Science and Pseudoscience: Critical Perspectives on Psychological Theory and Practice
PSY 4510 & PHIL 4800
Spring, 2005, 1:50-2:45 MWF, JUB 204

Instructor:  Dr. William Langston & Dr. Mary Magada-Ward
Office:  JH 348 (Langston)
Phone:  898-5489 (Langston)
Office Hours:  12-1 T, 3-4 W, drop in anytime, calling first is a good idea, email is always better for simple things. (Langston)
[Texts] [Description] [Responsibilities] [Grading] [Policies] [Calendar]
Required Texts:
Longino, H. E.  (1990).  Science as Social Knowledge.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Dawes, R. M.  (1994).  House of Cards:  Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth.  New York:  The Free Press.
Moore, C. F.  (2003).  Silent Scourge:  Children, Pollution, and Why Scientists Disagree.  New York:  Oxford University Press.
Hacking, I.  (1995).  Rewriting the Soul:  Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory.  Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press.
Loftus, E., & Ketcham, K.  (1994).  The Myth of Repressed Memory:  False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse.  New York: St. Martin's Press.
We will also be posting several articles on electronic reserve throughout the semester.
Reading assignments will be announced in class.
Course Description:
As both descriptive and prescriptive, the discipline of psychology renders questions about the relationship between scientific theorizing and social practice particularly acute.  For example, is it appropriate to evaluate psychotherapy primarily in terms of its agreement with generally accepted standards of scientific methodology?  Or, is psychology better conceived as an art rather than a science?  How and/or to what extent should the findings of contemporary psychological research be applied to medical, legal, and political debates?   In turn, how and/or to what extent do the values and assumptions of the larger social context inform our theorizing?
In this course, we propose a joint inquiry into how these and related questions have been addressed in current psychological research and treatment.  In particular, we propose to explore critical accounts of the nature and methodology of psychotherapy, the cultural context of the multiple personality,  recovered memory, and self-mutilation phenomena, and the contemporary debate over environmental toxins.  Our exploration is guided throughout by a vision of science as a creative and collaborative endeavor whose success requires sustained and critical dialogue.
Course Responsibilities:
1.  Completion of reading assignments.  You are receiving three credits for this class and, on the standard calculation, that means that you are expected to spend nine hours per week on outside preparation (in this case, reading and rereading your assignments carefully).  It is your responsibility as a student in this class to come prepared to ask questions about, and discuss, the material.  Toward that end, we will periodically give you a reading day in place of class lecture and discussion.
2.  Ten two-page response papers, each worth ten points.  (Please consult handout.)
3.  Two essays on assigned topics, each comprising one third of your total grade.  Each paper must be typed, double-spaced, and a minimum of seven full pages.  You do have the opportunity to rewrite each of your essays.  If you choose to exercise this option, you must turn in your first draft with your rewrite.  Topics and due dates will be announced in class.

Assignments: Description: Points:
Response papers
10 @ 10 ea.
Essays 2 @ 100 ea. 200

Your grade will be based on the number of points earned.  Totals:

>270 = A, >261 = B+, >249 = B, >240 = B-, >231 = C+, >219 = C, >210 = C-, >201 = D+, >189 = D, >180 = D-, >0 = F

General Policies:
1.  Attendance:  Attendance is mandatory.  We will pass around a sign-up sheet every day.  You are allowed three unexcused absences.  For every unexcused absence thereafter, we will deduct five points from your total score.
2.  Grading guarantee (our late policy):  Papers will be returned within two weeks of the submission date.  Bonus points will be awarded at the rate of five points per incomplete paper per day until they are graded.  Bonus points will be divided equally amongst all assignments turned in at the same time, for anyone with perfect attendance.
3.  Course notes may be available on the web at
4.  Drop deadlines:  The last day to drop without a grade is January 31.  The last day to drop is March 15 (you will receive some sort of grade).  If you stay in the class after March 15, you will not be able to drop unless you experience a major tragedy or emergency.  The instructors are not the people who make that determination.  Incompletes will only be given if you have successfully completed the majority of the coursework and were prevented from finishing by a major tragedy or emergency.
5.  Any student engaging in any form of academic misconduct will lose credit for the relevant assignment and will be subjected to the appropriate university judicial proceedings.
6.  If you experience problems in the course, see us.  You’re welcome in our offices anytime.
7.  Reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities:  If you require assistance or accommodation (e.g., testing, note-taking, etc.) due to a disability, or you have questions related to such accommodations, speak to either instructor as soon as possible.  Also, the office of Disabled Student Services (898-2783) can provide information about such accommodations.
Schedule of events:
Week of:  Topic: Notes: Read: 
1/17 H O L I D A Y Monday, 1/17

Course introduction 



2 Dawes


Turn in a draft of the first report by now at the latest 3 Moore
S P R I N G  B R E A K




4 Hacking


Turn in a draft of the second report by now (unless you want to use Loftus & Ketcham)
5 Loftus & Ketcham

Everything must be in by 2:30 PM, Wednesday, 5/4

Please note:  Some due dates and topics may shift to later dates.  In no event will due dates be moved to an earlier date.

Science and Pseudoscience Syllabus
Will Langston
Mary Magada-Ward
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