Darrell Huff. Comments: an oldie but goodie, if you're interested in how people interpret statistics. Carl Sagan. Comments: Focus is on the role of science - more even-handed than one might guess from the title. Robert Todd Carroll. Comments: convenient compilation of lots of topics, but also available online. The skeptic encyclopedia of pseudoscience More links will be added as the semester proceeds. WebCT resource page: guide to UD electronic resources.
Searching for Quality on the Internet. On-line articles from "Skeptical Inquirer" magazine. The skeptic's dictionary. Jim Lippard's Skeptical Information Links.
Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine. Simanek's Back Page of weird things. Paranormal Phenomena. Paranormal Anomalies. Assignments: These may be modified after class discussion.
The Skeptic’s Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Belief…
Tentative Due date. Short report: 5-min report to class on some topical or interesting pseudoscientific idea from news, advertisement, personal experience, etc. To be scheduled.
Individual choice. Design, lead class activities for the day. Some suggestions for activities include:.
Robert Todd Carroll
Pseudoscience analysis : present a critique of an article, web site or advertisement promoting a pseudoscientific idea, with a focus on identifying elements of error or bias in thinking and perception. Present your work either as a short paper pp. Undertake one of the following:. Provide a critical analysis of a pseudoscientific or paranormal topic pp. The paper should provide background information history, literature review ; both believer and skeptic interpretations of the idea or phenomenon; a summary and critique of available evidence; and your reasoned conclusions on the issue.
PowerPoint presentation of research paper topic : minute summary of key ideas or points from paper, plus minutes for questions from audience. Participation : attendance, voluntary participation in class discussions and activities, effective group work. Course Outline:. This tentative schedule is meant to provide a general guideline for the flow of "foundation" topics in the first part of the course.
The Skeptic's Dictionary | Emerald Insight
The second part of the course will be devoted to discussions of specific topics chosen by the class, including formal presentations of term paper topics during the last few weeks of the class. We will also reserve some class time for members of the class to introduce or discuss interesting discoveries or experiences as those come along. This section will be updated on WebCT as the course progresses.
Course introduction; the nature of the problem. The nature of science; pseudo-, fringe and non-science. Where human thinking goes wrong: perceptual, motivational and social biases. A different kind of aura test has been damning. The idea is very simple. So Tart suggested the following test, shown in the illustration. If he confirms that he can, he stands facing an open doorway while Julie goes through the doorway and stands behind the wall.
She then takes up one of two positions: In position A she is well away from the edge of the doorway and so neither her physical body nor her aura should be visible to Jim; at position B she stands very close to the edge of the doorway, so Jim still cannot see her physical body but he ought to be able to see her aura sticking out past the side of the doorframe. For a good experiment, Julie should take up each position several times, an experimenter choosing the position randomly so that Jim cannot guess where she is likely to be. Tart and Palmer tried this test with the well-known psychic healer, Matthew Manning, but in ten trials he was no more accurate than would be expected by chance.
I have also tried this test with no success, as have others. Four screens were placed in a row and an experimenter stood behind one of the screens. The aura-seer then came into the room and had to say which screen had someone hidden behind it. Each group completed 18 sessions of 40 trials each and the results were clear. The aura-seers chose the right screen times and the control group times.
Neither total is significantly different from the expected by chance guessing. For this show, he would stride onto the glitzy stage in his flowing black cape and put various psychics to the test, including an aura-seer. First, he asked her to look at a group of people and say whether she could see their auras around and above their heads. She said she could and agreed that the test was fair.
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On stage was a row of screens just taller than the people, so that if they stood behind them their auras should still be visible over the top. Some screens had a person behind and some did not. The psychic could not tell which. In a similar TV show in the USA, the Berkeley Psychic Institute sent their top aura-reader to try the same test and again she failed, claiming to see auras above twenty screens when only six had someone standing behind them Carroll These tests together prove that auras are not physically present in the way that most aura-seers say they are. So what is going on when people, myself included, seem to see an aura around someone else?
Out-of-Body Experiences: The Human Aura
Another claim involves Kirlian photography, and other experiments explore the psychology behind aura-seeing. Shortly thereafter he became a member of the Massachusetts Special Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medical Practitioners, and in wrote its Minority Report opposing licensure for naturopaths.
He has written extensively on implausible medical claims, including contributions to the Skeptical Inquirer, and has provided expert opinion to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine. He is particularly concerned with implausible claims being promoted, tacitly or otherwise, by medical schools and government , and by the ethics of human trials of such claims.
His textbook Becoming a Critical Thinker was first published in with a second edition in Cole has written mostly about physics and mathematics, since for the Los Angeles Times and before that for such publications as the Saturday Review , New York Times Magazine and the Washington Post magazine.
- Essays on the Economic History of the Argentine Republic;
- Epic 4: The Glorious Becoming;
- Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of BTK, the Serial Killer Next Door;
- The Undead World of Oz: L. Frank Baums The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Complete with Zombies and Monsters.
She has been an editor at Newsday and for Discover magazine. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society. He has published more than articles and chapters on a wide range of topics in psychology. His main current area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. Garlaschelli has done major investigative work on claims of miracles. His duplication in the lab of the blood of St. Januarius, published in Nature in , made worldwide news.
He is also expected to publish soon an investigation on the supposed miracles of Lourdes. Apart from miracles, as a chemist he has investigated, experimented, and challenged homeopaths and many other pseudoscientific claims. He learned from the late India skeptic Premanand how to be a fakir and during lectures and TV shows he frequently performs fakir stunts. He has also conducted investigations, many reported in SI, on spook hills, the Italian sword in the stone, petrified bodies, haunted houses, and on many psychics, both in the lab and out. Garry has conducted extensive research into memory, especially false memories.
She is interested in how we can come to believe we saw or did something that we never did, and how we decide whether our memories are true or false. Colleagues consider her an innovative experimenter and outstanding teacher.