The Seven Strategies of the Sophisticated Pseudo-Scientist: a look into Freud's rhetorical tool box

Author: Derksen, A.A.

Source: Journal for General Philosophy of Science, Volume 32, Number 2, 2001 , pp. 329-350(22)

Publisher: Springer

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Abstract:

In my `Seven Sins of Pseudo-Science' (Journal for General Philosophy of Science 1993) I argued against Grünbaum that Freud commits all Seven Sins of Pseudo-Science. Yet how does Freud manage to fool many people, including such a sophisticated person as Grünbaum? My answer is that Freud is a sophisticated pseudo-scientist, using all Seven Strategies of the Sophisticated Pseudo-Scientist to keep up appearances, to wit, (1) the Humble Empiricist, (2) the Severe Selfcriticism, (3) the Unbiased Me, (4) the Striking but Irrelevant Example, (5) the Proof Given Elsewhere, (6) the Favorable Compromise, and (7) the Display of Methodological Sophistication. One should note that not all strategies are disreputable in themselves. But all are used very cunningly so as to hide weaknesses in Freud's arguments. To be fair, quite a few of his methodological remarks are sophisticated enough. As Freud combines these sophisticated remarks with an appalling methodology in practice, I call him a sophisticated pseudo-scientist. I do not claim that these rhetorical strategies are specific to him.

Keywords: Freud; humbleempiricism; pseudo-science; rhetorical strategies; sophisticated pseudo-scientist

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Weezenhof 26–10, NL-6536 JA Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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