28 votes

Is there anything considered pseudoscientific/unscientific that you suspect has some truth to it and might be re-examined in the future?

(Also, how open are you to being dissuaded from it? I'm always open to new information, so if you're concerned about me embarrassing myself in public with these ideas, enlighten me, by all means.)

Two examples come to mind for me.

  • Astrology. I don't think the positions of the stars have any actual bearing on people's destinies, but there are definite traits that seem common to the individual signs, across cultures and eras. Perhaps there's a natural cycle of some sort that affects our collective psychology or even biochemistry and we misattribute zodiac stereotypes because it happens to align with the celestial "movements"?

  • Graphology. The notion that particular characteristics or tendencies could be expressed in something like handwriting doesn't sound unreasonable to me. Our minds physically express many things in our body language, and I could see how handwriting might essentially be an extension of that, or another translation.

Of course, this could just be self-selection and delusion, but these are likely complex issues and there's still quite a lot we do not understand.

64 comments

  1. [9]
    rogue_cricket
    (edited )
    Link
    I think there's something to mysticism, spiritualism, and rituals in general. Something in the human psyche loves rituals. Especially lately I've been thinking about witchcraft, and in the past...

    I think there's something to mysticism, spiritualism, and rituals in general. Something in the human psyche loves rituals. Especially lately I've been thinking about witchcraft, and in the past few years the aesthetic and community of witches has absolutely exploded. It's made me think about how it had been treated in the past and what purposes this kind of witchcraft actually serves.

    It can be a way for (primarily women) to build community and solidarity - often rituals involve multiple people, and there's the modern "like to charge, share to cast". It can be a way to try and claim even a bit of power or agency when you feel otherwise powerless. It can be a way to express desires that are outside of what would normally be socially acceptable, like expressing anger via casting a "curse" on someone.

    It can be a way to take something that is bothering you and bring that thing outside of yourself. A healing crystal, for instance, is a physical thing. You have a worry, you have a crystal which is meant to address this worry. It is a thing that you can touch and see. When you feel anxious, a physical thing or ritual can be a grounding force. I think, like a placebo, can help even if you are aware it's not "real".

    It can be a way to meditate or try and find new perspectives on your life. Tarot reading, for instance, purports to give you vague information about your past, your present, your future. When a card is drawn at random, you must consider your situation in light of what the card represents, which can give you new insight.

    Is magic and divination real? Should I get my aura cleansed? Well, probably not. But I think the connection between one's psychology and one's physiology is way, way blurrier than we would like to admit, and these kinds of rituals can help with the former. "It's all in your head" should not be a complete dismissal of something's potential for real impact or usefulness, even if it seems silly on the surface.

    18 votes
    1. TemulentTeatotaler
      Link Parent
      Unobligatory Douglas Adams quote:

      Unobligatory Douglas Adams quote:

      In astrology the rules happen to be about stars and planets, but they could be about ducks and drakes for all the difference it would make. It's just a way of thinking about a problem which lets the shape of that problem begin to emerge. The more rules, the tinier the rules, the more arbitrary they are, the better. It's like throwing a handful of fine graphite dust on a piece of paper to see where the hidden indentations are. It lets you see the words that were written on the piece of paper above it that's now been taken away and hidden. The graphite's not important. It's just the means of revealing the indentations. So you see, astrology's nothing to do with astronomy. It's just to do with people thinking about people.

      17 votes
    2. autumn
      Link Parent
      As somebody who rekindled my witchcraft in the past couple of years, this is very true to me. Ritual is fun and gets me in the right mindset to focus on certain aspects of my life. There’s a...

      As somebody who rekindled my witchcraft in the past couple of years, this is very true to me. Ritual is fun and gets me in the right mindset to focus on certain aspects of my life. There’s a fairly large community of “science witches” who believe in the power of placebo, even if you know it’s placebo. Really cool stuff!

      8 votes
    3. monarda
      Link Parent
      I used to do “spells” with my kids when they were younger. Something like I’d light a candle, use purified water to anoint us, and write down something that was bothering us, and burn it. Or the...

      I used to do “spells” with my kids when they were younger. Something like I’d light a candle, use purified water to anoint us, and write down something that was bothering us, and burn it. Or the happy day spell where we’d repeat little phrases of the happy things we might know or see through the day. They all worked! It is like magic. Even now when I’ve I understand more that it’s the intent and ritual that is making it so, that it’s using those things as a focus, a way to see what I want to see, it still feels magical.

      I too do not like the dismissiveness of “it’s all in your head.” My head is a powerful thing that we don’t fully understand, why does it matter if it’s all in my head if I get to where I want to be?

      5 votes
    4. [4]
      Staross
      Link Parent
      I'm not an expert but I think these kind of things have been studied left and right in psychology/sociology/anthropology.

      I'm not an expert but I think these kind of things have been studied left and right in psychology/sociology/anthropology.

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        rogue_cricket
        Link Parent
        Oh, I'm sure! But I also don't think a counsellor is going to suggest going into the woods at midnight and casting a spell with your girlfriends under the soft light of Mother Moon to help you...

        Oh, I'm sure! But I also don't think a counsellor is going to suggest going into the woods at midnight and casting a spell with your girlfriends under the soft light of Mother Moon to help you manage your anxiety any time soon, haha.

