Objectives and Readings for Part 8


In this module, we have 4 objectives:

  1. We apply our critical thinking techniques to some fun topics: paranormal phenomena, or, as SV say, "weird things."

    "Weird things" includes astrology, ghosts, fairies, ESP, psychokinesis, UFO abductions, channeling, dowsing, near-death experiences, prophetic dreams, demon possession, time travel, parapsychology, creationism, crop circles, false memory syndrome, therapeutic touch, and the Roswell "incident."

  2. We also explore some fascinating topics in the psychology of self-deception.

  3. We analyze why science provides a model of rational belief-formation.

  4. Finally, we explore the question: is it ever reasonable to deliberately adopt unreasonable beliefs?

When you finish this module, you should be able to explain what counts as a good reason to believe a claim. You should also be able to explain why NONE of the following constitutes sufficient reason to believe a claim (let's call the claim p):

  1. "I just know p but I can't say why."

  2. "I had an extraordinary personal experience that proves to me that p is true."

  3. "No one has ever disproved p, so it's reasonable to believe it."

  4. "Any claim is true if I sincerely believe it, and I sincerely believe p."

  5. "A lot of people believe p, so there must be something to it."

  6. "I saw a TV program that said p was true, and you can't say something on TV that isn't true."

  7. "I read a book that said p was true, and everything you read in books is true."

  8. "Anything is possible, so p might be true." (This "weasel reason" is often combined with the other "reasons" here.)



READINGS for Part 8


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