Journal for General Philosophy of Science

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 329–350

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

  • Athony A. Derksen

DOI: 10.1023/A:1013100717113

Cite this article as:
Derksen, A.A. Journal for General Philosophy of Science (2001) 32: 329. doi:10.1023/A:1013100717113


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.

pseudo-science rhetorical strategies humbleempiricism sophisticated pseudo-scientist Freud 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Athony A. Derksen
    • 1
  1. 1.NijmegenThe Netherlands

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