Fringe science is an scientific proposals in an established field of study which departs significantly from mainstream theories in that field and is considered to be questionable by the mainstream.
Fringe science may be either a questionable application of a scientific approach to a field of study or an approach whose status as scientific is widely questioned. For mainstream scientists, attributes of fringe science include being highly speculative or relying on premises already refuted. Fringe science theories are often advanced by persons who have no traditional academic science background, or by researchers outside the mainstream discipline. The term «fringe science» covers everything from novel hypotheses which can be tested by means of the scientific method to wild ad hoc hypotheses and mumbo jumbo. Other terms for questionable types of science are pathological science, voodoo science, and cargo cult science. A concept that was once accepted by the mainstream scientific community may become fringe science because of a later evaluation of previous research.
The term «fringe science» denotes unorthodox scientific theories and models. Persons who create fringe science may have employed the scientific method in their work, but their results are not accepted by the mainstream scientific community. The boundary between fringe science and pseudoscience is disputed. The connotation of «fringe science» is that the enterprise is rational but is unlikely to produce good results for a variety of reasons, including incomplete or contradictory evidence. The term may be considered pejorative. Although most fringe science is rejected, the scientific community has come to accept some portions of it.
One example of such is plate tectonics, an idea which had its origin in the fringe science of continental drift and was rejected for decades. The confusion between science and pseudoscience, between honest scientific error and genuine scientific discovery, is not new, and it is a permanent feature of the scientific landscape . Acceptance of new science can come slowly. Wilhelm Reich’s work with orgone, a physical scientific proposals he claimed to have discovered, contributed to his alienation from the psychiatric community. He was eventually sentenced to two years in a federal prison, where he died.
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This acceptance was largely based upon what later turned out to be fundamentally flawed studies. As a result, millions of people were subjected to needless dental extractions and surgeries. The Clovis First theory held that the Clovis culture was the first culture in North America. It was long regarded as a mainstream theory until mounting evidence of a pre-Clovis culture discredited it. Aubrey de Grey, featured in a 2006 60 Minutes special report, is studying human longevity.
A nuclear fusion reaction called cold fusion which occurs near room temperature and pressure was reported by chemists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons in March 1989. Numerous research efforts at the time were unable to replicate their results. The theory of abiogenic petroleum origin holds that petroleum was formed from deep carbon deposits, perhaps dating to the formation of the Earth. Friedlander has suggested some guidelines for responding to fringe science, which, he argues, is a more difficult problem than scientific misconduct. Friedlander suggests that fringe science is necessary so that mainstream science will not atrophy. Scientists must evaluate the plausibility of each new fringe claim, and certain fringe discoveries «will later graduate into the ranks of accepted» — while others «will never receive confirmation». Margaret Wertheim profiled many «outsider scientists» in her book Physics on the Fringe, who receive little or no attention from professional scientists.
She describes all of them as trying to make sense of the world using the scientific method, but in the face of not being able to understand the complex theories of modern science. Critics argue that such controversies open a window of plausibility for divine intervention and intelligent design. Simanek asserts, «Too often speculative and tentative hypotheses of cutting edge science are treated as if they were scientific truths, and so accepted by a public eager for answers. The media also play a role in propagating the belief that certain fields of science are controversial. In their 2003 paper «Optimising Public Understanding of Science and Technology in Europe: A Comparative Perspective», Jan Nolin et al. From a media perspective it is evident that controversial science sells, not only because of its dramatic value, but also since it is often connected to high-stake societal issues. Notes on the nature of fringe science».
INFOMED — Red de Salud de Cuba. Unorthodox science as a popular activity». Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience: From Alien Abductions to Zone Therapy. The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe. THE RESURRECTION OF WILHELM REICH AND ORGONE THERAPY». The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice.
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