        6 votes
        1. autumn
          Link Parent
          Clearly you don’t have the right counsellor. ;)

          Clearly you don’t have the right counsellor. ;)

          8 votes
        2. monarda
          Link Parent
          That was a great answer! Just like a counselor isn’t going to suggest to a parent to ask their child if they want to cast a “I want to be nice to my brother” spell, and if they say yes, cast one...

          That was a great answer! Just like a counselor isn’t going to suggest to a parent to ask their child if they want to cast a “I want to be nice to my brother” spell, and if they say yes, cast one with them.

          2 votes
    5. NoblePath
      Link Parent
      I don’t think the power of ritual is unscientific. There’s certainly research about how doing activities together helps align and promote unity among a groip.

      I don’t think the power of ritual is unscientific. There’s certainly research about how doing activities together helps align and promote unity among a groip.

      3 votes
  2. [11]
    nacho
    (edited )
    Link
    Not being facetious, but I think a lot of boring, common sense health trends will turn out to be way more important than we think for physical and mental health. The scientific support for many of...

    Not being facetious, but I think a lot of boring, common sense health trends will turn out to be way more important than we think for physical and mental health.

    The scientific support for many of these things is much less robust or the effects are smaller than I believe them to be. I think in part because they're boring, unsexy, unprofitable things to research.

    Things like:

    • being physically fit
    • daily exercise
    • not being overweight
    • balanced diets
    • eating few and high quality ingredient foods
    • eating more varied vegetables
    • challenging oneself mentally through problem solving
    • having good core strength and balance and flexibility
    • avoiding unnecessary medication/supplements
    • not sitting too much, sleeping enough
    • spending time with one's own thoughts without doing other things at the same time
    • Avoiding hormone-changing products
    • lowering stress and blood pressure

    Edit:

    I should add:

    • Avoiding alcohol
    • not ingesting cannabis and other strong psychoactive drugs
    • not vaping
    • not relying on other addictive substances, like large amounts of caffeine
    14 votes
    1. [3]
      teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      I think it’s hard to overstate some of these. It’s not as though the medical community has forgotten about exercise, diet and sleep. Many people just refuse to expend effort on their health. I...

      I think it’s hard to overstate some of these. It’s not as though the medical community has forgotten about exercise, diet and sleep. Many people just refuse to expend effort on their health.

      I really want someone to make an American style drug advertisement, but for daily exercise. It could be the most honest advertisement and still have the boldest clams.

      10 votes
      1. rogue_cricket
        Link Parent
        I've heard a quote that's something like, "if there was a pill that could replicate the effects of daily exercise, it would be the most-prescribed pill on the planet."

        I've heard a quote that's something like, "if there was a pill that could replicate the effects of daily exercise, it would be the most-prescribed pill on the planet."

        4 votes
      2. EgoEimi
        Link Parent
        I observe that many people have “magic pill” thinking and look for That One Thing they can eat or not eat or consume to solve their problems in a snap. It can be a drug, but it can also be foods:...

        I observe that many people have “magic pill” thinking and look for That One Thing they can eat or not eat or consume to solve their problems in a snap.

        It can be a drug, but it can also be foods: gluten (Coeliac disease is real but rare), fat, soy, kale, jujubes, açaí, turmeric, cacao, ancient grains, and so on and so forth.

        I see expensive health food stuff being hawked in my city all the time. Talking $10 tiny bottles of blended fruit and veg juice.

        4 votes
    2. [4]
      PhantomBand
      Link Parent
      That's unscientific? I thought those were precisely things found out by research.

      That's unscientific? I thought those were precisely things found out by research.

      8 votes
      1. [3]
        Kuromantis
        Link Parent
        I think what he means is that scientists haven't researched all that deeply into things that are probably obvious enough so people don't bother to research them any more than the presumably meager...

        I think what he means is that scientists haven't researched all that deeply into things that are probably obvious enough so people don't bother to research them any more than the presumably meager amounts they have and aren't given given funds to do so.

        Personally though, if I were to argue those things are considered unscientific I'd argue in the sense that it reminds people ('us') of the stuff we're told we all should do as children and don't.

        "Eat your greens"

        "Go outside"

        "Don't be sedentary, daily exercise is good for you"

        5 votes
        1. Gaywallet
          Link Parent
          Nearly everything he listed and everything that you listed are all backed by quite a bit of science. I think, however, there's a good point to be made that people aren't really very receptive to...

          Nearly everything he listed and everything that you listed are all backed by quite a bit of science.

          I think, however, there's a good point to be made that people aren't really very receptive to the science. We all hear that we should exercise, and yet so many of us struggle to find time or energy or drive. I don't see this as a failing of the people's personal willpower or any such nonsense like that, but rather the society we've crafted. We make people work all day in exhausting conditions and we give them so many ways to enjoy themselves absent exercise. With no energy left, it's easy to turn to fast food and when very few of these places are even vaguely healthy, how can we expect someone to eat better? There's so many ways in which capitalism and globalism have changed our day to day lives as compared to fifty or a hundred years ago and not enough of us are fighting back to have a higher quality of life (to be fair, not enough of us can as many of us are often deprived of the resources to do so).

          9 votes
        2. culturedleftfoot
          Link Parent
          It is really annoying how much those clichéd sayings you roll your eyes at in your youth are proven accurate as you grow older.

          It is really annoying how much those clichéd sayings you roll your eyes at in your youth are proven accurate as you grow older.

          3 votes
    3. [3]
      grahamiam
      Link Parent
      I think sunlight will be a big one soon. I think we've swung the pendulum too far in the avoiding sun direction and we're going to start seeing more and more research about the effects of Vitamin...

