Protoscience

Protoscience

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In the philosophy of science
Philosophy of science
The philosophy of science is concerned with the assumptions, foundations, methods and implications of science. It is also concerned with the use and merit of science and sometimes overlaps metaphysics and epistemology by exploring whether scientific results are actually a study of truth...

, a protoscience is an area of scientific endeavor that is in the process of becoming established. Protoscience is distinguished from pseudoscience
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

 by its standard practices of good science, such as a willingness to be disproven by new evidence, or to be replaced by a more predictive theory. Sometimes scientific skeptics refer to protoscience as “pathological sciences”. “Protoscience” is a term sometimes used to describe a hypothesis which has not yet been tested adequately by the scientific method, but which is otherwise consistent with existing science or which, where inconsistent, offers reasonable account of the inconsistency. Some protosciences go on to become an accepted part of mainstream
Mainstream
Mainstream is, generally, the common current thought of the majority. However, the mainstream is far from cohesive; rather the concept is often considered a cultural construct....

 science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, e.g., astrology and alchemy (at a time before invention of the scientific method), might be called “protosciences” by historians of science
History of science
The history of science is the study of the historical development of human understandings of the natural world and the domains of the social sciences....

, but after the invention of the scientific method, when some practitioners refused to adopt the scientific method, the fields were then labeled “pseudoscience”. Several sciences started as branches of philosophy: mathematics, natural philosophy, economics, psychology, sociology, and the same may end up, historically, being the case for some cultural, traditional, or ancient practices. A “protoscience” may be a field where the hypothesis presented may or may not be in accordance with the known evidence at that time, and a body of associated predictions have been made, but the predictions have not yet been tested, or cannot be tested, due to current technological limitations. Such was the case for general releativity at the time of its proposal, which is now considered science, and the case for string theory, which at the time of this article writing is a protoscience.

Definition


A definition
Definition
A definition is a passage that explains the meaning of a term , or a type of thing. The term to be defined is the definiendum. A term may have many different senses or meanings...

 of protoscience (and fringe science
Fringe science
Fringe science is scientific inquiry in an established field of study that departs significantly from mainstream or orthodox theories, and is classified in the "fringes" of a credible mainstream academic discipline....

) can be understood from the following table:
System
System
System is a set of interacting or interdependent components forming an integrated whole....

atized as scientific definition
Treated with scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

Tries to be science or just looks like science
Superstition
Superstition
Superstition is a belief in supernatural causality: that one event leads to the cause of another without any process in the physical world linking the two events....

s
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

Fringe science
Fringe science
Fringe science is scientific inquiry in an established field of study that departs significantly from mainstream or orthodox theories, and is classified in the "fringes" of a credible mainstream academic discipline....

Protoscience Science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...


List of examples



Protosciences are new areas of scientific endeavor in the process of becoming established. They can include speculative sciences. This list includes science fields and science theories presented in accordance with known evidence, and a body of associated predictions have been made according to that theory, but the predictions have not yet been tested. If they become widely accepted (or become rejected as pseudoscience) they will no longer be classified as protoscience.
  • Cryonics
    Cryonics
    Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of humans and animals who can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future. Cryopreservation of people or large animals is not reversible with current technology...

     is the practice of preserving humans and pets by storing them at cryogenic temperatures - where metabolism
    Metabolism
    Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in the cells of living organisms to sustain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. Metabolism is usually divided into two categories...

     and decay
    Decay
    -Science and technlogy:* Bit decay, in computing* Software decay, in computing* Distance decay, in geography* Exponential decay, the decrease of a value in proportion to its value* Decay time , in electronics...

     are almost completely stopped - for the purpose of future reanimation. Unlike cryogenics
    Cryogenics
    In physics, cryogenics is the study of the production of very low temperature and the behavior of materials at those temperatures. A person who studies elements under extremely cold temperature is called a cryogenicist. Rather than the relative temperature scales of Celsius and Fahrenheit,...

    , cryonics is not an established science and is viewed with skepticism by most scientists and doctors today. But there is a disproportionately large number of scientists among cryonicists.
  • Futurology
    Futurology
    Futures studies is the study of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. There is a debate as to whether this discipline is an art or science. In general, it can be considered as a branch under the more general scope of the field of...

     mixes evidence based statistical forecasting methods with reasonable inference other than mathematical statistics
    Mathematical statistics
    Mathematical statistics is the study of statistics from a mathematical standpoint, using probability theory as well as other branches of mathematics such as linear algebra and analysis...

     based methods, to forecast the future
  • General relativity
    General relativity
    General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

     before experiments to test it were possible, after which it became science (except for the inconsistency between general relativity and quantum physics, which could be used in the future to classify both as protosciences)

