Posts Tagged ‘skepticism’

I recently learned about the field of anomalistics, that is, the study of scientific anomalies. This is a little-known area of investigation that attempts to take an even-handed approach to extraordinary claims. I found a good explanation of the field at the web site Skeptical Investigations. In an article, “The Perspective of Anomalistics,” by the now-deceased Marcello Truzzi (sociologist at Eastern Michigan University), Truzzi explains that anomalistics has “two central features”:

  1. Anomalistics’ “concerns are purely scientific,” so “it deals only with empirical claims of the extraordinary,” rather than metaphysical or religious ideas. Thus “it insists on the testability of claims (including both verifiability and falsifiability), seeks parsimonious explanations, places the burden of proof on the claimant, and expects evidence of a claim to be commensurate with its degree of extraordinariness (anomalousness).”
  2. Anomalistics is interdisciplinary in that an anomaly “is not presumed to have its ultimate explanation in a particular branch of science” and that it “seeks an understanding of scientific adjudication across disciplines.”

Truzzi popularized and possibly coined the term “pseudo-skeptic,” which he described in an article, “On Pseudo-Skepticism” as:

Since “skepticism” properly refers to doubt rather than denial — nonbelief rather than belief — critics who take the negative rather than an agnostic position but still call themselves “skeptics” are actually pseudo-skeptics and have, I believed, gained a false advantage by usurping that label.

I encountered the field of anomalistics reading an article claiming that an aluminum gear was found in a 300-million-year-old coal deposit in Russia. The article referred to “anomaly researcher and biologist Valery Brier, who took microscopic samples of the aluminum for testing.” I hadn’t heard previously of the term “anomaly researcher,” so I looked into it and encountered the anomalistics field, which seems useful and interesting. The discovery was also discussed in an article on The Voice of Russia web site.

ARK — 24 January 2013

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