The URL of this page is

Physics 3333 / CFB 3333

The Scientific Method - Critical and Creative Thinking

(Debunking Pseudoscience)

© 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.

Goals/Objectives/Learning Outcomes:

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

Lecturers: Professor Stephen Sekula 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 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:

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
Complete list of subjects available

Problems of Fuzzy Thinking

Relevant Web Sites

Other Resources -- Video, periodicals, etc.


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 Sekula's Home Page