Astrology is a pseudoscience that claims to divine information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the movements and relative positions of celestial objects. Astrology has been dated to at least the 2nd millennium BCE, has its roots in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. Many cultures have attached importance to astronomical events, some—such as the Hindus and the Maya—developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. Western astrology, one of the oldest astrological systems still in use, can trace its roots to 19th–17th century BCE Mesopotamia, from which it spread to Ancient Greece, the Arab world and Central and Western Europe. Contemporary Western astrology is associated with systems of horoscopes that purport to explain aspects of a person's personality and predict significant events in their lives based on the positions of celestial objects.
Throughout most of its history, astrology was considered a scholarly tradition and was common in academic circles in close relation with astronomy, alchemy and medicine. It was present in political circles and is mentioned in various works of literature, from Dante Alighieri and Geoffrey Chaucer to William Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca. Following the end of the 19th century and the wide-scale adoption of the scientific method, astrology has been challenged on both theoretical and experimental grounds, has been shown to have no scientific validity or explanatory power. Astrology thus lost its academic and theoretical standing, common belief in it has declined. While polls have demonstrated that one quarter of American and Canadian people say they continue to believe that star and planet positions affect their lives, astrology is now recognized as a pseudoscience—a belief, incorrectly presented as scientific; the word astrology comes from the early Latin word astrologia, which derives from the Greek ἀστρολογία—from ἄστρον astron and -λογία -logia.
Astrologia passed into meaning'star-divination' with astronomia used for the scientific term. Many cultures have attached importance to astronomical events, the Indians and Maya developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. In the West, astrology most consists of a system of horoscopes purporting to explain aspects of a person's personality and predict future events in their life based on the positions of the sun and other celestial objects at the time of their birth; the majority of professional astrologers rely on such systems. Astrology has been dated to at least the 2nd millennium BCE, with roots in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. A form of astrology was practised in the first dynasty of Mesopotamia. Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa, is one of earliest known Hindu texts on astrology; the text is dated between 1400 BCE to final centuries BCE by various scholars according to astronomical and linguistic evidences.
Chinese astrology was elaborated in the Zhou dynasty. Hellenistic astrology after 332 BCE mixed Babylonian astrology with Egyptian Decanic astrology in Alexandria, creating horoscopic astrology. Alexander the Great's conquest of Asia allowed astrology to spread to Ancient Rome. In Rome, astrology was associated with'Chaldean wisdom'. After the conquest of Alexandria in the 7th century, astrology was taken up by Islamic scholars, Hellenistic texts were translated into Arabic and Persian. In the 12th century, Arabic texts were translated into Latin. Major astronomers including Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler and Galileo practised as court astrologers. Astrological references appear in literature in the works of poets such as Dante Alighieri and Geoffrey Chaucer, of playwrights such as Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. Throughout most of its history, astrology was considered a scholarly tradition, it was accepted in political and academic contexts, was connected with other studies, such as astronomy, alchemy and medicine.
At the end of the 17th century, new scientific concepts in astronomy and physics called astrology into question. Astrology thus lost its academic and theoretical standing, common belief in astrology has declined. Astrology, in its broadest sense, is the search for meaning in the sky. Early evidence for humans making conscious attempts to measure and predict seasonal changes by reference to astronomical cycles, appears as markings on bones and cave walls, which show that lunar cycles were being noted as early as 25,000 years ago; this was a first step towards recording the Moon's influence upon tides and rivers, towards organising a communal calendar. Farmers addressed agricultural needs with increasing knowledge of the constellations that appear in the different seasons—and used the rising of particular star-groups to herald annual floods or seasonal activities. By the 3rd millennium BCE, civilisations had sophisticated awareness of celestial cycles, may have oriented temples in alignment with heliacal risings of the stars.
Scattered evidence suggests that the oldest known astrological references are copies of texts made in the ancient world. The Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa is thought to be compiled in Babylon around 1700 BCE. A scroll documenting an early use of electional astrology is doubtfully ascribed to the reign of the Sumerian ruler Gud
The 2012 phenomenon was a range of eschatological beliefs that cataclysmic or otherwise transformative events would occur on or around 21 December 2012. This date was regarded as the end-date of a 5,126-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, as such, festivities to commemorate the date took place on 21 December 2012 in the countries that were part of the Maya civilization, with main events at Chichén Itzá in Mexico, Tikal in Guatemala. Various astronomical alignments and numerological formulae were proposed as pertaining to this date. A New Age interpretation held that the date marked the start of a period during which Earth and its inhabitants would undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, that 21 December 2012 would mark the beginning of a new era. Others suggested that the date marked the end of a similar catastrophe. Scenarios suggested for the end of the world included the arrival of the next solar maximum, an interaction between Earth and the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy, or Earth's collision with a mythical planet called Nibiru.
