My Class on Pseudoscience

Around five years ago, I started offering an elective class for undergraduate Psychology majors called ‘Psychology, Science, & Pseudoscience’. The class proved extremely popular and hundreds of students have taken it to date. As well as ‘home’ students, the class has been a very popular pick by ‘visiting’ students (i.e., students from overseas who are spending a semester at my university). The most recent series was during academic year 2011/2012.

This page seeks to make freely available all the relevant materials for the class, so that readers can navigate through a typical semester and at least get a sense of what went on. Over time I have half a plan to add some interactive elements such as a discussion board and maybe a quiz. Who knows? I may try to ‘run’ the class for anyone who is interested.

The class comprises 21 one-hour sessions (approximately two per week across a 12-week semester), and a number of assignments. Each of these is set out below. But here, at first, is a broad outline of how content was distributed across time…

Neat, huh?

Given that the class relies pretty heavily on the ‘live’ experience of actually being present before me, some of the material may look a little decontextualized. However, I think the slides and readings should give a pretty okay flavour of things. I’ve also added some links to suggested reading/viewing material (where available in the public domain). You might find some of it thought-provoking.

So anyway, here goes…

Before we begin, some materials…

>> Download: Class outline document
>> Download: ‘Comment Paper’ instructions
>> Download: ‘Research Paper’ instructions
>> Download: ‘Blog Assignment’ instructions

>> Core Reading #1: Schick & Vaughn, ‘How to Think About Weird Things’
>> Core Reading #2:
  Hughes, ‘Conceptual & Historical Issues in Psychology’
>> Core Reading #3: This here blog (You’re reading it already. Well done!)

And now…the classes

For convenience, the classes are presented here in batches as Slideshare presentations with some brief comments and links (where appropriate).


Class #1: Introduction

In short: These presentations comprise ‘Psychology, Science, & Pseudoscience’, my 2011/12 class for undergrads at the National University of Ireland, Galway. The first message is: science isn’t always what it seems.

Targeted reading:
Hughes, Chapter 2 (pp. 13-19)
Beyerstein, ‘Distinguishing Science from Pseudoscience’
From the blog: On jargonNo, you are NOT worth itTowards a quantum Theory of Everything (including dirty dishes)

Click here to move on to Classes #2-5