UH Investigations This Weekend

As is the case in Jackson, the weed of skepticism and critical thinking is growing in Houston. And it’s due in large part to the local skeptics group.

Dr. Eugene L. Chiappetta, Professor of Science Education at the University of Houston, attended a recent gathering of the Houston Area Skeptics, and was so impressed by the level of critical thinking in the face of outrageous claims (not to mention the drinking and debauchery) that he decided to get his graduate students involved in a series of investigations into the types of subjects we discuss here on Skepchick on a regular basis.

The assignment was for each student to apply what they know of science to topics that range from medical claims — like those in fad diets, herbal remedies, and homeopathic medicine — to far out claims like ESP, psychokinesis, and even hauntings and crypto-zoology. Moreover, the eight students that make up the graduate level education class, which focuses on science methods in an educational setting, were asked to prepare a 20-minute presentation of what their investigations uncovered.

Sounds exciting, huh?

Well, in addition to that, the presentations have been opened up to the public. Everyone is invited to stop by Kiva Auditorium in Farish Hall, on the main campus of the University of Houston this Saturday, May 2, 2009. The presentations will begin at 9:00am CST and wrap up sometime around noon.

Not only is it a big step to have good, investigative presentations open to the anyone who wants to attend, but it is encouraging that graduate students who will one day be teachers themselves are applying good critical thinking skills to outrageous claims that may fall outside of what they normally encounter in a straight science classroom, but that can affect the general public nonetheless.

Several members of the Houston Area Skeptics (including me) will be in attendance, with plans to have a delicious lunch and much socializing following the presentations. If you live in the Houston area, come join us for what will no doubt be a fun Saturday.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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