Scholars from various disciplines dismissed predictions of concomitant cataclysmic events as they arose. Professional Mayanist scholars stated that no extant classic Maya accounts forecast impending doom, that the idea that the Long Count calendar ends in 2012 misrepresented Maya history and culture, while astronomers rejected the various proposed doomsday scenarios as pseudoscience refuted by elementary astronomical observations. December 2012 marked the conclusion of a bʼakʼtun—a time period in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, used in Central America prior to the arrival of Europeans. Although the Long Count was most invented by the Olmec, it has become associated with the Maya civilization, whose classic period lasted from 250 to 900 AD; the writing system of the classic Maya has been deciphered, meaning that a corpus of their written and inscribed material has survived from before the European conquest. Unlike the 260-day tzolkʼin still used today among the Maya, the Long Count was linear rather than cyclical, kept time in units of 20: 20 days made a uinal, 18 uinals made a tun, 20 tuns made a kʼatun, 20 kʼatuns made up a bʼakʼtun.
Thus, the Maya date of 22.214.171.124.15 represents 3 kʼatuns, 2 tuns, 10 uinals and 15 days. There is a strong tradition of "world ages" in Maya literature, but the record has been distorted, leaving several possibilities open to interpretation. According to the Popol Vuh, a compilation of the creation accounts of the Kʼicheʼ Maya of the Colonial-era highlands, we are living in the fourth world; the Popol Vuh describes the gods first creating three failed worlds, followed by a successful fourth world in which humanity was placed. In the Maya Long Count, the previous world ended after 13 bʼakʼtuns, or 5,125 years; the Long Count's "zero date" was set at a point in the past marking the end of the third world and the beginning of the current one, which corresponds to 11 August 3114 BC in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. This means that the fourth world reached the end of its 13th bʼakʼtun, or Maya date 126.96.36.199.0, on 21 December 2012. In 1957, Mayanist and astronomer Maud Worcester Makemson wrote that "the completion of a Great Period of 13 bʼakʼtuns would have been of the utmost significance to the Maya."
In 1966, Michael D. Coe wrote in The Maya that "there is a suggestion... that Armageddon would overtake the degenerate peoples of the world and all creation on the final day of the 13th. Thus... our present universe be annihilated... when the Great Cycle of the Long Count reaches completion." Coe's interpretation was repeated by other scholars through the early 1990s. In contrast researchers said that, while the end of the 13th bʼakʼtun would be a cause for celebration, it did not mark the end of the calendar. "There is nothing in the Maya or Aztec or ancient Mesoamerican prophecy to suggest that they prophesied a sudden or major change of any sort in 2012," said Mayanist scholar Mark Van Stone. "The notion of a'Great Cycle' coming to an end is a modern invention." In 1990, Mayanist scholars Linda Schele and David Freidel argued that the Maya "did not conceive this to be the end of creation, as many have suggested". Susan Milbrath, curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, stated that, "We have no record or knowledge that would think the world would come to an end" in 2012.
Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, said, "For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle," and, "The 2012 phenomenon is a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in." "There will be another cycle," said E. Wyllys Andrews V, director of the Tulane University Middle American Research Institute. "We know the Maya thought there was one before this, that implies they were comfortable with the idea of another one after this." Commenting on the new calendar found at Xultún, one archaeologist said "The ancient Maya predicted the world would continue – that 7,000 years from now, things would be like this. We keep looking for endings; the Maya were looking for a guarantee. It's an different mindset."Several prominent individuals representing Maya of Guatemala decried the suggestion that the world would end with the 13th bʼakʼtun. Ricardo Cajas, president of the Colectivo de Organizaciones Indígenas de Guatemala, said the date did not represent an end of humanity but that the new cycle "supposes changes in human consciousness".
