Sunday, May 11, 2014


The other day I was looking for ... oh well, to cut a very long story short, I ended up on the page of the Swiss Association for Critical Thinking (Sceptics Switzerland [German]) when on their FAQ I found the following little gem. Not that I didn't know before, but the neat and concise formulation reminded me of something. Let's see if you can guess what I thought they were referring to [translated from German]:

What is pseudo science?

Pseudo science is something that pretends to be science, but in fact isn't, mainly because it does not rest on the basic criteria of the scientific method.

How do I recognize pseudo science?

Pseudo science violates the criteria of the scientific method usually in one or more of the following ways:
  • Pseudo science regards research solely as a means to confirm the corresponding doctrine (no openness to outcome)
  • Pseudo scientific teachings are formulated as absolute truths (that cannot be refuted)
  • Subjective, untestable and non-repeatable anecdotes are presented as would-be proofs (non reproducibility)
If that is not a definition of the so-called science of economics, I don't know what is.

In Switzerland a referendum is soon being held on whether to establish a minimum wage [German], and the debate centers around the usual claim that a minimum wage causes unemployment. Practically every reference to the mountain of research that has contradicted this claim is countered using an argument that fits one of the points above. The minimum wage opponents simply want the claim to be true and will disregard any empirical evidence to the contrary based on the most spurious claims.