What is junk science?

Junk science is faulty scientific data and analysis used to advance special interests and hidden agendas.

Examples of special interests include:

  • The media may use junk science to produce sensational headlines and programming, the purpose of which is to generate increased readership and viewership. More readers and viewers mean more revenues from advertisement. The media may also use junk science to advance personal or organizationsl social and political agendas.
  • Personal injury lawyers, sometimes referred to simply as trial lawyers (as in the American Association of Trial Lawyers or ATLA), may use junk science to extort settlements from deep-pocketed businesses or to bamboozle juries into awarding huge verdicts.
  • Social and political activists may use junk science to achieve social and political change.
  • Government regulators may use junk science to expand regulatory their authority, increase their budgets o advance the political agenda of elected officials.
  • Businesses may use junk science to bad-mouth competitors’ products, make bogus claims about their own products, or to promote political or social change that would increase sales and profits.
  • Politicians may use junk science to curry favor with special interest groups, to be politically correct or to advance their own personal political beliefs.
  • Individual scientists may use junk science to achieve fame and fortune.
  • Individuals who are ill (real or imagined) may use junk science to blame others for causing their illness. Individuals may also use junk science to seek fame and fortune.

CAUTION: Being wrong is not the same as being guilty of junk science.

The scientific method calls for trial-and-error until the truth is determined. More than likely, this means many trials and many errors. Scientists learn from their errors. So wrong science is part of the scientific method. (See Junk Science Judo, pp. 43-44)

Wrong science becomes junk science only when its obvious or easily-determined flaws are ignored and it is then used to advance some special interest.

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70 Responses to What is junk science?

  1. spacer Timothy Ready | June 20, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Reply

    I hope you die of the AIDS.
    PS- Please publish my Email. I’m no coward. Tready@gmail.com

    • spacer Archiec4 | February 9, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Reply

      You cannot argue the points so you offer us argumentum ad baculum offer and as well a Red Herring.

    • spacer Charles Russell | April 24, 2012 at 2:21 am | Reply

      Timothy all you do is betray the limitations of your intellect for all to see. cruss29

    • spacer Harpo | June 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Reply

      Timothy, don’t you understand that nasty, childish comments do nothing to convert people to your religion?

  2. spacer Brenda | June 24, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Reply

    Timothy, that is so rude. You may not be a coward, but you are hateful and ignorant.

    • spacer zen city | March 28, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Reply

      I have to agree w/ Brenda. . . wow.

  3. spacer nostraden | July 19, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Reply


  4. spacer Bay | July 22, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Reply

    @Timothy: It is not nice to wish death by AIDS on someone.
    @Steve: It is definitely not nice to wish death on the human race by spewing your nonsense.

  5. spacer sam basile | August 6, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Reply

    thank god for thinkers like you and me.

  6. spacer Jeff | August 16, 2011 at 10:00 am | Reply

    Steve does science and the world a great favor by maintaining this web site. True scientists are in search of one thing only and that’s the TRUTH. Scientists should have no agenda but to discover what is true and factual. Pointing out that we, as humans, are not infallable and even the brightest scientist make mistakes or draw incorrect conclusions is not “spewing nonsense.”

    • spacer Editor | August 19, 2012 at 10:35 am | Reply

      Same old activist slurs, pretty tedious really.

      You may want to see a little more about the unskeptical John Cook – see here for a starter course.

      And for heaven’s sake don’t let an inconvenient detail like Steve not having a Fox-sourced income put you off…

      Nonetheless, welcome to the conversation Steve Lake.

  7. spacer BB-Idaho | August 22, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Reply

    I’m glad I retired from being a scientist. Now days everyone
    thinks they know more. You know like Rick Perry, Texas Gov,
    expounding on global warming, evolution and the like. His
    qualifications? Flunked organic chemistry in college! IMO,
    for every scientist that has an ‘agenda’, there are a hundred
    dupes influenced by political viewpoint that are footsoldiers
    in the war on science. Yep, retirement is fine…

  8. spacer Janet Wineglass | September 6, 2011 at 1:50 am | Reply

    As a retired scientist, here are a few observations and thoughts on research and bias.

    People and researchers always have agendas of some sort– not a motive to deliberately deceive, but a genuine belief about what is true. If the data don’t agree something was wring with the experiment In psychology (where I started) some examples: from late 70′s on: women and man are identical, IQ differences between one group and another are not ‘real’. kids with working mothers aren’t as mentally balanced as others, divorce does not harm kids, violence in young men is a result of video games and TV (pick your decade) , home schooled kids have lousy social skills.

