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Popular science equals pseudoscience

  1. Sep 9, 2011 #1
    I've noticed this forum negatively views down up on popular science. Would many of you guys think that popular science is basically pseudoscience.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 9, 2011 #2


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    No, they aren't the same thing. Popular science is just what it sounds like - popular versions of scientific stories. That typically means simplification and if it leads to oversimplification, then it irritates scientists. If also irritates them when non-science elements are injected into the story, which often happens with the news. Sometimes that means letting pseudoscience in, but no always. The elements of a good news story tend to make for poor scientific accuracy/value.
  4. Sep 9, 2011 #3
    I don't think it's false, it's just grossly exaggerated in a subjective way.
  5. Sep 10, 2011 #4


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    and what always makes me pull my hairs out is when we try to point out the oversimplifications we get accused of being pedantic :mad:
  6. Sep 10, 2011 #5
    Journalism is not science. What we call popular science is sensationalized reports of science. The sad fact is science isn't popular.
  7. Sep 10, 2011 #6


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    Every so often, I see articles along the lines of "Kid bests scientists, discovers fusion" usually along with something like a Farnsworth Fusor or ultrasonic fusion apparatus. Sometimes, even the article contradicts the headline (wish I had an example I could pull up, but the most glaring one came courtesy of a Facebook acquaintance of mine who totally didn't understand that it wasn't the revolutionary development he thought it was).

    Not only does it put the kid (who probably is quite bright, definitely interested in the material, and either extremely resourceful or well-funded) in a bad light, but also de-legitimizes the field of science and the people who've spent years (and probably millions of tax dollars and grants) on their work! "George Wallace pointy-headed PhDs defeated by kid!"

    Apropos PhDComics comic:

    But in spite of these, I think science should never be intentionally inaccessible nor obtuse, for fear of scientists (and grad students, and technicians, and...) becoming the very caricatures they're portrayed as.
  8. Sep 10, 2011 #7
    "A causes B all the time!, what will this mean for Obama!"
    :rofl: That kills me.

    I used to read a ton of Popular Science as a kid. They used to have DIY experiments and all sorts of things, and I was amazed at all the advertisements. I remember ads for x-ray glasses and other silly things in comic books and such growing up, and popular science had ads for gyrocopters and stuff!

    The aircraft I worked on in the military was featured in an article once and so I picked up the magazine again and it changed a good bit. Most of the articles are now (as mentioned above) wildly simplified (well okay, they always were), and do not present other opinions on the matters. I wouldn't say psuedoscience, but it is filled with scientific speculation.

    That being said, every now and then I am sure there is an interesting article, and if whatever demograph the magazine is targeted at (it's certainly not scientists) gets excited over science because of the magazine then more power to it in my opinion.
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