I have some questions about the history and development of theories that are widely accepted as pseudoscience, such as Orgone energy, Nibiru, Time Cube, modern Zetetic astronomy, the Bates Method, or Anti-Vax theory. To be clear, I'm not talking about old scientific theories that have been superseded by later research (classical Geocentricism, the Luminiferous Aether, the plum pudding model, the four humors theory of disease, etc. are obviously on-topic because they were once mainstream scientific ideas), but about theories that either have more or less always been considered pseudoscientific or that have continued development as pseudoscience after having been generally rejected by mainstream science (e.g. modern expressions of Geocentricism).

Example questions could include:

  • Was Charles Piazzi Smyth the first to publish a numerology-based measurement of the Great Pyramid?
  • Did Gene Ray ever indicate whether his Time Cube theory was applicable to other planets?
  • Have there been any notable Flat Earthers who accepted the moon landings as genuine?

Are such questions allowed on this site?


1 Answer 1


Generally speaking, these questions don't belong on this site. The expertise that we are trying to foster is an understanding of the historical context of science and math, such as the culture of the field or technological developments, which allowed for progress. The viewpoints and people listed in this question fall far outside that setting. They do not participate in the scientific communities and their ideas have had no influence there. It is difficult to see any benefit to allowing these questions which are completely outside the mainstream and far outside our expertise. I also suspect that most users here have very low tolerance for this type of material.

Perhaps there might be some extremely unusual special case where these pseudoscientific ideas sparked a real scientific discovery. I don't know of any examples of this; it is purely hypothetical. In that case a very well motivated and scoped question might be acceptable; If you think you have such an example I'd suggest checking here on meta first regarding that specific case. In the vast majority of cases including the ones listed here these questions simply don't belong on this site.

As the question suggests, there is a degree of subtlety here. Because this is a history site, what constitutes mainstream science must be understood in the context of the time period of the question, not the modern day context. A famous example is that in the 17th century alchemy was generally studied by many scientists including Newton. Of course we now know that most of the claims were impossible, but they also made discoveries that influenced modern chemistry. Questions about alchemy at that time period can be within our scope. However, questions about modern day alchemy would not be. That is not the type of pseudoscience this question asked about but it should be clarified if others wonder about this.

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    $\begingroup$ That's a strange reasoning. You named Newton (who thought his religious ideas were more important than his math-derived ideas). What about Hahnemann's homeopathy, all astronomers' astrology (where would you place the cut-off/deadline?), and as given in Q: orgon-theory as it emanated from psychoanalysis (itself another example of pseudo-science, albeit still practiced and still walking the line?). "Modern day alchemy" is off-topic simply for being, well, "modern day"? Completely outside the mainstream is found. Heliobacter for ulcers? Could you enlighten more of the subtleties? $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2020 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @LаngLаngС No, I cannot. The subtleties are where the decisions are not obvious, so it is not for me to decide unilaterally. The boundary of our scope is both fuzzy and fluid. In those cases the community will need to decide how to handle them as they arise. The cases that the OP presented are more clear-cut and I am comfortable answering with certainty that they do not belong. $\endgroup$
    – Logan M
    Sep 20, 2020 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ One criterion is whether a laughable theory was once taken seriously enough to be tested scientifically. This includes both mesmerism and phrenology. The discussion would properly be about the scientific claims made and their evaluation, not about current nonsense. $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2021 at 18:51

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