The URL of this page is

Physics 3333 / CFB 3333

The Scientific Method - Critical and Creative Thinking

(Debunking Pseudoscience)

© Professor John L. Cotton and Professor Randall J. Scalise

"Be very, very careful what you put into that head, because you will never, ever get it out."
--Thomas Cardinal Wolsey (c.1475-1530)

"Science is bound, by the everlasting vow of honour, to face fearlessly every problem which can be fairly presented to it."
--Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)

PHYS 3333 satisfies a Physics elective requirement.
CFB 3333 satisfies a General Education Curriculum Cultural Formations requirement. Students can appeal for honors or diversity credit at the General Education Office after making arrangements with the lecturers.


This course will provide you with an understanding of the scientific method sufficient to detect pseudoscience in its many guises: paranormal phenomena; free-energy devices; alternative medicine; intelligent-design creationism; and many others. You will learn to think critically and to question outlandish claims, hype, and outright BS. Expect to do a lot of reading, writing, and, most of all, thinking.

Lecture Times and Place: MWF 11:00-11:50am in room 153 Fondren Science

Lecturers: Professor Randall J. Scalise and Professor John Cotton

Office Hours: Contact: Course Work: Check to see if we received your papers, book reviews, or homework -- it is YOUR responsibility to check!

The book reviews and research papers must be turned in electronically. We will not accept paper copies. Mail your assignment to or turn in a PC floppy disk or a CD. Ascii text, RTF, or MS Word format (.doc not .docx): double-spaced, 12-point type, Times New Roman (nonbold) font, 1-inch margins. We can not read WordPerfect or Macintosh files.

Required Course Texts:
Syllabus -- Includes lecture notes and assignments

Homework Assignments

Suggested Auxiliary Reading

Grading, Extra Credit, Incompletes

Attendance Policy, Classroom Environment

Grade Summary - All the individual student grades arranged
by four-digit code number

A Note on PLAGIARISM -- Very important!

Notes on Writing Research Papers

Suggested Research Paper Topics

Excellent Past Student Research Papers (password protected)                    

Criteria for a Successful Experiment

The Baloney Detection Collection
Problems of Fuzzy Thinking

Relevant Web Sites

Other Resources -- Video, periodicals, etc.

Videos -- nights in room 26 Fondren Science

Previous Incarnations of this Course -- with lecture notes

Seminars and Presentations

Students with disabilities, medically excused absences, absences in general

Anonymous Feedback

Things you should already know, but...

University Holidays

Official University Calendar


Fighting ignorance since 2003 - pace Cecil Adams (he's not a real person, anyway)

<-- Back to Professor Scalise's Home Page