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A Skeptical Studies Curriculum Resource

Studies in Behavior: Critical Thinking

This course was taught at the University of Findlay during the fall 2011 semester.

Excerpt from Syllabus

This course examines the key issues associated with the scientific study of critical thinking. Although it’s common to see courses on critical thinking in many domains (e.g. education & philosophy) the scientific examination of what critical thinking is and how it relates to problem solving is exclusively an advanced topic in cognitive science. Cognitive science is concerned with the study of the “thinking mind” and when we talk about “critical thinking” we base our examination on the hypothesis that while it’s true that everyone “thinks” it’s not true that everyone “thinks well.” At the core of this class is the idea that we can all fall prey to bad thinking strategies. In this course, students will learn how to be critical thinkers when dealing with a variety of situations, as well as learn how to tell the difference between science and pseudoscience. Students will focus primarily on how to think about weird situations, but if they can master the skills needed to effectively evaluate strange phenomena (e.g. UFOs) students can easily apply these skills to less bizarre situations (e.g. Will eating “Cheerios” really help lower cholesterol?). By the conclusion of this course students should be able to find answers for themselves (because everyone knows “The Truth Is Out There”) and with good critical thinking skills they will be more likely to find it.

Learning Goals

Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate scientific reading, and writing skills.
  2. Apply the science of critical thinking to unique situations.
  3. Discuss specific critical thinking & problem solving topics in depth.
  4. Understand the biological bases of behavior and mental processes.
  5. Use theories to explain and predict behavior and mental processes.

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