Snake oil is a traditional Chinese medicament utilizing fat extracted from the Chinese water snake. It is a rubefacient and/or ointment, is applied topically to relieve minor physical pain, it has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for many centuries, is a common medication prescribed by doctors ascribing the practice of traditional Chinese medicine. Its effectiveness as medicine has been a historical source of controversy in the Western world, where there is much confusion over its origin and constitution due to a U. S. District Court judgment against Clark Stanley. In Western culture, snake oil is most associated with a placebo, panacea and/or deceptive marketing, its association in Western culture lies in the fact that many 19th-century United States and 18th-century European entrepreneurs advertised and sold mineral oil as "snake oil liniment", making frivolous claims about its efficacy as a panacea. Patent medicines that claimed to be a cure-all panacea were common from the 18th until the 20th century among vendors masking addictive drugs such as cocaine, amphetamine and opium-based concoctions and/or elixirs, to be sold as medication and/or products promoting health at medicine shows.
The marketing concept for snake oil was transferred to the US from trade and exposure to 18th-century British culture. However, the actual source of its use as a folk remedy was introduced to its introduction in the UK, by Chinese laborers involved in building the First Transcontinental Railroad in the US, were undoubtedly familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine, using snake oil to treat joint pain such as arthritis and bursitis, while introducing it to fellow American workers; when rubbed on the skin at the painful site, snake oil was claimed to bring relief. This claim was ridiculed by 19th-century rival medicine salespeople, who competed with snake oil entrepreneurs in peddling other medicines for pain offering more hazardous alternatives such as alcohol and/or opium. Patent medicines originated in England, where a patent was granted to Richard Stoughton's elixir in 1712. There were no federal regulations in the United States concerning safety and effectiveness of drugs until the 1906 Food and Drugs Act.
Thus, the widespread marketing and availability of dubiously advertised patent medicines without known properties or origin persisted in the US for a much greater number of years than in Europe. In 18th-century Europe in the UK, viper oil had been recommended for many afflictions, including the ones for which oil from the rattlesnake a type of viper native to America, was subsequently favored to treat rheumatism and skin diseases. Though there are accounts of oil obtained from the fat of various vipers in the Western world, the claims of its effectiveness as a medicine have never been examined, its efficacy is unknown, it is likely that much of the snake oil sold by Western entrepreneurs was illegitimate, did not contain ingredients derived from any kind of snake. Snake oil in the United Kingdom and United States contained modified mineral oil. In popular culture within the United States, snake oil is renowned to be a commodity peddled at American Old West-themed medicine shows, although the judgment condemning snake oil as medicine took place in Rhode Island, involved snake oil manufactured in Massachusetts.
The snake oil peddler is a stock character in Western movies, depicted as a traveling "doctor" with dubious credentials, selling fake medicines with boisterous marketing hype supported by pseudo-scientific evidence. To increase sales, an accomplice in the crowd will attest to the value of the product in an effort to provoke buying enthusiasm; the "doctor" will leave town. This practice has wide-ranging implications, is known as a confidence trick, a type of fraud; this particular confidence trick is purported to have been a common mechanism utilized by peddlers in order to sell various counterfeit and generic medications at medicine shows. The drastic amount of fraud extending to the drug epidemic was unfolded, exposed with a judgment against Clark Stanley, which condemned the patented Clark Stanley's Snake Oil Liniment in US District Court; this minor ruling, much like the process that unfolded in the UK during the previous century, set a precedent for government bureaucracies to exert greater authority over traditional practices in health and medicine.
