mind to influence matter or energy at a distance Visibility
Psychology Social sciences Visibility
Qi Traditional Chinese medicine vital energy whose flow must be balanced for health. Qi has never been directly observed, and is unrelated to the concept of energy used in science Visibility
Racial theories Social sciences Visibility
Radionics Health and medicine means of medical diagnosis and therapy which proponents believe can diagnose and remedy health problems using various frequencies in a putative energy field coupled to the practitioner's electronic device. The first such "black box" devices were designed and promoted by Albert Abrams, and were definitively proven useless by an independent investigation commissioned by Scientific American in 1924.[206] The internal circuitry of radionics devices is often obfuscated and irrelevant, leading proponents to conjecture dowsing and ESP as operating principles.[207][208][209] Similar devices continue to be marketed under various names, though none is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration; there is no scientific evidence for the efficacy or underlying premise of radionics devices.[210][211] The radionics of Albert Abrams and his intellectual descendants should not be confused with similarly named reputable and legitimate companies, products, or medical treatments such as radiotherapy or radiofrequency ablation. Visibility
Reflexology Health and medicine is an alternative medicine involving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet, hands, or ears with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on what reflexologists claim to be a system of zones and reflex areas that they say reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body.[212] A 2009 systematic review of randomised controlled trials concludes that the best evidence available to date does not demonstrate convincingly that reflexology is an effective treatment for any medical condition.[213] There is no consensus among reflexologists on how reflexology is supposed to work; a unifying theme is the idea that areas on the foot correspond to areas of the body, and that by manipulating these one can improve health through one's qi.[214] Reflexologists divide the body into ten equal vertical zones, five on the right and five on the left.[215] Concerns have been raised by medical professionals that treating potentially serious illnesses with reflexology, which has no proven efficacy, could delay the seeking of appropriate medical treatment. Visibility
Religious and spiritual beliefs Visibility
Rolfing Health and medicine body manipulation devised by Ida Rolf (1896–1979) claimed by practitioners to be capable of ridding the body of traumatic memories storied in the muscles.[217] There is no evidence that rolfing is effective as a treatment for any condition. Visibility
Rumpology Paranormal and ufology neologism referring to a pseudoscience akin to physiognomy, performed by examining crevices, dimples, warts, moles and folds of a person's buttocks in much the same way a chirologist would read the palm of the hand Visibility
Scientific racism Racial theories claim that scientific evidence shows the inferiority or superiority of certain races Visibility
Scientology Religious and spiritual beliefs Visibility
Scriptural codes Numerology the belief that a book or fragment of holy scripture contains encoded messages that impart esoteric knowledge. One such decoding method involves identifying "equidistant letter sequences" that spell out such messages Visibility
Séances Paranormal and ufology ritualized attempts to communicate with the dead Visibility
Searches for Noah's Ark Creation science attempts to find the burial site of Noah's Ark, that according to the Genesis flood narrative is located somewhere in the alleged "Mountains of Ararat". There have been numerous expeditions with several false claims of success; the practice is widely regarded as pseudoscience, more specifically pseudoarchaeology Visibility
Social sciences Visibility
Sociology Social sciences Visibility
Subliminal advertising Psychology a visual or auditory information that is discerned below the threshold of conscious awareness and claims to have a powerful enduring effect on consuming habits. It went into disrepute in the late 1970s[331] but there has been renewed research interest recently.[6][285] The mainstream of accepted scientific opinion does not hold that subliminal perception has a powerful, enduring effect on human behaviour Visibility
TCM materia medica Traditional Chinese medicine collection of crude medicines used in traditional Chinese medicine. These include many plants in part or whole, such as ginseng and wolfberry, as well as more exotic ingredients such as seahorses. Preparations generally include several ingredients in combination, with selection based on physical characteristics such as taste or shape, or relationship to the organs of TCM.[251] Most preparations have not been rigorously evaluated or give no indication of efficacy.[231][252][253] Pharmacognosy research for potential active ingredients present in these preparations is active, though the applications do not always correspond to those of TCM Visibility
Technical analysis Finance is a security analysis methodology for forecasting the direction of prices through the study of past market data, primarily price and volume.[260] Behavioral economics and quantitative analysis use many of the same tools of technical analysis,[261][262][263][264] which, being an aspect of active management, stands in contradiction to much of modern portfolio theory. The efficacy of both technical and fundamental analysis is disputed by the efficient-market hypothesis which states that stock market prices are essentially unpredictable.[265] It is still considered by many academics to be pseudoscience.[266] Academics such as Eugene Fama say the evidence for technical analysis is sparse and is inconsistent with the weak form of the efficient-market hypothesis Visibility
The Bermuda Triangle Earth sciences a region of the Atlantic Ocean that lies between Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and (in its most popular version) Florida. Ship and aircraft disasters and disappearances perceived as frequent in this area have led to the circulation of stories of unusual natural phenomena, paranormal encounters, and interactions with extraterrestrials Visibility
The Face on Mars Astronomy and space sciences is a rock formation on Mars asserted to be evidence of intelligent, native life on the planet.[15] High-resolution images taken recently show it to appear less face-like. It features prominently in the works of Richard C. Hoagland and Tom Van Flandern Visibility
Therapeutic touch Health and medicine form of vitalism where a practitioner, who may be also a nurse,[45][219] passes his or her hands over and around a patient to "realign" or "rebalance" a putative energy field.[43] A recent Cochrane Review concluded that "[t]here is no evidence that [Therapeutic Touch] promotes healing of acute wounds."[220] No biophysical basis for such an energy field has been found Visibility
Tin foil hat Health and medicine A tin foil hat is a hat made from one or more sheets of aluminium foil, or a piece of conventional headgear lined with foil, worn in the belief it shields the brain from threats such as electromagnetic fields, mind control, and mind reading. At this time no link has been established between the radio-frequency EMR that tin foil hats are meant to protect against and subsequent ill health Visibility
Traditional Chinese medicine Health and medicine traditional medical system originating in China and practiced as an alternative medicine throughout much of the world. It contains elements based in the cosmology of Taoism,[223] and considers the human body more in functional and vitalistic than anatomical terms.[224][225] Health and illness in TCM follow the principle of yin and yang, and are ascribed to balance or imbalance in the flow of a vital force, qi.[226][227] Diagnostic methods are solely external, including pulse examination at six points, examination of a patient's tongue, and a patient interview; interpractitioner diagnostic agreement is poor.[224][228][229][230] The TCM description of the function and structure of the human body is fundamentally different from modern medicine, though some of the procedures and remedies have shown promise under scientific investigation Visibility
Tunguska event Paranormal and ufology was an actual large explosion, possibly caused by a meteoroid or comet, in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia in June 1908. Night skies as far away as London were markedly brighter for several evenings. Unsupported theories regarding the event include the impact of a miniature black hole or large body of antimatter, ball lightning, a test by Nikola Tesla of the apparatus at Wardenclyffe Tower, and a UFO crash.[6][363][364] Another theory is that the explosion was caused by a piece of Biela's Comet from 1883 Visibility
Ufology Paranormal and ufology the study of unidentified flying objects (UFO) that frequently includes the belief that UFOs are evidence for extraterrestrial visitors Visibility
Unilineal evolution Sociology Before Darwin's work On the Origin of Species, some models incorporated Enlightenment ideas of social progress, and thus, according to philosopher of science Michael Ruse, were pseudoscientific by current standards, and may have been viewed as such during the 18th century, as well as into the start of the 19th century (though the word pseudoscience may not have been used in reference to these early proposals). This pseudoscientific, and often political, incorporation of social progress with evolutionary thought continued for some one hundred years following the publication of Origin of Species Visibility
