Avoiding the science stupidity trap

Bonnie McBain, Andrew Yardy, Frances Martin, Hollie Tose, Liam Phelan, Ian van Altenaa, Jill McKeowen, Claire Pemberton, Lindsey Fratus, Michael Bowyer

Abstract


Why do we only follow people who think like us on social media? Why is this dangerous? What are the risks of having a high IQ in science? Why do ‘flat earthers’ still exist? Why doesn’t scientific evidence always change how people think? Why are fake facts winning in the media? Moreover, why is this relevant to university science students? No one teaches us the foundational elements about how to think like a high quality scientist. Our university science students are often expected to osmotically absorb this knowledge as they spend their time remembering disciplinary facts and theories. An article in New Scientist (2019, No3218) shows that this is not good enough to prevent flawed thinking or ‘stupidity’. This course makes explicit to first year science students 1) what a high quality scientist is and 2) practical strategies on how to become a high quality scientist. It teaches students about the full repertoire of different types of scientific thinking and explains where and where not, to use them. A cohesive student-learning journey across the degree means that students apply the theory of high quality scientific thinking, through active learning in second and third year.

Keywords


scientific thinking, active learning, pseudoscience, scientific literacy

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