Snake oil has grown to epitomize patent medicine, represents a healthy act of scapegoating that allowed for government controlled bureaucracy to seize authority over the means to control a drug epidemic involving alcohol and opium during the 19th century in the US. This increased authority led to the evolution and expansion of bureaucracies such as the Food and Drug Administration in the US; the composition of snake oil medicines varies markedly among products. Clark Stanley's Snake Oil Liniment – produced by Clark Stanley, the "Rattlesnake King" – was tested by the United States government's Bureau of Chemistry, the precursor to the Food and Drug Administration in 1916, it was found to contain: mineral oil 1% fatty oil capsaicin from chili peppers turpentine camphorAlthough most snake oil in the Western world was drastically overpriced and falsely advertised it is arguable whether or not it is representative of a placebo given that Clark Stanley's Snake Oil Liniment, the only Western produced snake oil known to have been examined, is similar in composition to m
Phrenology is a pseudoscience which involves the measurement of bumps on the skull to predict mental traits. It is based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions or modules. Although both of those ideas have a basis in reality, phrenology extrapolated beyond empirical knowledge in a way that departed from science; the central phrenological notion that measuring the contour of the skull can predict personality traits is discredited by empirical research. Developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall in 1796, the discipline was influential in the 19th century from about 1810 until 1840; the principal British centre for phrenology was Edinburgh, where the Edinburgh Phrenological Society was established in 1820. Phrenology is today recognized as pseudoscience; the methodological rigor of phrenology was doubtful for the standards of its time, since many authors regarded phrenology as pseudoscience in the 19th century. Phrenological thinking was influential in the psychology of the 19th century.
Gall's assumption that character and emotions are located in specific parts of the brain is considered an important historical advance toward neuropsychology. Phrenologists believe that the human mind has a set of various mental faculties, each one represented in a different area of the brain. For example, the faculty of "philoprogenitiveness", from the Greek for "love of offspring", was located centrally at the back of the head; these areas were said to be proportional to a person's propensities. The importance of an organ was derived from relative size compared to other organs, it was believed that the cranial skull—like a glove on the hand—accommodates to the different sizes of these areas of the brain, so that a person's capacity for a given personality trait could be determined by measuring the area of the skull that overlies the corresponding area of the brain. Phrenology, which focuses on personality and character, is distinct from craniometry, the study of skull size and shape, physiognomy, the study of facial features.
Phrenology is a process that involves observing and/or feeling the skull to determine an individual's psychological attributes. Franz Joseph Gall believed that the brain was made up of 27 individual organs that determined personality, the first 19 of these'organs' he believed to exist in other animal species. Phrenologists would run their fingertips and palms over the skulls of their patients to feel for enlargements or indentations; the phrenologist would take measurements with a tape measure of the overall head size and more employ a craniometer, a special version of a caliper. In general, instruments to measure sizes of cranium continued to be used after the mainstream phrenology had ended; the phrenologists put emphasis on using drawings of individuals with particular traits, to determine the character of the person and thus many phrenology books show pictures of subjects. From absolute and relative sizes of the skull the phrenologist would assess the character and temperament of the patient.
Gall's list of the "brain organs" was specific. An enlarged organ meant; the number – and more detailed meanings – of organs were added by other phrenologists. The 27 areas varied in function, from sense of color, to religiosity, to being combative or destructive; each of the 27 "brain organs" was located under a specific area of the skull. As a phrenologist felt the skull, he would use his knowledge of the shapes of heads and organ positions to determine the overall natural strengths and weaknesses of an individual. Phrenologists believed the head revealed natural tendencies but not absolute limitations or strengths of character; the first phrenological chart gave the names of the organs described by Gall. Charts were more expansive. Among the first to identify the brain as the major controlling center for the body were Hippocrates and his followers, inaugurating a major change in thinking from Egyptian and early Greek views, which based bodily primacy of control on the heart; this belief was supported by the Greek physician Galen, who concluded that mental activity occurred in the brain rather than the heart, contending that the brain, a cold, moist organ formed of sperm, was the seat of the animal soul—one of three "souls" found in the body, each associated with a principal organ.
