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Astronomy is a Pseudoscience

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On the topic of astronomy there is a view that, for whomever may practice it, astronomy is a pseudoscience.

Being restricted by location and access, the astronomer is at a disadvantage. Astronomy does not, and can not, follow the Scientific Method; which is an empirical method of inquiry which demands that hypothesis is tested with experiment. The astronomer cannot put the stars under controlled experimental conditions to demonstrate ideas and come to the truth of a matter, as a chemist can do with his or her materials. The astronomer can only observe and interpret—a scientific fallacy which hinders truth and progress.

From Copernicus to Stephen Hawking, its practitioners publish works but fail to perform experiments to verify the hypothesis put fourth, such as the Expanding Universe - the hypothesis of the metric expansion of space. Scientists in other fields are expected to perform experiments to come to their conclusions, and so we must ask, why not the astronomers?

A Yale astronomy course explains:

  “ One of the questions asked in this astronomy course was "What type of experiment do astronomers perform?" None, was the answer. An astronomer's lab is his observatory. Astronomy is an observing science. Sight is the primary sense used in this science. The instrument that enhances this endeavor is the telescope. ”

The Department of Astronomy at UW-Madison states:

  “ Astronomy is an observational science, as opposed to most of the rest of physics, which is experimental in nature. Astronomers cannot create a star in the lab and study it, walk around it, change it, or explode it. Astronomers can only observe the sky as it is, and from their observations deduce models of the universe and its contents. ”

The Scientific Method

The Scientific Method is a method of inquiry, expected even of school children, where an experiment is made to confirm or disprove a hypothesis.

Scientific Method.jpg

Without experimentation, the steps of the Scientific Method are unable to be fulfilled. The researcher of the science is left in the dark to build one hypothesis upon the next: A 'house of cards' model of nature without solid empirical foundations.


The reader may decide from contemporary sources whether astronomy, or any other field of science which relies on observation and interpretation, fits the definition of a pseudoscience.

Oxford Dictionary

The Oxford Dictionary defines pseudoscience as (Archive)

  “ pseu·do·sci·ence

a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.

“the new pseudoscience of 'counseling'” ”


From the first sentence of the Wikipedia article on pseudoscience (Archive) we see:

  “ Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that are claimed to be both scientific and factual, but are incompatible with the scientific method.[1] ”

Science website says:

How scientists can learn what distinguishes science from pseudoscience (Archive)

  “ Pseudoscience mimics aspects of science while fundamentally denying the scientific method. A useful definition of the scientific method is:

principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.
A key phrase is "testing of hypotheses". We test hypotheses because they can be wrong. ”


According to What is Science? (Archive) on we read:

  “ When conducting research, scientists use the scientific method to collect measurable, empirical evidence in an experiment related to a hypothesis (often in the form of an if/then statement), the results aiming to support or contradict a theory. ” defines the scientific method:

  “ scientific method
a method of research in which a problem is identified, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated from these data, and the hypothesis is empirically tested. ”

US Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court (1993) in Daubert v. Merrell made a determination (Archive) of what qualifies as "scientific knowledge":

  “ [I]n order to qualify as ‘scientific knowledge,’ an inference or assertion must be derived by the scientific method. ”


Maxim Sukharev

Physics Professor Maxim Sukharev of Arizona State University says (Archive):

  “ There was time when there was no science at all. There was just pseudoscience all along: astrology, palm reading, etc. Slowly the scientific method emerged from the abyss of ignorance when people began to realize that the objective truth can only be understood through meticulous scientific scrutiny, which cannot be subjective. ”

Chemical Times & Trends

Chemical Times & Trends, Volume 23 states:

  “ A theory does not become a fact without experimentation and repetition to rule out all other explanations. ”

Edgar Zilsel

In The Social Origins of Modern Science (Archive), historian and philosopher of science Edgar Zilsel, Ph.D. (1891-1944) informs us:

  “ Why is experiment so essential to empirical science? Mere observation is a passive affair. It means but “wait and see” and often depends on chance. Experiment, on the other hand, is an active method of investigation. The experimenter does not wait until events begin, as it were, to speak for themselves; he systematically asks questions. Moreover, he uses artificial means of producing conditions such that clear answers are likely to be obtained. Such preparations are indispensable in most cases. Natural events are usually compounds of numerous effects produced by different causes, and these can hardly be separately investigated until most of them are eliminated by artificial means. There is, therefore, in all empirical sciences a distinct trend toward experimentation.

Sciences in which experiment is not feasible are handicapped. They try to solve their problems by referring to other sciences in which experiments can be performed. ”

Roger Bacon

Roger Bacon, father of the Scientific Method, said:

  “ Without experiment, nothing can be adequately known. An argument proves theoretically, but does not give the certitude necessary to remove all doubt; nor will the mind repose in the clear view of truth, unless it f‌inds it by way of experiment. ”

  “ The strongest arguments prove nothing, so long as the conclusions are not verified by experience. ”

Karl Popper

In Conjectured and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, 1989, Karl Popper (bio) states:

  “ [T]he statements constituting a scientific explanation must be capable of empirical test ”

Hannes Alfvén

Electrical engineer and plasma physicist Hannes Alfvén stated:

  “ We have to learn again that science without contact with experiments is an enterprise which is likely to go completely astray into imaginary conjecture. ”

Max Planck

See these wise words of Nobel Prize winner, physcist Max Planck:

  “ Experiment is the only means of knowledge at our disposal. Everything else is poetry, imagination. ”

Further Reading