I have questions in regards to this article http://www.csicop.org/si/show/science_and_pseudoscience_in_adult_nutrition_research_and_practice/ Credibility: What expertise does the author...

I have questions in regards to this article


Credibility: What expertise does the author have on this topic?

Audience: Who is the intended audience?

Message: What is the thesis, controlling idea, or message of the selection?

Supporting Details: List at least three supporting arguments the author uses to support his/her thesis.

Purpose: What does the author want the audience to do, think, or feel?

Point of view: What values, beliefs, and views are stated in the selection? What values, beliefs, and views are implied in the selection?

Bias: How fair is this presentation? Does it use techniques such as exaggeration, emotion, distortion, or selective evidence?

Documentation: Are sources clearly documented? Is it easy to distinguish between the developer’s views and factual information?

Generalizations and conclusions: Are generalizations and conclusions supported by reliable evidence?

Rhetorical and/or visual techniques: What specific rhetorical or visual techniques does the developer use (e.g. imagery, hyperbole, analogy, rhetorical questions, straw arguments, sarcasm, anecdote, repetition)?

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

[eNotes editors can only answer one question per posting. For additional questions, please post them separately.]

This answer focuses on the thesis statement that the author presents in his article, "Science and Pseudoscience in Adult Nutrition Research and Practice" by Reynold Spector (June 2009).

Looking at the opening of the article and the many aspects the author is addressing regarding nutrition throughout the piece, I believe the thesis statement is found at the very beginning:

In recent years, nutrition research and practice have lagged behind many other biological and medical fields. In part, this lag is due to many pseudoscientific beliefs and practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific methods.

By studying this opening, as well as information that follows, this author is presenting a concept that addresses the acceptance of beliefs and practices that are not based upon scientific method, but are unsubstantiated, incomplete and/or perhaps dangerous. The use of the word "pseudoscientific" provides a focal point for the article.

The freedictionary.com defines pseudoscientific as:

A theory, methodology, or practice that is considered to be without scientific foundation.

The use of this word indicates that every item questioned by the author does not have scientific proof to support it, and therefore, knowledge passed around about it should be suspect. This would then address "fad" diets, "miracle cures" and new-found "natural" materials that promise nutritional and health improvements.

Pseudoscience is defined as:

...a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status. Pseudoscience is often characterized by the use of vague, exaggerated or unprovable claims, an over-reliance on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by other experts, and a general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories.

The author's concern, then, as reflected in his thesis statement, is the difference between:

Distinguishing scientific facts and theories from pseudoscientific beliefs...

One problem faced by the "philosophers of science" and "members of the scientific community" is that they cannot come to a consensus as to what criteria can be used to tell the difference between pseudoscience and non-mainstream science.

After presenting his thesis statement, the author goes on to discuss the meaning of "nutrition," presents questions about the body, and addresses the use of opinions and confusing data as if it were scientifically supported, which is not the case. Everything that follows the thesis statement will proceed to return again and again to the idea at the beginning of the article that the world of "nutrition" is made up of too many unknown factors, and supported with unreliable information.

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