I saved this list from something I read a few years ago, when I first became interested in pseudoscience (not from a pure profit standpoint, just to be a cantankerous debater). It’s quite useful.
How to rate a work of pseudoscience:
A thirty-one-point checklist for rating contributions to the field of archaeology that claim to be revolutionary or to overturn long-accepted ideas. The higher the score, the more ‘controversial’ the book and the more money its author can hope to make from sales, lecture tours, television spin-offs and so on.
- 5 points starting credit.
- 1 point for every statement that is in conflict with generally accepted theories.
- 2 points for every statement that is clearly vacuous.
- 3 points for each internal inconsistency.
- 5 points for every supposition that is maintained despite prodigious archaeological evidence to the contrary.
- 5 points for each instance of spurious data expressed as fact.
- 5 points for each dark hint that a piece of otherwise widely-accepted evidence is faked.
- 5 points for each authoritative reference to Richard Hoagland, Edgar Cayce, Immanuel Velikovsky, Erich von Däniken, Jacques Bergier, Thor Heyerdahl, Zecharia Sitchin, Charles Berlitz, Andrew Tomas, John Anthony West, Michael Dames, Graham Hancock or Robert Bauval.
- 5 points for reference to sites of dubious authority, especially Glozel, the ‘Hall of Records’, the Paluxy River human footprints
- 7 points for each disparaging reference to Erich von Däniken.
- 7 points for each authoritative reference to Martin Bernal, Cheikh Anta Diop, David Rohl, Peter James, Barry Fell…
- 7 points for each reference to an exotic location of dubious relevance, including Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Macchu Picchu, Great Zimbabwe, the ‘Candelabra of the Andes’, Nan Matol, Bimini and Glastonbury.
- 7 points for each reference to an ‘out of place artefact’, including batteries from Babylon, the Antikythera computer, Ancient Egyptian or South American model aeroplanes, the ‘Coso Artifact’, technical drawings at Dendera, the Ica stones, the Acambaro figurines, the ‘Dropa stones’ and crystal skulls.
- 10 points for each authoritative reference to R A Schwaller de Lubicz, Michael Cremo, Richard Thompson or T C Lethbridge.
- 10 points for each baseless claim that widely accepted theories are fundamentally erroneous.
- 10 points for discovering ‘links’ between languages widely separated in time and space (such as Etruscan and Quechua).
- 10 points for boasting of academic degrees unrelated to the topic at hand, especially proclaiming a PhD on the cover of a book.
- 10 points for spelling archaeology as archeology in the mistaken belief that it is the correct American spelling.
- 15 points for boasting of a lack of academic degrees, insisting that formal education is not only unnecessary but also an impediment to creative thought.
- 15 points for each photograph of the author standing by a ‘mysterious’ structure (preferably, mostly out of shot) in an exotic location.
- 20 points for lamentations of being misunderstood.
- 20 points for not including a bibliography.
- 20 points for every use of a myth or legend as a record of fact.
- 20 points for defensive citations of real or imagined ridicule inflicted by the academia.
- 25 points for each evidential mention of Atlantis, Mu, Lemuria, Cydonia, the ‘Face on Mars’, the continental shelf, the Bermuda Triangle or Antarctica.
- 30 points for insisting that if critics cannot disprove a theory, then it must necessarily be true.
- 30 points for claiming to be the victim of a conspiracy by the scientific establishment.
- 30 points for extensive footnotes or endnotes.
- 40 points for professing to be privy to information that is secret or to which no one else has access.
- 40 points for claiming to have deciphered a previously unintelligible script.
- 50 points for claims of psychic revelation or firsthand past-life experience.
I think I might use this for the next History Channel series on ghosts, Nostradamus, aliens, sasquatch, or whatever else they push these days. If they don’t score around 400, I’d be shocked.