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12/08/2020

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Dan Weiskopf

This all looks terrific. In my Intro class I've been doing something similar. The course starts with a thematic trilogy of modules on scientific epistemology, trust, and technology. The first of these is on pseudoscience and citizens' trust in scientific expertise. The primary example of the latter is climate science and climate change denialism, although I also touch on vaccine skepticism. That's followed by a module on echo chambers, lies and bullshit, and conspiracy theories. To round it out there's a final module on political technology, surveillance, and panopticism. In the future I'll definitely adopt some of the readings and assignments suggested here. Thanks much for sharing.

Guy

I really appreciate access to all these materials; they seem super useful, and I'm eager to dig in.

I'm wondering, though, about student reactions to some of the material. For example, suppose a student is a chronic gaslighter. Does that student read the material about, say, testimonial injustice and think "Well, that's just plain wrong; there's no such thing. Yet my professor is forcing me to believe in it"? Or suppose a student has a deep commitment to some conspiracy theory. Do they just remain obstinate during that unit or engage in dissonance reduction? ("Well, sure the flat earth stuff is crazy; but I just know in my heart the QAnon stuff is real and just isn't like these other conspiracy theories.") Is this student really able to complete the assignments for the conspiracy theory section with good grades? I suppose I'm wondering (1) if some of these assignments require a certain level of self-awareness that some students just won't attain or (2) if some of these assignment grades actually require students to forego some of their beliefs in a way that some students just aren't going to do.

The reason I mention it is because if such cases occur, from that student's perspective, the reason I failed them on a short writing assignment is because they refused to agree with their professor about the authenticity of the moon landing or whether their girlfriend really was being too sensitive on one occasion. In other words, the grades will seem to that student based on creed-like professions rather than on proficiency in any learned skill. Would that do more long-term harm for that student's education? I ask for your thoughts out of genuine pedagogical concern; where possible, I like to design assignments where even that student has an "out"--a way to do the assignments well grade-wise without experiencing what they take to be some unacceptable compromise.

Nathan M Nobis

Something very much related here:

"Critical Thinking: What is it to be a Critical Thinker?" by Carolina Flores.

At 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology:

https://1000wordphilosophy.com/2021/09/28/critical-thinking/

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