Where Science Meets Pseudoscience

Crispian Jago has created a wonderful Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense:

See? I *told* you Buddhism was woo.

  • Trace

    I like the Wtf a lot!

  • James

    One of my now favorite fake PToE (The table from ‘Look Around You’ is my top favorite chart). But what is ‘WOO’?

  • http://yetanotheratheist.net Yet Another Atheist

    To be fair, Chupacabra does exist… it’s just a small, weird-looking, hairless dog, according to most modern day reports. :P

  • CosmicThespian

    I really thought for a second the first one (where hydrogen should be) said “physics”. My immediate reaction was: “What?? How the hell do they claim physics is wo — oh, wait, I see what happened there. Move along.”

  • Camus Dude

    I’d make just one adjustment – remove zombies. Everyone knows that they’re a legitimate, albeit as yet unproven, scientific hypothesis!

  • Dan W

    That’s a great table. I had to download that picture to my computer.

  • http://www.frommormontoatheist.blogspot.com Leilani

    Awesome… but where is Mormonism?

    (It doesn’t fall under Christianity because Mormons believe that there are more than one god… and that Christ isn’t our god; his father is…they don’t believe in the whole 3 as 1 thing. And that Christ and Satan are brothers… Seriously.)

  • Aaron

    @James
    Woo is Pseudoscience and other forms of crap.

  • ronald

    Why is physics a woo?

  • Richard P.

    I think it need a few more elements but it’s a great start.

  • http://www.davehodgkinson.com/ Dave Hodgkinson

    People have made Buddhism woo. At its core, it’s all about doing good, being happy and improving yourself.

    My girlfriend is Buddhist and I wouldn’t put up with any supernatural nonsene :)

    This a religion where “extremism” means “ultra-peaceful”. Got a problem with that?

  • Alt+3

    ‘X’ is used twice as a symbol. Also, I’m glad to see I don’t believe anything on this table. But I’m sad to say every elememt is represented by at least one person I know.

  • flawedprefect

    @ Dave – that’s an argument from “what’s the harm?” The Raeleans believe in free love and sex, which is kinda nice, but they also believe their leader has been up on motherships and to other planets to have free love and sex with aliens. He’s never taken pictures, or footage; never produced a scrap of evidence to prove these claims. Just because it’s lovely and wonderful and peaceful doesn’t mean it’s real. Most of us would rather accept the harsh reality than the comfortable fantasy, is all. Oh – and for the record: Feng Shui is a concept to bring harmony to one’s home. There has been at least one reported death due to Feng Shui: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-102698289.html Read more at http://www.whatstheharm.net

  • Maliknant

    So Detox and Colonic Irrigation are just a load of bollocks then? I’m glad someone finally told me.

    When I do a juice fast (consuming nothing but vegetable and fruit juice) for several days and my body starts excreting all sorts of foul stuff in various ways (skin eruptions, terrible body odour, bowel movements too foul and disgusting to describe here) and I have colonic irrigations done, and yet more horrid stuff is flushed out of my bowels, I’m wasting my time. Apparently. Because removing toxic detritus that is inevitably left behind in my body by consuming less than the perfect diet won’t improve my health.

    Sounds like a rational conclusion to me.

  • Claudia

    I’m a little uneasy about labelling all of “Traditional Chinese medicine” as bullocks. Sure a lot of it is, but not all of it. More importantly, the Chinese are spending a lot of effort to submit it to scientific testing. The stuff that makes it past testing can still be considered traditional Chinese medicine, but not bullocks.

    Some of that stuff I’ve never even heard of. Ear candles? WTF?! I’m almost afraid to google it.

  • JD

    Most of Buddhism is bunk, whether you take just the philosophy or take the stuff about Karma. Part of Nirvana is a form of detaching from the world, but when it comes down to the truth of reality, there is no provable reality outside the universe we are in right now.

    The stuff about Karma and reincarnation is obviously bunk. I get the impression that those aren’t beliefs universal among Buddhists.

    However, three of the four “Noble Truths” are bunk too, as far as I’m concerned. For example, desire (or craving) can lead to suffering, but I don’t think all suffering is caused by desire.

    So it is a hocus-pocus kind of thing, even if you ignore the religion part of it and only take the philosophy parts of it, it’s still incorrect.

  • gerryfromktown

    A thing of beauty!

    I love how Dave, Maliknant and Claudia all have pretty much the same reaction, i.e., they recognize everything on the table as obvious woo except [insert personal belief system here].