Urine therapy Health and medicine drinking either one's own undiluted urine or homeopathic potions of urine for treatment of a wide variety of diseases is based on pseudoscience Visibility
Vaimānika Shāstra Astronomy and space sciences a Hindu nationalist claim that airplanes were invented in ancient India during the Vedic period. A 1974 study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore found that the heavier-than-air aircraft that the Vaimānika Shāstra described were aerodynamically unfeasible. The authors remarked that the discussion of the principles of flight in the text were largely perfunctory and incorrect, in some cases violating Newton's laws of motion. Visibility
Vastu shastra Architecture is the ancient Hindu system of architecture, which lays down a series of rules for building houses in relation to ambiance. Scientists like Jayant Narlikar write that it has no "logical connection" with the environment and notes that sometimes what has already been built is demolished and rebuilt to accommodate the rules Visibility
Vertebral subluxation Chiropractic a Chiropractic term that describes variously a site of impaired flow of innate or a spinal lesion that is postulated to cause neuromusculoskeletal or visceral dysfunction. Scientific consensus does not support the existence of chiropractic's vertebral subluxation Visibility
Vitalism Health and medicine doctrine that the processes of life are not explicable by the laws of physics and chemistry alone and that life is in some part self-determining. The book Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience stated "today, vitalism is one of the ideas that form the basis for many pseudoscientific health systems that claim that illnesses are caused by a disturbance or imbalance of the body's vital force." "Vitalists claim to be scientific, but in fact they reject the scientific method with its basic postulates of cause and effect and of provability. They often regard subjective experience to be more valid than objective material reality Visibility
Water-fueled cars Perpetual motion an instance of perpetual motion machines.[46] Such devices are claimed to use water as fuel or produce fuel from water on board with no other energy input. Visibility
Worlds in Collision (Velikovsky) Astronomy and space sciences writer Immanuel Velikovsky proposed in his book Worlds in Collision that ancient texts and geographic evidence show mankind was witness to catastrophic interactions of other planets in our Solar system. Visibility
Zang-fu Traditional Chinese medicine concept of organs as functional yin and yang entities for the storage and manipulation of qi.[224] These organs are not based in anatomy Visibility
Source Link Target Date Description
2012 millenarianism Astronomy and space sciences a belief that cataclysmic and apocalyptic events were to occur in the year 2012. The proposal was derived from the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar which by most proposed alignments with the Gregorian calendar reached a calendar rollover that year. Doomsday mechanisms were predicted to occur by means of a "galactic alignment", "solar storm", "pole shift", or catastrophic collision with an asteroid, comet, or planet
366 geometry or Megalithic geometry Earth sciences posits the existence of an Earth-based geometry dating back to at least 3500 BC, and the possibility that such a system is still in use in modern Freemasonry. According to Alexander Thom and, later, Alan Butler and Christopher Knight, megalithic civilizations in Britain and Brittany had advanced knowledge of geometry, mathematics, and the size of the Earth. Butler correlates Thom's megalithic yard to the polar circumference of Earth using a circle divided into 366 degrees
Acupressure Acupuncture manual non-invasive stimulation of acupuncture points
Acupuncture Traditional Chinese medicine use of fine needles to stimulate acupuncture points and balance the flow of qi. There is no known anatomical or histological basis for the existence of acupuncture points or meridians.[228][232] Some acupuncturists regard them as functional rather than structural entities, useful in guiding evaluation and care of patients.[226][233][234] Dry needling is the therapeutic insertion of fine needles without regard to TCM knowledge. Acupuncture has been the subject of active scientific research since the late 20th century,[235] and its effects and application remain controversial among medical researchers and clinicians.[235] Because it is a procedure rather than a pill, the design of controlled studies is challenging, as with surgical and other procedures.[226][235][236][237][238] Some scholarly reviews conclude that acupuncture's effects are mainly placebo,[239][240] and others find likelihood of efficacy for particular conditions
Acupuncture points Acupuncture collection of several hundred points on the body lying along meridians. According to TCM, each corresponds to a particular organ or function
Agricultural sciences Life sciences
Alternative medicine Health and medicine as a category, has been described as pseudoscientific. The National Science Foundation has conducted surveys of the "Public Attitudes and Public Understanding" of "Science Fiction and Pseudoscience", which includes studying the popularity of alternative medicine. It considers belief in alternative medicine a matter of concern, defining it as "all treatments that have not been proven effective using scientific methods". After quoting the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's listing of alternative medicine as one of many pseudoscientific subjects, as well as mentioning the concerns of individual scientists, organizations, and members of the science policymaking community, it comments that "nevertheless, the popularity of alternative medicine [with the public] appears to be increasing."[66] "At least 60 percent of U.S. medical schools devote classroom time to the teaching of alternative therapies, generating controversy within the scientific community."[66] In contrast, it has been reported that universities are "increasingly turning their backs on homoeopathy and complementary medicine amid opposition from the scientific community to 'pseudo-science' degrees
Ancient astronauts Astronomy and space sciences proposal by Erich von Däniken (1968) that Earth was visited by ancient astronauts.[5] Such beings have been claimed to have initiated the rise of human civilization or provided significant technological assistance to various ancient cultures
Animal mutilations Paranormal and ufology cases of animals, primarily domestic livestock, with seemingly inexplicable wounds. These wounds have been said to be caused by extraterrestrials, cults, covert government organizations, or cryptids such as el chupacabra, when in fact they were caused by natural predation
Anthroposophic medicine Health and medicine a school of complementary and alternative medicine[70] founded in the 1920s by Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman based on the spiritual philosophy of anthroposophy. It is an individualized holistic and salutogenic approach to health, deemphasizing randomized controlled trials.[71][72] Anthroposophic medications are formulated to stimulate healing by matching "key dynamic forces" with symptoms,[73] and are prepared for external, oral, or parenteral introduction in various dilutions ranging from whole to homeopathic.[74] The use of vaccinations, antibiotics, and antipyretics is generally not recommended or delayed by practitioners.[75][76][77] Skeptics, such as Robert Carroll, liken to sympathetic magic the anthroposophic principle that curative plants may be identified by distortions or abnormalities in their morphology or physiology.[78] Carroll and others state that the system is not based in science.[78][79][80] Edzard Ernst suggests that no thorough scientific analysis of the efficacy of anthroposophical medicine as a system independent of its philosophical underpinnings has been undertaken; and that no evidence-based conclusions can be drawn as to the overall efficacy of the system
Applied kinesiology Health and medicine a diagnostic method using manual muscle-strength testing for medical diagnosis and a subsequent determination of prescribed therapy, which proponents believe can identify health problems or nutritional deficiencies through practitioner assessment of external physical qualities such as muscle response, posture, or motion analysis. A variety of therapies are prescribed based on tested weakness or smoothness of muscle action and a conjectured viscerosomatic association between particular muscles and organs. For example, a practitioner will give the patient a jar containing a substance to hold in one hand, then test for muscle strength in the other hand; if there is little resistance, the practitioner may conclude that the patient is allergic to that substance. The sole use of Applied Kinesiology to diagnose or treat any allergy[82] or illness[83] is not scientifically supported, and the International College of Applied Kinesiology requires concurrent use of standard diagnostic techniques.[84] Applied kinesiologists are often chiropractors, but may also be naturopaths, physicians, dentists, nutritionists, physical therapists, massage therapists, and nurses.[83][85] Applied kinesiology should not be confused with kinesiology, the scientific study of human movement.
