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Unit of study_

OLET1654: Pseudoscientific Thinking

2023 unit information

Peudoscientific thinking is a pervasive problem. This unit will provide students with an understanding of both what distinguishes good from bad science, and the psychology of how people come to form beliefs that appear scientifically sound but are not supported by evidence, and why those beliefs can be resistant to change. The unit uses examples from many areas of life, but with a particular emphasis on beliefs about human health, with a view to explaining how common and potentially harmful misconceptions have become so prevalent, such as the efficacy of homeopathy for cancer treatment. Psychological principles will be applied to specific examples of common pseudoscientific beliefs. Students will be encouraged to reflect on how learning biases may impact their own beliefs and assumptions, and understand the commonalities and differences in their own beliefs and beliefs across cultures. The knowledge gained will provide students with critical thinking skills that are applicable to evaluating evidence in any field of study or presented in the media and thus will be beneficial to their future studies and lives more generally. Students will do research into a particular pseudoscientific health practice or false belief and propose research about how to change people's practices and beliefs.

Unit details and rules

Managing faculty or University school:

Psychology Academic Operations

Code OLET1654
Academic unit Psychology Academic Operations
Credit points 2
Assumed knowledge:

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. explain psychological principles behind belief formation and belief change
  • LO2. compare texts exemplifying pseudoscientific reasoning and scientific reasoning and explain the commonalities and differences
  • LO3. critically evaluate pseudoscientific argumentation
  • LO4. evaluate the quality and logic of scientific research on health and psychology

Unit availability

This section lists the session, attendance modes and locations the unit is available in. There is a unit outline for each of the unit availabilities, which gives you information about the unit including assessment details and a schedule of weekly activities.

The outline is published 2 weeks before the first day of teaching. You can look at previous outlines for a guide to the details of a unit.

There are no availabilities for this year.
Session MoA ?  Location Outline ? 
Intensive April 2020
Online Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Outline unavailable
Intensive April 2021
Online Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Intensive April 2022
Online Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Intensive April 2023
Online Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Modes of attendance (MoA)

This refers to the Mode of attendance (MoA) for the unit as it appears when you’re selecting your units in Sydney Student. Find more information about modes of attendance on our website.