Introducing The Scientific Method – A New Idea
Posted May 19, 2009on:
I’ve been listening to Carl Sagan’s A Demon Haunted World on tape in the car and I’m awash with new ideas.
Next year, as part of the introduction to the scientific method, I need to draw a line on the board. On the left, I will write “Gullible,” on the right, “Skeptical.” If someone is totally gullible, they would believe that a cat matures into a dog. It seems silly, but the idea is that a totally gullible person takes any statement as fact without question. For a totally skeptical person, they would doubt you on absolutely everything you say and do. The total skeptic is so annoying that nobody wants to converse with him. Both extremes are no good, our job is to find a happy spot somewhere to the right.
Next, let’s talk about ESP. Is it real? Do you know anyone with ESP? If we were gullible, how would we answer to the claims of a person with ESP? What if we were skeptical? Let’s accept the claim that ESP might exist. How can we test it?
At this point, I want to break the students into groups. Their job is to come up with an experiment to test some form of ESP. They will need to write up their proposed experiment and then perform it the next day in class. They will then write up their results and submit their report to peer review by their classmates.
Wouldn’t it be cool if they could decide good experiments from bad through the process of peer review. I can’t wait to try this in September.