The Swiss pastor Johann Kaspar Lavater introduced the idea that physiognomy related to the specific character traits of individuals, rather than general types, in his Physiognomische Fragmente, published between 1775 and 1778. His work was translated into English and published in 1832 as The Pocket Lavater, or, The Science of Physiognomy, he believed that thoughts of the mind and passions of the soul were connected with an individual's external frame. Of the forehead, When the forehead is perpendicular, from the hair to the eyebrows, it denotes an utter deficiency of understanding. In 1796 the German physician Franz Joseph Gall began lecturing on organology: the isolation of mental faculties and cranioscopy which involved reading the skull's shape as it pertained to the individual, it was Gall's collaborator Johann Gaspar Spurzheim who would popularize the term "phrenology". In 1809 Gall began writing his principal work, The Anatomy and Physiology of the Nervous System in General, of the Brain in Particular, with Observations upon the possibility of ascertaining the several Intellectual and Moral Dispositions
Ufology is the study of reports, visual records, physical evidence, other phenomena related to unidentified flying objects. UFO reports have been subject to various investigations over the years by governments, independent groups, scientists. However, ufology, as a field, has been rejected by modern academia and is considered a pseudoscience; the term derives from UFO, pronounced as an acronym, the suffix -logy, which comes from the Ancient Greek λογία. An early appearance of this term in print can be found in the article "An Introduction to Ufology" by Ivan T. Sanderson, found in Fantastic Universe magazine's February 1957 issue, which closes with this direct plea: "What we need, in fact, is the immediate establishment of a respectable new science named Ufology." Another early use of the word was in a 1958 speech given at the opening of The Planetary Center, a UFO research organization near Detroit, Michigan. Another early use, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, one of the first documented uses of the word ufology can be found in the Times Literary Supplement from January 23, 1959, in which it writes, "The articles and bureaucratic studies which have been written about this perplexing visitant constitute'ufology'."
This article was printed eight years after Edward J. Ruppelt of the United States Air Force coined the word UFO in 1951; the modern UFO mythology has three traceable roots: the late 19th century "mystery airships" reported in the newspapers of the western United States, "foo fighters" reported by Allied airmen during World War II, the Kenneth Arnold "flying saucer" sighting near Mt. Rainier, Washington on June 24, 1947. UFO reports between "The Great Airship Wave" and the Arnold sighting were limited in number compared to the post-war period: notable cases include reports of "ghost fliers" in Europe and North America during the 1930s and the numerous reports of "ghost rockets" in Scandinavia from May to December 1946. Media hype in the late 1940s and early 1950s following the Arnold sighting brought the concept of flying saucers to the public audience; as the public's preoccupation in UFOs grew, along with the number of reported sightings, the United States military began to take notice of the phenomenon.
The UFO explosion of the early post-war era coincides with the escalation of the Cold War and the Korean War. The U. S. military feared that secret aircraft of the Soviet Union developed from captured German technology, were behind the reported sightings. If correct, the craft causing the sightings were thus of importance to national security and in need of systematic investigation. By 1952, the official US government interest in UFOs began to fade as the USAF projects Sign and Grudge concluded, along with the CIA's Robertson Panel that UFO reports indicated no direct threat to national security; the government's official research into UFOs ended with the publication of the Condon Committee report in 1969, which concluded that the study of UFOs in the previous 21 years had achieved little, if anything, that further extensive study of UFO sightings was unwarranted. It recommended the termination of the USAF special unit Project Blue Book; as the U. S. government ceased studying UFO sightings, the same became true for most governments of the world.
A notable exception is France, which still maintains the GEIPAN known as GEPAN and SEPRA, a unit under the French Space Agency CNES. During the Cold War, Canadian, Danish and Swedish governments have each collected reports of UFO sightings. Britain's Ministry of Defence ceased accepting any new reports as of 2010. Ufology has not been embraced by academia as a scientific field of study though UFOs were, during the late 1940s and early 1950s, the subject of large-scale scientific studies; the lack of acceptance of ufology by academia as a field of study means that people can claim to be "UFO researchers", without the sorts of scientific consensus building and, in many cases peer review, that otherwise shape and influence scientific paradigms. Among scientifically inclined UFO research efforts, data collecting is done by amateur investigators. Famous mainstream scientists who have shown interest in the UFO phenomenon include Stanford physicist Peter A. Sturrock, astronomer J. Allen Hynek, computer scientist and astronomer Jacques F. Vallée, University of Arizona meteorologist James E. McDonald.
Ufology is characterized by scientific criticism as a partial or total pseudoscience, a characterization which many ufologists reject. Pseudoscience is a term that classifies studies that are claimed to exemplify the methods and principles of science, but that do not adhere to an appropriate scientific method, lack supporting evidence, falsifiability, or otherwise lack scientific status. Gregory Feist, an academic psychologist, proposes that ufology can be categorized as a pseudoscience because its adherents claim it to be a science while the scientific community denies that it is, because the field lacks a cumulative scientific progress. Rachel Cooper, a philosopher of science and medicine, states that the fundamental problem in ufology is not the lack of scientific method, as many ufologists have striven to meet standards of scientific acceptability, but rather the fact that the assumptions on which the research is based are considered speculative. Stanton Friedman considers the general attitude of mainstream academics as arrogant and dismissive, or bound to a rigid worldview that disallows any evidence contrary to held notions.
