Pseudoscience. What is it?
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Pseudoscience is “a system of theories, assumptions, and methods erroneously regarded as scientific” 
Examples of things that are pseudoscience are often debated because, as Scientific American states, no one says they are a pseudo-scientist . For those interested in lists, a (very debatable) list can be found in a Wikipedia article.
But I dislike the term “pseudoscience.” Why? Because it puts a limit on the scientific process. In its most basic sense, it puts a limit on what can/should be researched. And this limit is VERY debatable. Now, does this mean that I believe in every conspiracy theory? Of course not. Yet, if I simply classify a science idea as “fake” science and not be willing to even read studies or am not willing to be proved wrong, then I should not be in science. Calling something “pseudoscience” does nothing except confuse the public. If an idea truly is spreading false information, then we should focus on educating why this view is false. Not resort to calling it pseudoscience.
So what are the side effects of calling something pseudoscience? I am going to classify them into two different groups: Damage to the public and Damage to Science.
It damages the public because it is confusing. In the limited knowledge that the general public has about scientific processes, it is easy for them to misunderstand. Much like the term “theory” is misunderstood by the public to mean something completely different. When a scientist uses the term pseudoscience, he might mean “the methods are flawed,” “it is very biased,” the conclusions do not match the data at all,” etc. However, it is interpreted by the public as “that scientist does not understand basic ideas,” “How can they not see the obvious?” “they are not a real scientist.” This is detrimental because we then see the public using this word incorrectly: “I disagree with you, ergo you are using pseudoscience.” This ultimately boils down to a scientific communication problem and using language that your audience will understand
On the flip side, the term pseudoscience can be detrimental to the scientific process because one can feel “pressured” to conduct research in a certain way. We see many examples from the past in which scientists were criticized for there ideas. Some turned out to be true and some false but unless each idea is given an equal chance to gain merit, we are not conducting true science. Science is about idea sharing, peer testing, and ultimately, coming to conclusions. But if all possible ideas are not considered, how can we claim we have the right conclusion?
Note that this does not mean that we should throw resources to ideas that ultimately have no merit. But it does mean that every idea should have a chance to enter the scientific process. Therefore, should we stop using the term pseudoscience? I think it has its place. However, I do believe that it is detrimental to science to use prematurely.
What do you think?