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Fake Science is Going Around

Prof. Macoto Kikuchi
Cyberemedia Center, Osaka University
Large-Scale Computational Science Division

Photo of Prof. Macoto Kikuchi

Have you ever heard the words 'fake science'?

That looks like science, however it cannot be said that it is scientific at all. It is also called as 'pseudoscience' or 'bastard science'.

You would think, "Where on earth is such thing?" But you may understand, "Ah, that is such things." if citing names for examples the 'associating blood type with character,' 'negative ions,' and the 'germanium bracelet'. Or, would you surprise like "What!"?

For example, as you well know, once highly-touted as "negative ions are good for health." and a boom had been started, that is all big electronics maker sold the products, which are related with negative ions. The negative ions related products had a good sale, because probably many people believed that the healthy effect of negative ions has scientific basis. Since TV programs, magazines, etc. featured the topic frequently, it is definitely hard to doubt of the effect.

However, in fact, the effect has almost no scientific basis. That boom was a great fuss about nothing. We have to faithfully validate the evidence why even the big makers were manipulated by the fuss.

Recently, it is thought popularity of the products using germanium is increasing. On the other hand, even if you wear germanium, effect of no more than wearing a lucky charm is expected.

These days, the 'fake science' that described in the above is going around. It looks like science, however is not science.

In these 'fake science,' there are problems related with parenting and morality. I will talk about them.

One of well known examples is so-called 'Game Brain*1,' which is assumption that "Playing video games too much damages brain's function." However, this assumption does not have reliable scientific basis. In this sense, it is also the 'fake science'.

Of course any game has story nature, hence it would be affect formation of character. However, if picking up only that as the evidence, novels, TV drama programs, and so forth are also the same. Therefore, it is completely another story with that whether the function of brain will be damaged or not.

However this assumption is widely adopted by education related people. It seems that a lot of lecture meeting of the 'Game Brain' committed by education boards and PTAs have been held in many places all over Japan.

For granted, there might be many parents who are bothered about that their children play video games so often, and also the teachers of schools might be thinking of resolving such trend.
It can understand that the 'Game Brain' assumption seems like God's Word for such people, however accepting thing that does not have scientific basis is meaningless.

Originally, handling of too much playing video games is a problem of parenting, but is not a problem of science. If you are bothered over your child playing video games so frequently, you should faithfully lead to quit it. Do not obtain the argument of parenting from science.

Here, I will introduce one more strange assumption concerned with water.

The assumption advocates that when saying "Thank you." to water, it will become beautiful crystal. On the other hand it claims if saying "stupid." to water, it will not become beautiful one.
The crystal of water is ice, hence the assumption is advocating that the shape of ice depends on whether the words are good or not. However it is a funny stuff.

Water is just material. It does not have ears to listen words, eyes to read letters, and mind to feel meaning of words. It should not be believed by adults that "Water is affected by words". However this is believed widely. If he/she is taught that '"Thank you" is a good word that can be understood even by water,' unexpectedly many percentage of people believe as a 'good story'.

It is becoming an open question for some time that this assumption is using for class of moral in many elementally schools. The above story has been thought as a perfect educational material to teach diction.

However, is that a truth?

The class includes many problems.

First of all, it is totally wrong scientifically. In recent years, the moving away from the sciences, and the declining in academic ability are becoming as problems. On that background, it should not be permitted to teach such non-scientific story as though it is a truth even if in the class of moral.

However, further problem is obtaining the argument of diction from behavior of water, which is material.

Since language is tool for communicating between humans, the usage should be thought by humans' brain. If you think about whether "Thank you" are good words in any situation, you will be aware of the strange point of the story.

Similar to the 'Game Brain' is trying to obtaining the argument of moral from natural science.
That is too much asking to science.

Parenting and moral should be thought by humans' brain, but should not be taught by natural science.

And now, the 'fake science' has been accepted , because it looks science. Therefore, people who are believing the fake science is not dislike science or think something suspicious science, but they are believing science, so that they believe the fake science.

The boom of negative ions occurred, because the explanation that is "Positive is bad for health, and negative is good for health" was accepted as a 'scientific knowledge' by many people.

However, if you ask a question that is "Are negative ions good for health?" to a scientist, he/she will not back to you such a simple dichotomic answer.

He/she will just answer inarticulately like as follows: "There are many kinds of negative ions, so that, some of them might be good for health. However, too much dosing may result in something bad..."

You should not complain, because it is the scientific conscience.

However, the 'fake science' answers affirmable to the question like as follows:

"Negative is good, and positive is bad."

"Moreover, too much playing video games is not good, because your brain will be broken."

"'Thank you.' are good words, because water makes beautiful crystal."

Like the above, the 'fake science' decides things gratifyingly. These gratifying answers cannot be expected to real science.

However, the public image of science might have the fake science attribute. The image of science that "Science decides things point-blank." might be going around.

If so, the 'fake science' may be looks like science rather than science.

Admittedly it is simple if everything can be decided by simple dichotomy. However, unfortunately, the world is not made such simple way. It is important to think about such complex things accurately. Furthermore, the way of thinking like above is originally 'rational thinking' and 'scientific thinking'. The dichotomy is just stop of thinking.

I think not just the 'fake science,' but obtaining just results by dichotomic thinking such as good or bad is spreading in society.
However, we have to think a great deal of the 'process of rational thinking'.

*1 "Game Brainexternal link," Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_nou

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Ryoichi Mizuno - Scientific Computer Graphics

Created: 2008/06/21 (α)

Copyright © 2007 Macoto Kikuchiexternal link (Osaka Universityexternal link), All Rights Reserved.