, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 329-350

The Seven Strategies of the Sophisticated Pseudo-Scientist: a look into Freud's rhetorical tool box

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Abstract

In my ‘Seven Sins of Pseudo-Science’ (Journal for General Philosophy of Science 1993) I argued against Grünbaum that Freud commits all Seven Sins of Pseudo-Science. Yet how does Freud manage to fool many people, including such a sophisticated person as Grünbaum? My answer is that Freud is a sophisticated pseudo-scientist, using all Seven Strategies of the Sophisticated Pseudo-Scientist to keep up appearances, to wit, (1) the Humble Empiricist, (2) the Severe Selfcriticism, (3) the Unbiased Me, (4) the Striking but Irrelevant Example, (5) the Proof Given Elsewhere, (6) the Favorable Compromise, and (7) the Display of Methodological Sophistication. One should note that not all strategies are disreputable in themselves. But all are used very cunningly so as to hide weaknesses in Freud's arguments. To be fair, quite a few of his methodological remarks are sophisticated enough. As Freud combines these sophisticated remarks with an appalling methodology in practice, I call him a sophisticated pseudo-scientist. I do not claim that these rhetorical strategies are specific to him.

This revised version was published online in August 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.