It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled. – Mark Twain
What are the differences (if any) between science, pseudo-science, scientific controversy, conspiracy theory, and scientific fraud? What separates lies, deception, and manipulation? How are the practices of social construction of knowledge different than the social construction of ignorance? How are all these issues related to the history of science and the socio-political context in which it (currently) operates?
The seminar is devoted to a philosophical, historical and sociological discussion of famous and not so famous cases of scientific blunders, fraud, bias and hoaxes. Through the discussion of these “exceptional cases” we will discuss scientific methodology, error-correcting social institutions, and experimental and ethical standards.
Examples case studies: Tabboco and cancer, twin studies in genetics, invented diseases etc.
Methodological issues: experimental desigm (blind experiments, randomized controlled trials), statistical tests and their meaning, model selection. Specific attention will be paid to Evidence Based Medicine.
As far as possible we will discuss cases of scientific misconduct uncvered during the semester.
For some background, check out the Odyssey issue I guest edited.
Some treats this semester:
- We will watch some movies related to the topics of the seminar: An Honest Liar ; Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.
- We will have a hands-on session to demonstrate statistical analysis of data and how questionable practices are identified.