Pseudoscience : a case study of a South African lifestyle magazine, and a survey of its usage

Besaans, Linda Carol (2014-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Across the globe scientists are taking issue with pseudoscience, as well as the role of the media in promoting it. Articles based on pseudoscience, especially those relating to Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) that fall outside the realms of orthodox medicine, are common in all forms of media, but especially in women’s health and lifestyle magazines. Scientists are quite vociferous in their condemnation of CAM for both ethical and safety reasons, since neither the therapies nor the remedies associated with CAM practices have been proven to be efficacious, or even safe. In fact, some of the therapies and advice offered by CAM practitioners are dangerous and, in some instances, may even be life threatening. Nevertheless, the media continue to promote CAM, and the public continues to support it – despite the warnings and denunciation by scientists. This is an exploratory study to determine the prevalence of pseudoscience, generally, in South African women’s health and lifestyle magazines, and to uncover the reasons the public supports it. The magazine Longevity is used as an example of this type of publication, and a content analysis is used to illustrate the prevalence of pseudoscience articles and adverts in South African media, while field research, in the form of personal interviews, attempts to determine the reasons people support CAM in spite of its denunciation, as well as the media’s role in fostering this support. Both mainstream science and pseudoscience are described, while a literature review reveals the scientific perspective of CAM, provides examples of the more popular forms of CAM and the dangers inherent in them, as well as the ways in which science and pseudoscience in general, are handled by the media. Using the hypodermic needle theory, plus the results of the content analysis and field research, this study shows that media promote pseudoscience because it pays; the public support CAM because they believe it works; and that that belief is primarily the result of public disillusionment with the practice of orthodox medicine, rather than the result of media’s promotion of CAM, as scientists contend.

AFRIKKANSE OPSOMMING: Wetenskaplikes van regoor die wêreld het ’n probleem met pseudowetenskap, sowel as die rol wat die media speel om dit bevorder. Artikels gebaseer op pseudowetenskap, veral dié met betrekking tot Aanvullende en Alternatiewe Medisyne (AAM), wat buite die grense van ortodokse medisyne val, is algemeen in alle vorme van media, maar veral in gesondheid-en lewenstyltydskrifte vir vroue. Wetenskaplikes is baie uitgesproke in hul veroordeling van AAM om beide etiese en veiligheidsredes, omdat nóg die terapie nóg die middels wat verband hou met AAM praktyke bewys is om doeltreffend, of selfs veilig te wees. Trouens, sommige van die terapieë en advies wat aangebied word deur AAM beoefenaars is gevaarlik, en in sommige gevalle selfs lewensgevaarlik. Tog hou die media aan om AAM te bevorder, en die publiek om dit te ondersteun – ten spyte van die waarskuwings en veroordeling deur wetenskaplikes. Hierdie narvorsing is ’n verkennende studie om die voorkoms van pseudowetenskap in Suid-Afrikaanse vroue se gesondheid- en lewenstyltydskrifte te bepaal, en die redes te ontbloot waarom die publiek dit ondersteun. Die tydskrif Longevity word gebruik as ’n voorbeeld van hierdie tipe publikasie, en ’n inhoudsanalise word gebruik om die voorkoms van pseudowetenskaplike artikels en advertensies in die Suid-Afrikaanse media te illustreer, terwyl navorsing in die veld, in die vorm van persoonlike onderhoude, poog om die redes te bepaal waarom mense AAM ondersteun, ten spyte van veroordeling, sowel as die rol wat die media speel in die bevordering van hierdie ondersteuning. Beide hoofstroom wetenskap en pseudowetenskap word beskryf, terwyl ’n literatuuroorsig die wetenskaplike perspektief van AAM ontbloot, voorbeelde van die meer populêre vorme van AAM word verskaf asook van die gevare daaraan verbonde, sowel as die maniere waarop wetenskap en pseudowetenskap in die algemeen, hanteer word deur die media. Met behulp van die spuitnaald teorie, plus die resultate van die inhoudsanalise en navorsing in die veld, bewys hierdie studie dat die media pseudowetenskap bevorder, want dit betaal; die publiek ondersteun AAM omdat hulle glo dit werk; en dat daardie geloof primêr die gevolg is van openbare ontnugtering met die beoefening van ortodokse medisyne, eerder as die gevolg van die media se bevordering van AAM, soos wetenskaplikes beweer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/95849
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