      I think sunlight will be a big one soon. I think we've swung the pendulum too far in the avoiding sun direction and we're going to start seeing more and more research about the effects of Vitamin D deficiency. I know there's research showing how important Vitamin D is, but I think the conversation in the last two decades has been much more about avoiding sunlight to prevent cancer than about making sure to get some sunlight.

      6 votes
      1. [2]
        culturedleftfoot
        Link Parent
        I'll add trees, greenery, and/or natural spaces to that, as BIG factors in depression (and overall hormone regulation?). These are getting consideration in contemporary urban planning, but we...

        I'll add trees, greenery, and/or natural spaces to that, as BIG factors in depression (and overall hormone regulation?). These are getting consideration in contemporary urban planning, but we probably still underestimate their significance.

        4 votes
        1. autumn
          Link Parent
          I just read a good book about this: The Nature Fix.

          I just read a good book about this: The Nature Fix.

          2 votes
  3. [2]
    skybrian
    (edited )
    Link
    Note that astrological signs are based just on birthdays, so any interesting traits could be discovered statistically using surveys that ask your birthday. There is one effect of birthdays that’s...

    Note that astrological signs are based just on birthdays, so any interesting traits could be discovered statistically using surveys that ask your birthday.

    There is one effect of birthdays that’s well-known: your birthday affects how many of the other kids in the same grade as you are younger than you on average, which makes a difference in competitions.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relative_age_effect

    9 votes
    1. vektor
      Link Parent
      It also determines the season of your birth. There might be an effect of seasons on infant development, possibly communicated through other factors like general human activity. Of course, a useful...

      It also determines the season of your birth. There might be an effect of seasons on infant development, possibly communicated through other factors like general human activity.

      Of course, a useful control would be people in a similar climate in the opposite hemisphere. If your behavioural patterns match the offset-by-6-months group in the other hemisphere, rather than your zodiac in the other hemisphere, then it's a bingo.

      But with the other hemisphere, cultural factors will probably throw off any results too. Urgh.

      10 votes
  4. [3]
    gpl
    Link
    I think the mere fact the Universe exists at all, i.e. why there is something rather than nothing, reasonably leads to the notion of something that might typically or classically be identified as...

    I think the mere fact the Universe exists at all, i.e. why there is something rather than nothing, reasonably leads to the notion of something that might typically or classically be identified as God. I've thought quite a bit about this and as far as I can figure, pretty much the only explanations are that, or it is simply a brute fact. I'm not sure which is more convincing, but I do think there is more nuance to the question than the general "new atheist" consensus of the last two decades might lead you to think. I do think though it is an inherently unscientific question any way you cut it, so any future examination necessarily would not be a scientific one (i.e. I don't think you could ever scientifically prove the existence or non-existence of a god).

    9 votes
    1. [2]
      culturedleftfoot
      Link Parent
      I don't understand the necessity of this connection very much. It might be because I don't know your boundaries for God?

      I think the mere fact the Universe exists at all, i.e. why there is something rather than nothing, reasonably leads to the notion of something that might typically or classically be identified as God.

      I don't understand the necessity of this connection very much. It might be because I don't know your boundaries for God?

      6 votes
      1. gpl
        Link Parent
        Well, I didn't mean to imply that such a connection was necessary, only that it was reasonable, i.e. logically coherent. In classical arguments, necessity usually follows from a chain of thought...

        Well, I didn't mean to imply that such a connection was necessary, only that it was reasonable, i.e. logically coherent. In classical arguments, necessity usually follows from a chain of thought like "conceiving of the most perfect being -> a more perfect is one that exists -> therefore a perfect being exists -> that being is what we call God". Arguments like this hugely depend on the notion of "perfection" and whether or not as humans we are even able to conceive of that. At best, such arguments show the consistency of such a belief but not necessity. As I said, I think it is also reasonable to claim that the universe exists as a brute fact. That is, it exists simply because it does. This is a less satisfying answer on a human level than some principle or being we might typically associate with God, but that on its own doesn't rule it out of course.

        My basic point is still that the fact of existence is weird, and inherently cannot be answered through science. That is, as far as I can tell you'll never have a scientific theory of creation in the truest sense of the word - something from nothing. It deserves an answer though, if it can be answered at all, and such answers may end up looking similar to classical notions of God. Or it could be that "it just is" and we have to deal with that, or perhaps the question doesn't even make sense when you get to the bottom of it.

        When I speak of God in this context, I also want to stress as well that I am not assuming any at all anthropomorphic or personal deity. Presumably if one were to conclude that indeed God exists, you would still have to figure out the qualities of that entity through whatever means possible. Usually what I have in mind is something much more abstract - something like a self-motivating principle of order or consistency. When I say these lines up with some classical notions, I'm usually thinking of things like the Greek logos, Christian word, Islamic 'aql, the Om of many Indian religions, or Buddhist Dharma. I'm sure other notions exist, and as a disclaimer I am only really familiar with the Greek and Christian notions above so I could be grossly misinterpreting the others.

        3 votes
  5. [4]
    psi
    Link
    Moreso unscientific than pseudoscientific (in the sense that the belief's probably unfalsifiable), but I'm sympathetic to Max Tegmark's mathematical universe hypothesis [1] [2]. In short, it...

