How connected are the major forms of irrationality? An analysis of pseudoscience, science denial, fact resistance and alternative facts

Sven Ove Hansson


Science is a fact-finding practice, but there are many other fact-finding practices that apply largely the same patterns of reasoning in order to achieve as reliable information as possible in empirical issues. The fact-finding practices form in their turn a subcategory of rational discourse, a wider category that also encompasses argumentation on non-empirical issues. Based on these categories, it is easy to see the relationship between on the one hand pseudoscience, and on the other hand fact resistance, disinformation, and fallacies of reasoning. The flaws in argumentation are similar, and the main difference is whether or not the subject matter falls within or without the realm of science.


pseudoscience; science denial; fact resistance; alternative facts; disinformation

Full Text: PDF



Amar, A. R. (2002). Second thoughts. Law and Contemporary Problems, 65, 103–111. 

Blurton-Jones, N., & Konner, M. (1976). !Kung knowledge of animal behaviour. In R. B. Lee, & I. DeVore (Eds.), Kalahari hunter-gatherers (pp. 326–348). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Boykoff, M. T. (2008). Lost in translation? United States television news coverage of anthropogenic climate change, 1995-2004. Climatic Change, 86, 1–11. doi: 10.1007/s10584-007-9299-3

Boykoff, M. T., & Boykoff, J. M. (2004). Balance as bias: Global warming and the US prestige press. Global Environmental Change, 14(2), 125–136. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2003.10.001

Carrier, D. R., Kapoor, A. K., Kimura, T., Nickels, M. K., Satwanti, Scott, E. C., ... Trinkaus, E. (1984). The energetic paradox of human running and hominid evolution. Current Anthropology, 25(4), 483–495. doi: 10.1086/203165 

Dunlap, R. E., & Jacques, P. J. (2013). Climate change denial books and conservative think tanks: Exploring the connection. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(6), 699–731. doi: 10.1177/0002764213477096 

Ford, M. (2017, 21 January). Trump’s press secretary falsely claims: ‘Largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period’. The Atlantic. Retrieved from

Hansson, S. O. (2007). Values in pure and applied science. Foundations of Science, 12(3), 257–268. doi: 10.1007/s10699-007-9107-6

Hansson, S. O. (2013). Defining pseudoscience – and science. In M. Pigliucci, & M. Boudry (Eds.), The philosophy of pseudoscience (pp. 61­–77). Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Hansson, S. O. (2017a). How values can influence science without threatening its integrity. In H. Leitgeb, I. Niiniluoto, P. Seppälä, & E. Sober (Eds.), Logic, methodology and philosophy of science – Proceedings of the 15th International Congress(pp. 207–221). London: College Publications.

Hansson, S. O. (2017b). Science denial as a form of pseudoscience. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 63, 39–47. doi: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2017.05.002

Hornby, D. B. (2014). Judge D. Brock Hornby’s 2014 revisions to pattern criminal jury instructions for the district courts of the First Circuit. Retrieved from 

Liebenberg, L. (1990). The art of tracking. The origin of science. Cape Town: David Philip Publishers.

Liebenberg, L. (2013). The origin of science. The evolutionary roots of scientific reasoning and its implications for citizen science. Cape Town: CyberTracker.

Oreskes, N., & Conway, E. M. (2010). Merchants of doubt: How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming. New York: Bloomsbury Press.

Teresi, D. (2002). Lost discoveries: The ancient roots of modern science, from the Babylonians to the Maya. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Wazeck, M. (2009). Einsteins Gegner. Die öffentliche Kontroverse um die Relativitätstheorie in den 1920er Jahren. Frankfurt: Campus Verlag.

Wilkenfeld, J. (2004). Newly compelling: Reexamining judicial construction of juries in the aftermath of Grutter v. Bollinger. Columbia Law Review, 104(8), 2291–2327. doi: 10.2307/4099360 


  • There are currently no refbacks.