Architecture Physical sciences
Aryanism Scientific racism the claim that there is a distinct "Aryan race" which is superior to other putative races,[335] was an important tenet of Nazism, and "the basis of the German government policy of exterminating Jews, Gypsies, and other 'non-Aryans
Astrology Astronomy and space sciences refers to any of several systems of divination based on the relative positions and movement of various real and construed celestial bodies
Astronomy and space sciences Physical sciences
Attachment therapy Psychology common name for a set of potentially fatal[269] clinical interventions and parenting techniques aimed at controlling aggressive, disobedient, or unaffectionate children using "restraint and physical and psychological abuse to seek their desired results."[270] (The term "attachment therapy" may sometimes be used loosely to refer to mainstream approaches based on attachment theory, usually outside the USA where pseudoscientific form of attachment therapy is less known.) Probably the most common form is holding therapy in which the child is restrained by adults for the purpose of supposed cathartic release of suppressed rage and regression. Perhaps the most extreme, but much less common, is "rebirthing", in which the child is wrapped tightly in a blanket and then made to simulate emergence from a birth canal. This is done by encouraging the child to struggle and pushing and squeezing him/her to mimic contractions.[6] Despite the practice's name it is not based on traditional attachment theory and shares no principles of mainstream developmental psychology research.[271] In 2006 it was the subject of an almost entirely critical Taskforce Report commissioned by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC).[272] Not all forms of attachment therapy are coercive and since the Candace Newmaker case there has been a move towards less coercive practices by leaders in the field
Autodynamics Physics alternative to special relativity proposed by Ricardo Carezani based on revised Lorentz transformations. In addition to failing to make accurate predictions at relativistic velocities, the proposed transformations do not correspond to classical velocity addition. Promoters also propose several revisions to the "particle zoo" of subatomic physics, including the nonexistence of neutrinos
Baraminology Creation science taxonomic system that classifies animals into groups called "created kinds" or "baramins" according to the account of creation in the book of Genesis and other parts of the Bible.
Bates method for better eyesight Health and medicine an educational method developed by ophthalmologist William Bates intended to improve vision "naturally" to the point at which it can allegedly eliminate the need for glasses by undoing a habitual strain to see.[101] In 1929 Bates was cited by the FTC for false or misleading advertising in connection with his book describing the method, Perfect Sight Without Glasses,[102] though the complaint was later dismissed.[103] Although some people claim to have improved their eyesight by following his principles, Bates' ideas about vision and accommodation have been rejected by mainstream ophthalmology and optometry.
Biodynamic agriculture Agricultural sciences method of organic farming that treats farms as unified and individual organisms. Biodynamics uses a calendar which has been characterized as astrological. The substances and composts used by biodynamicists have been described as unconventional and homeopathic. For example, field mice are countered by deploying ashes prepared from field mice skin when Venus is in the Scorpius constellation
Biorhythms Health and medicine hypothesis holding that human physiology and behavior are governed by physical, emotional, and intellectual cycles lasting 23, 28, and 33 days, respectively. The system posits that, for instance, errors in judgment are more probable on days when an individual's intellectual cycle, as determined by days since birth, is near a minimum. No biophysical mechanism of action has been discovered, and the predictive power of biorhythms charts is no better than chance.[6][109][110][111] For the scientific study of biological cycles such as circadian rhythms, see chronobiology
Body memory Health and medicine hypothesis that the body itself is capable of storing memories, as opposed to only the brain. This is used to explain having memories for events where the brain was not in a position to store memories and is sometimes a catalyst for repressed memories recovery.[112] These memories are often characterised with phantom pain in a part or parts of the body – the body appearing to remember the past trauma. The idea of body memory is a belief frequently associated with the idea of repressed memories, in which memories of incest or sexual abuse can be retained and recovered through physical sensations
Brain Gym Health and medicine commercial training program that claims that any learning challenges can be overcome by finding the right movements, to subsequently create new pathways in the brain. They claim that the repetition of the 26 Brain Gym movements "activates the brain for optimal storage and retrieval of information",[114] and are designed to "integrate body and mind" in order to improve "concentration, memory, reading, writing, organizing, listening, physical coordination, and more."[115] Its theoretical foundation has been discredited by the scientific community, which describe it as pseudoscience.[116][117][118][119] Peer reviewed scientific studies into Brain Gym have found no significant improvement in general academic skills. Its claimed results have been put down to the placebo effect and the benefits of breaks and exercise. Its founder, Paul Dennison, has admitted that many of Brain Gym's claims are not based on good science, but on his "hunches"
Brainwashing Psychology A theoretical indoctrination process which results in "an impairment of autonomy, an inability to think independently, and a disruption of beliefs and affiliations. In this context, brainwashing refers to the involuntary reeducation of basic beliefs and values". The term has been applied to any tactic, psychological or otherwise, which can be seen as subverting an individual's sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision making. In 1983, the American Psychological Association (APA) asked Margaret Singer to chair a taskforce called the APA Task Force on Deceptive and Indirect Techniques of Persuasion and Control (DIMPAC) to investigate whether brainwashing or "coercive persuasion" did indeed play a role in "cult" recruitment. The APA found that brainwashing theories were without empirical proof, and rejected the DIMPAC report because the report "lacks the scientific rigor and evenhanded critical approach necessary for APA imprimatur".[273][274] Two critical letters from external reviewers Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi and Jeffery D. Fisher accompanied the APA's rejection memo. The letters criticized "brainwashing" as an unrecognized theoretical concept and Singer's reasoning as so flawed that it was "almost ridiculous
Channeling Paranormal and ufology communication of information to or through a person allegedly from a spirit or other paranormal entity
Chiropractic Health and medicine is an alternative medicine practice focused on finding vertebral subluxations and treating them with spinal adjustments. Many modern chiropractors target solely mechanical dysfunction, and offer health and lifestyle counseling.[121][122] Many others, however, base their practice on the vitalism of D.D. Palmer and B. J. Palmer, maintaining that all or many organic diseases are the result of hypothetical spinal dysfunctions known as vertebral subluxations and the impaired flow of Innate intelligence, a form of putative energy.[123][124] These ideas are not based in science, and along with the lack of a strong research base are in part responsible for the historical conflict between chiropractic and mainstream medicine.[125][126][127][128] Recent systematic reviews indicate the possibility of moderate effectiveness for spinal manipulation in the management of nonspecific lower back pain.[129][130][131] The effectiveness of chiropractic spinal manipulation has not been demonstrated according to the principles of evidence-based medicine for any other condition.[132] Adverse symptomatic events, which are all qualified as relatively mild in the referenced report, with possible neurologic involvement following spinal manipulation, particularly upper spinal manipulation, occur with a frequency of between 33% and 61%. Most events are minor, such as mild soreness, fainting, dizziness, light headedness, headache, or numbness or tingling in the upper limbs; serious complications such as subarachnoid hemorrhage, vertebral artery dissection, or myelopathy are observed infrequently
Christian Science Religious and spiritual beliefs is generally considered a Christian new religious movement. However, some have called it "pseudoscience" because its founder, Mary Baker Eddy, used "science" in its name, and because of its former stance against medical science. Also, "Eddy used the term Metaphysical science to distinguish her system both from materialistic science and from occult science."[374] The church now accepts the use of medical science. Vaccinations were banned, but in 1901, Eddy, at the age of 80, advised her followers to submit to them
Climate change denial Earth sciences politically contentious arguments disputing aspects of global warming have been identified as being pseudoscientific.
