By B.L. Ochman @whatsnext
Taking a course that includes the word “bullshit” in its title is many a student’s dream. Now University of Washington professors Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West are making it a reality. Their 10-week seminar, temptingly named “Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data” begins in March.
The synopsis of “Calling Bullshit” is listed succinctly as “Our world is saturated with bullshit. Learn to detect and defuse it.” You can access the syllabus, readings and recordings of lectures online.
The professors say “We will be astonished if these skills do not turn out to be among the most useful and most broadly applicable of those that you acquire during the course of your college education.” Each of the “Calling Bullshit” lectures, says the syllabus, “will explore one specific facet of bullshit.”
In the age of “fake news” and “alternative facts” this course promises you will be able to “provide your crystals-and-homeopathy aunt or casually racist uncle with an accessible and persuasive explanation of why a claim is bullshit.”
The “Calling Bullshit” course covers “The art, science, and moral imperative of calling bullshit.” Among the course lectures are:
– Introduction to bullshit
– Spotting bullshit
– The natural ecology of bullshit
– Predatory publishing and scientific misconduct
– The ethics of calling bullshit.
– Fake news
– Refuting bullshit