Impact of Teaching on Acceptance of Pseudo-Scientific Claims



Year of publication 2019
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Can teaching have any impact on students' willingness to embrace pseudo-scientific claims? And if so, will this impact be significant. This paper aims to present an ongoing research conducted in two countries and four universities which aims to answer these questions. The research is based on a previous work McLaughlin & McGill (2017). They conducted a study among university students which seems to show that teaching critical thinking can have a statistically significant impact on the acceptance of pseudo-scientific claims by students. They compared a group of students that attended a course on critical thinking and pseudo-scientific theories with a control group of students who attended a course on a general philosophy of science using the same questionnaire containing the pseudo-scientific claims. The questionnaire was administered at the onset of the semester (along with a Pew Research Center Science Knowledge Quiz), and then at the end of the semester. While there was no significant change in a degree of belief in pseudo-scientific claims in the control group, the experimental group showed a statistically significant decrease in belief in pseudo-scientific claims. In the first phase of our research, we conducted a study similar to that of McLaughlin & McGill, though we were not able to replicate their results. There was no significant change in belief in pseudo-scientific claims among the study's participants. This, in our opinion, is due to the imperfections and flaws in both our and McLaughlin & McGills studies. In this paper, we would like to present our research along with the results obtained during its first phase. We will also discuss the shortcomings and limitations of our research and the research it is based on. Finally, we would like to present and discuss future plans for the next phase of our research into the teaching of critical thinking and its transgression of critical thinking in cases focusing on humanities and science. McLaughlin, A.C. & McGill, A.E. (2017): Explicitly Teaching Critical Thinking Skills in a History Course. Science & Education 26(1–2), 93–105. Adam, A. & Manson, T. (2014): Using a Pseudoscience Activity to Teach Critical Thinking. Teaching of Psychology 41(2), 130–134. Tobacyk, J. (2004): A revised paranormal belief scale. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies 23, 94–98.
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