Demarcation Criterion

“How Demarcation Criterion differs science and pseudoscience.”Abstract:

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In the Universe there are a lot of things which we don’t know that either they are scientific or not, so different people thought about these things to differentiate among them.

There are different views of different philosophers about science. But before going to explain what science is, let’s know that how a theory is considered as scientific or non-scientific. In this regard some scientists have proposed some conditions and they named it as Demarcation Criteria.


If we want to know science then it doesn’t mean that simply knowing scientific facts like the distance from earth to sun and the age of the earth, the difference between mammal and reptile, etc. This shows that understanding the nature of science is the criteria of evidence, doing experiments, the testing of hypotheses, the invention of new theories and many other aspects like any scientific methodology that make it easy to draw some reliable conclusions about the nature or Universe.

What is Science?

In simple words science means knowledge or “it is a systematic knowledge base or a prescriptive practice that is able in resulting of a correct prediction” [4]. It is also a continuous effort of discovering and increasing human knowledgeby understanding through a disciplined approach. Today there are many activities which are characterise as science and pseudoscience.

The general concept of science:

Scientific activity is divided into two sub activities. One sub activity is the observation/perception. In observation we deal with senses, “somewhat more indirectly via some form of an, in one or another respect sense improving instrument like a microscope, a telescope or stethoscope, or even more indirectly via some detecting instrument like a Geiger counter, an electrocardiograph or an X-ray apparatus (Harre 1976)”[2]. Second partial or sub activity is about thought activity which deals and understand deeply the observation/perception; a more or less conscious thought activity takes place as an introduction to the observation. “This activity directs the attention to “chooses” observations, steps somewhat back during the direct moment of perception/observation, to dominate once more after the direct moment of perception/observation”[2].

What is Pseudoscience?

A pseudoscience is a methodology or belief that claims or looks like to be a scientific and which also claims to be in legitimacy of scientific field.

Actually pseudoscience displays an indifference to the facts. In my view the facts and conclusion that a pseudo scientist provides is not persistent because they change after some time and also they are doughty. That’s why the first edition of a book in the field of pseudoscience is always the last edition of that book it means that the scientists seldom revise their work. On the other hand if we see the textbooks of science, then after every few years a new edition comes out just because of the rapid development of new ideas. Pseudoscience is mostly depends on subjective validation. One of the most popular supports for pseudoscience is the phenomenon of “subjective validation”, in which many people think that there is something that belongs to astrology just like newspaper horoscope that describes it in a good way. But to satisfy everyone virtually the close results would reveal that the description is general.

For example the concept of astrology is all about the names of things, which are having difference from culture to culture by accidentally or some other way. We can take example of Mars, the ancient had given it this name and nowadays it is called Jupiter, and vice versa. There is difference between astrology and astronomy, because astrology totally depends on the name and does nothing with the physical properties of the planet.

One of the main characteristic of pseudo scientists that they never take care of methodical experiments, and also do not care about the result generated by scientist. They also never follow up, if one pseudo scientist claim to have done some experiment, no other pseudo scientist ever tries to look at or to check it, and by this their theories are become useless. There are other things that whenever a pseudo scientist claim to have done some scientific work having some result, he himself never try to repeat and check his result for any clarification.

In pseudoscience there are multiple crazes/styles and the scientist may switch from one style to another like from (ghosts to Extrasensory Perception (ESP) research and from ESP research to looking for Bigfoot). But the main problem is that in the given area there is no progress made. Even a small piece of information is not uncovered. There is a rare case of developing new theories. It means that in pseudoscience if the idea is older it will get more respect because no new ideas came up with time.

Demarcation Criteria:

Demarcation criteria consist of some conditions that were proposed by some philosophers and in order to qualify genuine science these characteristic must be fulfilled. So in first days demarcation criteria is used to differentiate science and pseudoscience. But later on in twentieth century the philosopher of science disagreed with demarcation criteria like Kuhn, Lakatos and Thagard.

The demarcation between science and pseudoscience is very difficult to determine because someone cannot say about the beliefs that involved in this differentiation is either true or not. Maximum part of the demarcation criteria is discussed and different weaknesses are pointed out which means that a lot of work is still to be done on the demarcation between science and pseudoscience.

Popper’s Path to his Demarcation Criteria

The Demarcation criterion is first proposed by Sir Karl Popper. He presented this proposal just because of to draw a line between science and pseudoscience. In this regards he wanted to know about that “When should a theory be ranked as scientific?”[3]. for this popper said that by empirical methods science can be distinguished from pseudoscience. But he was not satisfied from this and he proposed his own postulates. Some points of the demarcation criteria of Popper are given below.

“Point1: It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory if we look for confirmation.”[3]

I am agree with popper’s this point of demarcation that if we have theory then confirmation or verification is must and I think that he suggests this point just because of that confirmation of a theory is not a difficult task and this is a natural phenomenon to confirm or verify a theory before its accepting. The best example of the confirmation of a theory is Eddington’s confirmation of Einstein’s prediction in 1919.

“Point 2: Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory-an event which would have refuted the theory” [1].

As mentioned the first chapter “Science and pseudoscience” that pseudoscience often protect itself from the refutation by doing or making inexplicit predictions but it is not always the case. Popper told that the difference by claiming that the theory of Einstein is falsifiable, while the theory of Adler is not falsifiable.

Point 3: Every ‘good’ scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. The more a theory forbids, the better it is.

“Point 4: A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice.”[3]

I totally disagree with popper on this point because if a theory is developed then according to popper this theory should be falsified by any reasonable or conceivable event then why this theory is developed so for. In my point of view if I know that my theory is going to be falsified then why I should waste my time on that theory e.g.





[3] Martin Curd & J. A. Cover, “Philosophy of Science, The Central Issues”, Imre Lakatos – Science and Pseudoscience, p1-10.

[4] (17-03-2010)