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Jim Baggott4

Thinking Like a Scientist

Jim Baggott

When sensationalism is prioritised over truth, how can we distinguish fact from speculation? Jim Baggott examines the rise of pseudoscience, and talks through the flawed methods to blame.

Instructor
  • Jim Baggott

    Jim Baggott is a science writer, writing on science, philosophy and science history.

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About the Course

 

Most of us believe we have a generally good conception of how the world works. Even if we don't have the information to hand right now, we know that we could do some quick research to find out the facts, from particle physics to the lifespan of a chicken. But what if most of us actually know a lot less than we think, and even the scientists we trust are not entirely sure about what's going on?

Are facts discovered or constructed? How do we know whether something is 'scientific'? Are ideas like supersymmetry, string theory and multiverse theories likely features of reality, useful constructions, or purely unverifiable speculation? Why is there so much false information out there, and how can we know who to trust? 

Jim Baggott, the award-winning science writer and author of Farewell to Reality: How Fairytale Physics Betrays the Search for Scientific Truth reveals the extent of the lack of justified certainty, both within the general population and the scientific community.

By the end of the course, you will have learned:

  • Why facts mean nothing without theory
  • How to conduct a gap analysis
  • Why we cannot do without metaphysics
  • Why Max Planck said that science progresses one death at a time
  • How to create a capacity for doubt

 

As part of the course there are in-video quiz questions to consolidate your learning, and discussion boards to have your say.

IAI Academy courses are designed to be challenging but accessible to the interested student. No specialist knowledge is required.

About the Instructor

  • Jim Baggott

    Jim Baggott is a science writer, writing on science, philosophy and science history. He is a regular contributor to New Scientist and Nature. Baggott is the author of nine books, including Farewell to Reality: How Modern Physics Has Betrayed the Search for Scientific Truth, Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the God Particle and The Quantum Story: A History in 40 Moments. 

    Jim Baggott is a science writer, writing on science, philosophy and science history.

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: The Demarcation Problem
    Who decides what constitutes real science? Baggott looks at the flaws of the scientific instititutions, and explains how the public have been left in the dark.
  • Part Two: Science in a Post-truth Age
    Climate change denial, anti-vaxxers, homeopathy - Baggott analyses the persuasive power of pseudoscience, and teaches us how to resist it.