The Dysology Hypothesis

Letting scholars get away with publishing fallacies and myths signals to others the existence of topics where guardians of good scholarship might be less capable than elsewhere. Such dysology then serves as an allurement to poor scholars to disseminate existing myths and fallacies and to create and publish their own in these topic areas, which leads to a downward spiral of diminishing veracity on particular topics.

Monday, 27 September 2010

What is Counterknowledge?

The crime novelist Stev Sherez is the originator of the term counterknowledge.

The concept has been developed considerably by the sociologist and journalist Dr Damian Thompson (Thompson, 2008).

Thompson (2008: p. 16), adopting the philosophy of Sir Karl Popper, defines counterknowledge as misinformation packaged to look like fact:

"The essence of counterknowledge is that its factual claims can be shown to be wrong. I say 'shown' rather than 'proven' because, in science, observable facts do not 'prove' a theory: they render it probable to some degree.

The difference between a false and true theory is one of probability. For example, hard-line Creationists believe the world is only a few thousand years old; geologists believe it is a few billion years old. We can say with confidence that the latter theory is true because there is a mountain of evidence supporting it. We can also say, with even greater confidence, that the 'young earth' theory is false, because the evidence offered in support of it is so laughably feeble as to be non-existent. We do not need an alternative explanation to knock down a false belief; if there are no facts making a claim even slightly probable, then it is false."


Thompson, D. (2008) Counterknowledge: How we surrendered to conspiracy theories, quack medicine, bogus science and fake history. London. Atlantic Books.