Why is pseudoscience so credible
From Charlatanism to Pseudo-Science: Institutional and Personal Credibility in the Mesmerism Controversy
This article makes three interrelated arguments about the historical significance of the controversy over mesmerism in pre-revolutionary Paris: first, that the official condemnation of animal magnetism by a royal commission in 1784 marks a turning point in the construction of scientific deviance - away from the concept of charlatanism towards the concept of pseudo-science; secondly, that Franz Anton Mesmer and his disciple Charles Deslon played an active part in this transformation by raising their claims to scientific recognition in innovative ways thus forcing their official judges to adapt the examination of animal magnetism accordingly; thirdly and finally, that the methods of self-promotion developed by Mesmer and Deslon are to be seen as a reaction to the institutionalization of the sciences in general and to the new power of the royal academies to standardize expectations of correct scientific behavior in particular.
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