    Moreso unscientific than pseudoscientific (in the sense that the belief's probably unfalsifiable), but I'm sympathetic to Max Tegmark's mathematical universe hypothesis [1] [2]. In short, it posits that all mathematical objects physically exist. Our universe, a mathematical object described by roughly a U(1) × SU(2) × SU(3) gauge theory + gravity + initial conditions, would be one such object. On the other hand, a universe existing in some timeless space obeying the axioms of plane geometry and containing three points, thereby forming a triangle, would also exist; of course such a universe feels intuitively unphysical, but by definition such a universe would be inaccessible to us, so our intuition shouldn't be trusted anyway.

    Given that this theory of everything is unintuitive, you might wonder why I find it appealing. In my mind, if you want to explain why the universe exists, you need to explain one of two things: (1) why our universe solely exists while other conceivable universes can/do not; or (2) why multiple universes exist, including our own. A belief in (1) feels rather egotistic, and any justification for (1) feels hopelessly beyond reach. Thus (2) seems like the less presumptive approach. Of course, (2) suffers from a similar problem as (1) -- how do you decide which universes are possible and which are not? The mathematical universe hypothesis sidesteps that question. If you can describe it mathematically, then it exists. It's hard to imagine a "purer" test.


    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_universe_hypothesis
    [2] https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2019/12/02/75-max-tegmark-on-reality-simulation-and-the-multiverse/

    9 votes
    1. mrbig
      Link Parent
      Could you explain this to me like I am five years old?

      Could you explain this to me like I am five years old?

      3 votes
    2. ShroudedMouse
      Link Parent
      Does the success of gauge theory itself support a mathematical universe argument? I know very little about both, however, gauge theory seems to offer canonical ways to describe a proliferation of...

      Does the success of gauge theory itself support a mathematical universe argument? I know very little about both, however, gauge theory seems to offer canonical ways to describe a proliferation of physical states that are pretty much equivalent for all the difference it makes to our measurements. Is that right?

      So, if you've got a single mathematical description that abstracts multiple physical systems, just take the math to be 'reality' and consider the physicality of everything a consequence of the math.

      Good luck explaining this stuff like I'm 5. :P

      3 votes
    3. gpl
      Link Parent
      The thing about this that I always get hung up on is that it is not clear to me that math should be ultra-universal. Surely it is difficult for us to imagine how it could not be so, i.e. math not...

      The thing about this that I always get hung up on is that it is not clear to me that math should be ultra-universal. Surely it is difficult for us to imagine how it could not be so, i.e. math not being universal in this sense, but it's also difficult for me to imagine a universe described by S(3) so this isn't very different. Further, why should "other universes" have to be structured mathematically at all? Tegmark has really interesting ideas like this but I'm not sure I always buy them.

      3 votes
  6. [5]
    mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    Ufology. There is enough evidence for the presence of alien controlled aircraft on Earth to warrant serious, well-funded, continuous, unbiased investigation.

    Ufology. There is enough evidence for the presence of alien controlled aircraft on Earth to warrant serious, well-funded, continuous, unbiased investigation.

    8 votes
    1. [3]
      JXM
      Link Parent
      I honestly don't know if I believe that aliens have been to Earth. I think it's impossible to do a serious investigation at this point though. The conversation has just been so polluted by fake...

      I honestly don't know if I believe that aliens have been to Earth. I think it's impossible to do a serious investigation at this point though. The conversation has just been so polluted by fake claims at this point.

      I definitely believe there must be other planets with intelligent life out there, just because of the sheer scale of the universe. There has to be something/someone else out there, statistically. I just don't know if they've visited Earth.

      9 votes
      1. gpl
        Link Parent
        There's a whole "subfield" (I don't know a better word for this) in ufology that explains alien sightings and encounters as psychic phenomena, almost like mass hallucinations that tap into our...

        There's a whole "subfield" (I don't know a better word for this) in ufology that explains alien sightings and encounters as psychic phenomena, almost like mass hallucinations that tap into our collective or cultural consciousnesses. I personally find that somewhat more believable than the "nuts and bolts" explanation as ETs. I'd wager we probably understand the brain less than universe, so there's more room for unknowns. Jacques Vallee is the big name in this area.

        I generally agree that it is unlikely that actual ETs have visited Earth at any point simply due to the vastness of space. At the same time, while most UFO or alien sightings can be explained simply by known, natural phenomena, there are cases which cannot simply be. There's enough of these cases to make me think there might be something deeper going on than just random people making shit up or otherwise being confused.

        7 votes
      2. mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        If one of the goals of science is to distinguish between false and true descriptions of the universe and its phenomenons, I believe it is reasonable to think that it is particularly suited to...

        If one of the goals of science is to distinguish between false and true descriptions of the universe and its phenomenons, I believe it is reasonable to think that it is particularly suited to clarify phenomenons surrounded by unjustified claims and beliefs. So the very reason that in your view makes further inquiry useless could be used in support of the opposite claim.

        Furthermore, I never said it is proven that there are UFOs on Earth controlled by alien beings, I merely stated that there's enough evidence to warrant ample investigations on the matter. Conviction is not a requirement for that.

        3 votes
    2. psi
      Link Parent
      Related article [1] and podcast [2] from the New Yorker. The article is long (maybe even too long), but the driving point is that the US government downplayed UFOs for decades, even when there...

      Related article [1] and podcast [2] from the New Yorker. The article is long (maybe even too long), but the driving point is that the US government downplayed UFOs for decades, even when there were credible observations of UFOs (eg, by the Air Force) that couldn't be satisfactorily explained-away. In fact, the US government might even be partially responsible for the fringe status of ufologists.