Colon cleansing Health and medicine encompasses several alternative medical therapies intended to remove fecal waste and unidentified toxins from the colon and intestinal tract. Practitioners believe that accumulations of putrefied feces line the walls of the large intestine and that they harbor parasites or pathogenic gut flora, causing nonspecific symptoms and general ill-health. This "auto-intoxication" hypothesis is based on medical beliefs of the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks, and was discredited in the early 20th century
Conversion therapy Psychology sometimes called reparative therapy, seeks to change a non-heterosexual person's sexual orientation so they will no longer be homosexual or bisexual.[276] The American Psychiatric Association defines reparative therapy as "psychiatric treatment ... which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change their sexual homosexual orientation
Craniosacral therapy Health and medicine involves the therapist placing their hands on the patient, which allows them to "tune into the craniosacral rhythm".[142] Craniosacral therapists claim to treat mental stress, neck and back pain, migraines, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and for chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia.[143][144][145] A systematic review conducted in 1999 "did not find valid scientific evidence that craniosacral therapy provides a benefit to patients", noting that "[t]he available health outcome research consists of low grade of evidence derived from weak study designs" and "[a]dverse events have been reported in head-injured patients following craniosacral therapy."[146] Craniosacral therapy has been variously characterized as pseudoscientific or discredited
Creation biology Creation science subset of creation science that tries to explain biology without macroevolution
Creationist cosmologies Creation science cosmologies which, among other things, allow for a universe that is only thousands of years old
Creation science Religious and spiritual beliefs
Crop circles Paranormal and ufology geometric designs of crushed or knocked-over crops created in a field. Aside from skilled farmers or pranksters working through the night, explanations for their formation include UFOs and anomalous, tornado-like air currents.[17] The study of crop circles has become known as "cerealogy
Cryptozoology Paranormal and ufology search for creatures that are considered not to exist by most biologists.[343] Well known examples of creatures of interest to cryptozoologists include Bigfoot, Yeren, Yeti, and the Loch Ness Monster. According to leading skeptical authors Michael Shermer and Pat Linse, "Cryptozoology ranges from pseudoscientific to useful and interesting, depending on how it is practiced
Crystal healing Health and medicine belief that crystals have healing properties. Once common among pre-scientific and indigenous peoples, it enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the 1970s with the New Age movement.
Cupping therapy Traditional Chinese medicine an ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin; practitioners believe this mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing.[245] Suction is created using heat (fire) or mechanical devices (hand or electrical pumps). Only one controlled trial of cupping has been conducted, and it did not demonstrate any effectiveness for pain relief. A book by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst claims that no evidence exists of any beneficial effects of cupping for any medical condition
Detoxification Health and medicine Detoxification in the context of alternative medicine consists of an approach that claims to rid the body of "toxins" – accumulated harmful substances that allegedly exert undesirable effects on individual health in the short or long term. Many mainstream media web sites offer articles on this practice, despite a lack of scientific evidence for either the presence of the toxins, harm from their presence, or efficacy of the removal techniques
Dogon people and Sirius B Astronomy and space sciences a series of claims that the Dogon tribe knew about the white dwarf companion of Sirius despite it being invisible to the naked eye (and knew about it for reasons other than being told about it by visiting Europeans)
Dowsing Paranormal and ufology refers to practices said to enable one to detect hidden water, metals, gemstones or other objects
Drapetomania Scientific racism was a supposed mental illness described by American physician Samuel A. Cartwright in 1851 that caused black slaves to flee captivity
Ear candling Health and medicine an alternative medicine practice claimed to improve general health and well-being by lighting one end of a hollow candle and placing the other end in the ear canal. Medical research has shown that the practice is ineffective, with a relatively low probability of injury. A survey of 122 otolaryngologists identified 21 ear injuries in total over the course of their careers.[155] The process does not help remove earwax or toxicants
Earthing therapy Health and medicine therapy that is claimed to ease pain, provide a better night's sleep, and assist in diseases with symptoms of inflammation by being in direct physical contact with the ground or a device connected to electrical ground.[157] Purportedly, the earth has an excess of electrons which people are missing due to insulating shoes and ground cover. Being in electrical contact with the earth provides the body with those excess electrons which then act as antioxidants
Earth sciences Physical sciences
Einstein–Cartan–Evans theory Physics proposed unified theory of physics due to Myron Evans, a Welsh chemist
Electrogravitics Physics hypothesis, based on the 1920s work of Thomas Townsend Brown, that an electrical charge applied to a mass can produce an (anti) gravity effect
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity Health and medicine reported sensitivity to electric and magnetic fields or electromagnetic radiation of various frequencies at exposure levels well below established safety standards. Symptoms are inconsistent, but can include headache, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and similar non-specific indications.[159] Provocation studies find that the discomfort of sufferers is unrelated to hidden sources of radiation,[160][161] and "no scientific basis currently exists for a connection between EHS and exposure to [electromagnetic fields
Electronic voice phenomenon Paranormal and ufology purported communication by spirits through tape recorders and other electronic devices
Energy Physical sciences
Extra-sensory perception Paranormal and ufology paranormal ability (independent of the five main senses or deduction from previous experience) to acquire information by means such as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychic abilities, and remote viewing
Faith healing Health and medicine act of curing disease by such means as prayer and laying on of hands. No material benefit in excess of that expected by placebo is observed.[6][163][164]
Feng-shui Architecture Feng shui, a Chinese system of architecture is often regarded as a pseudoscience for its superstitious elements.
