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 Definition A field of study that appears to conform to the initial phase of the scientific method, but involves speculation. [d] [e]
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 Workgroup category Philosophy [Editors asked to check categories]
 Subgroup category:  Pseudoscience
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I am posting modified versions of the WP article both here and in the Norwegian WP - because I, in my article Ormus matter, classify the field as a protoscience. It was strange to see that the thorough Pseudoscience discussion doesn't mention protoscience at all. I suppose it is mainly needed as a defense against the bloodthirsty WP hounds when they cry "Pseudoscience! Delete!". (As they cried while I in vain tried to plead protoscience status for my Ormus matter article there) Olav Næss 10:00, 6 April 2007 (CDT)

Should this be deleted?

Is this just more nonsense from an Ormus believer trying to rationalise, or is proto-science a valid term used in History & philosophy of science? If the former, should we delete it?

If it stays, the examples need to change. The current three are Newton, Darwin and Ormus. Apart from the rather obvious objection that Ormus emphatically does not belong in such august company, I see another. To me, it seems there is nothing "proto-" about Newton's physics or Darwin's work. Perhaps Newton and others' alchemical research was proto-chemistry, but that's not what is being talked of here. Sandy Harris 11:08, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Not sure -- there is, I suspect, a better term

I haven't read much of Kuhn so can't really comment on his observation.

While I regret not being able to attribute it, I've always liked "Scientific progress doesn't happen when people yell 'Eureka'. Scientific progress happens when someone says 'that's odd...'". Think, for example, of Fleming observing that P. notatum inhibited staphylococci, but not grasping its significance.

There seems to be an allusion that Ormus took some data and applied more tests, but, as opposed to Newton or Darwin, didn't really express a testable hypothesis. Further, the standard of proof is much higher now, especially in analytical chemistry, than in the early work on gravity or evolution.

My inclination is that protoscience is not useful, but I don't feel strongly. --Howard C. Berkowitz 13:44, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Proto-science = what pseudoscientists call pseudoscience

Case in point: intelligent design advocates frequently say that they are on the cusp of a Kuhnian revolution and paradigm shift. Like Godwin's law, self-invocation of Kuhn or similar theories seem to break them. It's a bit like Sarah Palin's claim to be a "maverick". If you truly are a maverick, you don't need to claim that you are because it'll be self-apparent to a third-party observer. If your pseudoscience is really a budding alternative science, you don't need to point it out because some third party will do so. Hence why the Crackpot Index includes "10 points for claiming that your work is on the cutting edge of a "paradigm shift"."

It feels to me a bit like if someone were advertising sausages with the slogan "100% genuine REAL meat!" The fact that you have to mention that it is 100% genuine real meat is almost enough evidence for concluding that it is somehow tainted... –Tom Morris 18:55, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

CZ isn't a dictionary. Is one citation beyond a dictionary enough to justify an article?

Apparently, Kuhn used the term 40 years ago. The only other citation in the article, however, comes from a dictionary.

At what point could it be assumed that a concept has not demonstrated utility? If one is making the case that there is a meaningful distinction among science, protoscience, and pseudoscience, to borrow from some U.S. commercials, "show me the money" or "where's the beef?" Certainly, it coming to CZ in the context of Ormus doesn't add credibility.

There is unquestionably a category of "unexplained observations". Any number of scientific instruments can produce observations that often turn out to be artifacts, but occasionally are confirmed. Ormus apparently comes up in the unusual application of one instrument, with no confirmation, and then leaps into an atomic explanation not supported by any other observational data.

I fail to see, without further citations, why protoscience should be more than a redirect to pseudoscience with a note there, or, perhaps, to unexplained observations. "Protoscience" suggests a theoretical foundation that just isn't there. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:07, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

Different uses of proto-

The terms "protophysics" and "protogeometry" are used for questions at the boundary of philosophy and science (to justify the foundations of a science). An article on "pseudoscience" dealing with -- possibly different -- uses of this term is fully justified. Using "protoscience" as a replacement for "pseudoscience" is clearly a misuse. Thus "ormus" is not protoscience. --Peter Schmitt 22:17, 2 June 2010 (UTC)


I just removed things that did not seem to make sense. What are modern examples of protoscience? Chris Day 23:37, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

Do those two nouns belong in the same sentence? It is interesting to speculate on protoscience vis-a-vis Clarke's "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Howard C. Berkowitz 00:32, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

Is this a candidate for Cold Storage, and by whom (WG problem)

In many respects, this seems to be logical for Cold Storage--once someone can develop it, it's there.

I observe a problem that an article on a science is assigned to Philosophy alone, yet the assorted Editors here from science and engineering groups presumably cannot make such a decision. Perhaps, in the future, Cold Storage decisions that cross groups would automatically go to the EC. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:55, 3 June 2010 (UTC)