    To my surprise medicine, although more low key, was not very different. Grant money comes with a price tag — tacit endorsement of some point of view (or no renewal). Foundation money, very similar.

    There is a pressure in research to “dumb it”, keep it simple, conclusive but not so much that “more research” (read next grant) isn’t needed, important seeming, and in keeping with currently respected beliefs/topics in the field,

    I have seen people willing and even wanting to suspend beliefs, to accept and even enjoy the unexpected, not writing the conclusion before doing the experiment. In spite of it all, the obstacles truth has a way of popping up as long as you follow the scientific method and don’t lie about or make up your results.

    Still, research whether in academia, think tanks, or anywhere else usually is neither an intent to deceive nor a quest for truth. IMO, Be as suspicious of scientific results as you are of everything else you read.

    Yipes, sorry this is so long. Professional hazard?

    Thank you for this site.

  9. spacer David | September 6, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Reply

    RE: Global warming, aka “Climate Change” thanks to Uncle Al the kiddies pal is just another creation of politicians to bilk the taxpayer of their money through increased regulation and mandated “stimulus” financing of green jobs. I remember watching All The President’s Men when I was 20 years old and Deep Throat’s advice holds true today: “follow the money.”

  10. spacer M Bendzela | September 12, 2011 at 6:24 am | Reply

    Fascinating. This blog wants us to believe that current mainstream science is biased in the direction of “liberals,” while arguing at the same time that Fox News, The Cato Institute, and The Free Enterprise Action Fund are not biased.

    Thanks for the amusement.

  11. spacer M Bendzela | September 12, 2011 at 6:30 am | Reply

    And I love that you call the blog “Junk Science,” because, indeed, that’s what it is.

  12. spacer Les | September 28, 2011 at 7:54 am | Reply

    Steve, keep up the good work. Don’t let the Haters get to you.

  13. spacer Edvard Grande | October 12, 2011 at 8:23 am | Reply

    I have not seen any comments by qualified physicists or engineers about the socalled smart grid. Somebody ought to provide an analysis.

  14. spacer Negro X | October 13, 2011 at 9:03 am | Reply

    Great comments from the smart, intellectual,tolerant, diverse leftist. Obama lies, they believe.

    • spacer stephen | February 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Reply

      Liberals never argue a point based on fact…well put..if you not with us your against us

  15. spacer Fight Mercury | November 3, 2011 at 4:15 am | Reply

    lets just put it this way..everything is special interest..and depending on what side of the isle you sit junk science..

    it is the idiots that think eating at macdonalds..getting mercury filled amalgam teeth …having their homes built with asbestos fibers and lead paint..cell phones on their ears for hours every day…is good for them or healthy for them..because the body is impervious to anything…

    these idiots that can make web sites..possibly are just fat..lards that take interest in saying dumb crap..to raise a ruckus…and make people see how dumb humanity is..when they open there mouths..that humans are impervious to such things…

    keep eating your MACDONALDs..don’t eat vegetables..chew on AMALgams…I HOPE YOUR FAMILY has GRAMS of it stuffed in there mouths because it it cccccompletelyyyy safe …um make more water pipes and house building materials of asbestors fibers..paint your childrens rooms with lead paint..infact just eat lead..it is safe..

    oh wait did i mention that i own stock and on the board of MACDONALDS..and the AMALGAM industry and need to keep my dividends up!

    !!!!!it is all safe!!!!!!!!! my scientists–agree!!!

    • spacer Arby Justice Wilder | March 17, 2012 at 1:07 am | Reply

      Well keep sniffing the gas from your CFL s.

  16. spacer Waupee | November 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Reply

    You can definitely tell who the liberals are.
    Liberals insult and wish illness, injury and death upon anyone who doesn’t agree with them or the ideology they espouse. To go against or challenge the expected norm (as seen through their eyes) is a sacrilege. They are beyond question or reproach. A liberal’s viewpoint is… “It is because we say it is.”
    Why question is… Why is this?
    Here we are on a website that is examining science as presented to the people for purposes of achieving an objective; primarily science a political objective. A counter is provided to the science provided that one would expect should result in a debate about the science itself. However, rather than make a counter argument, the liberals here just go off and start insulting the people. Unfortunately, this is par for the course.
    How about doing a little research and then coming back with a response. If the info presented here is flawed, then point out what is flawed. To me this makes much more sense than calling someone stupid and wishing they and their family die miserable deaths.

  17. spacer Gene | November 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Reply

    “Liberals insult and wish illness, injury and death upon anyone wh