Philosophy: Science - Good, Bad, Bogus

  • Posted on: 17 November 2020
  • By: brentsilby
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Did you know that reality might differ from what your sense perceptions tell you? What can we really know about the world beyond our mind? How can philosophy and science help us make sense of the world? If you're interested in these questions, read on...

I am offering a university course, Phil110 - Science: Good, Bad, Bogus. No prior experience in Philosophy is necessary (though it helps).

If you do not wish to sit the university assessments, you can enjoy the course and be assessed against NCEA. If you enroll for the full university course, passing will earn you points towards a degree. A wonderful opportunity to get a head start on tertiary study.

(Students who completed Phil110 last year can enrol for Phil235, a stage 2 philosophy course)

And now, the descriptor:

Phil110: This course is a critical thinker's toolkit. It will teach you 20 principles you can use to tell science from pseudo-science, truth from falsehood, logic from rhetoric, sound reasoning from wishful thinking, effective medicine from quackery, and good evidence from lies, fraud and fakery. The critical thinking skills you learn in this course will be vital if you go on to do more philosophy. They are also readily applicable to other disciplines, and should help you steer clear of scam-artists, charlatans, confidence-tricksters and get-rich-quick-schemes in the world outside of academia. Topics covered include the fallibility of the senses, the fallibility of memory, the placebo effect, the tricks of the cold reader’s trade, confirmation bias, the Barnum effect, relativism, mind viruses, the basics of logic, formal and informal fallacies, and the scientific evaluation of competing hypotheses.

Phil235: This course investigates a raft of questions - concerning mind, metaphysics, knowledge and human nature - thrown up by the ongoing revolution in information technology. These include: Might I attain immortality by porting myself into cyberspace? Am I already in cyberspace? Is the universe nothing but a computer? Should we fear a forthcoming Age of Robots? Is my iPhone part of my mind? Could a computer ever be programmed to be creative and intelligent, and to equal or exceed the problem solving capacities of the human brain?

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