Schedule and Readings

21/1 Introduction (Powerpoint)

24/1 Context: The Big Picture (Powerpoint)

Quoting out of Context
Optional Reading: “Fallacy of quoting out of context” (Wikipedia)
Optional Reading: “”[Best] Film Ever!!! How Do Movie Blurbs Work?” (Christopher Beam, Slate)
Optional Reading: “In Hobby Lobby We DON’T Trust” (Freedom From Religion Foundation)
Optional Reading: Talk Origins: The quote mine project
Camera Tricks
Optional Viewing: “TV Tricks of the Trade — Quotes and Cutaways” (Youtube, potholer54)
Misleading Charts and Graphs
Optional Reading: “A History of Dishonest Fox Charts” (Media Matters)
The “Out of Context” Defense
Optional Reading: “‘Climategate’” (
Optional Reading: “Manila Crisis Survivor Yik Siu-ling Still Searching for Answers from Hospital” (South China Morning Post)
Cherry Picking
Optional Reading: “Cherry Picking: Fallacy of the Day” ((Pseudo-)Science Blog)
Optional Reading: “Obama’s Imperial ‘I’: spreading the meme” (Language Log)
Meanings out of Context
Optional Reading: “Controversial Gay-Parenting Study Is Severely Flawed, Journal’s Audit Finds” (Chronicle of Higher Education)

28/1 Illusory Patterns (Powerpoint)

Sensory Illusions
Optional Reading: “Pareidolia: Seeing Faces in Unusual Places” (LiveScience)
Optional Reading: “Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP)” (The Skeptic’s Dictionary)
Optional Reading: “I’m Not the Troll, But I Think They Caught One In Their Sample” (Pharyngula)
Optional Reading: “Experience is not something we feel but something we do: a principled way of explaining sensory phenomenology, with Change Blindness and other empirical consequences” (J. Kevin O’Regan)
Expectations and Perception
Optional Viewing: “Phonetic Translations” (Know Your Meme)
Optional Viewing: Bad Lip Reading (YouTube)
The Clustering Illusion
Optional Reading: “Clustering Illusion” (Wikipedia)
Regression to the Mean
Optional Reading: “Correlation vs. Causation (A Mathographic)” (The Moz Blog)
Optional Reading “Regression to the Mean” (Rational Wiki)
Optional Reading: Timeline of Jeremy Lin’s Rise to Linsanity and Journey to Where He Is Today
Optional Reading: “Regression to the Mean and Owning Some Chumps” (The Psychology of Video Games)
Optional Reading: “The Doom Switch and Pseudo-Improvement with the Regression Fallacy” (Drag the Bar)

31/1 NO CLASS: Lunar New Year

4/2 NO CLASS: Lunar New Year
7/2 Confirmation Bias (Powerpoint)

Confirmation Bias
Optional Doing: Philosophy Experiments: The Wason Selection Task
Optional Viewing: Pitfalls of Thinking: Confirmation Bias (1/2)” (C0nc0rdance)
Optional Viewing: From Dr. Strangelove, “Precious Bodily Fluids” (youtube)
Optional Reading: “Cherry Picking Flouridation Data” (Open Parachute)
Optional Viewing: “Psychology of Belief, Part 3, Confirmation Bias” (AntiCitizenX)
Optional Reading: Letter to the Editor: “The Best Class I Ever Had: Why Understanding Racism is Hard” (Satya Putumbaka, The Statesman)
Optional Reading: “Confirmation Bias (And Stereotypes) In Action…” (Economists Do It with Models)
Optional Reading: “Social Networking Sites and Politics” (Pew Internet)

