Science, Pseudoscience, and the Paranormal

Institution: Carleton University (Nideyinàn 180 (formerly University Centre))
Category: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Language: English

Course Description

The paranormal has never been more popular! Indeed, popular culture is full of examples of paranormal-related media, from psychic mediums giving readings to celebrities, to TV shows about hunting for Bigfoot, Ghosts, and UFOs, to films about hauntings, to “dark tourism” companies that offer tours of paranormal locations, and so on. But do paranormal phenomena really exist? And if they did exist, how could we study them? If they don’t exist, then can critically examining claims about paranormal phenomena still teach us something about science, pseudoscience, and how the human mind works?

In this course, we will critically examine claims, concepts and theories related to the paranormal; that is, phenomena which purportedly lie outside of the realm of everyday experience and/or scientific explanation. Using an interdisciplinary approach, Dr. Josh Redstone – a philosophy instructor at Carleton University – will guide you through an investigation of the scientific character of paranormal phenomena, in addition to their relation to philosophical questions surrounding human nature, thought, perception and reality. Such phenomena will include those typically studied by parapsychologists such as Extra-sensory Perception and Psychokinesis. From there, we’ll move on to examine other phenomena that are sometimes categorized as paranormal such as UFOs, Astrology, dreams, etc. Throughout this class you’ll have the opportunity to engage in debate with one another, sharpen your critical thinking skills, and learn about what distinguishes science from pseudoscience.