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Pseudo-science (with or without the hyphen) is propaganda masquerading as science. This concept is distinct from bad science, which typically reflects either simple misinformation or sloppy scientific work, but does not itself represent a rejection of scientific principles. Pseudoscience is not pseudoscience because it's incorrect. (Real science routinely arrives at conclusions that are later corrected as more information is collected and new experiments are performed.) Rather, pseudoscience can be recognized by its methods, which appear to be scientific but in reality fail to meet scientific standards and procedures.

Material that does not purport to be scientific is not pseudoscience. A creationist tract that claims that the Earth is only a few thousand years old and uses the Bible to argue its case may be unscientific but not pseudoscience, since it makes no pretense at being based on science. A similar tract that makes the same claim using "scientific creationism" arguments would be pseudoscience, since such a work would have to either be unreasonably selective about the evidence it considered, flagrantly misinterpret the large body of scientific evidence indicating a much older age for the Earth, or both.

A hasty environmental study might represent poor science, but would not be pseudoscience unless its conclusions were justified by gross deviations from scientific standards. Advocates who use name-calling to categorize a poor study as pseudoscience might miss an opportunity to teach their audience the difference between hasty investigations and thourough scientific studies.

A source who claims to offer scientific evidence that one can manipulate weather with pure mental powers is probably promoting pseudoscience. Extraordinary claims of this sort require extraordinary evidence to be accepted as scientific. Highly speculative science, such as that suggesting space-based missile defense could be plausible and useful, could be labeled pseudoscience if the claims are presented as proven facts rather than as hypotheses requiring further evidence before they can be considered reliable. Speculative conclusions presented in media reports, though, are often not styled by their original authors as scientific conclusions, but rather as recomendations for further study or policy-making based on provisional scientific evidence. The qualifications and reservations expressed in original scientific reports, however, are sometimes omitted or glossed over in media accounts or PR releases.