AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 19 Focus on Undergraduate Astronomy
Poster, Monday, January 5, 2004, 9:20am-6:30pm, Grand Hall

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[19.02] Bashing Pseudoscience in Academia

S. Hameed (Smith College/Umass-Amherst), G.M. Robinson, J. Moulton (Smith College)

Belief in paranormal, supernatural and other new-age claims is increasing according to surveys by the NSF and others. Astronomy-related pseudo-scientific beliefs are especially common. For example, more than thirty percent of Americans consider astrology to be scientific and more than one-third believe that extraterrestrial beings have visited earth at some time in the past. Not only do such beliefs ignore sound reasoning and information but they compete as alternative explanations for the world around us. While a general education might be expected to reduce acceptance of unsound beliefs, the level of such belief is surprisingly high among those with a higher education. An astronomer, a philosopher and a psychologist cooperated in developing a brief college course designed to challenge unsound reasoning and information, and to inoculate the participants with skepticism. Pre- and post-course opinion surveys show significant changes in belief.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.science.smith.edu/departments/PSYCH/intertermcourse.htm. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: shameed@earth.ast.smith.edu

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.