Advertisement

Feng Shui as Pseudoscience

  • Michael R. Matthews
Chapter
Part of the Science: Philosophy, History and Education book series (SPHE)

Abstract

Given the extent of feng shui belief, and the personal, social, cultural, and economic impact that it has, everyone can benefit from judging its scientificity. Efforts to distinguish science from non-science, the original ‘demarcation problem’, have been pursued since at least David Hume’s assertion of empirical confirmation as the differentia. Karl Popper proposed a new demarcation of science from non-science, namely, falsificationism. The mushrooming, internationalizing, billion-dollar feng shui industry, and its related alternative or holistic medicine industry, is an example of the ethical, political, and cultural consequences of failing to identify pseudoscience or saying that such identification is impossible. Carl Hempel usefully offered a list of seven desiderata that identified good scientific theories and which can serve in characterizing good scientific practice. Larry Laudan claimed that the demarcation quest was hopelessly and in-principle contentious. Although many philosophers concurred with Laudan’s arguments, not all did so. The feng shui movement is sectarian, and it is a mark of pseudoscience that these sectarian differences cannot be settled. Science always occurs in a social-economic-technological context which has its own conceptual and philosophical characteristics that can be listed as five couples, or a conceptual pentagon: humanism/commercialism; systemism/compartmentalism; materialism/spiritualism; realism/subjectivism; and scientism/irrationalism. For any society, to the degree that the first member of the couples is maximized, then science can flourish. To the degree that the second member is elevated, then the society allows and promotes the growth of pseudosciences. Contemporary USA provides a case study for this claim.

