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Science vs. Pseudoscience Seminar in Argentina

Alejandro Borgo

November 15, 2010

The so-called “academic world” in Argentina is often reluctant to address pseudoscience subjects, so it is not common practice for universities to hold such seminars.

The Universidad de La Punta, in San Luis Province, Argentina, recently held a seminar titled “Science vs. Pseudoscience.” The seminar, which took place at the Government building of San Luis on November 4 and 5, 2010, addressed several pseudoscientific topics, including pseudoscience in astronomy, pseudoscience in natural and social sciences, and pseudoscience in the mass media.

Representing CFI/Argentina, I addressed the topic of pseudoscience in the mass media on a panel I shared with journalist Alejandro Agostinelli. My presentation, “The Wonderful Paranormal World: From Mere Entertainment to Social Risk,” addressed the overwhelming promotion of pseudoscience in the mass media, especially on the Internet. Agostinelli’s presentation was about UFO history and its relationship to comics and television series, as well as how the media influences the public’s perception of UFOs as extraterrestrial visitors.

Mario Bunge carried on with three presentations in which he presented his critical points of view regarding pseudoscience in natural science (biology), pseudoscience in the social sciences (sociology and economics), and pseudophilosophy (the obscure and often confusing postmodern philosophical movement).

Several presentations on other topics attracted the interest of the 200 seminar attendees: Fortunato Mallimaci discussed religious beliefs in Argentina; Dr. Alejandro Caride gave a talk on the most recent discoveries in neurobiological research; and Dr. Hugo Levato’s presentation was on pseudoscience in astronomy. Carlos Quintana, from the Universidad de Mar del Plata, also addressed several pseudoscientific subjects. In his closing remarks of the seminar, the governor of San Luis talked about the importance of science in social inclusion.

The so-called “academic world” in Argentina is often reluctant to address pseudoscience subjects, so it is not common practice for universities to hold such seminars. The fact that the Universidad de La Punta organized the “Science vs. Pseudoscience” seminar is a breakthrough for the skeptical movement in Argentina.

Spanish-language video from the conference is available on the Universidad de La Punta’s website at www.ulp.edu.ar/ulp/paginas/Conferencias.asp?TemaId=1&vIDTema=1&vTemaNombre=Conferencias.

Alejandro Borgo

Alejandro Borgo is a journalist and paranormal researcher based in Argentina. In 1990 he co-founded CAIRP (Centro Argentino para la Investigación y Refutación de la Pseudociencia), the first Argentinian skeptical group.