Why the Study of Pseudoscience Should Be Included in Nature of Science Studies

  • Ronald Good


The usual approach to the study of the nature of science (NOS) does not ensure that students will be likely to recognize and reject pseudoscience in its many forms. Pseudoscience should be studied explicitly, with examples, to increase the likelihood that students will be able to recognize it in their daily lives. The pseudoscience of subluxation chiropractic, for example, has 60,000 practitioners in the United States and many millions of followers who believe they receive legitimate medical care when their spines are x-rayed and manipulated. The chiropractic industry has managed to convince politicians and the insurance industry to treat chiropractic as legitimate medical practice, despite the fact that the scientific community, including science-based medicine, views chiropractic as pseudoscience. Another pseudoscience that has an important impact on students’ understanding of science is creationism/intelligent design (ID). Similar to subluxation chiropractic in fundamental ways, ID is grounded in the mysterious world of the supernatural. These two examples of pseudoscience, chiropractic, and ID, are compared and used to explain why the study of pseudoscience should be included in NOS studies.


Pseudoscience Intelligent design Habits of mind Evolution Science education Content knowledge 



For their contributions to earlier symposia and papers on this topic, I thank Ana Coulo, Julie Gess-Newsome, Norm Lederman, Michael Matthews, Larry Scharmann, Peter Slezak, Mike Smith, and Sherry Southerland. Their ideas have influenced my thinking about the nature and study of pseudoscience in science education.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Science EducationLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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