      [T]he C.I.A. secretly convened an advisory group of experts, led by Howard P. Robertson, a mathematical physicist from Caltech. The “Robertson panel” determined not that we were being visited by U.F.O.s but that we were being inundated with too many U.F.O. reports. This was a real problem: if notices of genuine incursions over U.S. territory could be lost in a maelstrom of kooky hallucination, there could be grave consequences for national security—for instance, Soviet spy planes could operate with impunity. The Cold War made it crucial that the U.S. government be perceived to have full control over its airspace.

      To stem the flood of reports, the panel recommended that “the national security agencies take immediate steps to strip the Unidentified Flying Objects of the special status they have been given and the aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired.” It also suggested that civilian U.F.O. groups be infiltrated and monitored, and enlisted the media in the debunking effort. The campaign culminated in a 1966 TV special, “UFO: Friend, Foe or Fantasy?,” in which the CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite patiently consigned U.F.O.s to the oblivion of the third category.

      To be clear, just because a UFO sighting is unexplained doesn't mean it must have an alien origin. Personally I doubt that superluminal travel is possible, which makes interstellar travel as a whole rather unfeasible, and I wouldn't even be surprised if we were the only intelligent species in the universe [3]. But the idea at least deserves consideration -- even if our priors are small, they shouldn't be 0. Simply put, starting from a conclusion -- it's not aliens -- and then searching for evidence to support that conclusion is not scientific. And yet, this is how unexplained phenomena were treated.

      In late 1966, Edward U. Condon, a physicist at the University of Colorado, was given three hundred thousand dollars [by the US government] to conduct [a study of UFO legitimacy]. The project was plagued by infighting, especially after the discovery of a memo written by a coördinator noting that a truly disinterested approach would have to allow for the fact that U.F.O.s might exist. That was out of the question—their behavior was not commensurable with our understanding of universal laws. The associated scientists, the coördinator proposed, should stress to their colleagues that they were primarily interested in the psychological and social circumstances of U.F.O. believers. In other words, sightings should be understood as metaphors—for Cold War anxiety or ambivalence about technology.
      [...]
      Condon, who announced long before the study was complete that U.F.O.s were unmitigated bunk, wrote the report’s summary and its “Conclusions and Recommendations” section. He seemed to have only a glancing familiarity with the other nine hundred pages of the report. As he put it, “Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us leads us to conclude that further extensive studies of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.” Schoolchildren, he advised, should not be given credit for work involving U.F.O.s. Scientists should take their talents and their money elsewhere.


      [1] https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/05/10/how-the-pentagon-started-taking-ufos-seriously
      [2] https://www.newyorker.com/podcast/the-new-yorker-radio-hour/are-ufos-a-national-security-threat
      [3] https://arxiv.org/abs/1806.02404

      6 votes
  7. [12]
    Grzmot
    Link
    I don't know if it is going to change, but something regarded as pseudoscience is Chiropractice, and I know for a fact that it works, as my dad is a surgeon and also has a private practice where...

    I don't know if it is going to change, but something regarded as pseudoscience is Chiropractice, and I know for a fact that it works, as my dad is a surgeon and also has a private practice where he treats people chiropractically. He has occasionally fixed me, and he's helped a lot of other (usually older) people with blocks in their skeletons and resolving pain permanently without any other medication, which most often resides in the back (i.e. spine).

    Only doctors are allowed to treat people using chiropractice in my country, which to me is justified, as it requires a very in-depth knowledge of the human body. My dad learned it from my grandpa (also a doctor) and then additionally completed courses at university when he got his medical license. I'm horrified that in some other countries short courses are all that is required to call yourself a chiropractor, it terrifies me.

    I understand that it is a controversial topic, but if anyone has any questions (I can pass them along to my dad as well), feel free to ask.

    7 votes
    1. [6]
      Autoxidation
      Link Parent
      I'm not sure what country you're in, but here in the US, the entry level claims of chiros and good posture, adjustments have some merit IMO. But very often here, they stray into definite...

      I'm not sure what country you're in, but here in the US, the entry level claims of chiros and good posture, adjustments have some merit IMO. But very often here, they stray into definite pseudoscience. Stuff like, if the spine is kept healthy, the rest of the body follows, treating other kinds of ailments with adjustments and weird non-surgical procedures. I've never met an honest chiropractor, they always use the initial footing of mostly plausible to follow up with extra expensive pseudoscience.

      17 votes
      1. [3]
        Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        I am extremely skeptical of chiropractors, after having done IT support for one a few years ago. They were one of the ones very solidly in the "chiro will cure everything wrong with you" camp, and...

        I am extremely skeptical of chiropractors, after having done IT support for one a few years ago. They were one of the ones very solidly in the "chiro will cure everything wrong with you" camp, and possessed no actual medical degree that I was aware of. To the point where he believed that a baby's colic could be cured by manipulating the spine.

        I've enjoyed having my spine manipulated by a chiropractor, it feels nice, I don't believe it actually cured or fixed anything. That would require me to stop sitting like an idiot. I think that a licensed physical therapist is a far better choice than a chiropractor.

        10 votes
        1. Grzmot
          Link Parent
          Yeah that's all my dad does, nothing else. Refer to my other comment in this thread where I go into detail about it:...