  • Neurocardiology
    Neurocardiology
    Neurocardiology is the study of the neurophysiological, neurological and neuroanatomical aspects of cardiology, including especially the neurological origins of cardiac disorders...

     is a theory in Medicine
    Medicine
    Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

     that the heart is more similar to the brain and nervous system than the other organs in the body because of its complex internal firing mechanisms
  • Oneirology
    Oneirology
    Oneirology is the scientific study of dreams. Current research seeks correlations between dreaming and current knowledge about the functions of the brain, as well as understanding of how the brain works during dreaming as pertains to memory formation and mental disorders...

     the study of dreams.
  • Methuselah Foundation
    Methuselah Foundation
    The Methuselah Foundation studies methods of extending lifespan. It is a non-profit 501 volunteer organization, co-founded by Aubrey de Grey and David Gobel, which is based in Springfield, Virginia, United States...

     research on extending life (although there are claims that the research is currently testable)
  • Primal Therapy
    Primal therapy
    Primal therapy is a trauma-based psychotherapy created by Arthur Janov, who argues that neurosis is caused by the repressed pain of childhood trauma. Janov argues that repressed pain can be sequentially brought to conscious awareness and resolved through re-experiencing the incident and fully...

     is a trauma-based psychotherapy that posits early life psychological trauma
    Psychological trauma
    Psychological trauma is a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a traumatic event...

     as a major cause for psychopathology and a method of re-experiencing that trauma as an effective treatment. A growing body of evidence supports the former, but evidence is anecdotal for the latter. However, primal therapy is a testable hypothesis.


  • Sociobiology
    Sociobiology
    Sociobiology is a field of scientific study which is based on the assumption that social behavior has resulted from evolution and attempts to explain and examine social behavior within that context. Often considered a branch of biology and sociology, it also draws from ethology, anthropology,...

     is a synthesis of scientific disciplines that attempts to explain behaviour in all species
    Species
    In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

     by considering the evolutionary advantages of social behaviours.
  • Socionics
    Socionics
    Socionics , in psychology, is a theory of information processing and personality type, distinguished by its information model of the psyche and a model of interpersonal relations. It incorporates Carl Jung's work on Psychological Types with Antoni Kępiński's theory of information metabolism...

     is a theory of interpersonal relationships between personality type
    Personality type
    Personality type refers to the psychological classification of different types of individuals. Personality types are sometimes distinguished from personality traits, with the latter embodying a smaller grouping of behavioral tendencies. Types are sometimes said to involve qualitative differences...

    s, loosely based on Carl Jung
    Carl Jung
    Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

    's psychic-function model of the personality.
  • Technological singularity
    Technological singularity
    Technological singularity refers to the hypothetical future emergence of greater-than-human intelligence through technological means. Since the capabilities of such an intelligence would be difficult for an unaided human mind to comprehend, the occurrence of a technological singularity is seen as...

     refers to a hypothetical small segment of time in which computers can program themselves and their power and speed exceed that of humans, then grows with exponential speed so great that all forecasts beyond this segment of time become meaningless. Research attempts to forecast technological developments in fields like computer power and speed, cybernetics, molecular biology, nanotechnology, neural prosthetics. After computer power exceeds that of the human brain, and computers are able to program themselves (strong artificial intelligence), humans will rapidly no longer be the dominant organism on earth. Another area is forecasting the time when individuated consciousness begins to end because of a direct and increasingly efficient brain–computer interface (amplification of human intelligence
    Intelligence amplification
    Intelligence amplification refers to the effective use of information technology in augmenting human intelligence...

    )
  • Transpersonal psychology
    Transpersonal psychology
    Transpersonal psychology is a form of psychology that studies the transpersonal, self-transcendent or spiritual aspects of the human experience....

     is a school of psychology
    Psychology
    Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

     that studies the transcendent, or spiritual
    Spirituality
    Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

     dimensions of humanity. Among these factors we find such issues as self-development, peak experiences
    Peak experiences
    Peak experience is a term used to describe certain transpersonal and ecstatic states, particularly ones tinged with themes of euphoria, harmonization and interconnectedness...

    , mystical experiences and the possibility of development beyond traditional ego-boundaries.


