Lecture 1: The Keys to Critical Thinking

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Uri Geller. The Geller Effect. Two students attempt to bend a key with their minds. The problem of unplanned observation. Eyewitness testimony. GIGO. “As described is not the same as “as it happened.”

Student descriptions of the key bending event. Impossibility of describing everything. Observation has to be selective. Problem of relevance. Informal observation is retrospective, unsystematic, and contaminated by the limitations and quirks of human memory and cognition. Scientific observation is prospective, planned, systematic, calibrated and productive of trustworthy data.

A companion course guide can be downloaded here: http://jref.swmirror.com/20730


Smart people can act stupidly by failing to apply their intelligence wisely. This course draws lessons from scientist smart people who went astray. This course provides a framework to help you avoid their mistakes.

Ray Hyman is a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Oregon. Hyman’s published research has been in such areas as pattern recognition, perception, problem solving, creativity, and related areas of cognition. He has written and published extensively on the psychology of deception and critiques of paranormal and other fringe claims.

The James Randi Educational Foundation was founded in 1996 to help people defend themselves from paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. Through scholarships, workshops, and innovative resources for educators, the JREF works to inspire this investigative spirit in a new generation of critical thinkers. Learn more at http://www.randi.org.