Pseudoscience is a body of knowledge, methodology, or something else that claims to be scientific but does not adhere to the scientific method. It is often encountered when dealing with outlandish theories, such as alien influences in human cultural development, or when the evidence for a proposed theory is lacking. Publication of pseudoscientific arguments are made because of money, fame, notoriety, and for many other reasons, including entertainment. The use of pseudoscience is dangerous to many scientific disciplines because it diverts attention and scarce resources away from legitimate operations, and may also hurt the respectability of certain scientific pursuits.
The harm of pseudoscience is that it not only encourages a misinterpretation about the job of scientists, but it also impacts what is researched and what isn’t. A hypothesis, however valid, may not receive funding if it is perceived to be in a category belonging to “psuedoscience”, such as the case of astrobiology or xenobiology. The use of pseudoscience is dangerous to many scientific disciplines because it diverts attention and scarce resources away from legitimate operations, and may also hurt the respectability of certain scientific pursuits.
What is and what is not pseudoscientific depends on whether or not it follows the scientific method. The main principles of science claim that there is a real and knowable universe, that the universe operates according to rules and laws, and that those laws are immutable and can be discerned through careful observation. The scientific method utilizes deduction, induction, hypothesis, theory, and experimentation in order to arrive at conclusions. Often, this process begins with a hypothesis, follows a course of deductive reasoning which results in an expectation, and then is evaluated either through an observation or through an experimentation, only then to be re-evaluated to see if the original question proved itself to be true, false, or inadequate. Revisions and repetitions of this process are common.
The idea of pseudoscience has been criticized in the past as either too exclusive or for being misapplied. Deconstructionism is a a philosophy of science that states that science is just a Western way of knowing and that there are others, and also contradicts the idea that science is somehow objective. Grey areas can and do exist, and when they do, scientists tend to err on the side of caution, resulting in a marked difference between the “hard” sciences and other, less professionally-respected endeavors.
Intelligent design is one example of pseudoscience, as it makes a claim to be scientific and yet violates the scientific method.