Thursday, March 29, 2007

Doggerel #69: You Can't Disprove [Woo]!

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

No doubt many of you are currently having flashbacks to a painfully stupid attempt at shifting the burden of proof. For the rest of you, this should be recognizable as such. Granted, there have been some highlights in Randi's history where he stopped some woos dead with his controlled tests that ended in failure for the psychic, but we don't need to actively go around disproving woos: The woos have to prove that their thing works under proper testing conditions. As skeptics, we assume the null hypothesis until it's been falsified, so the woos had better hurry up and falsify it.

What's more annoying is when the woos actively render their hypothesis unfalsifiable. No result can disprove an unfalsifiable hypothesis. If it's a success, it's a success. If it's a failure, it's due to any number of circumstances (which, oddly, don't get mentioned around successes), but never due to the fact that the woo doesn't work.

Kind of reminds me of people who say they can never lose at some game, and when they do, they claim it's because of cheating on their adversary's part.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where can I get an "invisible dragon" bumper sticker like that?