Finance Applied sciences
Flat Earth Earth sciences a theory that the Earth is flat rather than spherical. Still supported by some fringe groups.[
Flood geology Creation science creationist form of geology that advocates most of the geologic features on Earth are explainable by a global flood.
Fomenko's chronology History argues that the conventional chronology is fundamentally flawed, that events attributed to antiquity such as the histories of Rome, Greece and Egypt actually occurred during the Middle Ages
Free energy Perpetual motion particular class of perpetual motion which purports to create energy (violating the first law of thermodynamics) or extract useful work from equilibrium systems (violating the second law of thermodynamics). This is in contrast to proposals made most notably by Harold Puthoff[44] which involve the extraction of zero point energy,[45] a real energy which in quantum mechanics is thought not to be available to do work
Ghost hunting Paranormal and ufology use of scientific methods and instrumentation in an unverifiable manner to prove supposed hauntings
Graphology Psychology psychological test based on a belief that personality traits unconsciously and consistently influence handwriting morphology – that certain types of people exhibit certain quirks of the pen. Analysis of handwriting attributes provides no better than chance correspondence with personality, and neuroscientist Barry Beyerstein likened the assigned correlations to sympathetic magic.[6][45][280][281][282][283] Graphology is only superficially related to forensic document examination, which also examines handwriting
Health and medicine Applied sciences
Hollow Earth Earth sciences proposal that Earth is either entirely hollow or consists of hollow sections beneath the crust. Certain folklore and conspiracy theories hold this idea and suggest the existence of subterranean life
Holocaust denial History The Leuchter report attempted to demonstrate on a forensic level that mass homicidal gassings at Nazi extermination camps did not take place
Homeopathy Health and medicine the belief that giving a patient with symptoms of an illness extremely dilute remedies that are thought to produce those same symptoms in healthy people. These preparations are often diluted beyond the point where any treatment molecule is likely to remain.[167] Studies of homeopathic practice have been largely negative or inconclusive.[168][169][170][171] No scientific basis for homeopathic principles has been substantiated
Hongcheng Magic Liquid Energy a 1983 pseudoscience incident in China where an inventor claimed that he could turn water into a usable fuel by just adding a few drops of his "secret formula" liquid. The government of China and the Chinese Communist Party were alarmed by pseudoscience developments like this one and issued a joint proclamation condemning the recent decline of public education in science
Hydrinos Energy are a supposed state of the hydrogen atom that, according to proponent Randell Mills, are of lower energy than ground state and thus a source of free energy.
Hypnosis Psychology state of extreme relaxation and inner focus in which a person is unusually responsive to suggestions made by the hypnotist. The modern practice has its roots in the idea of animal magnetism, or mesmerism, originated by Franz Mesmer.[284] Mesmer's explanations were thoroughly discredited, and to this day there is no agreement amongst researchers whether hypnosis is a real phenomenon, or merely a form of participatory role-enactment.[6][285][286] Some aspects of suggestion have been clinically useful.[287][288] Other claimed uses of hypnosis more clearly fall within the area of pseudoscience. Such areas include the use of hypnotic regression beyond plausible limits, including past life regression.
Innate intelligence Chiropractic form of putative energy, the flow of which is considered by some chiropractors to be responsible for patient health. Chiropractic historian Joseph C. Keating, Jr. stated: "So long as we propound the 'One cause, one cure' rhetoric of Innate, we should expect to be met by ridicule from the wider health science community. Chiropractors can't have it both ways. Our theories cannot be both dogmatically held vitalistic constructs and be scientific at the same time. The purposiveness, consciousness and rigidity of the Palmers' Innate should be rejected.
Intelligent design Creation science maintains that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection
Iridology Health and medicine means of medical diagnosis which proponents believe can identify and diagnose health problems through close examination of the markings and patterns of the iris. Practitioners divide the iris into 80–90 zones, each of which is connected to a particular body region or organ. This connection has not been scientifically validated, and disorder detection is neither selective nor specific.[179][180][181] Because iris texture is a phenotypical feature which develops during gestation and remains unchanged after birth (which makes the iris useful for Biometrics), iridology is all but impossible
Koranic scientific foreknowledge Religious and spiritual beliefs Koranic Science (or Qur'anic science or Hadeeth science) asserts that foundational Islamic religious texts made accurate statements about the world that science verified hundreds of years later. This belief is a common theme in Bucailleism
Law of attraction Psychology the maxim that "like attracts like" which in New Thought philosophy is used to sum up the idea that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life.[293] Skeptical Inquirer magazine criticized the lack of falsifiability and testability of these claims.[294] Critics have asserted that the evidence provided is usually anecdotal and that, because of the self-selecting nature of the positive reports, as well as the subjective nature of any results, these reports are susceptible to confirmation bias and selection bias.[295] Physicist Ali Alousi, for instance, criticized it as unmeasurable and questioned the likelihood that thoughts can affect anything outside the head
Leaky gut syndrome Health and medicine in alternative medicine, a proposed condition caused by the passage of harmful substances outward through the gut wall. It has been proposed as the cause of many conditions including multiple sclerosis and autism, a claim which has been called pseudoscientific.[182] According to the UK National Health Service, the theory is vague and unproven.[183] Some skeptics and scientists say that the marketing of treatments for leaky gut syndrome is either misguided or an instance of deliberate health fraud
Levitation Paranormal and ufology act of rising up from the ground without any physical aids, usually by the power of thought
Lightning Process Health and medicine a system claimed to be derived from osteopathy, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and life coaching.[184] Proponents claim that the Process can have a positive effect on a long list of diseases and conditions, including myalgic encephalomyelitis, despite no scientific evidence of efficacy.[185] The designer of the Lightning Process, Phill Parker, suggests certain illnesses such as ME/CFS arise from a dysregulation of the central nervous system and autonomic nervous system, which the Lightning Process aims to address, helping to break the "adrenaline loop" that keep the systems' stress responses high.
