Rubbish - (n.)

A term applied by some British philosophers (e.g. Bertrand Russell) to statements resulting from wishful or fuzzy thinking in scientific discussion (i.e. statements without scientific merit). To detect rubbish, it is useful to ask whether the purportedly scientific statement is based on goal-oriented thinking or disinterested scientific analysis and whether it is in any way useful in guiding further research or action. Both overemphasis on the uncertainty of a scientific theory (e.g. evolution) and the neglect of uncertainty (e.g. possible effects of global warming) can easily result in rubbish. Common candidates are statements offering a simple solution to complex problems (when correct, these are called "breakthroughs"). Other candidates are statements predictable from circumstances. For example, a study by the "Good-Smokes Institute" might come up with the finding that the pleasures of smoking greatly outweigh the potential costs in terms of health risks. Likewise, a study funded by the "Coal-Forever Research Institute" might be expected to discover that the use of coal has many proven benefits and comparatively few proven drawbacks.