Author Archives: Mark Wilson

Dangerous denials (October 21-25)

This is going to be a disturbing week. Our topic covers various “denial” movements and their arguments. Our most prominent subject will be Holocaust Denial and its advocates. To understand it, we must have basic knowledge about the Holocaust and … Continue reading

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Fake news! (October 14-18)

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the term “fake news” now has its own Wikipedia page. At first it meant hoaxed news items, but in the Age of Trump it has taken on the role of a pejorative to throw … Continue reading

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Anti-evolution and Intelligent Design (September 30 – October 4)

The United States has a long tradition of anti-evolution activism, almost all of it based in fundamentalist Christianity. Welcome to my world. I’ve been teaching and studying evolution all my professional life and from Day One I’ve had to deal … Continue reading

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Time management and research guidelines (September 23-27)

This is a building week because I’m gone until Wednesday evening. I will be in Phoenix at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America giving this presentation. Here’s our schedule for the week — MONDAY: Met in our … Continue reading

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Psychics and ESP (September 16-20)

Our topic this week is a popular one: psychic phenomena. Let’s start with a review of the whole psychic thing with a Wikipedia summary. Note that the concept is very broad, from self-proclaimed prophets to spurious spoon-benders. When examining psychic … Continue reading

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Conspiracy theories! (September 9-13)

We will start our week with the last half of the Behind the Curve documentary, finish our discussions of the framework for distinguishing science from pseudoscience, and then launch into conspiracy theories. For a grim reminder of the social, civic … Continue reading

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Science and pseudoscience (September 2-6)

The delightful month of September is upon us. Fall is coming — you’ll feel it in the cool mornings. We’ll start your first class of the month with a brief discussion of your experiences writing (and submitting) Short Paper #1, … Continue reading

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Know your logical fallacies! (August 26-30)

Now we start assembling our tools for critical analysis of fringe ideas. I find a chart of logical fallacies to be useful when sorting out the philosophical underpinnings of arguments: There are plenty of websites that discuss logical fallacies in … Continue reading

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How to think about the weird, strange and wonderful (August 21 & 23)

I call this a course on “nonsense” for a reason: I am a skeptic by personality and my scientific profession. I support explanations of natural and historical events that are the simplest and best fit the available evidence (using the … Continue reading

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