Lunar effect Astronomy and space sciences the belief that the full Moon influences human behavior
Lysenkoism Earth sciences denotes the biological inheritance principle propounded by Trofim Lysenko, which derives from theories of the heritability of acquired characteristics.[35] Lysenkoism is a theory of biological inheritance which departs from Mendelism, and which Lysenko named "Michurinism". Lysenko's theories came to prominence in the Soviet Union during the late 1940s and early 1950s, when genetics was declared a "bourgeois science" in the wake of the famines caused by Joseph Stalin's collectivization campaign. The Soviet Union quietly abandoned Lysenko's agricultural practices in favor of modern agricultural practices after the crop yields he promised failed to materialize. By the mid-1950s, his influence had declined considerably. Today Lysenko's agricultural experimentation and research is largely viewed as fraudulent
Magnet therapy Health and medicine practice of using magnetic fields to positively influence health. While there are legitimate medical uses for magnets and magnetic fields, the field strength used in magnetic therapy is too low to effect any biological change, and the methods used have no scientific validity
Maharishi Ayurveda Health and medicine traditional Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old alternative medical practice with roots in ancient India based on a mind-body set of beliefs.[188][189] Imbalance or stress in an individual's consciousness is believed to be the cause of diseases.[188] Patients are classified by body types (three doshas, which are considered to control mind-body harmony, determine an individual’s "body type"); and treatment is aimed at restoring balance to the mind-body system.[188][189] It has long been the main traditional system of health care in India,[189] and it has become institutionalized in India's colleges and schools, although unlicensed practitioners are common.[190] As with other traditional knowledge, much of it was lost; in the West, current practice is in part based on the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1980s,[191] who mixed it with Transcendental Meditation; other forms of Ayurveda exist as well. The most notable advocate of Ayurveda in America is Deepak Chopra, who claims that Maharishi's Ayurveda is based on quantum mysticism.
Melanin theory Scientific racism belief founded in the distortion of known physical properties of melanin, a natural polymer, that posits the inherent superiority of dark-skinned people and the essential inhumanity and an inferiority of light-skinned people
Memetics Psychology approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer based on the concept that units of information, or "memes", have an independent existence, are self-replicating, and are subject to selective evolution through environmental forces. Starting from a proposition put forward in the writings of Richard Dawkins, it has since turned into a new area of study, one that looks at the self-replicating units of culture. It has been proposed that just as memes are analogous to genes, memetics is analogous to genetics. Memetics has been deemed a pseudoscience on several fronts.[296] Its proponents' assertions have been labeled "untested, unsupported or incorrect"[296] though the same book contains Susan Blackmore's counter article "Memes as Good Science". Supporters of memetics include EO Wilson, Douglas Hofstadter and many others
Meridians Traditional Chinese medicine are the channels through which qi flows, connecting the several zang-fu organ pairs.[224][247] There is no known anatomical or histological basis for the existence of acupuncture points or meridians
Modern flat Earth beliefs Astronomy and space sciences proposes that the earth is a flat, disc-shaped planet that accelerates upward, producing the illusion of gravity. Proposers of a flat Earth, such as the Flat Earth Society, do not accept compelling evidence, such as photos of planet Earth from space
Modern geocentrism Creation science citing uniform gamma-ray bursts distribution, and other arguments of this type, as evidence that we (being in the Milky Way galaxy) are at the center of the cosmos.[385][386][387] Proponents got their initial belief from the Bible, then they cherry-pick scientific evidence to justify their position and claim that geocentrism is supported by science
Moon landing conspiracy theories Astronomy and space sciences claims that parts of the Apollo program were hoaxed and subsequently covered up. While many of the accusations are best categorized under conspiracy theories, some do attempt to use faulty science to prove that the Moon landing could not have happened, thus qualifying them as pseudoscientific claims
Moxibustion Traditional Chinese medicine application on or above the skin of smoldering mugwort, or moxa, to stimulate acupuncture points
Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques Applied kinesiology claim to be an alternative diagnosis and treatment of allergies and related disorders. Reviews of the available evidence conclude that the diagnostic techniques used in NAET, primarily a form of applied kinesiology, are ineffective at diagnosing allergies[86][87][88][89][90][91][92][93] and several medical associations advise against using applied kinesiology in this way.[92][94][95][96][97][98] The few available reviews in the literature that discuss NAET directly state that it lacks any supporting evidence and that its claims are unsubstantiated.[93][99] The theoretical basis of NAET has been criticized for lacking scientific rationale[97][100] and the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy advise against the use of NAET
Naturopathy Health and medicine is a type of alternative medicine based on a belief in vitalism, which posits that a special energy called vital energy or vital force guides bodily processes such as metabolism, reproduction, growth, and adaptation.[192] Naturopathy has been characterized as pseudoscience.[193][194] It has particularly been criticized for its unproven, disproven, or dangerous treatments.[195][196][197][198] Natural methods and chemicals are not necessarily safer or more effective than artificial or synthetic ones; any treatment capable of eliciting an effect may also have deleterious side effects
Neuro-linguistic programming Psychology an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created in the 1970s. The title refers to a stated connection between the neurological processes ("neuro"), language ("linguistic") and behavioral patterns that have been learned through experience ("programming") and can be organized to achieve specific goals in life.[297][298] According to certain neuroscientists[299] psychologists[300][301] and linguists,[302][303] NLP is unsupported by current scientific evidence, and uses incorrect and misleading terms and concepts. Reviews of empirical research on NLP indicate that NLP contains numerous factual errors,[304][305] and has failed to produce reliable results for the claims for effectiveness made by NLP’s originators and proponents.[301][306] According to Devilly,[307] NLP is no longer as prevalent as it was in the 1970s and 1980s. Criticisms go beyond the lack of empirical evidence for effectiveness; critics say that NLP exhibits pseudoscientific characteristics,[307] title,[299] concepts and terminology.[302] NLP is used as an example of pseudoscience for facilitating the teaching of scientific literacy at the professional and university level.[303][308][309] NLP also appears on peer reviewed expert-consensus based lists of discredited interventions.[301] In research designed to identify the "quack factor" in modern mental health practice, Norcross et al. (2006)[310] list NLP as possibly or probably discredited, and in papers reviewing discredited interventions for substance and alcohol abuse, Norcross et al. (2008)[311] list NLP in the "top ten" most discredited, and Glasner-Edwards and Rawson (2010) list NLP as "certainly discredited"
Nibiru cataclysm Astronomy and space sciences prediction first made by contactee Nancy Lieder that a mythological planet Nibiru would collide with Earth. After having adjusted her prediction many times, she later claimed the year of the occurrence to be 2012
Numerology Numerology set of beliefs in a divine, mystical, or other special relationship between a number and coinciding events. Numerology is regarded as pseudomathematics or pseudoscience by modern scientists.[367][368][369] It is often associated with the paranormal, alongside astrology and similar divinatory arts
Orgone Energy is a pseudoscientific concept described as an esoteric energy or hypothetical universal life force, originally proposed in the 1930s by Wilhelm Reich
Osteopathic manipulative medicine Health and medicine the core technique of osteopathic medicine. OMM is based on a philosophy devised by Andrew Taylor Still (1828–1917) who held that the body had self-regulating mechanisms that could be harnessed through manipulating the bones, tendons and muscles. It has been proposed as a treatment for a number of human ailments including Parkinson's disease, pancreatitis, and pneumonia but has only been found to be effective for lower back pain by virtue of the spinal manipulation used.[201][202][203] It has long been regarded as rooted in "pseudoscientific dogma".[204] In 2010 Steven Salzberg referred to the OMT-specific training given by colleges of osteopathic medicine as "training in pseudoscientific practices"
Other Religious and spiritual beliefs
Palmistry Paranormal and ufology the belief that the future can be foretold through palm reading. Predictions are based on the shape, line, and mounts of the hands. Palmists use cold reading in order to appear psychic
Paranormal and ufology Sociology
Parapsychology Paranormal and ufology
Parapsychology Psychology controversial discipline that seeks to investigate the existence and causes of psychic abilities and life after death using the scientific method. Parapsychological experiments have included the use of random number generators to test for evidence of precognition and psychokinesis with both human and animal subjects[313][314][315] and Ganzfeld experiments to test for extrasensory perception
Perpetual motion Energy class of proposed machines that violate one of the Laws of Thermodynamics. Perpetual motion has been recognized as extrascientific since the late 18th century, but proposals and patents for such devices continue to be made to the present day.
