Breeding ground: Pseudoscience, voodoo science, and junk science in autism research and treatment

Document Type

Conference Presentation



Conference Title

New Hampshire Association for Behavior Analysis Fall 2016 Conference


New Hampshire Association for Behavior Analysis


Bedford, NH

Date of Presentation



This talk will discuss the basic characteristics of science, with special emphasis placed on their relationship to behavioral science, including acceptable standards of evidence against which to evaluate the proliferation of treatment claims having the potential to affect behavior analysts, both in research and in practice. Attention will be given to those fads and fallacies that currently abound in the areas of autism research and treatment. Following a discussion of scientific standards of evidence, defining features and “red flags” of pseudoscience, and the importance of skepticism, some examples of popular treatment claims in the field of autism, developmental disabilities, and the like will be reviewed and the evidence for and against each presented. The address will conclude with some cautionary notes for behavior analysts about our own field.

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