The Science of Everyday Thinking
Learn how to think better, argue better, and choose better.
About this Course
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.
The Think101 team has travelled far and wide to film conversations with some very clever people including: Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel in economic science; Elizabeth Loftus who pioneered the study of false memories; and even the MythBusters about testing claims and distinguishing between fact and fiction. We met 21 leading thinkers from across the world and combined hundreds of hours of conversations, demonstrations, and assessment into short episodes on how to evaluate claims, learn and remember information better, and improve everyday thinking.
Ways to take this edX course:
Simply Audit this Course
Can't commit to all of the lectures, assignments, and tests? Audit this course and have complete access to all of the course material, tests, and the online discussion forum. You decide what and how much you want to do.
Try for a Certificate
Looking to test your mettle? Participate in all of the course's activities and abide by the edX Honor Code. If your work is satisfactory, you'll receive a personalized certificate to showcase your achievement.
Jason Tangen is a Senior Lecturer in cognition at The University of Queensland. He was originally trained in philosophy and cognition in Canada and moved to Australia in 2004. His research is broadly based on expertise and evidence. Jason has several projects underway on awareness, forensic reasoning, the perception of banknote features, and the flashed face distortion effect. He is currently leading The Forensic Reasoning Project, with the aim of examining the nature of expertise in forensics with a view to improving training and the value of expert testimony.
Matthew Thompson is a cognitive scientist and Fulbright Scholar. He researches the nature of expertise and decision making in fingerprint identification, towards promoting rightful convictions and preventing wrongful ones. He collaborates with major Australian police agencies and has a research background in medicine, defense, and air traffic control. When the course opens in 2014, he will be a Postdoctoral Fellow at The University of Queensland and Harvard Medical School.
Emma MacKenzie is the producer of Think101: The Science of Everyday Thinking. She graduated with a Bachelor degree in Journalism and Arts majoring in International Relations from the University of Queensland. With a background in multi-platform journalism, she has studied in the United Kingdom and travelled extensively for various reporting projects from Vietnam to Central Queensland. Emma has an interest in the ever-evolving world of storytelling and what it means for the future of both journalism and higher education.