The Paper: Distinguishing Science from Pseudoscience
Dr. Schlobotnik has recently invented a revolutionary new pill called MMD, or the “Miracle Memory Drug”, a drug that that supposedly helps to improve memory. According to the web site, “the drug consists of a unique blend of fish oils, electrolytes, and “memory enhancing proteins” that, when taken, “vastly improves the memory of the user”. Users are instructed to take the drug four times a day in order to improve memory retrieval. Dr. Schlobotnik claims that “…the drug unlocks our memory potential by attaching to neural receptors in the cerebellum, boosting the electrical output of the brain, which in turn stimulates memory. It’s like jump starting your brain!”.
Testimonials from users on his web site claim that, after using the drug, their study skills increased and their forgetfulness decreased dramatically. Some users reported having vivid memories from early childhood after using the drug. Some users even report having memories of being in a dark and muffled place, which Dr. Schlobotnik claims “…may actually be prenatal memories from the womb.”
At the bottom of his web site is section called “Frequently Asked Questions about the Miracle Memory Drug”. The first question asks: “I have used the drug as instructed, but I have not had an improvement in memory. Why?” The respond reads “Since the drug works by creating electricity in the brain, some factors may influence the individual effectiveness of your results, including 1) where you are located on the globe, 2) whether there are electrical wires or cell phone towers close to your location, or 3) a diet rich in salt or iron.
Step 1: Read the section on pseudoscience in Chapter 1 of your textbook. It also helps if you can read Chapter 6 for more information about memory. In addition, read the following article online:
Coker , R. (2001). Distinguishing science from pseudoscience. https://quackwatch.org/related/pseudo/ (Links to an external site.)
Step 2: Write a MINIMUM 1200 word essay that answers ALL of the following questions.
Based on the contents of the Miracle Memory Drug web site, what evidence do you have that Dr. Schlobotnik’s miracle memory drug is based on pseudoscience?
If Dr. Schlobotnik wanted to show that his drug was based on science, what evidence would he have to provide? As part of your answer, set up an experiment to test the drug’s effectiveness. What would be the independent variable and the dependent variable? What types of groups would he use for his experiment? What would he do with the results?
If Dr. Schlobotnik’s miracle memory drug is, in fact, based on pseudoscience, what might account for people’s vivid memory improvement?
So let me give you some quick words of advice on writing the paper:
PLEASE DOUBLE SPACE YOUR RESPONSE!
I DO NOT NEED THIS IN ESSAY FORMAT. I don’t need an intro paragraph, conclusion etc. In fact if you just want to write 1) and answer Question 1, then 2) etc, I am down with that. If I have to fish around for your answers, I will get frustrated, and you don’t want me frustrated when I am grading your paper
Do not cut and paste the entire question as part of the answer. The question itself is 423 words long. Don’t just cut and paste the entire thing and think that you are a third of the way done.
For Question #1, make sure to include terms from the textbook and the article and provide specific examples from the question itself. So, for example, you might say “In the textbook, it says that pseudoscience used testimonials instead of actual research. On the Miracle Memory Drug website…” (Remember, there is no MMD or Dr. Schlobotnik or website, just the description of the web site in the question itself).
For Question #2, you need to set up an experiment to test whether the drug works or not. Be specific regarding the steps that you would take, what the independent and dependent variables might be, the groups you would set up etc. Also, what would Dr. Schlobotnik have to do AFTER he finished conducting his experiment?
For Question #3, give a few explanations as to why people might be claiming vivid memory improvements if the drug doesn’t work? Specifically, go to Chapter 1 and look at how scientists try to determine whether people’s response to drugs is based on the drug itself or some other factor. Also, look in Chapter 6 and how memory is created, stored and retrieved