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Homeopathy & Critical Thinking

This is one of the assignments from Eric Remy’s course, “But is it Crazy Enough?” Students must review the materials (downloadable below) provided that describe the wonders of homeopathic medicine. Their job is to analyze the materials critically and find the (myriad) flaws.

FYS 141-3 Homeopathy assignment

During class, the instructor will present a paper, a poster and a talk on the wonders of homeopathic medicine.  Students should take these as examples of what they will need to do for their final project.  Students will then be allowed to ask as many pointed questions as possible about the assumptions, evidence, and reasoning of the paper/talk.

The paper will be available on Moodle. The job of the student is to read the paper and then develop a 1250 word (roughly) criticism of the paper.  Students won’t be able to counter all of the arguments: so they may want to coordinate with other class members to pick specific sections to work on in more depth.  (All work must be their own, however.)   They should look at the paper with a highly critical eye, since they’ll be creating something similar as well as doing this for other student papers. The following are questions students should address in their paper.

  • Is the hypothesis sound?
  • Does the reasoning make sense?
  • Do the experiments account for possible complicating factors?
  • Do the experimental results actually support the hypothesis?
  • Are negative experimental results also being reported?
  • Is the displayed evidence actually significant, either in a statistics or impact sense?
  • Does the hypothesis/evidence contradict what you already know about reality?
  • Are the conclusions inflated beyond the evidentiary support?
  • Do the references say what the paper claims?
  • Is the referenced data the same in my paper and the references?
  • Do the papers include other claims?
  • Do the references even exist?

The paper heavily references original source documents. Students should work with the library to get copies of these and read them carefully. 

Since the instructor will be promoting theory, students should ask other members of the faculty questions if they do not understand the material in the original documents.  They should be able to answer basic questions about the material and give students ideas of alternate explanations if they choose to disagree with the author (i.e. instructor).

Statistics questions: XXX
Chemistry questions: XXX
Physics/quantum mechanics questions: XXX
Philosophy questions: XXXX
Biology questions: XXX

Paper Found Here:
(395 kb PDF)

Poster Found Here:
(3.3 MB Powerpoint Presentation)

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