Denzler states that the fear of ridicule and a loss of status has prevented scientists from publicly pur
Quackery synonymous with health fraud, is the promotion of fraudulent or ignorant medical practices. A quack is a "fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill" or "a person who pretends, professionally or publicly, to have skill, qualification or credentials they do not possess; the term quack is a clipped form of the archaic term quacksalver, from Dutch: kwakzalver a "hawker of salve". In the Middle Ages the term quack meant "shouting"; the quacksalvers sold their wares on the market shouting in a loud voice. Common elements of general quackery include questionable diagnoses using questionable diagnostic tests, as well as untested or refuted treatments for serious diseases such as cancer. Quackery is described as "health fraud" with the salient characteristic of aggressive promotion. Since it is difficult to distinguish between those who knowingly promote unproven medical therapies and those who are mistaken as to their effectiveness, United States courts have ruled in defamation cases that accusing someone of quackery or calling a practitioner a quack is not equivalent to accusing that person of committing medical fraud.
To be both quackery and fraud, the quack must know they are misrepresenting the benefits and risks of the medical services offered. In addition to the ethical problems of promising benefits that can not reasonably be expected to occur, quackery includes the risk that patients may choose to forego treatments that are more to help them, in favor of ineffective treatments given by the "quack". Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch defines quackery "as the promotion of unsubstantiated methods that lack a scientifically plausible rationale" and more broadly as: "anything involving overpromotion in the field of health." This definition would include questionable ideas as well as questionable products and services, regardless of the sincerity of their promoters. In line with this definition, the word "fraud" would be reserved only for situations in which deliberate deception is involved. Paul Offit has proposed four ways in which alternative medicine "becomes quackery": "...by recommending against conventional therapies that are helpful."
"...by promoting harmful therapies without adequate warning." "...by draining patients' bank accounts..." "...by promoting magical thinking..." Unproven ineffective, sometimes dangerous medicines and treatments have been peddled throughout human history. Theatrical performances were sometimes given to enhance the credibility of purported medicines. Grandiose claims were made for what could be humble materials indeed: for example, in the mid-19th century revalenta arabica was advertised as having extraordinary restorative virtues as an empirical diet for invalids. Where no fraud was intended, quack remedies contained no effective ingredients whatsoever; some remedies contained substances such as opium and honey, which would have given symptomatic relief but had no curative properties. Some would have addictive qualities to entice the buyer to return; the few effective remedies sold by quacks included emetics and diuretics. Some ingredients did have medicinal effects: mercury and arsenic compounds may have helped some infections and infestations.
However, knowledge of appropriate uses and dosages was limited. The science-based medicine community has criticized the infiltration of alternative medicine into mainstream academic medicine and publications, accusing institutions of "diverting research time and other resources from more fruitful lines of investigation in order to pursue a theory that has no basis in biology." R. W. Donnell coined the phrase "quackademic medicine" to describe this attention given to alternative medicine by academia. Referring to the Flexner Report, he said that medical education "needs a good Flexnerian housecleaning."For example, David Gorski criticized Brian M. Berman, founder of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, for writing that "There evidence that both real acupuncture and sham acupuncture more effective than no treatment and that acupuncture can be a useful supplement to other forms of conventional therapy for low back pain." He castigated editors and peer reviewers at the New England Journal of Medicine for allowing it to be published, since it recommended deliberately misleading patients in order to achieve a known placebo effect.
With little understanding of the causes and mechanisms of illnesses marketed "cures" referred to as patent medicines, first came to prominence during the 17th and 18th centuries in Britain and the British colonies, including those in North America. Daffy's Elixir and Turlington's Balsam were among the first products that used branding and mass marketing to create and maintain markets. A similar process occurred in other countries of Europe around the same time, for example with the marketing of Eau de Cologne as a cure-all medicine by Johann Maria Farina and his imitators. Patent medicines contained alcohol or opium, while not curing the diseases for which they were sold as a remedy, did make the imbibers feel better and confusedly appreciative of the product; the number of internationally marketed quack medicines
Paranormal events are purported phenomena described in popular culture and other non-scientific bodies of knowledge, whose existence within these contexts is described as beyond normal experience or scientific explanation. Proposals regarding the paranormal are different from scientific hypotheses or speculations extrapolated from scientific evidence because scientific ideas are grounded in empirical observations and experimental data gained through the scientific method. In contrast, those who argue for the existence of the paranormal explicitly do not base their arguments on empirical evidence but rather on anecdote and suspicion. Notable paranormal beliefs include those that pertain to telepathy, extrasensory perception and the pseudosciences of ghost hunting and ufology; the term "paranormal" has existed in the English language since at least 1920. The word consists of two parts: normal; the definition implies that the scientific explanation of the world around us is'normal' and anything, above, beyond, or contrary to that is'para'.
