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Dr. Bob Park - Guarding the Gate: The Seven Warning Signs of Voodoo Science

Saturday began with more announcements from Hal Bidlack, moving quickly to an introduction of the first speaker, Dr. Bob Park of the American Physical Society. Dr. Park is well known for his weekly column, What's New.

Bob Park
Dr. Bob Park: Sentry On The Walls

Dr. Park began his talk by noting the 1993 Daubert decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which effectively appointed judges as gatekeepers for permitting or excluding the testimony of scientific experts. The ruling calls for admitting only testimony that is both relevant and reliable. While this ruling has been out for over a decade, it is only recently that its benefits are really starting to have an effect, according to Dr. Park.

For the rest of his talk, Dr. Park presented his seven warning signs of "voodoo" science:

  1. There is no claim so preposterous that a PhD scientist cannot be found to vouch for it.
  2. A powerful "Establishment" is said to be suppressing the discovery.
  3. An effect is always at the very limit of detection.
  4. Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.
  5. A belief is said to be credible because it has endured for centuries.
  6. An important discovery is made in isolation.
  7. New laws of nature must be proposed to explain an observation.

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