References

  1. Barnes, B. (1977). Interests and the growth of knowledge. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  2. Beinfield, H., & Korngold, E. (1991). Between heaven and earth: A guide to Chinese medicine. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  3. Blackmore, J. T. (1989). Ernst Mach leaves “The Church of Physics”. British Journal for Philosophy of Science, 40, 519–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bloor, D. (1976/1991). Knowledge and social imagery. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul (Second edition, 1991).Google Scholar
  5. Boudry, M. (2017). Plus ultra: Why science does not have limits. In M. Boudry & M. Pigliucci (Eds.), Science unlimited? The challenges of scientism (pp. 31–52). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boudry, M., & Pigliucci, M. (Eds.). (2017). Science unlimited? The challenges of scientism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  7. Brandt, A. (2007). The cigarette century: The rise, fall, and deadly persistence of the product that defined America. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, J. R. (2001). Who rules in science: An opinionated guide to the science wars. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bunge, M. (1967/1998). Scientific research 1, the search for system. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  10. Bunge, M. (1991a). What is science? Does it matter to distinguish it from pseudoscience? New Ideas in Psychology, 9, 245–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bunge, M. (1991b). A critical examination of the new sociology of science: Part 1. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 21(4), 524–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bunge, M. (1992). A critical examination of the new sociology of science: Part 2. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 22(1), 46–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bunge, M. (1994). Counter-enlightenment in contemporary social studies. In P. Kurtz & T. J. Madigan (Eds.), Challenges to the enlightenment: In defense of reason and science (pp. 25–42). Buffalo: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  14. Bunge, M. (1996). In praise of intolerance to charlatanism in academia. In P. R. Gross, N. Levitt, & M. W. Lewis (Eds.), The flight from science and reason (pp. 96–115). New York: New York Academy of Sciences.Google Scholar
  15. Bunge, M. (2001). Philosophy in crisis: The need for reconstruction. Amherst: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  16. Bunge, M. (2006). Chasing reality: Strife over realism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bunge, M. (2012a). Evaluating philosophies (Boston studies in the philosophy of science) (Vol. 295). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Butts, R. E. (1993). Sciences and pseudosciences: An attempt at a new form of demarcation. In J. Earman, A. I. Janis, G. J. Massey, & N. Rescher (Eds.), Philosophical problems of the internal and external worlds: Essays on the philosophy of Adolf Grünbaum (pp. 163–185). Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Collins, H. M. (1985). Changing order: Replication and induction in scientific practice. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Cooter, R. (1980). Deploying “pseudoscience”: Then and now. In M. P. Hanen, M. J. Osler, & R. G. Weyant (Eds.), Science, pseudoscience and society (pp. 237–272). Calgary: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Cooter, R. (1982). The conservatism of “pseudoscience”. In P. Grim (Ed.), Philosophy of science and the occult (pp. 130–143). Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  22. Crump, T. (2001). A brief history of science: As seen through the development of scientific instruments. London: Robinson.Google Scholar
  23. Derksen, A. A. (1993). The seven sins of pseudoscience. Journal for General Philosophy of Science, 24, 17–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Driver, R. (1988). A constructivist approach to curriculum development. In P. Fensham (Ed.), Development and dilemmas in science education (pp. 133–149). New York: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  25. Engelhardt, H. T., & Caplan, A. L. (Eds.). (1987). Scientific controversies: Case studies in the resolution and closure of disputes in science and technology. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Gordin, M. D. (2012). The pseudoscience wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the birth of the modern fringe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gould, S. J. (1997). Nonoverlapping magisteria. Natural History, 106, 16–22. Reprinted in R. Pennock (ed.), Intelligent design creationism and its critics: Philosophical, theological, and scientific perspectives. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 2001, 737–749.Google Scholar
  28. Gross, P. R., Levitt, N., & Lewis, M. W. (Eds.). (1996). The flight from science and reason. New York: New York Academy of Sciences, (distributed by Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore).Google Scholar
  29. Guo, P. (2001). The Zangshu, or book of burial (S. Field, Trans.). web source. (original ≈ 300bc).Google Scholar
  30. Hansson, S. O. (2009). Cutting the Gordian Knot of demarcation. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 23, 237–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hansson, S. O. (2013). Defining pseudoscience and science. In M. Pigliccci & M. Boudry (Eds.), Philosophy of pseudoscience: Reconsidering the demarcation problem (pp. 61–77). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hellman, H. (1998). Great feuds in science. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  33. Hempel, C. G. (1983). Valuation and objectivity in science. In R. S. Cohen & L. Laudan (Eds.), Physics, philosophy and psychoanalysis: Essays in honor of Adolf Grünbaum (pp. 111–127). Dordrecht: Reidel.Google Scholar
  34. Hobson, A. (2019). A realist analysis of six controversial quantum issues. In M. R. Matthews (Ed.), Mario Bunge: A centenary festschrift. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  35. Hoyningen-Huene, P. (2008). Systematicity: The nature of science. Philosophia, 36, 167–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hoyningen-Huene, P. (2013). Systematicity: The nature of science. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Huizenga, J. (1992). Cold fusion: The scientific fiasco of the century. Rochester: University of Rochester Press.Google Scholar
  38. Hume, D. (1777/1902). In L. A. Selby-Bigge (Ed.), Enquiries concerning the human understanding and concerning the principles of morals. Oxford: Clarendon Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hwangbo, A. B. (1999). A new millennium and feng shui. The Journal of Architecture, 4(2), 191–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Irzik, G. (Ed.). (2013). Commercialisation and commodification of science: Educational responses. Science & Education, 22(10), 2375–2384.Google Scholar
