Module 1: Introduction to Science

Dr. Claire Scavuzzo


This course teaches learners how to think critically about science—and how to tell the difference between sound scientific studies and pseudoscience


How can you tell if media stories contain misinformation versus well-researched evidence? How can you tell the difference between science and pseudo-science? How can you make sense of tough scientific information?


The answer, thinking critically about evidence or scientific literacy.

"The purpose of this course is to teach people about the process of science and how it is used to acquire knowledge," said course host Claire Scavuzzo, a researcher in the Department of Psychology. "By the end of the course, learners will be able to understand and use scientific evidence to challenge claims based on misinformation, and engage the process of science to ask questions to build their knowledge


Learning Objectives

  • Describe early history of scientific thinking

  • Understand that bias and uncertainty foster metaphysical explanations that cannot be tested by science.

  • Evaluate scientific theories and generate hypotheses to help eliminate bias

  • Explain how common sense and intuition can produce bias

  • Differentiate science from common sense and intuition

  • Recognize that science is a systematic approach to evidence

Learning Objectives

  • Contrast the approaches of evaluating evidence to build a theory from a scientist and a pseudoscientist

  • Differentiate between science, pseudoscience, bad science, and fraudulent science

  • Identify hallmarks of pseudoscientific and scientific approach to evidenceI

  • Determine if evidence can be used to support a scientific or pseudoscientific claim

  • Evaluate the evidence supporting scientific and pseudoscientific claims

In this module, you are going to learn how to differentiate and discriminate science from pseudoscience. We'll look at some common examples of pseudoscience in everyday life, and practice separating them from science, bad science and plain ol' fraudulent science. Finally we'll find out just what it is that makes pseudoscientific language so appealing, how to combat it by staying skeptical and examine the harm that pseudoscience can do, if left unchallenged.

Module 3: Critical Thinking

Dr. Claire Scavuzzo

Learning Objectives

  • Carry out critical thinking in response to skepticism

  • Use a critical thinking framework as an approach to skepticism

  • Judge and create a logical explanation based on available evidence

  • Generate falsifiable hypothesis and identify a hypothesis as unfalsifiable

  • Distinguish if evidence is as extraordinary as the claim

  • Monitor for and judge the replicability in evidence

  • Explain and Illustrate why correlation is not causation

  • Generate and consider rival hypotheses

In this module, you'll learn a fundamental skill in science literacy- critical thinking! We'll introduce you to the basics of critical thinking before giving you the tools to try and apply some critical thinking to actual case studies. We'll also introduce the concept of correlation and demonstrate the difference between correlation and causation. We'll also examine the importance of replicability and the value (and burden) of extraordinary evidence. Finally, we'll visit the work of Karl Popper and discover why falsifiability lies at the heart of science literacy, and while complex conspiracy theories may appeal to the X Files fans in us, in science, the simplest explanation is often the most likely to be correct. So come on, it's time to get critical!

Module 4: Scientific Methods

Dr. Claire Scavuzzo


Learning Objectives

  • Describe, understand, and identify the advantages and disadvantages of survey research design.

  • Describe, understand, and identify the advantages and disadvantages of experimental research design.

  • Describe, understand, and identify the advantages and disadvantages of correlational research design.

  • Describe, understand, and identify the advantages and disadvantages of case study research design.

  • Describe, understand, and identify the advantages and disadvantages of naturalistic research design.

  • Judge the generalizability of a sample to the population of interest

  • Judge the reliability and validity of measures

  • Define and measure variables

  • Generate a null and alternative hypothesis, and evaluate outcomes to accept or reject hypotheses

In this module, we'll be taking a deep dive, into the particular methods that scientists use to form knowledge and understanding of the world around us. We'll be dissecting the different parts of a scientific paper, learn that there is a way to read even the densest scientific papers and give you an opportunity to test these new skills out. You'll also learn how to construct a scientific experiment, from forming your hypothesis, to choosing your variables and most appropriate method of research design, from natural to survey. After this module, you'll not only be able to rad and understand scientific reports, but you'll be able to design and carry out your own!

Module 5: Interpreting Evidence

Dr. Claire Scavuzzo


Who knows you better than your peers? Well, if you're one! In this module we'll be looking at all aspects of the peer review system, through which scientific knowledge is published- its pros, and its imperfections. We'll look at how statistics can be used to substantiate scientific theories, but also how they can be used to bolster spurious correlations and dodgy data! We'll also look at how the media communicates and miscommunicates science, and how even scientists themselves can fall into the traps of sharpening, leveling and pseudosymmetry. Finally, we'll explore open data and open access as an option for the improvement of science communication and improving access for the general public to scientific research, so they don't have to rely on social media!

How would the Secular Humanists of Calgary Science Literacy Course Group work?

- Application for the group course will close on March 20th. We will post the date selected on our website and our Facebook group and email all of those who applied to let them know of the most popular date that was selected. 

- We will then schedule a group chat to discuss how we will move forward.

A suggestion would be we would meet Bi-weekly or Monthly.

Welcome to Science Literacy! In a world where we have access to unlimited information, it is hard to sift through the echo chamber of opinions fueled by emotions and personal biases, rather than scientific evidence. Science Literacy will teach you about the process of science, how to think critically, how to differentiate science from pseudoscience, and how to critically evaluate scientific communication in the media. In this first module, we'll hear from indigenous elders about the traditional process of knowledge collection, and how it can be used to inspire, consolidate, and validate scientific hypotheses. We'll introduce the process and purpose of scientific thought and give you some tips and tricks for identifying biases in arguments, as well as how to distinguish common sense and intuition from genuine scientific theories. You'll also meet your presenters Claire and Rachel in the first video, so let's get started, and get scientifically literate!

Module 2: Pseudoscience

Dr. Claire Scavuzzo


Learning Objectives

  • Evaluate reporting of scientific findings in the media for potential misinformation

  • Identify media tactics that bias the public understanding by misrepresenting the interpretations of scientific findings

  • Identify flaws in research design, evidence collection, or data analysis that confound interpretations

  • Differentiate practical vs statistical significance

  • Describe the utility of statistics for scientists and peer review

  • Differentiate peer reviewed primary literature from mainstream media

Screen Shot 2021-03-05 at 10.07.13