Philosophy - Science: Good, Bad, Bogus

Course Overview

LA Code: 
Learning Area: 

Society is awash with weird and wonderful theories, ideas and practices that controvert mainstream science: homeopathy, astrology, UFOs, ghosts, clairvoyance, faith healing, bleeding statues, telepathy, precognition, spoon bending, Big Foot, dowsing, Bible code, magnet therapy, Karma, reincarnation and Ouija boards – to name just a few. What should one believe about such phenomena? How is one to distinguish science from pseudoscience, sound reasoning from wishful thinking, truth from falsehood, good evidence from lies, fraud and fakery, and effective medical treatments from quackery? This course is about the answers to these questions. It is about critical thinking, logic, the evaluation of competing hypotheses, and the nature of scientific knowledge. It teaches the skills and knowledge one needs in order to be able to draw rational conclusions for oneself about what is real and what is not. The course is organized into a “critical thinkers’ toolkit”. Each lecture presents one “tool” from the toolkit, in the form of a principle, or heuristic, or maxim that serves as a powerful aid to good reasoning.

Class meets for two hours once per week. During that time we work through lecture powerpoint. There is a weekly mini-assessment due Sunday midnight. This is completed online.

Assessment Information
This is a university course. 15 points.
University enrolled students in this course can earn 15 points towards Stage One of a University degree. Non-university students work towards NCEA Level 2 and or 3 English standards.

Student essays can be also be used for NCEA Level 3 (or 2) English writing portfolio.

Courses offered per block.

TitleLA CodeBlockYear