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Certain disciplines, generally called pseudosciences, falsely claim that they make actionable truthful statements about observable objective reality.

Examples are astrology, homeopathy, psychiatry.

How would you call a sincere practitioner (not a researcher/populariser) of such a discipline?

Not "charlatan" - the perpetrator is as deluded as the victim.

Not "pseudo-scientist" - just like a practicing surgeon would not be called a "scientist": this term seems to imply "original contribution" to the discipline as opposed to simply "plying the trade".

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Er...why not pseudoscientist? That's how Wikipedia categorizes such people, and the word is also found in dictionaries. – Mark Beadles Nov 5 '12 at 16:46
Perhaps they're all quacks. – Autoresponder Nov 5 '12 at 16:53
What do you mean by "actionable truthful statements"? Actionable generally has something to do with ending up in court, which seems at odds with truthful. – Andrew Leach Nov 5 '12 at 17:30
@AndrewLeach: truthful statements can undoubtedly land you in court, for a variety of reasons (libel/slander is the commonest). But OP clearly means 'useful to act on' or something similar. – TimLymington Nov 5 '12 at 18:32
There's a pretty big disconnect between provably fiction-based disciplines like astrology and soft sciences like psychiatry. – Marcus_33 Nov 5 '12 at 19:06
up vote 5 down vote accepted

ODO's entry for pseudoscience has a section which reads:


Pronunciation: /-ˈtɪfɪk/ adjective


As noted in the comments to your question, pseudoscientist is perfectly acceptable and recognised.

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And despite OPs opinion, a surgeon can be and is called 'a practitioner of medical science'. – TimLymington Nov 5 '12 at 19:03
A "practitioner of a science" is not the same as "scientist". The latter implies "original research", the former implies "use the results in professional practice". – sds Nov 6 '12 at 3:38
@sds: but there is no original research in pseudoscience, since no factual results can be obtained. Practitioners of pseudosciences are pseudoscientists, with no relation to scientists. Metaphysicians practise metaphysics, with no relation to physicians (or indeed physicists). – TimLymington Nov 6 '12 at 19:14
@TimLymington: if there were no original research, the field would not have existed: someone had to come up with their crap in the first place. However, since it appears that a plurality of commenters like the term, let it be. – sds Nov 6 '12 at 20:38

As disciplines such as astrology, homeopathy, etc deal with the realms not provable by physics, then I think it is fair to call them metaphysical occupations and their practitioners, metaphysicians.

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Which would be perfectly viable considering there are metaphysical shops specifically for these things. +1 – Souta Nov 5 '12 at 23:11
claims made by astrologists et al are falsifiable and have been repeatedly falsified on each attempt. – sds Nov 6 '12 at 3:36
Not to be disrespectful here, but you are taking exception with my choice of wording rather than responding to my actual answer. That seems just a bit disingenuous on your part. It makes me wonder if you are truly looking for an answer to your question or have you laid the trap to pick we well-meaing strangers to epistemological pieces? – Zac Imboden Nov 6 '12 at 5:24
Metaphysics is a specific philosophical subject, though perhaps no longer classed as a science. Both metaphysicians and pseudocientists would probably object to confusing the two. – TimLymington Nov 6 '12 at 19:18
@ZacImboden: first, "physicians" practice medicine, not physics, you probably meant "metaphysicists"; second, I agree with TimLymington. – sds Nov 6 '12 at 20:29

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