There’s a pretty interesting article over at Wired by Clive Thompson about the rhetorical ploys pseudoscience advocates use.
Much of the article is dead on. Creationists, quantum healers, and other crackpots frequently abuse scientific verbiage to make their arguments. As if what something is named affects whether it’s in the least bit true. Well, in the real world, apparently it does. That’s how superficial we are, I guess.
I hesitate resorting to rhetorical tactics of that kind, however. Sure, most people don’t care about subtle nuances of science-speak. But they should. Commandeering political language won’t do anything but hurt the science. This is the frame of mind you have to have when you’re thinking about this stuff. You have to acknowledge the possibility of error, or else how would you ever find the errors? And, by the way, this is how you distinguish between actual science and pseudoscience in the first place. How many pseudoscientists do you know that acknowledge that their hypotheses might be wrong? They may entertain the idea for your benefit, but they almost never seriously consider it. I mean, just look over at ERV’s dealings with the HIV denier, Leonard Horowitz, or with Michael Behe. They fake modesty toward their hypotheses in order to appear genuine. I wouldn’t trade that advantage away so easily. Maybe that’s just me.