Conjectures in mainstream
Mainstream
Mainstream is, generally, the common current thought of the majority. However, the mainstream is far from cohesive; rather the concept is often considered a cultural construct....

 academica
  • Grand unification theory
    Grand unification theory
    The term Grand Unified Theory, often abbreviated as GUT, refers to any of several similar candidate models in particle physics in which at high-energy, the three gauge interactions of the Standard Model which define the electromagnetic, weak, and strong interactions, are merged into one single...

     is a theory in physics
    Physics
    Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

     that unifies the strong interaction
    Strong interaction
    In particle physics, the strong interaction is one of the four fundamental interactions of nature, the others being electromagnetism, the weak interaction and gravitation. As with the other fundamental interactions, it is a non-contact force...

     and electroweak interaction
    Electroweak interaction
    In particle physics, the electroweak interaction is the unified description of two of the four known fundamental interactions of nature: electromagnetism and the weak interaction. Although these two forces appear very different at everyday low energies, the theory models them as two different...

    .
  • Theory of everything
    Theory of everything
    A theory of everything is a putative theory of theoretical physics that fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena, and predicts the outcome of any experiment that could be carried out in principle....

     (TOE) is a theory of theoretical physics
    Theoretical physics
    Theoretical physics is a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physics to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena...

     and mathematics that fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena. Initially, the term was used with an ironic connotation to refer to various overgeneralized theories. Over time, the term stuck in popularizations of quantum physics to describe a theory that would unify the theories of the four fundamental interactions of nature.
    • M-theory
      M-theory
      In theoretical physics, M-theory is an extension of string theory in which 11 dimensions are identified. Because the dimensionality exceeds that of superstring theories in 10 dimensions, proponents believe that the 11-dimensional theory unites all five string theories...

       is a solution proposed for the unknown theory of everything
      Theory of everything
      A theory of everything is a putative theory of theoretical physics that fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena, and predicts the outcome of any experiment that could be carried out in principle....

       which would combine all five superstring theories and 11-dimensional supergravity
      Supergravity
      In theoretical physics, supergravity is a field theory that combines the principles of supersymmetry and general relativity. Together, these imply that, in supergravity, the supersymmetry is a local symmetry...

       together. According to Dr. Edward Witten
      Edward Witten
      Edward Witten is an American theoretical physicist with a focus on mathematical physics who is currently a professor of Mathematical Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study....

      , who proposed the theory, mathematical tools which have yet to be discovered are needed in order to fully understand it.

See also

  • Conjecture
    Conjecture
    A conjecture is a proposition that is unproven but is thought to be true and has not been disproven. Karl Popper pioneered the use of the term "conjecture" in scientific philosophy. Conjecture is contrasted by hypothesis , which is a testable statement based on accepted grounds...

  • Falsifiability
    Falsifiability
    Falsifiability or refutability of an assertion, hypothesis or theory is the logical possibility that it can be contradicted by an observation or the outcome of a physical experiment...

  • Fringe science
    Fringe science
    Fringe science is scientific inquiry in an established field of study that departs significantly from mainstream or orthodox theories, and is classified in the "fringes" of a credible mainstream academic discipline....

  • History of science
    History of science
    The history of science is the study of the historical development of human understandings of the natural world and the domains of the social sciences....

  • Hypothesis
    Hypothesis
    A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. The term derives from the Greek, ὑποτιθέναι – hypotithenai meaning "to put under" or "to suppose". For a hypothesis to be put forward as a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it...

  • List of topics characterized as pseudoscience
  • Methodical culturalism
    Methodical culturalism
    Methodical culturalism is a philosophical approach developed by Peter Janich and his pupils. The core statement of this approach is that science is not developed from purely theoretical considerations, but as a development of everyday, proto-scientific human behavior...

  • Obsolete scientific theories
  • Pathological science
    Pathological science
    Pathological science is the process in science in which "people are tricked into false results ... by subjective effects, wishful thinking or threshold interactions". The term was first used by Irving Langmuir, Nobel Prize-winning chemist, during a 1953 colloquium at the Knolls Research Laboratory...

  • Philosophy of science
    Philosophy of science
    The philosophy of science is concerned with the assumptions, foundations, methods and implications of science. It is also concerned with the use and merit of science and sometimes overlaps metaphysics and epistemology by exploring whether scientific results are actually a study of truth...


Further reading

  • H Holcomb, Moving Beyond Just-So Stories: Evolutionary Psychology as Protoscience. Skeptic Magazine, 1996.
  • D Hartmann, Protoscience and Reconstruction. Journal of General Philosophy of Science, 1996.
  • R Tuomela, Science, Protoscience and Pseudoscience. Rational Changes in Science.
  • JA Campbell, On artificial intelligence. Artificial Intelligence Review, 1986.
  • G Kennedy, Psychoanalysis: Protoscience and Metapsychology. 1959.
  • AC Maffei, Psychoanalysis: Protoscience Or Science?. 1969.
  • N Psarros, The Constructive Approach to the Philosophy of Chemistry. Epistemologia, 1995.

External links