    Nicely satirized early on above by Camus Dude:

    I’d make just one adjustment – remove zombies. Everyone knows that they’re a legitimate, albeit as yet unproven, scientific hypothesis!

    (Of course, all four could be satire too!)

  • Claudia

    I love how Dave, Maliknant and Claudia all have pretty much the same reaction, i.e., they recognize everything on the table as obvious woo except [insert personal belief system here].

    I have no peronal stake in traditional Chinese medicine. I don’t use it myself. From the reading I’ve done on the subject however I do know that the term encompasses a huge swath of practices from pure shaman-style magical spells to the use of plant extracts with actual, demonstrable medicinal properties. I’m not excluding traditional Chinese medicine from the requirement of any other medicine; strict scientific testing. However, there’s a lot of effort going into testing, standardizing and checking different aspects of TCM, particularly accupuncture. Aspects of TCM that make it past testing shouldn’t be placed on the same list as “crystal healing”.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Err… I love the concept, really, it’s a fantastic consolidation of all that is woo; but why were Bible Code, Exorcism, Glossolalia, Miracles, Prayer, Faith Healing, and Karma not listed under “Religion”?

    Also, Maliknant said:

    So Detox and Colonic Irrigation are just a load of bollocks then? I’m glad someone finally told me.

    When I do a juice fast (consuming nothing but vegetable and fruit juice) for several days and my body starts excreting all sorts of foul stuff in various ways (skin eruptions, terrible body odour, bowel movements too foul and disgusting to describe here) and I have colonic irrigations done, and yet more horrid stuff is flushed out of my bowels, I’m wasting my time.

    Yes, actually. Your liver detoxes you naturally. That’s why you have it.

    Or would you care to describe the scientific basis for the claim that eating nothing but fruit and vegetable juice for several days can somehow clean out your system? Do you even have a mechanism for that? What is magical about fruit and vegetable juice that makes your liver do things it can’t do on its own? It sounds like you’re not bothering to ask how it would work or rely on a scientific standard for evidence – you think it’s working because you’ve had side effects. Has it ever crossed your mind that maybe the effects you’re discussing are the result of a wildly unhealthy (albeit temporary) diet?

    Yes, a colonic irrigation flushes “horrid stuff” out of your bowels – but you’ll notice that our species survived for tens of thousands of years without them, and there’s zero evidence that they actually help your health in any meaningful way.

    Can you even describe what the word “toxic” means? In the context you’re describing, it sounds like nothing but a buzzword. Or do you really believe that you’ve been eating things that are potentially deadly for the human body to consume?

  • Maliknant

    @gerryfromktown

    The human body is constantly cleansing itself from toxins as best it can. Much of this cleansing is done while you sleep, as your systems aren’t busy handling the many demands placed on them due to our activity while we are awake. One of these demands is the digestion of the food we consume throughout the day. (This is why in the morning you may have a coating on your tongue and foul breath. But I suppose ‘morning breath’ is also woo. It’s not like a rational person like you ever experiences it, right gerry?)

    Detoxification through juice fasting works because the high nutrient/low calorie juice is extremely easy for the body to digest and utilize, and is packed full of nutrients that are useful in supporting cleansing. Your body is freed from it’s digestive burden so it can focus much more on cleansing. This results in a supercharged cleanse that isn’t limited to your sleep. It runs continuously, until you break the fast by consuming something that takes a lot more work to digest than vegetable juice, like meat.

    Colonic Irrigation is useful because during a powerful cleanse you may end up getting so much toxic crud into your colon that it’s a good idea to flush it out with water instead of just relying on regular bowel movements.

    It’s quit simple really. It’s like if things are really chaotic and busy at work and your work area gets quite messy. Once things slow down, you now have a chance to tidy up, so you do.

    You will notice in the process explained above that at no time were pixies, witchcraft, fairy dust, unicorns, gods, or other magical devices used.

    But feel free to smugly call it ‘woo’. After all, it can’t be real if you don’t know anything about it, right?

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Maliknant, everything you just said in that comment is wrong.

    Your body is constantly being cleansed by your liver.

    Morning breath is caused by a buildup of bacteria in the mouth, not by the expulsion of toxins.

    Nutrients do not “support cleansing.” Your liver needs no “support.” By the way, what do you even mean by “support?” This is the type of weaselly language that snake oil salesmen use to sell non-functional products. Are you suggesting that somehow our organs won’t function properly (or well enough) unless we eat a special diet?

