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A Skeptical Studies Curriculum Resource

Understanding Science & Pseudoscience Through Composition

This course was taught at the University of Texas at San Antonio during the fall 2011 semester.

Excerpt from Syllabus

By the end of this semester, students will come away from this course with a greater understanding of scientific thinking, and begin to see the need for skepticism in society. In his essay “Intellect,” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please—you can never have both. Between these, as a pendulum, man oscillates.” Emerson recognizes that the search for truth might reveal uncomfortable facts for the truth-seeker, but we should take Emerson’s words to heart. An intellectual will rarely trade truth for simple peace of mind, and as students of argument, neither should we.

Through the course of the semester, students will use three textbooks to help strengthen and develop their writing in a variety of ways. First, students must recall and strengthen the conventions of previous college level writing, which includes but is not limited to studying and adopting MLA format, following the rules of grammar and mechanics, and by understanding and practicing writing different types of essays.

Finally, by constantly writing and revising their work, students will enhance their acumen for constructing effective arguments and rhetorical strategies and become comfortable with expressing themselves with the written word. By studying the various rhetorical strategies for crafting effective arguments, students will strive to find the perfect balance between truth-seeking and persuasion, which will not only allow them to grow as writers, but to grow as intellectuals as well. Writing is a recursive endeavor and must be treated like any other activity or skill. The more one practices writing the better writer one will become.

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