Pseudoscience Assignment

Part 1 – Pseudoscience in Advertising

One of the goals of this course is to help you recognize the difference between scientific evidence and pseudoscience. Knowledge gained with the scientific method relies on carefully controlled studies that produce results that can be replicated. Remember that the scientific approach must have the following characteristics:

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Systematic observation & data collection
Publicly verifiable knowledge
Empirically testable problems

Additionally, according to Lawson (2007), there are six common characteristics of pseudoscience (in addition to what I shared in lecture):

Use of imprecise, scientific-sounding language
No evidence of continued research or new knowledge gained over time
Reliance on anecdotes (personal stories) as evidence
Reliance on authority endorsements, especially “false authorities” (i.e., people who claim to be authorities but do not have any real expertise in the area)
Extraordinary claims without supporting evidence
Evidence relies on confirmation rather than refutation

Feel free to revisit the


(Links to an external site.)
(“What questions we should always ask when we encounter a new claim”) in order to assist you in your discussion of the pseudoscientific elements for this assignment.

Advertisements that rely on pseudoscience to advertise a claim or product can be found in all forms of media (TV, commercials, newspapers, magazine ads, etc.). For this exercise, find one such advertisement (attach an image of the ad or include a link to the ad in your assignment write-up) and write 1-2 paragraphs (approximately 1 page in length) that:

(1) Briefly describes the claim or product

(2) Identifies and comments on the pseudoscience elements being used in the ad

(3) Explains how the ad does not rely on science to support its claims


Part 2 – Feeling Detoxified: A Case Study

Please read the case study
entitled “Feeling Detoxified: Expectations, Effects, and Explanations.” For the present assignment, you are only being asked to complete the portions of the case study questions.

Read and respond to all three questions of Part I (The Detoxifying Ionic Foot Bath Experience) and only question #3 in Part II (A Proposed Chemistry of Foot Baths). In addition, reflect (for approximately one paragraph) on how this case study ties into our discussion in class regarding pseudoscientific evidence versus scientific evidence. Consider the role of critical thinking and its importance when we encounter the endless unverified, non-scientific messages and claims that we are bombarded with by the media.

Your responses to Part 2 of this assignment should be approximately 1-2 pages in length.

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