YOUR DECEPTIVE MIND:A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills (Units 16-18)

  • February 20, 2013 · 7:00 PM
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YOUR DECEPTIVE MIND: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills

Our current Great Courses lecture series is entitled "Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills," presented by Steven Novella, M.D., an Academic Neurologist at the Yale School of Medicine. In this course, Prof. Novella explores the innate flaws, assumptions and biases built into our brains which tend to warp our perceptions of the world and the way we think about it. Dr. Novellla will also detail the tools of critical thinking designed to counter these natural flaws, assumptions and biases. This course consists of 24 30-minute lectures, which I will present in eight 90-minute sections.

The three lectures we will be watching during our sixth session will be:

16. Great Scientific Blunders

Learn how important skepticism is as a first response to scientific claims by surveying blunders that resulted from a lack of critical thinking. Among them: the claimed existence of “n-rays,” cold fusion, Lord Kelvin’s calculations for the age of the Earth, and a psychologist drawn into reports by patients convinced they were abducted by aliens.

17. Science versus Pseudoscience

Many claims label themselves as scientific—but are they really? Break down the concept of pseudoscience by exploring some of its most prominent features (or warning signs), including its tendency to work backward from desired results, its shifting of the burden of proof onto others, and its bold claims that go beyond evidence.

18. The Many Kinds of Pseudoscience

Deconstruct several specific examples of pseudoscience to see how its various features work. You’ll investigate the pseudoscience behind iridology (the idea that our irises reflect our health), photographs that claim to capture ghosts, psychic abilities such as precognition, spontaneous human combustion, and more.

Upcoming in session seven are:

19. The Trap of Grand Conspiracy Thinking

20. Denialism - Rejecting Science and History

21. Marketing, Scams and Urban Legends

Hope to see you at our sixth session!

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Novella has really grown on me.

    February 22, 2013

  • Stu H.

    Another good lecture and enjoyable time together. In our consumerist culture, we're used to endorsements and personal testimonials, but these are unreliable and bad science. The advertisers have learned that science doesn't sell and therefore appeal to emotions. This thought reminds me of NOMA in the sense that emotional communication moves people to action more effectively than rational thought. Pseudo science tries to present itself as reasonable with the intent of moving people to do or buy something, but is disingenuous in doing so. Yet, I wonder about non-traditional medical claims. Is science limited in its ability to analyze and comment on something like acupuncture? Perhaps science has not yet discovered appropriate tests and techniques. While it is possible that modern Western science has sufficient development and capability to authoritatively debunk acupuncture, but it is also possible that current science is overreaching, that reason is leading to arrogance. I wonder.

    February 21, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    David and I will be attending.

    1 · February 18, 2013

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