          I've enjoyed having my spine manipulated by a chiropractor, it feels nice, I don't believe it actually cured or fixed anything. That would require me to stop sitting like an idiot. I think that a licensed physical therapist is a far better choice than a chiropractor.

          Yeah that's all my dad does, nothing else. Refer to my other comment in this thread where I go into detail about it: https://tildes.net/~talk/wl8/is_there_anything_considered_pseudoscientific_unscientific_that_you_suspect_has_some_truth_to_it#comment-6gje

          4 votes
        2. mrbig
          Link Parent
          There's some evidence that chiropractic can help with back pain. The other claims are not substantiated AFAIK.

          There's some evidence that chiropractic can help with back pain. The other claims are not substantiated AFAIK.

          1 vote
      2. [2]
        NoblePath
        Link Parent
        You’ve not met my chiropractor. Whatever he does is amazing-and far less expensive than any md or pa. Granted he only tries to address those kinds of issues that one might associate with...

        You’ve not met my chiropractor. Whatever he does is amazing-and far less expensive than any md or pa. Granted he only tries to address those kinds of issues that one might associate with skeleton-pain, gait, etc.

        1 vote
        1. Grzmot
          Link Parent
          That's the problem with the field, there's a lot of people in it preying on sick people and not helping them at all or even hurting them. There needs to be a valid qualification and the actually...

          That's the problem with the field, there's a lot of people in it preying on sick people and not helping them at all or even hurting them. There needs to be a valid qualification and the actually good parts (i.e. the fixing of pain stemming from skeletal issues and blockades) from all the other bullshit.

          3 votes
    2. [2]
      TemulentTeatotaler
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Often chiropractic is used to refer to both the practices that strictly belong to chiropractic, and practices that fall under the larger umbrella of medicine. The criticisms of it as a...

      Often chiropractic is used to refer to both the practices that strictly belong to chiropractic, and practices that fall under the larger umbrella of medicine.

      The criticisms of it as a pseudoscience are targeting the uniquely chiropractic practices. There are many chiropractors that have had a good deal of medical education, and they may function as a good PT with a bedside manner. Bad chiropractors can be very bad.

      Do you believe vertebral subluxations are the cause of 95% of all disease (with other joints causing the other 5%)? Do you believe in vitalism/innate intelligence? If not, you don't believe in the chiropractic of the founder--who claimed he learned the art from the spirit world-- along with a substantial number of the offensive practitioners in its history.

      and I know for a fact that it works

      How do you know this for a fact?

      Much of science/meta science is about compensating for subtle biases. There are a mountain of studies whose results have been surprising, unintuitive, or counter to what professionals swear by.

      Do you believe validating the efficacy of chiropractic should be the same as the rest of medicine/science, or in some other way?

      9 votes
      1. Grzmot
        Link Parent
        No. What my father does is detect if a problem stems from a bone block (you will have felt this kind of pain before, when you move a certain way and suddenly you feel a jolt of pain and you can...

        Do you believe vertebral subluxations are the cause of 95% of all disease (with other joints causing the other 5%)? Do you believe in vitalism/innate intelligence? If not, you don't believe in the chiropractic of the founder--who claimed he learned the art from the spirit world-- along with a substantial number of the offensive practitioners in its history.

        No. What my father does is detect if a problem stems from a bone block (you will have felt this kind of pain before, when you move a certain way and suddenly you feel a jolt of pain and you can consistently repeat that action and keep hurting), this can happen anywhere bones work together, but most often it happens in the spine, as that is a bunch of smaller bones, the shoulders, etc. and since a lot of these problems stem from bad posture, not moving enough, etc.

        He then manipulates you by applying pressure and moving you a certain way, it's hard to describe in words, but essentially you feel your bones crack back into place, then it starts hurting in a more shallow form because the source of the pain is gone, and the shallow pain usually stops after a few hours or up to a day.

        That's exclusively what my dad does in his practice. If he thinks the problem comes from elsewhere, he will refer you to another specialist.

        How do you know this for a fact?

        Anecdotal evidence, because every single time someone shows up, my dad helps them. He has had one case where someone was considering surgery because the pain in their shoulder was so bad, and no one had considered a blockade.

        I think this type of treatment should absolutely be validated as a part of standard scholarly medicine.

        2 votes
    3. [3]
      scrambo
      Link Parent
      I suppose I would consider this a question for your dad as well as anyone else who might know the answer here. Physical Therapist vs Chiropractitioner: should I consider going to one over the...

      I suppose I would consider this a question for your dad as well as anyone else who might know the answer here.

      Physical Therapist vs Chiropractitioner: should I consider going to one over the other? How do I decide?

      I have something wrong with my back after using seriously wrong form on shoulder shrugs in a Smith Machine. Been fucked up for years at this point, it's not debilitating but I need to make sure that I roll it out pretty often and/or stretch it to the point of cracking it. I'd rather fix it though.

      I've already been to one chiropractic (their name is also a business buzzword that rhymes with "Dinnergy"), and they seemed to have one foot in the medical side and the other in the pseudoscience side. A la "Regular manipulations can help with colds and allergies". Worst part is that my PCP at the time suggested I go there when I asked about what I could do about my back. And here I am.

      1 vote
      1. Gaywallet
        Link Parent
        PTs can often be covered through referrals from primary care. You can push on that angle if cost is an issue. Chiro are often not covered unless it's fairly serious. If cost is not an issue, do...

