Step One: Read the following and check out the two images
In this unit we will inquire skeptically into paranormal and pseudoscientific phenomena and in the process we will distinguish between science and pseudoscience, sense and nonsense. We will begin with a definition of science and the scientific method. We will consider examples of successful science. But we will also consider examples of “bad” science. One might wonder why and how this topic is relevant to a contemporary issues in science course.
The media today bombards us with stories of extraordinary, even supernatural occurrences. Television offers us The Psychic Detective, Ghost Hunters , Mermaids, The X-Files , In Search of . . . , Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World and a host of other shows on topics like UFO’s, alien abductions, Big Foot and the Loch Ness monster. Bookstores are filled with books on astrology and other new age topics from pyramid power to transcendental meditation.
Merchants sell numerous "magical" products from "Balance Bracelets" to "detox" formulas. Local newspapers feature stories of alternative medicine and dozens of psychic hot lines are available nationwide.
Of course, the World Wide Web has countless sites covering every conceivable paranormal and pseudoscientific phenomena. There is nothing wrong with being interested in pseudoscience topics. But the high level of belief in such topics is distressing.
A 2005 Gallup poll of the public, (David W. Moore, Gallup News Service, June 16, 2005 accessed at http://home.sandiego.edu/~baber/logic/gallup.html), shows the percentage of the public that believes in selected popular paranormal/pseudoscientific topics:
According to Mr. Moore “A special analysis of the data shows that 73% of Americans believe in at least one of the 10 items listed above, while 27% believe in none of them.”
Step Two: Choose a science website to evaluate from each column
Step Three: Evaluate the website
1. Go to the www. Find two science sites, one that you think is really good, and one that you think is bogus. Focus on science sites please. You may use some sites from the list above.
For the "bogus" site, I'll be most impressed if you find something that looks credible, but is actually not true.
2. Fill out the form below and submit the following:
3.Write the web addresses like this:
Good site: _________________________________
Bogus site: _________________________________
4. Now comes the most important part of the exercise.