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Critical Thinking, Science, and Pseudoscience

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Critical Thinking, Science, and Pseudoscience

SKU# 9780826194190

Why We Can't Trust Our Brains

Author: Caleb W. Lack PhD, Jacques Rousseau MA

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This unique text for undergraduate courses teaches students to apply critical thinking skills across all academic disciplines by examining popularpseudoscientific claims through a multidisciplinary lens. Rather than merely focusing on critical thinking, the text incorporates the perspectives ofpsychology, biology, physics, medicine, and other disciplines to reinforce different categories of rational explanation. Accessible and engaging, itdescribes what critical thinking is, why it is important, and how to learn and apply skills that promote it. The text also examines why critical thinkingcan be difficult to engage in and explores the psychological and social reasons why people are drawn to and find credence in extraordinary claims.

From alien abductions and psychic phenomena to strange creatures and unsupported alternative medical treatments, the text uses examples from a wide rangeof pseudoscientific fields and brings evidence from diverse disciplines to critically examine erroneous claims. Particularly timely is the text’sexamination of how, using the narrative of today’s “culture wars,” religion and culture impact science. The authors focus on how the human brain, rife withnatural biases, does not process information in a rational fashion, and the social factors that prevent individuals from gaining an unbiased, criticalperspective on information. Authored by a psychologist and a philosopher who have extensive experience teaching and writing on critical thinking andskeptical inquiry, this work will help students to strengthen their skills in reasoning and debate, become intelligent consumers of research, and makewell-informed choices as citizens.


  • Addresses the foundations of critical thinking and how to apply it through the popular activity of examining pseudoscience
  • Explains why humans are vulnerable to pseudoscientific claims and how critical thinking can overcome fallacies and biases
  • Reinforces critical thinking through multidisciplinary analyses of pseudoscience
  • Enlightens using an engaging, entertaining approach
  • Features teaching resources including an Instructor‚Äôs Guide and PowerPoint slides

Product Details 

  • Publication Date March 08, 2016
  • Page Count 304
  • Product Form Paperback / softback
  • ISBN 13 9780826194190
  • EISBN 9780826194268

About The Author(s) 

Caleb W. Lack, PhD

, is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Central Oklahoma. He is the author or editor of five prior books:

Tornadoes, Children, and Posttraumatic Stress


Anxiety Disorders: An Introduction


Mood Disorders: An Introduction


Psychology Gone Astray

; and

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Etiology, Phenomenology, & Treatment

. In addition, he has authored over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. He received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Oklahoma State University and has won numerous awards for his innovative teaching and research. Outside of the realm of clinical psychology, he also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on critical thinking, science, and pseudoscience. He writes the "Great Plains Skeptic" column on the Skeptic Ink Network and presents frequently on how to think critically about paranormal and supernatural claims. You can learn more by visiting his website at

Jacques A. Rousseau, MA

, is currently a lecturer in the School of Management Studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT). He studied philosophy and English at UCT between 1992 and 1996, before beginning an academic career that has involved teaching multiple courses in critical thinking, business ethics, moral philosophy, and sociology. His primary research areas involve epistemic standards in journalism and public media, addiction, critical thinking, and religious conflict. He sits on various governance bodies at UCT, including its Council, and is the chair of the Academic Freedom Committee. In 2009, he founded (and currently chairs) the Free Society Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting free thought, free speech, secular humanism, and scientific reasoning. You can learn more by visiting his website at

Table of Contents 


Foreword: Brains, Hearts, Guts, and Genitals by Eugenie C. Scott, PhD



1: Why Do We Need Critical Thinking?

2: What Is Science?

3: What Is Pseudoscience?

4: What Is Critical Thinking?

5: Why Can’t We Trust Our Brains?

6: Why Can’t We Trust Our World?

7: Aliens, Abductions, and UFOs

8: Psychic Powers and Talking to the Dead

9: Unknown Animals and Cryptozoology

10: Evaluating Health Claims in Alternative Medicine

11: Alternative Medicine for Physical Health

12: Pseudoscience in Mental Health

13: The Relationship Between Science and Religion

14: Conclusions and Recommendations

Afterword: Science and Humility by Scott Lilienfeld, PhD