These Red Flags and their definitions are from the website Science or Not? The examples and comments are mine.
Technobabble and tenuous terminology: the use of pseudo scientific language In this tactic, people use invented terms that sound “sciencey” or co-opt real science terms and apply them incorrectly.
Once again, I’ll be relying on Jon Kabat-Zinn to illustrate this Red Flag. Kabat-Zinn is a well-knownadvocate of Mindfulness. The following are some quotes from Kabat-Zinn - all from Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness, Kindle Version, Revised Edition 2013; Bantam Books, New York. The pages are Kindle page numbers. The italics are mine.
“Living organisms have developed impressive ways of protecting themselves from all the unpredictable fluctuations in the environment and of preserving the basic internal conditions of life against too much change. …regulatory responses, all accomplished via feedback loops, preserve the dynamic internal balance, called homeostasis, or now, more precisely allostasis, by keeping the corresponding fluctuations of the organism within certain limits” 5315-22
“The modern terminology for biological wear and tear is allostatic load, a term introduced by Bruce McEwen, a renowned stress researcher at Rockefeller University.” 5354
Of course, homeostasis, allostasis and allostatic load are real scientific terms. Kabat-Zinn is not using them incorrectly in the above quotes, but he is co-opting them to support his broader case about how fragile our physical “inner balance” is, so much so that unless we practice mindfulness we are at risk of disease and early death. Between “toxic” thoughts and feelings, unawareness, cancer-prone personalities, and just plain ol’ stress*, the unmindful among us are in mortal danger. Delicate homeostatic inner balance has been put to the service of New Age fear-mongering.
I also want to point out how, in the above quotes, Kabat-Zinn associates the italicized technical terms with markers of status and authority. Some of these markers are obvious, like “renowned”; some slightly less obvious, like “The modern terminology” – why point out that something is “modern”, except to give it a bit more cachet? And then we get subtle: “called”, as in “called homeostasis”. Check out some of the synonyms for ‘call’: demand, announce, summon, order, command, and designate. In sports, a call is a decision made by a referee or umpire. There is something definitive or compelling about calling: to call the outcome of an election, to be called to a vocation. To call is something parents often do: call the kids in for dinner. And so when we are told that a dynamic inner balance is called homeostasis, the term assumes an air of authority conferred upon by the parental scientific community.
* For instance: “Some doctors believe that time stress is a fundamental cause of disease in the present era” (7811).