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Psychology 242
Research in Psychology
Dr. David J. McKirnan

Week 1.  Overview:
Science, knowledge & society

Lecture notes

We will discuss the basic assumptions of the scientific method, and how science differs from other forms of "knowledge".  The PowerPoint notes I use in the first few lectures are here.
Print them and bring them to class to annotate during the lecture.  See the home page for the best way to print the lecture notes.

Attend lectures!

The correlation between lecture attendance and other grades = .74 (huge).
During each lecture I will announce specific topics that will show up on the exam. 


Suggested background reading: "Introduction" or "What is Science" in whatever text you are using, typically chapter 1.
You have three focus modules for this week that go into more detail than the lectures (use these like reading a text). Each should take 20 minutes or so:
Critical Thinking and Science, Part 1
Critical Thinking and Science, Part 2
Beliefs, Facts and the Irrational
Age of Denial image

For lecture& Discussion Group:

Why are Americans so unwilling to accept evolution?

You will see from the Gallup articles that most Americans do not accept the science of evolution, and over half endorse beliefs such as ESP, aliens, haunted houses and the like.

Among Western countries, only the citizens of Turkey were less willing to accept a scientific perspective on evolution than were Americans (Science, 2005).

The writers presented data suggesting that America's penchant for political partisanship, poor science education, and conservative religion underlie anti-science attitudes.

Do you agree with that? We will discuss it in class and Discussion Group.

Click the image for the Science article.

Attitudes toward evolution

Discussion group Assignment

Read / Watch the articles & media for this week and write two short discussions, taking no more than one typed page.

  1. It is based on inductive rather than deductive evidence;
  2. Science should function for the public good;
  3. It should have its own specified institutions;
  4. Science requires external funding.

Write a sentence or two about what you think each of these mean, and why you think they may be important to science or society at large. Use what you learned from the Ted talk, as well as your own experience & thoughts.

B. Drawing from the readings and self-guided modules for this week and our discussion in class, write a paragraph or two:

  1. Why are people so prey to irrational or paranormal beliefs;
    • what do they do for us?
    • Why are they so powerful?
    • How do you see irrational or non-empirical beliefs affecting your world (for better or for worse...)?
  2. Why do you think Americans in particular are so resistant to scientific perspectives on evolution?

Note: you will have an assignment each discussion group. These are due in group during the week they are assigned; late assignments do not get credit.

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