June 27, 2014

Pseudo-science in electronic cigarette policy – Bernd Mayer


The motivations to hail pseudo-scientific disciplines are manifold, including lack of education, search for mystery, rejection of realism or reductionism and irrational anti-scientific attitude.

In addition, pseudoscience is often used as a means to squeeze money out of gullible people by selling them bogus products or ineffective magic healings, and it may also serve the dissemination of political and ideological concepts. Pseudoscience, that is driven by financial, political, ideological, or otherwise unscientific motives is often referred to as junk science. Following is a list of some characteristic features of pseudoscientific disciplines:

→ political, ideological or religious motivation

examples: intelligent design, rejection of Mendelian genetics in Lysenkoism, the eugenics program during WWII

→ proposing unfalsifiable hypotheses hypotheses that are “not even wrong”examples: intelligent design, undetectable fields or vibrations e.g. earth rays

→ vague and ambiguous language


predictions of fortune tellers, horoscopes, quack medicine self-healing forces, unhealthy frequencies, remedies acting subtly on the basis of vibrations, etc.

→ misuse of scientific terms e.g. energy, information, quantum entanglement

example: entanglement of patient, practitioner, and remedy in “quantum homeopathy”

→ selective reference to seemingly supporting studies

→ ignorance of contradictory evidence

→ reference to outdated results

→ requesting others to refute a claim reversal of the burden of proof

→ claiming that as yet undetected effects will be detected in the future

→ misinterpretation of studies and citation out of context

Browsing through this incomplete list, you may recognize several tricks used by public health-advocates to discredit electronic cigarettes.

via Pseudoscience in electronic cigarette policy – Bernd Mayer.

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