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Science – when does the circus leave town, or does it?

Dave Coppedge (yes, that Cassini specialist who got fired from JPL) identifies “sciences” that ain’t. These days,  every fad, trend, and crackpot alley on offer struggles to call itself science:

Happiness science: Advice found online: “the best way to increase your happiness is to stop worrying about being happy and instead divert your energy to nurturing the social bonds you have with other people.” Did that come from a religious counselor or family member? No, it was on Science Daily, touting what “psychological science” has concluded. Live Science added material on “why were’re not happy” and “how to be happy” based on research by psychologists at the University of Denver.Gossip science: Live Science presumed to explain “Why we love juicy gossip mags”. While some might respond “Speak for yourself,” Joseph Brownstein entertained the antics of a primatologist from UC Davis, Eliza Bliss-Moreau, who speculated about why unobserved ancestors may have found gossip titillating. Whether experiments on human subjects presented with visual stimuli says anything about unobserved ancestors, the article was confident in its ignorance: “While the reasons negative gossip draws attention are still unknown, researchers noted that it matches up with evolutionary findings in people and in animals.”

Imagine that. The reasons negative gossip draws attention are “still unknown.”

Some ask: If this stuff is science, why fund science? Aren’t pop psychology fads and checkout counter tabloids self-funding?

Somewhere out there (it’s not too much to hope), there’s real science going on.

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