STARTS

Self Paced

Think101x: The Science of Everyday Thinking (edX)

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Learn how to think better, argue better, and choose better. We will explore everyday thinking: why people believe weird things, how we form and change our opinions, why our expectations skew our judgments, and how we can make better decisions. We discuss and debate topics such as medical diagnosis, paranormal phenomena, placebos, miracles, and more.

You will learn how to evaluate claims, make sense of evidence, and understand why we so often make irrational choices. You will begin to rely on slow, effortful, deliberative, analytic, and logical thinking rather than fast, automatic, instinctive, emotional, and stereotypical thinking. The course provides tools for how to think independently, how to be skeptical, and how to value data over personal experience. We will examine the mental shortcuts and rules-of-thumb that people use and misuse, and apply this knowledge to everyday situations to help make better decisions.




What you'll learn:

- The scientific method and its use in everyday life

- Tools for improving your everyday thinking

- Tips and tricks for changing people’s minds

- Techniques for learning and retaining information longer

- How to distinguish fact from fiction


Course Syllabus


EPISODE 1 - A TASTE

A taste of things to come, a few questions, and information about the course.

EPISODE 2 – ILLUSIONS

The way we perceive the world and remember events is, in a very real sense, shaped by the sum of our experiences. As a result, we tend to see what we expect to see.

EPISODE 3 - KNOW THYSELF?

Who knows why we do what we do, what’s important to us, and how we feel, better than ourselves? But it seems that we’re largely oblivious to the determinants of our own behaviour.

EPISODE 4 - INTUITION AND RATIONALITY

In order to improve everyday thinking, we need to understand the difficulties we’re operating under. We need to understand the shortcuts that people use (and must use).

EPISODE 5 - LEARNING TO LEARN

Improving everyday thinking also involves improving the way we learn and retain information. We discuss some evidence-based learning strategies that boost learning and memory.

EPISODE 6 - THE EXPERIMENT

In dealing with the complexity of everyday life, we have the same jobs to do as scientists and statisticians: We have to look through noisy data and misleading accidents to figure out what basically is going on.

EPISODE 7 - FINDING THINGS OUT

Testing claims and finding things out can be fun, but also empowering. We discuss prediction problems, the difficulty in changing our mind, and provide some checklist tools to figure out what information is missing.

EPISODE 8 - EXTRAORDINARY CLAIMS

We discuss the paranormal, coincidences, baloney detection, red flags, fallacies, and advice for distinguishing between fact and fiction.

EPISODE 9 - HEALTH CLAIMS

The placebo effect is yet another example of prior experience shaping our perception. We introduce several reasons for this effect along with beliefs that “natural” is better, and perceived risks of vaccination.

EPISODE 10 - APPLIED THINKING

We apply our thinking to significant topics that affect the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable groups. We discuss the importance of testing potential treatments and measuring the abilities of self-professed experts.

EPISODE 11 - EXPLOIT THE SITUATION

People are much more likely to explain someone’s behaviour in terms of personality rather than thinking about the situation. Learning to appreciate the power of the situation is a valuable tool in critical thinking.

EPISODE 12 - CHANGE THE WORLD

We hear from each of our guests about how to improve everyday thinking. You have the tools to make a real difference. Now let’s see what you can do with them.