Phrenology Psychology now defunct system for determining personality traits by feeling bumps on the skull proposed by 18th-century physiologist Franz Joseph Gall.[6] In an early recorded use of the term "pseudo-science", François Magendie referred to phrenology as "a pseudo-science of the present day".[317] The assumption that personality can be read from bumps in the skull has since been thoroughly discredited. However, Gall's assumption that character, thoughts, and emotions are located in the brain is considered an important historical advance toward neuropsychology (see also localization of brain function, Brodmann's areas, neuro-imaging, modularity of mind or faculty psychology
Physics Physical sciences
Polygraphy Psychology an interrogation method which measures and records several physiological indices such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity while the subject is asked and answers a series of questions. The belief is that deceptive answers will produce physiological responses that can be differentiated from those associated with non-deceptive answers. Many members of the scientific community consider polygraphy to be pseudoscience.[319][320] Polygraphy has little credibility among scientists.[321][322] Despite claims of 90–95% validity by polygraph advocates, and 95–100% by businesses providing polygraph services,[323] critics maintain that rather than a "test", the method amounts to an inherently unstandardizable interrogation technique whose accuracy cannot be established. A 1997 survey of 421 psychologists estimated the test's average accuracy at about 61%, a little better than chance.[324] Critics also argue that even given high estimates of the polygraph's accuracy a significant number of subjects (e.g. 10% given a 90% accuracy) will appear to be lying, and would unfairly suffer the consequences of "failing" the polygraph
Primal therapy Psychology sometimes presented as a science.[325] The Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology (2001) states that: "The theoretical basis for the therapy is the supposition that prenatal experiences and birth trauma form people's primary impressions of life and that they subsequently influence the direction our lives take ... Truth be known, primal therapy cannot be defended on scientifically established principles. This is not surprising considering its questionable theoretical rationale."[326] Other sources have also questioned the scientific validity of primal therapy, some using the term "pseudoscience"
Promotion of a link between autism and vaccines Health and medicine in which the vaccines are accused of causing autism-spectrum conditions, triggering them, or aggravating them, has been characterized as pseudoscience.[256] Many epidemiological studies have found a lack of association between either the MMR vaccine and autism, or thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.[257] Consequently, the Institute of Medicine has concluded that there is no causal link between either of these varieties of vaccines and autism
Pseudoarchaeology Paranormal and ufology investigation of the ancient past using alleged paranormal or other means which have not been validated by mainstream science
Psychic surgery Paranormal and ufology type of medical fraud, popular in Brazil and the Philippines. Practitioners use sleight of hand to make it appear as though they are reaching into a patient's body and extracting "tumours". Psychic surgery is usually explicit deception; i.e., the "practitioners" are aware that they are practicing fraud or "quackery
Psychoanalysis Psychology body of ideas developed by Austrian physician Sigmund Freud and his followers, which is devoted to the study of human psychological functioning and behavior. It has been controversial ever since its inception.[327] Karl Popper characterized it as pseudoscience based on psychoanalysis failing the requirement for falsifiability.[328][329] Frank Cioffi argued that "though Popper is correct to say that psychoanalysis is pseudoscientific and correct to say that it is unfalsifiable, he is mistaken to suggest that it is pseudoscientific because it is unfalsifiable. […] It is when [Freud] insists that he has confirmed (not just instantiated) [his empirical theses] that he is being pseudoscientific
Psychokinesis Paranormal and ufology paranormal ability of the mind to influence matter or energy at a distance
Psychology Social sciences
Qi Traditional Chinese medicine vital energy whose flow must be balanced for health. Qi has never been directly observed, and is unrelated to the concept of energy used in science
Racial theories Social sciences
Radionics Health and medicine means of medical diagnosis and therapy which proponents believe can diagnose and remedy health problems using various frequencies in a putative energy field coupled to the practitioner's electronic device. The first such "black box" devices were designed and promoted by Albert Abrams, and were definitively proven useless by an independent investigation commissioned by Scientific American in 1924.[206] The internal circuitry of radionics devices is often obfuscated and irrelevant, leading proponents to conjecture dowsing and ESP as operating principles.[207][208][209] Similar devices continue to be marketed under various names, though none is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration; there is no scientific evidence for the efficacy or underlying premise of radionics devices.[210][211] The radionics of Albert Abrams and his intellectual descendants should not be confused with similarly named reputable and legitimate companies, products, or medical treatments such as radiotherapy or radiofrequency ablation.
Reflexology Health and medicine is an alternative medicine involving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet, hands, or ears with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on what reflexologists claim to be a system of zones and reflex areas that they say reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body.[212] A 2009 systematic review of randomised controlled trials concludes that the best evidence available to date does not demonstrate convincingly that reflexology is an effective treatment for any medical condition.[213] There is no consensus among reflexologists on how reflexology is supposed to work; a unifying theme is the idea that areas on the foot correspond to areas of the body, and that by manipulating these one can improve health through one's qi.[214] Reflexologists divide the body into ten equal vertical zones, five on the right and five on the left.[215] Concerns have been raised by medical professionals that treating potentially serious illnesses with reflexology, which has no proven efficacy, could delay the seeking of appropriate medical treatment.
Rolfing Health and medicine body manipulation devised by Ida Rolf (1896–1979) claimed by practitioners to be capable of ridding the body of traumatic memories storied in the muscles.[217] There is no evidence that rolfing is effective as a treatment for any condition.