  41. Jeans, J. (1948). The growth of physical science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Koertge, N. (Ed.). (1998). A house built on sand: Exposing postmodern myths about science. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Kuhn, T. S. (1991/2000). ‘The trouble with historical philosophy of science’, The Robert and Maurine Rothschild lecture, Department of History of Science, Harvard University. In J. Conant & J. Haugeland (Eds.), The road since structure: Thomas S. Kuhn (pp. 105–120). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  44. Kurtz, P., & Madigan, T. J. (1994). Challenges to the enlightenment: In defense of reason and science. Buffalo: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  45. Latour, B. (2004). Why has critique run out of steam? From matters of fact to matters of concern. Critical Inquiry, 30, 225–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ladyman, J. (2002). Understanding philosophy of science. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ladyman, J. (2013). Toward a demarcation of science from pseudoscience. In M. Pigluicci & M. Boudry (Eds.), Philosophy of pseudoscience: Reconsidering the demarcation problem (pp. 45–59). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lakatos, I. (1970). Falsification and the methodology of scientific research programmes. In I. Lakatos & A. Musgrave (Eds.), Criticism and the growth of knowledge (pp. 91–196). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lakatos, I. (1978). Introduction: Science and pseudoscience. In J. Worrall & G. Currie (Eds.), The methodology of scientific research programmes: Volume I (pp. 1–7). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Latour, B., & Woolgar, S. (1979/1986). Laboratory life: The social construction of scientific facts (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  51. Laudan, L. (1981). A confutation of convergent realism. Philosophy of Science, 48, 19–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Laudan, L. (1983/1996). The demise of the demarcation problem. In L. Laudan (Ed.), Beyond positivism and relativism: Theory, method and evidence (pp. 210–222). Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  53. Mach, E. (1910/1992). Sensory elements and scientific concepts. In J. Blackmore (Ed.), Ernst Mach: A deeper look (pp. 118–126). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  54. Machamer, P., Pera, M., & Baltas, A. (Eds.). (2000). Scientific controversies: Philosophical and historical perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Mahner, M. (2007). Demarcating science from pseudoscience. In T. Kuipers (Ed.), Handbook of the philosophy of science: General philosophy of science-focal issue (pp. 515–575). Amsterdam: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Mahner, M. (2013). Science and pseudoscience: How to demarcate after the (alleged) demise of the demarcation problem. In M. Pigliucci & M. Boudry (Eds.), Philosophy of pseudoscience: Reconsidering the demarcation problem (pp. 29–59). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Matthews, M. R. (2017). In praise of philosophically-engaged history of science. Science & Education, 26(1–2), 175–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. McIntyre, L. (2015). Respecting truth: Willful ignorance in the internet age. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. McIntyre, L. C. (2019). The scientific attitude: Defending science from denial, fraud, and pseudoscience. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  60. Mermin, D. N. (1981). Quantum mysteries for anyone. Journal of Philosophy, 78, 397–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Merton, R. K. (1938/1973). Science and the social order. InThe sociology of science (pp. 254–266). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  62. Nickles, T. (2013). The problem of demarcation: History and future. In M. Pigliucci & M. Boudry (Eds.), Philosophy of pseudoscience: Reconsidering the demarcation problem (pp. 101–120). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Nola, R. (1991). Ordinary human inference as refutation of the strong programme. Social Studies of Science, 21, 107–129.Google Scholar
  64. Nola, R. (2000). Saving Kuhn from the sociologists of science. Science & Education, 9(1–2), 77–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Oreskes, N., & Conway, E. M. (2010). Merchants of doubt: How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming. New York: Bloomsbury Press.Google Scholar
  66. Orleans, L. A. (Ed.). (1980). Science in contemporary China. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Pennock, R. T. (2011). Can’t philosophers tell the difference between science and religion? Demarcation revisited. Synthese, 178(2), 177–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Pigliucci, M. (2013). The demarcation problem: A (belated) response to Laudan. In M. Pigliucci & M. Boudry (Eds.), Philosophy of pseudoscience: Reconsidering the demarcation problem (pp. 9–28). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Pigliucci, M., & Boudry, M. (Eds.). (2013). Philosophy of pseudoscience: Reconsidering the demarcation problem. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  70. Popper, K. R. (1934/1959). The logic of scientific discovery. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  71. Popper, K. R. (1963). Conjectures and refutations: The growth of scientific knowledge. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  72. Romero, G. (2019). Physics and philosophy of physics in the work of Mario Bunge. In M. R. Matthews (Ed.), Mario Bunge: A Centenary Festschrift. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  73. Ruse, M. (Ed.). (1988). But is it science? The philosophical question in the creation/evolution controversy. Albany: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  74. Sampson, W. (1996). Antiscience trends in the rise of the “alternative medicine” movement. In P. R. Gross, N. Levitt, & M. W. Lewis (Eds.), The flight from science and reason (pp. 188–197). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Shermer, M. (2013). Science and pseudoscience: The difference in practice and the difference it makes. In M. Pigliucci & M. Boudry (Eds.), Philosophy of pseudoscience: Reconsidering the demarcation problem (pp. 203–223). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Slezak, P. (1994a). Sociology of science and science education: Part I. Science & Education, 3(3), 265–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Slezak, P. (1994b). Sociology of science and science education. Part II: Laboratory life under the microscope. Science & Education, 3(4), 329–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Sokal, A. (2009). Beyond the hoax: Science, philosophy and culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  79. Staver, J. (1998). Constructivism: Sound theory for explicating the practice of science and science teaching. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35(5), 501–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Stebbing, L. S. (1937/1958). Philosophy and the physicists. New York: Dover Publications.Google Scholar
  81. Stove, D. C. (1982). Popper and after: Four modern irrationalists. Oxford: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  82. Wootton, D. (2015). The invention of science: A new history of the scientific revolution. London: Penguin Random House.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael R. Matthews
    • 1
  1. 1.University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations