Sunday, June 3, 2007

Life Cycle of Junk Science

Below is the life cycle of junk science, as best I can figure it by analyzing the history of classic junk science, from diet pills to The Population Bomb. Can you think of any examples today that might fit this life cycle?

Genesis
1) Maverick Scientist has an Idea.
2) Other scientists deride the Idea.
3) SF Writers use Idea as image of bleak future.
4) Academics debate Idea.
5) Politicians begins to discuss the Idea, but don’t understand it.
6) General Public ignores the Idea.

Growth
7) Champion arrives to actively promote and publicize Idea.
8) Scientists form a consensus that agrees with Idea.
9) Academics teach Idea as fact.
10) Fast Adapters change lifestyle, ridicule General Public.
11) Hollywood makes disaster movie, sometimes based on SF novel from 3.
12) General Public makes token lifestyle changes.
13) Politicians use Idea to attack political enemies.

Hysteria
14) Scientific consensus begins ruthlessly crushing dissent.
15) Champion is hailed as Messianic Leader.
16) Academics announce society is doomed.
17) General public accepts Idea.
18) Opponents of Idea are cast as wicked and immoral.
19) Music Industry holds benefit, sometimes using film name from 11.

Critical Mass
20) Dissenting Scientist proposes alternative theory to Idea.
21) Scientific consensus denounces Dissenting Scientist.
22) Messianic Leader begins making ludicrous claims unrelated to Idea.
23) Politicians propose massive social, fiscal, and moral changes to accommodate Idea.
24) Time Magazine puts Maverick Scientist, Messiah, Idea, or all 3 on cover.

Death and Rebirth
25) Dissenting Scientist is proven to be right, nothing happens.
26) Scientists form new consensus, claim they knew all along.
27) Fast Adapters are ridiculed by General Public.
28) Academics continue to teach Idea as “compelling theory”.
29) Politicians raise taxes, just in case.
30) Messiah and Entertainment Industry find new Maverick Scientist.
31) Return to Step 1.

6 comments:

Plebian said...

Welcome Ed Driscoll readers! Have a look around and enjoy yourself. Thanks to Ed for the link.

Citizen Deux said...

Great! Traced here via Sonic Frog, Watts Up with That and then voila!

pst314 said...

7A. Opportunistic scientists see that they can get funding by pandering to the Idea.

bscott said...

Global warming
Stem cell research

Anonymous said...

How about cold fusion?

All explained in the book "Voodo Science".

http://www.amazon.com/Voodoo-Science-Road-Foolishness-Fraud/dp/0195147103/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3/002-6134403-8917655?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183080112&sr=1-3

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