CFI UK: Science and Pseudo-Science. Chris French, Andy Lewis, James Ladyman, Stephen Law. Sat 30th November.

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Centre for Inquiry UK and Conway Hall present:

Science and Pseudo-Science:

Chris French, Andy Lewis (Quackometer), James Ladyman and Stephen Law

Sat 30th November 2013

What distinguishes real science from pseudo-science, flim-flam and bullshit? Is parapsychology a science? Is Young Earth Creationism science? Is pseudo-science on the rise in British schools? Tickets here or on door.

11am Prof. Chris French (Goldsmiths Dept. of Anomolistic Psychology).
“Parapsychology and Science”

12.00 Prof. James Ladyman. Former editor of the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science and author of Understanding Philosophy of Science (Routledge 2002) and (with Don Ross) Every Thing Must Go (Oxford University Press 2007).

“Pseudo-science and Bullshit” Bullshitting, according to Harry Frankfurt, is very different from lying. Pseudoscience is similarly different from science fraud. The pseudoscientist, like the bullshitter, is less in touch with the truth and less concerned with it than either the fraudster or the liar.

1.30pm Dr. Stephen Law (Heythrop College University of London)
“But it Fits!” (looking at Young Earth Creationism)

How to make a ludicrous belief system look not unreasonable.

2.30pm Andy Lewis (Quackometer)
“Educational Imposters: The Rise of Pseudoscience in UK Free Schools”

Michael Gove has stated that Free Schools will not be allowed to teach pseudoscience. But can we trust some of the cult-like organisations running these schools to teach good science and to refrain from letting their own alternative reality influence classrooms? Maharishi and Steiner schools both have occult and pseudoscientific beliefs at their core and so we should ask "What are they teaching children?"

3.30 END

Saturday November 30th 2013

Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square

£10 (£5 students) Free to friends of CFI UK. Tickets here.


Edward Ockham said…
My son has been at one of these cult schools for several years. I sent him on the basis that it provided great value, given that some of the cult members are individually wealthy, and subsidise the fees. So it provides value to us at least. My son doesn't take the cult seriously in any way, indeed he is an ultra sceptic and read my philosophy library including Hume, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Dawkins and others.

From the cult's point of view they want to recruit people to their organisation. From my experience the recruitment rate is pretty low – children are actually rational beings. But there are a few, probably just enough to sustain the organisation, so they get what they want. Also, many of the values they hold are what you would most people to hold, like respect, serving society, acting with the common good in mind and not selfishly etc. So everyone benefits.

I imagine most people who send their children to such schools do so for similar reasons, and likewise the organisations that sponsor the schools. Parents want cheap education. Cults want enough new members to sustain themselves. The majority don't ever join the cult, and those that do probably have some inner need to satisfy. So the public interest is served. What's the problem?
Philip Rand said…
Dr Law

As there appears could make your talk even more relevant by linking Nagel's ideas concerning reification in his latest book:

"Mind and Cosmos:
Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False"

The book if you have not read it is quite good (mainly on account that it is short and concise).

Unfortunately, he does not come up with a solution...BUT...there is a scientific solution to his thesis.

However, the solution requires one to discard a belief in the myth of reification...which in many ways resembles the myth young creationists espouse.
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