11/2 Thinking about Probabilities (Powerpoint)
Optional Viewing: “Why your maths skills can be biased” (youtube, DrawMeWhy)
Optional Reading: “Base Rate Fallacy” (Wikipedia)
Optional Viewing: “Counting Carefully: The Base Rate Fallacy” (youtube, Simple Scientist)
Optional Reading: “The quiet scandal of the HIV home test” (CNN)
Optional Reading: “False Result Fear over DNA Tests” (Nick Paton Walsh, The Guardian)
Assignment 1 is here.
14/2 Ancient Aliens (Powerpoint)
Required Viewing: Ancient Aliens: The Evidence
Optional Reading: “Fermi Paradox” (Wikipedia)
Optional Reading: “They walk among us: 1 in 5 believe in aliens?” (Reuters)
Optional Reading: “Ethics and Ancient Aliens” (Jason Colavito)
Optional Reading: “Flying the Saqqara Bird” (Martin Gregorie)
Optional Reading: “Pijao People” (Wikipedia)
Optional Viewing: Ancient Aliens Debunked
Optional Reading: Ancient Aliens Ate My Homework

18/2 Fallacies 1 (Powerpoint)

General Resources on Fallacies
Optional Reading: “An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments” (Ali Almossawi)
Optional Reading: “Logical Fallacies Handlist” (Dr. L. Kip Wheeler)
Appeal to Authority
Optional Reading: “Appeal to Authority” (The Nizkor Project)
Irrelevant Neuroscience and Circular Explanations
Optional Reading: “The Seductive Allure of Neuroscience Explanations”
Optional Reading: “Critiquing a Classic: The Seductive Allure of Neuroscience Explanations” (Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine)
Optional Reading: “Don’t Waste Your Time with This Survey” (Pharyngula)
The Straw Man Fallacy
Optional Viewing: “Crocoduck” (DarkArcticSun, YouTube)
21/2 Fallacies 2 (Powerpoint)
Optional Reading: “Debunking Handbook” (Cook and Lewandowsky)
The Ecological Fallacy
Optional Reading: “Ecological Fallacy” (Freedman)

11/10 The Scientific Method (Powerpoint)

25/2 NO CLASS: Michaelmas
28/2 The Scientific Method

4/3 Experimental Design (Powerpoint)
7/3 Placebos and Nocebos (Powerpoint)
Homework 2

11/3 Experts and Authorities (Powerpoint)
Optional Reading: “How to Spot the Crackpot– Pseudoscience in Pakistan” (Pervez Hoodbhoy, The Express Tribune)
Optional Reading: “We Fact-Checked Snapple’s ‘Real Facts’” (The Atlantic)
Optional Reading: “Diploma Mills Infest Beijing” (The Economic Observer)
Optional Reading: “Christopher Monckton” (DeSmogBlog)
Optional Reading: “Deepak Chopra Gets Upset, Tries the Harvard Gambit” (Steven Salzberg, Forbes)
Optional Writing: SCIgen — An Automatic CS Paper Generator
Optional Reading: “Science Reporter Spoofs Hundreds of Open Access Journals with Fake Papers” (Retraction Watch)
Optional Reading: “Stones, Glass Houses, etc.” (Pharyngula)
Optional Viewing: “What the Bleep Trailer” (Youtube)
Optional Reading: “EXPELLED!” (Pharyngula)
14/3 Bad Journalism (Powerpoint)

18/3 Review (Powerpoint)
21/3 Midterm Examination


25/3 Midterm Discussion (Powerpoint)
28/3 Logic Introduction (Powerpoint)

1/4 Truth-Tables Part 1
4/4 Truth-Tables Part 2
Homework 3
Optional Exercises: Random Truth-Tables
Optional Exercises: Random Truth-Tables
Optional Exercises: Random Truth-Tables
Optional Exercises: Truth-Table Exercises
Optional Solutions: Truth-Table Solver

8/4 Argument Analysis (Powerpoint)
11/4 Inductive Arguments (Powerpoint)
Explanation of Homework 3

15/4 Probability Theory (Powerpoint)
18/4 NO CLASS: Easter Holidays

22/4 More on Probability (Powerpoint)
Homework 4 assigned
25/4 Three Numbers (Powerpoint)

29/4 Leftovers (Powerpoint)
2/5 LAST DAY OF CLASS: Review (Powerpoint)