IF IT QUACKS LIKE A DUCK: UNDERSTANDING SCIENCE VERSUS PSEUDOSCIENCE
Douglas College and Kwantlen Polytechnic University (CANADA)
This presentation examines the need to facilitate critical thinking and teach students at all levels of the educational system how to distinguish science from pseudoscience. Students are constantly inundated with information from various sources such as parents, friends, social media, newspapers, television, advertising, books, and the internet. As consumers of information students need to sort through all this information and determine how much of the information is valid. Numerous polls and research studies have demonstrated that a majority of students, even at the masters and doctoral level, tend to believe in pseudoscientific and paranormal claims. Although many of these beliefs may be relatively harmless such as a belief in ghosts, astrology or alien abductions, in many other cases there is a greater potential for harm such as not seeking proper medical help (using alternative medicine such as homeopathy or therapeutic touch, or a belief that vaccinations cause autism). Understanding how to distinguish science from pseudoscience, myths and misconceptions is important for many different areas. Examples of pseudoscientific beliefs exist not only in the health field but also in other areas such as education (learning styles, facilitated communication, sugar makes children hyperactive), psychology (many self-help books, subliminal tapes, the idea that we only use 10% of our brains, some therapies), law (the use of lie detectors, profiling, belief in Satanic ritual belief, myths about drugs), sports (power bracelets, many supplements, superstitions) and business (failure to understand regression toward the mean and the representativeness heuristic). This presentation will examine the benefits of teaching about pseudoscience and its impact at both a personal and societal level.