North Texas Daily

That’s a class: Science, Skeptism, & Weird Behavior

That’s a class: Science, Skeptism, & Weird Behavior

February 17
00:48 2012

By Leigh Daniels/Intern

Ronald Reagan was the first president elected in a year ending in zero not to be assassinated or die of natural causes while serving in office.

This is one of the stranger facts students can learn in behavior analysis professor Bryan Lovelace’s class, Science, Skepticism, & Weird Behavior.

Photo by Tyler Cleveland / Visuals Editor - Behavioral analysis Professor Bryan Lovelace speaks about personal experience during his class, Science, Skepticism and Weird Behavior, in the chemistry building Thursday. “I used to believe really weird things,” said Lovelace, adding that personal experience cannot always be trusted for its bias.

Lovelace created the class in the hope of teaching students how to think critically about human behavior and weird experiences.

“The class is geared toward people who are sitting on the fence about whether or not paranormal things are supernatural or natural,” he said.

Lovelace has taught the class every semester since he received his master’s in 2004.

Throughout the semester students examine the causes of various strange phenomena, including alleged paranormal events, magic, superstition, mystery illness, bogus therapies and pseudoscience.

The class is structured to explore various parts of weird things, including theories, evidence, explanations and cases, Lovelace said.

Lovelace said he teaches his students through the use of readings, lectures, videos, music and discussion.

Some students take the class for a better understanding of their major while others, such as creative writing senior Raynelyn Vaskova, take it for fun.

Vaskova said she decided to take the class to enhance her writing, but also because it appealed to her.

“The class has proven to hit every keynote that I’ve wanted so far,” she said.

Pre-psychology junior Heather Hollinsworth said she is taking the class because she thought it would help her “understand other courses better,” and so that she can “teach patients how to also critically think about things they find to be paranormal, weird or different.”

Both Hollinsworth and Vaskova said they think the course will strengthen their thinking processes in other classes, as well as in real life.

Lovelace has many goals for the class, including a better understanding of weird things, how to think critically and the knowledge and beliefs behind things commonly known as unexplainable, he said.

He said humans are programmed to have weird experiences, and that his ultimate goal is for students “to be able to resist the urge to pass judgment on these experiences without evidence.”

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