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Education Science

It's Time To Bring Pseudoscience Into the Science Classroom 470

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "'Roughly one in three American adults believes in telepathy, ghosts, and extrasensory perception,' wrote a trio of scientists in a 2012 issue of the Astronomy Education Review. 'Roughly one in five believes in witches, astrology, clairvoyance, and communication with the dead (PDF). Three quarters hold at least one of these beliefs, and a third has four distinct pseudoscientific beliefs.' Now Steven Ross Pomeroy writes in Forbes Magazine that it's time to bring pseudoscience into public schools and universities. 'By incorporating examples of pseudoscience into lectures, instructors can provide students with the tools needed to understand the difference between scientific and pseudoscientific or paranormal claims,' say Rodney Schmaltz and Scott Lilienfeld." (Read more, below.)
"According to Schmaltz and Lilienfeld, there are 7 clear signs that show something to be pseudoscientific: 1. The use of psychobabble – words that sound scientific and professional but are used incorrectly, or in a misleading manner. 2. A substantial reliance on anecdotal evidence. 3. Extraordinary claims in the absence of extraordinary evidence. 4. Claims which cannot be proven false. 5. Claims that counter established scientific fact. 6. Absence of adequate peer review. 7. Claims that are repeated despite being refuted. Schmaltz and Lilienfeld recommend incorporating examples of pseudoscience into lectures and contrasting them with legitimate, groundbreaking scientific findings. For example, professors can expound upon psychics and the tricks they use to fool people or use resources such as the Penn & Teller program "Bullshit".

But teachers need to be careful or their worthy efforts to instill critical thinking could backfire. Prior research has shown that repeating myths on public fliers, even with the intention of dispelling them, can actually perpetuate misinformation. "The goal of using pseudoscientific examples is to create skeptical, not cynical, thinkers. As skeptical thinkers, students should be urged to remain open-minded," say Schmaltz and Lilienfeld. "By directly addressing and then refuting non-scientific claims, science educators can dispel pseudoscience (PDF) and promote scientific skepticism, while avoiding the unhealthy extremes of either uncritical acceptance or cynicism.""
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It's Time To Bring Pseudoscience Into the Science Classroom

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