Rumpology Paranormal and ufology neologism referring to a pseudoscience akin to physiognomy, performed by examining crevices, dimples, warts, moles and folds of a person's buttocks in much the same way a chirologist would read the palm of the hand
Scientific racism Racial theories claim that scientific evidence shows the inferiority or superiority of certain races
Scientology Religious and spiritual beliefs
Scriptural codes Numerology the belief that a book or fragment of holy scripture contains encoded messages that impart esoteric knowledge. One such decoding method involves identifying "equidistant letter sequences" that spell out such messages
Séances Paranormal and ufology ritualized attempts to communicate with the dead
Searches for Noah's Ark Creation science attempts to find the burial site of Noah's Ark, that according to the Genesis flood narrative is located somewhere in the alleged "Mountains of Ararat". There have been numerous expeditions with several false claims of success; the practice is widely regarded as pseudoscience, more specifically pseudoarchaeology
Sociology Social sciences
Subliminal advertising Psychology a visual or auditory information that is discerned below the threshold of conscious awareness and claims to have a powerful enduring effect on consuming habits. It went into disrepute in the late 1970s[331] but there has been renewed research interest recently.[6][285] The mainstream of accepted scientific opinion does not hold that subliminal perception has a powerful, enduring effect on human behaviour
TCM materia medica Traditional Chinese medicine collection of crude medicines used in traditional Chinese medicine. These include many plants in part or whole, such as ginseng and wolfberry, as well as more exotic ingredients such as seahorses. Preparations generally include several ingredients in combination, with selection based on physical characteristics such as taste or shape, or relationship to the organs of TCM.[251] Most preparations have not been rigorously evaluated or give no indication of efficacy.[231][252][253] Pharmacognosy research for potential active ingredients present in these preparations is active, though the applications do not always correspond to those of TCM
Technical analysis Finance is a security analysis methodology for forecasting the direction of prices through the study of past market data, primarily price and volume.[260] Behavioral economics and quantitative analysis use many of the same tools of technical analysis,[261][262][263][264] which, being an aspect of active management, stands in contradiction to much of modern portfolio theory. The efficacy of both technical and fundamental analysis is disputed by the efficient-market hypothesis which states that stock market prices are essentially unpredictable.[265] It is still considered by many academics to be pseudoscience.[266] Academics such as Eugene Fama say the evidence for technical analysis is sparse and is inconsistent with the weak form of the efficient-market hypothesis
The Bermuda Triangle Earth sciences a region of the Atlantic Ocean that lies between Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and (in its most popular version) Florida. Ship and aircraft disasters and disappearances perceived as frequent in this area have led to the circulation of stories of unusual natural phenomena, paranormal encounters, and interactions with extraterrestrials
The Face on Mars Astronomy and space sciences is a rock formation on Mars asserted to be evidence of intelligent, native life on the planet.[15] High-resolution images taken recently show it to appear less face-like. It features prominently in the works of Richard C. Hoagland and Tom Van Flandern
Therapeutic touch Health and medicine form of vitalism where a practitioner, who may be also a nurse,[45][219] passes his or her hands over and around a patient to "realign" or "rebalance" a putative energy field.[43] A recent Cochrane Review concluded that "[t]here is no evidence that [Therapeutic Touch] promotes healing of acute wounds."[220] No biophysical basis for such an energy field has been found
Tin foil hat Health and medicine A tin foil hat is a hat made from one or more sheets of aluminium foil, or a piece of conventional headgear lined with foil, worn in the belief it shields the brain from threats such as electromagnetic fields, mind control, and mind reading. At this time no link has been established between the radio-frequency EMR that tin foil hats are meant to protect against and subsequent ill health
Traditional Chinese medicine Health and medicine traditional medical system originating in China and practiced as an alternative medicine throughout much of the world. It contains elements based in the cosmology of Taoism,[223] and considers the human body more in functional and vitalistic than anatomical terms.[224][225] Health and illness in TCM follow the principle of yin and yang, and are ascribed to balance or imbalance in the flow of a vital force, qi.[226][227] Diagnostic methods are solely external, including pulse examination at six points, examination of a patient's tongue, and a patient interview; interpractitioner diagnostic agreement is poor.[224][228][229][230] The TCM description of the function and structure of the human body is fundamentally different from modern medicine, though some of the procedures and remedies have shown promise under scientific investigation
Tunguska event Paranormal and ufology was an actual large explosion, possibly caused by a meteoroid or comet, in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia in June 1908. Night skies as far away as London were markedly brighter for several evenings. Unsupported theories regarding the event include the impact of a miniature black hole or large body of antimatter, ball lightning, a test by Nikola Tesla of the apparatus at Wardenclyffe Tower, and a UFO crash.[6][363][364] Another theory is that the explosion was caused by a piece of Biela's Comet from 1883
Ufology Paranormal and ufology the study of unidentified flying objects (UFO) that frequently includes the belief that UFOs are evidence for extraterrestrial visitors
Unilineal evolution Sociology Before Darwin's work On the Origin of Species, some models incorporated Enlightenment ideas of social progress, and thus, according to philosopher of science Michael Ruse, were pseudoscientific by current standards, and may have been viewed as such during the 18th century, as well as into the start of the 19th century (though the word pseudoscience may not have been used in reference to these early proposals). This pseudoscientific, and often political, incorporation of social progress with evolutionary thought continued for some one hundred years following the publication of Origin of Species
Urine therapy Health and medicine drinking either one's own undiluted urine or homeopathic potions of urine for treatment of a wide variety of diseases is based on pseudoscience
Vaimānika Shāstra Astronomy and space sciences a Hindu nationalist claim that airplanes were invented in ancient India during the Vedic period. A 1974 study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore found that the heavier-than-air aircraft that the Vaimānika Shāstra described were aerodynamically unfeasible. The authors remarked that the discussion of the principles of flight in the text were largely perfunctory and incorrect, in some cases violating Newton's laws of motion.
Vastu shastra Architecture is the ancient Hindu system of architecture, which lays down a series of rules for building houses in relation to ambiance. Scientists like Jayant Narlikar write that it has no "logical connection" with the environment and notes that sometimes what has already been built is demolished and rebuilt to accommodate the rules
Vertebral subluxation Chiropractic a Chiropractic term that describes variously a site of impaired flow of innate or a spinal lesion that is postulated to cause neuromusculoskeletal or visceral dysfunction. Scientific consensus does not support the existence of chiropractic's vertebral subluxation
Vitalism Health and medicine doctrine that the processes of life are not explicable by the laws of physics and chemistry alone and that life is in some part self-determining. The book Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience stated "today, vitalism is one of the ideas that form the basis for many pseudoscientific health systems that claim that illnesses are caused by a disturbance or imbalance of the body's vital force." "Vitalists claim to be scientific, but in fact they reject the scientific method with its basic postulates of cause and effect and of provability. They often regard subjective experience to be more valid than objective material reality
Water-fueled cars Perpetual motion an instance of perpetual motion machines.[46] Such devices are claimed to use water as fuel or produce fuel from water on board with no other energy input.
Worlds in Collision (Velikovsky) Astronomy and space sciences writer Immanuel Velikovsky proposed in his book Worlds in Collision that ancient texts and geographic evidence show mankind was witness to catastrophic interactions of other planets in our Solar system.
Zang-fu Traditional Chinese medicine concept of organs as functional yin and yang entities for the storage and manipulation of qi.[224] These organs are not based in anatomy