The URL of this page is http://www.physics.smu.edu/scalise/P3333sp12/
Physics 3333 / CFB 3333
The Scientific Method - Critical and Creative Thinking
© Professor Stephen Sekula, 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)
"What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which
is the exact opposite."
--attributed to Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
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.
Your writing will improve. You will be able to distinguish credible
sources of information from nonsense; you will become an intelligent
consumer of information.
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
Stephen Sekula and Professor John Cotton
- Sekula: Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 3:00-4:00pm in The Varsity (Hughes-Trigg, Lower Level)
- Cotton: Wednesday and Friday after lecture and 2:00-3:00pm in room
7 Fondren Science (lower floor)
- Call or leave a message at
- Sekula: (214)768-7832
- Cotton: (214)768-4096
- Leave a note in the Physics Department Office - 102 Fondren Science, or
- send email to email@example.com
Check to see if we received your papers, book
reviews, or homework -- it is YOUR responsibility to check!
- Weekly reading, reading quizzes, discussion,
homework, in-class writing assignments
- Two 3-page book reviews from the
Auxiliary Reading list (feel free to
suggest other titles subject to instructor approval)
- One 7-page (minimum) research paper
- One 15-page (minimum) research paper
One paper is due at midsemester; this paper can be rewritten for
a higher grade. The other paper is due at the end of the semester.
- Physics 3333 and Honors CFB 3333 students will present orally the last
week of class
- Written final examination
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 CD. Accepted digital formats: ASCII (plain) text, PDF, 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:
Fighting ignorance since 2003 - pace Cecil Adams (he's not a real person, anyway)
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