These Red Flags and their definitions are from the website Science or Not? The examples and comments are mine.
- The ‘scientifically proven’ subterfuge: claiming an “idea/discovery/product is valid because it has been ‘scientifically proven’” or refusing “to accept someone else’s claim unless it can be ‘scientifically proven’”.
The problem with the concept of ‘proof’ is that it implies certainty – and science isn’t about certainty. Science is about proposing and testing hypotheses and then drawing provisional conclusions with the understanding that future evidence may lead to revision or rejection of those conclusions. The language of science is cautious and tentative.
As Bruce Railsback puts it:
“Ask a scientist about an issue that's not directly observable, and you probably hear an answer that starts with something like "The evidence suggests that . . ." or "Our current understanding is . . .". You're not hearing waffling or indecision. You're hearing a reasoned recognition that we can't know many things with absolute certainty - we only know the observable evidence.”
- Persecuted prophets and maligned mavericks: “belonging to a tradition of mavericks who have been responsible for great advances despite being persecuted by mainstream science.”
The following quote is much beloved of this group: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” – attributed to Arthur Schopenhauer. Example: The Three Stages of Truth, in which the author warns us about “GMOs, pharmaceuticals, the cancer industry and mandatory vaccines”.
These individuals often characterize their detractors as “orthodox”, “conventional”, “mainstream” or “the scientific establishment”. Example: Why Conventional Medicine Hates Homeopathy. Favorite phrases include “thinking outside the box” and “new paradigm”.