NSCI 612 - Myth Busters – Science/Controversy/Evaluation

  • 3 credits

What is science? What isn’t? Modern western science is a product of the Age of Reason in the 18th century, but its origins are traced back to the ancient Greeks. Skepticism and the scientific method are critical to modern scientific practice. Throughout history there has always been an uneasy relationship between science and culture. Science as a human activity is influenced by culture and vice versa. The course weaves science philosophy, methodology, and history with social and cultural contexts. “Culture wars” centered around heliocentrism, evolution, relativity, continental drift, genetically-modified organisms, and climate change are examined.

A major part of the course is devoted to evaluating claims purporting to use “scientific” evidence. Are there common strategies that people use? The placebo effect and confirmation bias are discussed. The goal is to equip you with practical tools for making science-informed decisions, and not simply accept a claim at face value; in other words, being a skeptic. The course concludes with a section on bioethics and social policy, using The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as a resource.

Offered as an online course only.

This course can be applied towards:

Prerequisite

Enrollment in MNSE programs. Written consent of instructor.

Textbook and Materials

Required

  • A Little History of Science
    Bynum, William
    ISBN: 9780300136593
    Not available at the CSU Bookstore
  • Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks
    Goldacre, Ben
    ISBN: 9780865479180
    Not available at the CSU Bookstore
  • Lies, Damned Lies, and Science
    Seethaler, Sherry
    ISBN: 9780132849449
    Not available at the CSU Bookstore
  • Philosophy of Science
    Gorham, Geoffrey
    ISBN: 9781851686841
    Not available at the CSU Bookstore
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
    Skloot, Rebecca
    ISBN: 9781400052172
    Not available at the CSU Bookstore

All course texbooks are available at Amazon.

Instructors

Donald L. Mykles

(970) 491-7616 | Donald.Mykles@colostate.edu

Dr. Donald L. Mykles is a Professor of Biology, Director of the Masters of Natural Sciences Education Program, and Director of the University Honors Program. He earned his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of California, Berkeley. After postdoctoral research in biochemistry at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, he joined the faculty at Colorado State University in 1985. He teaches courses in cell biology and developmental genetics. Trained as an invertebrate physiologist, his research concerns the endocrine control of growth, limb regeneration, and skeletal muscle atrophy in crustaceans.

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