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Pseudoscience and Superstition (Honors)

This course will extend students' learning of Chapter 1 (The Ends of Education) and Chapters III (Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens and Members) from the Pacific Seminar I course. The underlying assumption of this course is that a good society is an educated society and one that does not become easy prey to pseudoscientific claims.

We will explore science, primarily from a psychological and consumerism / capitalism perspective, as it is understood, misunderstood, and misrepresented in the media (TV, movies, magazines, newspapers, internet, books, etc). We will begin with a general introduction to science, the scientific method, and the difference between science and pseudoscience. The remainder of the course will focus on critically examining specific topics in science and society that illustrate pseudoscientific claims and methods of inquiry (e.g., ESP, alien abduction, UFOs, medical claims, industry-biased research). Without the ability to critically evaluate "scientific claims," we fall prey to anyone wishing to sell us goods or services, regardless of their efficacy, effectiveness, or even harmful qualities. We will watch videos and films, review newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals, and discuss book readings in order to increase your ability to think critically about the world.