[The Chronicle Review]: There is, alas, no scientific claim so preposterous that a scientist cannot be found to vouch for it.
Physics prof Robert L. Park ticks ’em off (And I’ll wager his list is going to tick some of my more imaginative friends off too :-):

1. The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.
2. The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.
3. The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection.
4. Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.
5. The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries.
6. The discoverer has worked in isolation.
7. The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.

I’m actually favorably open-minded to some of the examples he debunks, but I think he warning signs are on the mark. Big Science may get misused, but I’m keeping my money on the scientific method.
[Park’s caveat: Of course, they are only warning signs — even a claim with several of the signs could be legitimate.

Spread the love