Pseudoscience lab
Secondary School Science Teaching Methods
Adam Johnston & Sharon Ohlhorst

With a partner, inquire/research/investigate/evaluate one of the following topics.  (Or, if you have a better suggestion, you can propose something different.) These topics are listed with links to some websites on the course's assignment web page, so that you have a place to begin your pursuits. Of course, a quick search on the internet will lead you to even more.

bullet Free energy
bullet UFO studies
bullet Bigfoot (a.k.a. Sasquatch)
bullet Magnet therapy
bullet Astrology & Numerology
bullet Q-ray bracelets
bullet Penta water
bullet Bio-energy
bullet Palmistry
bullet Alternative Medicines

Each of these makes its own claim about an intellectual pursuit, a way of understanding something, or a product (or some combination of these).  It is up to you to determine the following:

  1. What are the claims of the group(s) promoting your topic?  Try to thoroughly understand exactly what it is that the group is saying/doing/promoting.
  2. How does this group promote its claim?  What kinds of strategies does it use?  (For example, does it use terminology that sounds impressive?  Does it cite research?  Does it use testimonials?  Etc.)
  3. Is this a pseudoscience; or, is it something else?  Why do you think so?  What evidence to you have?

You have up to two hours to research your topic.  At the end of this time, you will turn in the answers to the questions above; AND you will give a brief presentation to the class outlining your findings.

Other resources you might find handy (maybe more for future reference):

bullet Bob Park's 7 Warning Signs of Voodoo Science
bullet A definition and description of "pseudoscience"
bullet The Skeptic Society
bullet The Skeptical Inquirer

Have fun!