LSTD 2700 - Paranormal Research: Science or Pseudo-Science?*
Why is it cool?
“The greater part of the fearful night had worn away, and she who had been dead once again stirred…” (Ligeia, Edgar Allen Poe)
Everyone has heard a ghost story or two, but is there really life after death? According to a 2012 poll, 64% of Americans say that there is. For centuries, scientists, psychologists, philosophers and laypersons have all attempted to answer this question by investigating various phenomena related to the paranormal. This class takes a page from their book and teaches students how to place experiences with the unknown in the context of paranormal research.
This class is cool because it equips students with the knowledge necessary to debate about the paranormal in a logical way. Students begin by learning about the sociological and historical events that instigated the first scientific investigations into the existence of ghosts, telepathy, life after death and other associated paranormal phenomena. They also learn about prominent scientists and philosophers who took up the investigation at great risk to their professional reputations.
Then, using the rhetoric of science as an investigative framework, students critically evaluate the evidence for and against the existence of life after death. They analyze parapsychology’s legitimacy as a scientific pursuit and learn about the role of argumentation, rhetoric and evidence in the development of scientific theory. When it’s all over, students are able to situate their beliefs about the paranormal in the context of the history, sociology and rhetoric of science.
This class gives students the opportunity to examine evidence gathered in paranormal research and ask themselves if they believe in life after death. They’ll emerge with a more complete knowledge of the world around them – explainable or not – and a greater understanding of their own beliefs about the paranormal.
*The Fall 2014 section of this class is currently full. Keep an eye out for the next time it’s offered on our schedule!