Sense & Sensibility & Science@UChicago: Scientific Thinking in a Democracy is about learning how to better incorporate into our thinking and decision making the problem-solving techniques of science at its best. Many insights and conceptual tools from scientific thinking are of great utility for solving problems in your own day-to-day life and in a democracy. Yet, as individuals, as groups, as whole societies we fail to take full advantage of these methods. The focus in this course is on the errors humans tend to make, and the approaches scientific methodology has developed (and continues to develop) to minimize those errors. The course includes a discussion of the nature of science, what makes science such an effective way of knowing, how both non-scientific thinking and scientific thinking can go awry, and how we can reason more clearly and successfully as individuals, as members of groups, and as citizens of a democracy.
This course will be offered at UChicago in spring 2024. It is being customized by UChicago faculty and TAs, building on a decade of experience with developing the course at Berkeley and, more recently, at Harvard.
The course is included on this CSDS priority page because of its focus on scientific reasoning and statistics. Future versions that explicitly incorporate (spatial) data science are under development.
Partners: Saul Perlmutter & team at UC Berkeley, Aditya Ranganathan and Eamon Duede at Harvard, at UChicago: Reid Hastie (Booth), Jordan Kemp (Physics), Noa Perlmutter (Cognitive Science) and Doug Williams (Data Science and Public Policy).