The Pseudo-Sciences You're Most Likely to See in the Next 50 Years

Illustration for article titled The Pseudo-Sciences You're Most Likely to See in the Next 50 Years

For every scientific breakthrough, you can expect a new branch pseudo-science that will mirror genuine science in some distorted way. In the nineteeth century, the young branch of engineering that spawned electrical current also spawned quack "electrotherapies" that promised to heal you with the amazing powers of electricity. And phrenology (reading your personality through bumps on your head) became popular just as neuroscience and psychiatry were taking their first baby steps. What new psuedo-sciences can you expect in the twenty-first century? We've got some ideas.


Electro-Encephalogram (EEG) "Mind Reading"
As EEG devices flood the consumer market, quacks will write software that promises to "read your mind" based on the electrical signals the EEG can pick up through your skull as you think. Some of this pseudo-science will be based in today's most speculative real science, such as the work on happiness which suggests lots of electricity in your right frontal cortex means you are joyful. Expect programs that will promise to help you find out what your spouse is "really thinking," and ones that promise to diagnose whether you are having too many negative thoughts.

Network Divining
Having trouble with your network connections? Does your cell phone signal drop out at random in certain parts of your house? The best way to solve your problem, according to quack science, will be with a special "network divining rod," an LED device that will start blinking if it finds a "break" in your network signals. Unhappy Google-AOL-BT-NewsCorp customers can use it to locate where exactly the problems are in the global phone-computer-media network, and then buy another device, full of network enhancing crystals, to repair the break. Expect the usual promises: "Guaranteed to work! We've got testimonials from many happy customers!"

Green Exhaust Filters
With global warming having melted away the ice that used to cover those massive oil fields in the arctic, we're more dependent on oil than ever. But governments are still insisting that carbon emissions must go down, and your carbon footprint is being measured carefully. The more emissions, the higher your carbon tax. That's where the hucksters selling "green exhaust filters" come in. These filters, which they will claim are made with "patent-pending nanotechnology," fit right into your exhaust pipes or chimney-top to scrub up to 70 percent of the carbon out of your emissions. That's a huge tax savings! You can buy now, and pay in seven easy monthly installments. What you save on your carbon taxes will make this investment the smartest ever. Until you find out that it's just a fiberglass filter with some carbon nanotubes sprinkled in.

EMF Focusers
Every mobile device emits a small amount of microwave radiation. While we used to believe that was dangerous, it turned out that in fact it was neutral. Based on that idea, future quacks will claim that there is actually a benefit to mobile phone radiation. After all, when people put their cell phones next to the heads, it turns out they have more to say and their vocabularies get bigger. So these quacks will start selling mobile apps that promise to "focus" cell phone radiation to certain regions of your brain that you want to develop more quickly. Want to learn another language really quickly? Get the language stimulation package. Want to inspire yourself to exercise more? Get the goal-attainment package. You don't even have to hold the mobile in a different position! The software does it all for you.

Top image via Psi-Tronics.



Annalee Newitz

@BadUncle: No, I'm pretty clear on how pseudo it is. People used to think phrenology was science too.