        PTs can often be covered through referrals from primary care. You can push on that angle if cost is an issue. Chiro are often not covered unless it's fairly serious.

        If cost is not an issue, do one for awhile then do the other and figure out what works for your body.

        3 votes
      2. Grzmot
        Link Parent
        This is not medical advice, as diagnosing people over any medium that isn't a personal meeting is notoriously impossible and the reason why any doctor worth their salt refuses to do so. It sounds...

        This is not medical advice, as diagnosing people over any medium that isn't a personal meeting is notoriously impossible and the reason why any doctor worth their salt refuses to do so.

        It sounds like something that might be caused by blockade, especially if the pain shows up when moving a specific way. Stretching to the point of cracking it to resolve the pain temporarily could mean that a proper chiropractic session could resolve it.

        That being said, this is my 2 cents, not my dads, as I already know that his answer to your question would basically what I just wrote, as he'd would be extremely wary of just throwing out medical advice based on an internet comment.

        It does sound like the CP you visited wasn't very good though, considering what they believe and advertised. I'd stay clear of them and try to find someone else. I can give you my dad's info, but unless you're willing to come to Central Europe for this it probably won't help much. It sounds like @NoblePath has a good one though, and knowing the stats for this website, there's a good chance you're both based in the US, maybe they can help out. :)

        1 vote
  8. krg
    Link
    Though it gets lumped in with "crazy talk", I do wonder what the long-term effects of being exposed to all sorts of wireless signals may have on the human body/mind. I feel like it can't be "nil."

    Though it gets lumped in with "crazy talk", I do wonder what the long-term effects of being exposed to all sorts of wireless signals may have on the human body/mind. I feel like it can't be "nil."

    7 votes
  9. [8]
    Kuromantis
    Link
    I think that if climate change goes unmitigated, malthusianism and the idea that the planet can have and currently has too many people in it will be taken more seriously. Given we're already at...

    I think that if climate change goes unmitigated, malthusianism and the idea that the planet can have and currently has too many people in it will be taken more seriously. Given we're already at the point where we have no more than 10 years to avoid the worst of climate change and so much of the world is still woefully underdeveloped, it's not really unreasonable to claim the world doesn't have room for all of us. The main problem is figuring out how to reduce our population to a point where it does without reinventing eugenics.

    6 votes
    1. [5]
      mrnd
      Link Parent
      Luckily there is a very simple solution: educating women in developing countries and making birth control accessible. Anyway, the problem is not the size of the population, but the fact that some...

      The main problem is figuring out how to reduce our population to a point where it does without reinventing eugenics.

      Luckily there is a very simple solution: educating women in developing countries and making birth control accessible.

      Anyway, the problem is not the size of the population, but the fact that some people use much more resources than we can collectively afford. Surely it is better to live more simply, than to deny the right of other people to live at all.

      21 votes
      1. [3]
        ICN
        Link Parent
        To expand on this some, I think overpopulation is a frequently racist bogeyman used to obfuscate or divert attention from what actually needs to be done. IIRC, the USA emits more than 10x the...

        To expand on this some, I think overpopulation is a frequently racist bogeyman used to obfuscate or divert attention from what actually needs to be done. IIRC, the USA emits more than 10x the amount of carbon per capita compared to Africa as a whole. You'd need ~3.2 billion people in Africa to match the carbon emissions of the USA; projected population for Africa in 2050 is 2.49 billion In that context, it's clear that the USA is overpopulated, yet whenever the topic is brought up it's nearly always about Africa.

        The natural counterpoint is that African nations will start using much more carbon as they develop, which is what the actual problem is. The focus has to be on developing responsibly, with an eye towards justice considering western nations emit the most per capita carbon and released the vast majority of it historically. That was already what needed to happen though, regardless of population.

        Potentially more significantly though, there has to be a major focus on decarbonizing western countries. mrnd's noting of education and accessible birth control are things that could save humanity some trouble 20 years down the line, but reducing emissions from the big polluters is something that needs to be done as soon as possible and will show effects far sooner than population increases in developing nations.

        17 votes
        1. NoblePath
          Link Parent
          Not just decarbonizing, but significantly reducing all resource uses. Consumerism, and also suburbanism, drives lots of problems beyond agw. Introduces many toxics, wastes clean water, suppresses...

          Not just decarbonizing, but significantly reducing all resource uses. Consumerism, and also suburbanism, drives lots of problems beyond agw. Introduces many toxics, wastes clean water, suppresses biodiversity, and of course all the justice issues.

          5 votes
        2. spctrvl
          Link Parent
          To reinforce your point, American per capita emissions are more like 20 times Africa's at face value, and perhaps 30 or 40 times if you count emissions for outsourced goods made on our behalf,...

          To reinforce your point, American per capita emissions are more like 20 times Africa's at face value, and perhaps 30 or 40 times if you count emissions for outsourced goods made on our behalf, which if not considered does a lot to obfuscate first world carbon emissions. Hell, if you do that, Africa's emissions are probably even lower since a lot of their carbon footprint is tied up in resource extraction for the benefit of corporations in the global north.

          2 votes
      2. mrbig
        Link Parent
        Just a minor correction:

        Just a minor correction:

        Luckily there is a very simple solution: educating men and women in developing countries and making birth control accessible

        12 votes
    2. [2]
      teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      Well if we don’t people will die anyway. We can exist on Earth with our current population. We’d just need everyone to use clean energy for everything.

      Well if we don’t people will die anyway.

