Why Do Irrational Beliefs Mimic Science? The Cultural Evolution of Pseudoscience

Theoria 82 (4) (2016)
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Abstract

Why do irrational beliefs adopt the trappings of science, to become what is known as “pseudoscience”? Here, we develop and extend an epidemiological framework to map the factors that explain the form and the popularity of irrational beliefs in scientific garb. These factors include the exploitation of epistemic vigilance, the misunderstanding of the authority of science, the use of the honorific title of “science” as an explicit argument for belief, and the phenomenon of epistemic negligence. We conclude by integrating the various factors in an epidemiological framework and thus provide a comprehensive cultural evolutionary account of science mimicry.

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