Voodoo Science

This refers to generally poor science, where conclusions are drawn based on dubious or flawed methods.

It’s a newer phrase than I thought. It is most closely associated with a 2000 book by Robert Park called Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud.

Google Trends only goes back to 2004, do I did a Google NGram search and found no record of the phrase before the early 80s when it jumped a bit, then a massive spike in 2000, corresponding with Park’s book.

I think I found the source of the earlier usage: a 1982 pamphlet by The Center for Science in the Public Interest entitled Voodoo Science, Twisted Consumerism: The Golden Assurances of the American Council of Science and Health (PDF).

The text was very critical of the ACSH, and stated:

[…] as a consumer group, ACSH appears to be a consumer fraud ; as a scientific group, ACSH seems to arrive at conclusions before conducting studies. Through voodoo or alchemy, bodies of scientific knowledge are transmogrified into industry-oriented position statements.

Why I Looked It Up

I had heard the phrase for years, but was curious about its origin.

This is item #484 in a sequence of 502 items.

You can use your left/right arrow keys to navigate