What are some historical examples of theories/ideas that were initially labeled "pseudoscience" and later considered legitimate "science"? I don't mean theories or ideas that were initially not accepted or ignored and later accepted, but things that were derided as pseudoscientific (and labeled as such) but then either evidence or new theories eventually made them considered "science." Something akin to the hypothetical where "dowsing" was suddenly given a mechanistic and experimental basis that convinced the scientific community to accept it as "real science" (or similarly for parapsychic powers).

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I seem to recall that plate tectonics was once considered pseudoscience and is now accepted as established science. $\endgroup$ – Nick Aug 28 '18 at 16:42
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Is there a time range for this? Distinctions between pseudoscience and science are a 20th century creation, so the question is not very sound historically. There was no sharp separation between alchemy and chemistry or astrology and astronomy before mid 18th century, for example, see Secrets of Nature: Astrology and Alchemy in Early Modern Europe volume. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Aug 28 '18 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ This isn't a valid question because "pseudoscience" is a nonword, like "fake news" or "alternative medicine." Now, if you want examples of valid research which took a long time to be accepted, consider plate tectonics, ulcers and rotavirus, or even cleanliness and reduced maternal childbirth death. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Aug 29 '18 at 11:49
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft it's perfectly valid. I am asking for historical examples when people were accused of their work/experiments/theories being 'not science' (or called explicitly 'pseudoscience') and it later becoming accepted as science/part of consensus. If you read my question, I specifically said I am not looking for examples of theories that were not accepted (but not disputed as "not science"). (Conifold: any time range with the caveat that the label "pseudoscience" was coined at a specific point like you said) $\endgroup$ – user7496 Aug 30 '18 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ Then your question is even less reasonable. There are far too many anti-science people (and there have been far too many of them in the past) to give any value to shouts of "pseudoscience" against any nascent theory. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Aug 30 '18 at 18:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.