      We can exist on Earth with our current population. We’d just need everyone to use clean energy for everything.

      3 votes
      1. culturedleftfoot
        Link Parent
        And most importantly, change consumption habits. The planet can support our current population, and probably more, but not if everyone wants to eat meat four times a day and live in concrete...

        And most importantly, change consumption habits. The planet can support our current population, and probably more, but not if everyone wants to eat meat four times a day and live in concrete jungles. Most people in the developed world would not accept radically changing their paradigm for everyday life, and that's one of the biggest obstacles.

        3 votes
  10. [5]
    entangledamplitude
    Link
    Re: astrology/etc... It’s important to understand that at the system level (not individual level) it is often beneficial to promote pseudo-random behavior among individuals, instead of letting...

    Re: astrology/etc... It’s important to understand that at the system level (not individual level) it is often beneficial to promote pseudo-random behavior among individuals, instead of letting them “overfit” to the wrong ideas. In the context of machine learning / optimization, this is called “regularization” and is absolutely crucial for a learning/progress mechanism to work well. So imho, it’s quite possible to have useful practices which are simply sophisticated randomness generators.

    ——

    For a more thorough take on your question, I highly recommend this blog post (and the book it reviews): https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/06/04/book-review-the-secret-of-our-success/

    4 votes
    1. [4]
      vektor
      Link Parent
      Off topic, but that's a unusual perspective on regularization imo. Would you care to elaborate? My education told me that regularization was about preventing overfitting. But the theory was not at...

      Off topic, but that's a unusual perspective on regularization imo. Would you care to elaborate?

      My education told me that regularization was about preventing overfitting. But the theory was not at all about promoting pseudo-random behaviour, but iirc rather that it was about eliminating spurious effects from weights that are unsupported by evidence. Kind of like pruning in decision trees. To be fair, I don't quite remember the justification for regularization, but it wasn't that.

      Edit bc clumsy wording.

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        entangledamplitude
        Link Parent
        The justification for regularization is exactly to prevent overfitting. It’s incorrect that overfitted models are unsupported by evidence — in face they (over) fit the evidence to the neglect of...

        The justification for regularization is exactly to prevent overfitting. It’s incorrect that overfitted models are unsupported by evidence — in face they (over) fit the evidence to the neglect of everything else. The problem is that they take the biases in the specific data/evidence so seriously that they underperform when generalizing to other situations. Think about what it means to use “early stopping” as a form of regularization (quite common in ML) — it means the optimization goal is so bad that the best way to truly optimize is to stop optimizing the stupid objective.

        So all kinds of impediments to naive optimization might serve as very effective regularization. “Rationality/Science” is just a name for a certain class of empirical models (often learned in quite a naive manner), so just like any other modeling, regularization that stops you from taking those models too seriously is likely to be very useful depending on context (it’s hard to give a simple prescription).

        If you want specific examples of how pseudo/randomness is helpful, look at the blog/book link I shared which mentions it helping foragers spread out their consumption and avoid over-grazing a fertile pasture — thereby allowing it time to replenish and helping their overarching goal of long-term survival.

        Regularization is particularly important to prevent short-term motivations from killing long-term survival.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          vektor
          Link Parent
          The more I read your original statement the more it makes sense. Maybe it's also helpful to think of it as a kind of bias/variance tradeoff (maybe not to the most technical definition of those two...

          The more I read your original statement the more it makes sense. Maybe it's also helpful to think of it as a kind of bias/variance tradeoff (maybe not to the most technical definition of those two terms): by increasing noisiness/pseudo-random behavour (variance), you're decreasing overfitting (bias).

          4 votes
          1. entangledamplitude
            Link Parent
            That’s exactly right! What gets called “bias” and what gets called “variance” is a matter of perspective. It’s common to think of regularization as introducing priors/bias when the learning...

            That’s exactly right! What gets called “bias” and what gets called “variance” is a matter of perspective. It’s common to think of regularization as introducing priors/bias when the learning process can lead to high variance in models, but it’s equally useful to add noise/impediments (yet another form of bias, in some meta sense) when the learning process might converge incorrectly in some non-convex landscape. AKA exploration/exploitation trade off.

            2 votes
  11. PhantomBand
    Link
    I'm fairly certain personality theories like MBTI and Enneagram are true.

    I'm fairly certain personality theories like MBTI and Enneagram are true.

    1 vote
  12. [3]
    mrbig
    Link
    It might help to know, in general terms, what is, more precisely, the definition of pseudoscience you consider relevant to this post.

    It might help to know, in general terms, what is, more precisely, the definition of pseudoscience you consider relevant to this post.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      culturedleftfoot
      Link Parent
      Whatever you think applies is fair game. This about your opinion, not mine.

      Whatever you think applies is fair game. This about your opinion, not mine.

      7 votes
      1. mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Wikipedia says: I find it pretty clear. One problem I see is that many things that are considered pseudoscience only weakly fit the criteria. For example, is there a consensus within the astrology...

        Wikipedia says:

        Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that claim to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method.

        I find it pretty clear. One problem I see is that many things that are considered pseudoscience only weakly fit the criteria. For example, is there a consensus within the astrology communities that astrology is actually a science? I studied a lot of astrology when I was young, and I think the answer for that is no. How do you determine something like that, especially in very heterogenous groups without a central leadership? Astrology may very well be simply not science, the same way Buddhism, Catholicism, and Beethoven's 5th Symphony are merely not science, as opposed to pseudoscience.