The Science of Everyday Thinking

Learn how to think better, argue better, and choose better.

We will explore the psychology of our everyday thinking: why people believe weird things, how we form and change our opinions, why our expectations skew our judgments, and how we can make better decisions. We'll discuss and debate topics such as placebos, the paranormal, medicine, miracles, and more. You will use the scientific method to evaluate claims, make sense of evidence, and understand why we so often make irrational choices. You will begin to rely on slow, effortful, deliberative, analytic, and logical thinking rather than fast, automatic, instinctive, emotional, and stereotypical thinking.

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The Science of Everyday Thinking


This on-campus course is going to be unlike any course you’ve ever taken before, so you need to know a few things. First thing you need to do is enrol in The Science of Everyday Thinking, which is offered online through edX, the not-for-profit Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider founded by Harvard and MIT. We'll let you know where to sign-up during the first week of class. Throughout the semester, you’ll watch the “lecture” videos in your own time, and we’ll spend class time working through the content.

We’ve worked hard to produce the best online experience that we could imagine. We met with 21 leading thinkers from across the globe to film conversations about everything from hindsight to horoscopes. Special guests include Daniel Kahneman—who won the Nobel in economic science—and the MythBusters duo: Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, along with a range of expert thinkers from the world’s top universities.

Students from every country in the world have enrolled in this course, but what distinguishes this Massive Open Online Course from the others is you. You are among the few students at UQ who not only experience the course online, but who are also enrolled in the UQ campus-based course. Our goal is not to replace the campus experience with an online experience. Instead, we want to use the online course to free up our time and resources to offer you the best live, UQ-campus experience possible.


Judgement & Decision Making


In Judgement & Decision Making, you’re going to be thinking about thinking and we’ll explore some of the most interesting problems of our time: expertise, brain training, cognitive illusions, methods for investigating cognitive processes, heuristics and biases, wisdom of the crowd, cognition in applied domains, optimal methods for learning, artificial intelligence, non-human cognitive feats, Eureka! moments, metacognition, and distinguishing between fact and fiction. Because the subject nature of the course includes thinking, insight, learning, expertise, deliberate practice, and so on, we have structured the course and assessment to exploit the very same concepts and practices that you’ll be learning about.

During each week of the course, you’ll start by learning about a new topic on your own. We’ll provide some readings and links to get you started, but you should feel free to explore the topic further, and visit the discuss the topic with your classmates. By the time you show up for class each week, we will assume that you’ve done your homework and prepared sufficiently, so you’re ready to discuss the topic and we can spend the class working on it (i.e., drawing connections with other topics, considering implications, constructing thought experiments, arguments and counterarguments) rather than introducing the topic for the first time and covering old ground. We’ll spend as little class time lecturing at you as possible. Instead, we’ll have fist-pounding debates, meaningful conversations, activities and demonstrations that will fundamentally change the way you think about your own thought processes. At the end of each class, you’ll write (by hand) a short quiz to boost your learning, and to provide immediate feedback about what you thought you knew about the topic and what you were actually capable of articulating. You will write two papers throughout the semester, which will each be based on half of the course content.