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Weeks 1-2. WHAT DO WE MEAN BY PSEUDOSCIENCE?

In which we consider whether the earth is flat and whether crystals cure cancerwhy (some) swans are, after all, blackthe nature of the celestial teapotwhy scientists are always right, even when theyre wrongand why pseudoscientists are always wrong, even when theyre right The standing of science Demarcation of science and non-science Weeks 3-4. EVIDENTIARY REASONING: WHY DO PEOPLE BELIEVE WEIRD THINGS? In which we consider how rolling a dice can blow your mindhow innocent people end up in jailthe damage caused by cancer screeningwhy were all so great, even though we arentand how the media is the message... Limits on cognitive performance Social pressures on reasoning The role of the media Weeks 5-8. ARE PSYCHOLOGISTS PSEUDOSCIENTIFIC? In which we consider how psychologists dabble in irrationality and why they insist on doing sowhy quacks insist on quackingthe role of non-psychologists in taking over, and distorting, psychological subject matterthe way magical thinking can dominate the behavioural sciencesand how pseudoscience kills, oh so gently Is psychology a science? Case studies from outside mainstream psychology o Complementary therapies o Telepathy and psychokinesis o Other examples Case studies from within mainstream psychology o Biological reductionism and gender o Social cognition modelling o Introspective methods: psychoanalysis and qualitative psychology o Autism controversies Contd...

Weeks 9-11. IF PSEUDOSCIENTIFIC REASONING IS FLAWED, THEN WHY IS IT SO POPULAR? In which we consider the publics (and professions) obsession with magical thinkingwhy crowds are indeed madwhy being wrong is so fashionableand why we are all going to die Socio-cultural explanations: Luddism, mysticism, postmodernism Economic explanations: Costs and incentives Psychosocial explanations: Social and personal Week 12. WHY BOTHER? In which we consider the rights and wrongs of pseudoscience, within and without psychologythe nature of scientific literacyhow not to be fooledand why we might need to go home and hide under our beds Why it matters: Cynicism, nihilism, partisanship, and the cost of misinformation Epistemological threats and empirical safeguards The ethical dimension