Debunking Pseudoscience: A Scientific Approach (Honors Course)
The American College of Greece
Area of Study
Taught In English
WP 1010 Introduction to Academic Writing
WP 1111 Integrated Academic Writing and Ethics
Course Level Recommendations
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Recommended U.S. Semester Credits4
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units6
Hours & Credits
A provoking and integrative examination of introductory natural science and the application of its principles in the debunking of popular conspiracies and controversies. Combining physics, chemistry and biology, the seminar applies theoretical and laboratory practices to put to rigorous testing pseudo-scientific beliefs and disciplines. Engaging in interdisciplinary explorations of historical, philosophical and social perspectives on scientific methodology, the course aims to develop students’ awareness of the dangers of pseudo-scientific thought and assist them in the making of rational and healthy decisions in their everyday life.
This seminar aims to introduce the process of the scientific method through explorations of current understandings of physical laws, chemical analytical methods and biological principles. Concepts like climate-change denialism, astrology, moon-landing denial, antivaccination trends, cryptozoology and the flat-earth hypothesis, among many others, will be evaluated and tested experimentally against current scientific knowledge. The seminar will equip students both theoretically (through treatments of introductory physical and biochemical concepts), as well as practically (through experimental awareness and techniques), with the necessary tools for testing causal vs. casual relationships and falsifiability, in order to put pseudoscientific claims to the test and understand the history, attraction and dissemination of pseudoscientific beliefs across societies and eras.
As a result of taking this course, students should be able to:
1. Develop understanding of basic principles of physical, chemical, and biological sciences, and learn to apply experimental and theoretical techniques, protocols and principles in the context of the course;
2. Engage in interdisciplinary explorations of historical, philosophical and social perspectives on scientific methodology;
3. Understand the evolution of scientific thought through exploration of different sociocultural perspectives and constructs;
4. Identify pseudoscientific principles in commonly held beliefs, activities and practices, with emphasis on the ethical impact of pseudoscience.
METHOD OF TEACHING AND LEARNING:
In congruence with the teaching and learning strategy of the college, the following tools are used:
- Interactive learning through workshop-based modelling and activities, extensive class discussion and problem-solving;
- Laboratory instruction and practical engagement in a working teaching laboratory
- Case-studies that facilitate investigative and critical thinking that distinguish between causality and correlation.
- Student presentations of learning material to encourage involvement in the learning process;
- Extensive instructor feedback on assignments and activities;
- Individualized assistance during office hours for further discussion of lecture material, additional reading, and assignments;
- Additional print and audiovisual educational material posted on the Blackboard course template;
- Other relevant educational material placed on reserve in the library.