On the classification of paranormal subjects, Terence Hines in his book Pseudoscience and the Paranormal wrote: The paranormal can best be thought of as a subset of pseudoscience. What sets the paranormal apart from other pseudosciences is a reliance on explanations for alleged phenomena that are well outside the bounds of established science. Thus, paranormal phenomena include extrasensory perception, ghosts, life after death, faith healing, human auras, so forth; the explanations for these allied phenomena are phrased in vague terms of "psychic forces", "human energy fields", so on. This is in contrast to many pseudoscientific explanations for other nonparanormal phenomena, although bad science, are still couched in acceptable scientific terms. In traditional ghostlore and fiction featuring ghosts, a ghost is a manifestation of the spirit or soul of a person. Alternative theories include belief in the ghosts of deceased animals. Sometimes the term "ghost" is used synonymously with any spirit or demon, however in popular usage the term refers to a deceased person's spirit.
The belief in ghosts as souls of the departed is tied to the concept of animism, an ancient belief which attributed souls to everything in nature. As the 19th-century anthropologist George Frazer explained in his classic work, The Golden Bough, souls were seen as the creature within that animated the body. Although the human soul was sometimes symbolically or depicted in ancient cultures as a bird or other animal, it was held that the soul was an exact reproduction of the body in every feature down to clothing the person wore; this is depicted in artwork from various ancient cultures, including such works as the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead (ca. which shows deceased people in the afterlife appearing much as they did before death, including the style of dress. Although the evidence for ghosts is anecdotal, the belief in ghosts throughout history has remained widespread and persistent; the possibility of extraterrestrial life is not, by itself, a paranormal subject. Many scientists are engaged in the search for unicellular life within the solar system, carrying out studies on the surface of Mars and examining meteors that have fallen to Earth.
Projects such as SETI are conducting an astronomical search for radio activity that would show evidence of intelligent life outside the solar system. Scientific theories of how life developed on Earth allow for the possibility that life developed on other planets as well; the paranormal aspect of extraterrestrial life centers around the belief in unidentified flying objects and the phenomena said to be associated with them. Early in the history of UFO culture, believers divided themselves into two camps; the first held a rather conservative view of the phenomena, interpreting them as unexplained occurrences that merited serious study. They began calling themselves "ufologists" in the 1950s and felt that logical analysis of sighting reports would validate the notion of extraterrestrial visitation; the second camp consisted of individuals who coupled ideas of extraterrestrial visitation with beliefs from existing quasi-religious movements. These individuals were enthusiasts of occultism and the paranormal.
Many had backgrounds as active Theosophists, Spiritualists, or were followers of other esoteric doctrines. In contemporary times, many of these beliefs have coalesced into New Age spiritual movements. Both secular and spiritual believers describe UFOs as having abilities beyond what are considered possible according to known aerodynamic constraints and physical laws; the transitory events surrounding many UFO sightings limits the opportunity for repeat testing required by the scientific method. Acceptance of UFO theories by the larger scientific community is further hindered by the many possible hoaxes associated with UFO culture. Cryptozoology is a pseudoscience and subculture that aims to prove the existence of entities from the folklore record, such as Bigfoot, chupacabras, or Mokele-mbembe. Cryptozoologists refer to these entities as a term coined by the subculture. Approaching the paranormal from a research perspective is difficult because of the lack of acceptable physical evidence from most of the purported phenomena.
By definition, the paranormal does not conform to conventional expectations of nature. Therefore, a phenomenon cannot be confirmed as paranormal using the scientific method because, if it could be, it would no longer fit the definition. Despite this problem