What Science Is and Is Not



Participants in the education process want to give their practices a scientific justification based on objective, evidence-based criteria. But, many of their “data-driven” education policies and reforms resemble what is called “pseudoscience” more than real science. Distinguishing real scientific claims from pseudoscientific ones can be difficult because it is the basis for the claims being made that needs to be evaluated, not the plausibility of the claims themselves. What makes knowledge “scientific” is the process by which it was obtained. This process has identifiable elements, some or most of which are missing in pseudoscientific works. These essential elements of science—relevant, falsifiable questions, systematic and consistent data collection, causal explanations, simplified understanding of natural processes, avoidance of over-fitting, reproducibility, predictability, and control—must be present in any study claiming to be scientific. Yet much of the real science on education and human development is ignored in favor of “evidence-based” reports and “data-driven” practices that are missing at least one, or in many cases several, of these essential elements.


Consistent Data Collection Pseudoscience Real Science Evidence-based Criteria Magical Thinking 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Loyola University MarylandBaltimoreUSA

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