    Easing digestion does nothing to improve your body’s ability to cleanse itself. Digestion and cleansing are handled by two different organs. This would be like saying that you can digest and cleanse faster by not moving because you wouldn’t be using your muscles.

    The things you’re saying are just insane. What health benefits do you think this is bringing you? Do you think it’s going to make you live longer? Or is the fact that people already live over 100 years without ever doing it lost on you? Unless you have shitty genetics, your body will work just fine without the latest dietary woo. And yes, it’s just woo. Because I notice that in your process explained above, at no time was actual peer-reviewed science used. And you won’t find any that supports what you’ve claimed.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Maliknant, I have a simple task for you:

    Please name one of the toxins that builds up in your body, and describe how drinking fruit and vegetable juice will expel it from all of your tissues into your colon.

  • Richard P.

    Mike, Mike, It’s toxins… You know.. toxins.
    That black gooey crud stuff. Made up of toxins. It’s like nuclear waste.

    Does that clear it up for you?

  • Unholy Holly

    Where is Phrenology??? I had a really good reading one time that said I would look for phrenology in a document and not find it. See! It is real! And furthermore, it is not on the chart because it is NOT WOO. Absolute proof! Now, can I interest you in a reading? I just got my Phrenology Doctorate (PhD). My introductory offer is just $350 — that’s a savings of 50%!

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  • Demonhype

    This is now my new desktop–though I had to mute that blinding white background to avoid migraines.

    And my dad loves it too! :)

    My mommie would be very disappointed if she saw it though. Oh well.

  • Michela

    As a chemistry major, I’m tempted to rearrange this table to reflect the ability of each belief to “react” with each other and their relative amounts of ridiculousness in addition to their common themes. But then I wonder if it even makes sense to do that since this is, after all, a table of irrational nonsense. :P

  • ken

    The table should have included lobotomies and Eugenics, but I suppose those are examples of better living though Science.

  • ken

    Mike: I notice that in your process explained above, at no time was actual peer-reviewed science used. And you won’t find any that supports what you’ve claimed.

    I think Mr. Jago has far too much free time on his hands.
    I’d be curious to know who reviews the “peers”? I mean, is there a journal for peer reviewance? There should be, just to be on the safe side. But then, who would review those peers? I imagine they would review themselves, which would be sort of like letting the thieves on Wall Street monitor their own transactions.
    What we need is an un-moved mover of peer reviewance to whom we could appeal for ultimate approval.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    ken, I think maybe you don’t have a clue how peer review works.

  • ken

    MikeTheInfidel Says:
    July 20th, 2010 at 6:43 am

    ken, I think maybe you don’t have a clue how peer review works.

    Please, it’s just a bit of humor. I’m simply satirizing the fawning and almost child-like dependency so many skeptics display towards so-called authorities to tell them what is or isn’t the truth, in science, religion, or any other field. People will pick and choose which “peer-reviewed” journal they will or won’t accept as an authority. I seriously doubt you pay any attention to what’s published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, peer-reviewed though it is.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Like I said, ken, you have no idea how peer review works, nor do you seem to have any concept of how to interpret the validity of a peer-reviewed journal. That you can’t figure it out is not evidence that we haven’t. Your satire is a defense mechanism – mocking something you don’t understand as a way to not have to deal with the reality of your ignorance.

  • Jen

    Wow, talk about comments that got way off the topic.

    The image is awesome, though I have to disagree with “TCM” being lumped in there. There are a few Chinese herbs that have been proven to have some interesting effects. Several of the religions listed, I’m guessing, are being included due to their mysticism, but the image doesn’t distinguish between that an attack on their philosophy. (Taoism, for example, is divided into two main types, only one of which is bunk. The other is just the philosophy, and that’s a different discussion.)

    As for the comments, we’ve definitely left “constructive” and wandered into “hostile”. Some of us are newer to this than others. Not everyone has worked their way around logical fallacies and peer reviewed studies. (Me, a year ago, for example. Couldn’t logic my way out of a paper bag.) It would be better to explain why and how these thought processes aren’t correct. Ignorance is best fought with education, not violence.

  • Monitoring

    It’s a dogmatic table. Altough there are many elements spot on, there are also areas that clearly shows that author just wanted to raise his credibility and make formal automatic list to show that he is a fan of The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Michael Shermers, Michal McGahas, James Obergs, etc…

    As pseudoscience is part of life, so this table is :)


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