About this Course
4.3
28 ratings
11 reviews
This course will help you become scientifically literate so that you can make better choices for yourself and the world. Unlike other courses on statistics and scientific methods, we explore global challenges - such as poverty or climate change - and then discuss how key approaches of statistics and scientific methods can help tackle these challenges. We present these approaches in a non-mathematical and easily accessible way. You will leave the course being able to recognize which efforts to do good in this world actually work, and you will have used your science literacy to make some personal changes in your life. Many current attempts to do good in this world are based on good intentions, but don’t work well, or are even harmful. In this course we talk to leading experts from academia, business and non-profit organizations about how we can use science to distinguish bad, good and even better ways of improving this world. We also invite you to change your own behavior to do more good. You will learn how to spot BS (bad science) in the media, how to evaluate whether a social program works or not, and how your career could have a better impact on this world. Finally, you will develop your own plan on how you are going to do good better with science. Guest speakers include Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely, Philosopher Peter Singer, and Happiness researcher Elizabeth Dunn....
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Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Suggested: 5 hours/week

Approx. 16 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Suggested: 5 hours/week

Approx. 16 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Science literacy as a vaccine against the charlatans

We kick off this course by providing some ammunition for what the astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson said: ”Science literacy is a vaccine against the charlatans of the world that would exploit your ignorance.” Here, you will discover that you should be wary of the recommendations that you get from our governments on how to save water, from the media based on new scientific findings, and even from our doctor. At the same time, you will see that a basic understanding of statistics and scientific methods - which you will acquire throughout this course - will protect you against misinformation and bad science, and help you make better choices for yourself and for this world. At the end of this week you will create and upload a short 3-minute video pitch about global challenges and what your own role is in tackling them (if any). Please note that Erasmus University Rotterdam pursues the science of learning. Online learners are important participants in that pursuit. The information we gather from your engagement with our instructional offerings makes it possible for faculty, researchers, and designers to continuously improve their work and, in that process, build learning science. By registering as an online learner, you are also participating in research. ...
Reading
6 videos (Total 66 min), 7 readings, 1 quiz
Video6 videos
Water we doing?!10m
Optional video: What Morillio and his team are doing to improve access to clean water4m
Dear doctor7m
Optional video: Full-length interview with John Ioannidis35m
Implanting a chip in your brain6m
Reading7 readings
Cost-benefit analyses to answer the question: should I floss or not?10m
Make your own cost-benefit analysis10m
Check your cost-benefit analysis5m
Optional documentary about costs and benefits of eating meat10m
Why Most Research Findings Are False10m
Optional reading: Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science10m
Ted Talk "Photos that bear witness to modern day slavery"10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Please take 3 minutes to tell us how things are going14m

2

Section
Clock
5 hours to complete

Stop guessing!

"Whenever you leave behind failure, that means you're doing better. If you think everything you've done has been great, you're probably dumb." – Louis CK. Many social programs - such as efforts to reduce poverty or improve people’s health - are based on good intentions but simply don’t work, or are even harmful. This week you will discover that humans are pretty bad at guessing which programs work, and that the best way to assess whether a program works is by running randomized controlled trials. You will see that conducting multiple rigorous evaluations is how we can leave behind failure and do better in this world. And not be dumb. At the end of this week you’ll be ready to put your new skills to use by critically assessing a BS (bad science) media report. ...
Reading
9 videos (Total 112 min), 10 readings, 5 quizzes
Video9 videos
Video testimonial: hear how your fellow learners are doing2m
Optional: Full-length interview with Dan Ariely34m
Poverty, Bills & Cash1m
Poverty, Bills & Cash Continued7m
Optional video: full-length interview with Paul Niehaus34m
2 minute excerpt from the interview with Dan Ariely2m
Micro Creditis9m
Our interviewees talk about being annoyed6m
Reading10 readings
Week introduction2m
Giving Game1m
Charity overview5m
PlayPumps5m
Doing good1m
Charity Details5m
About the Giving Game1m
Giving well5m
Ted Talk: Why medicine often has dangerous side effects for women10m
Pay it forward10m
Quiz4 practice exercises
Initial Charity Choice1m
Reflect on PlayPumps2m
Final Charity Choice1m
Dan Ariely's panda express experiment8m

3

Section
Clock
8 hours to complete

Putting it all together

...
Reading
15 videos (Total 187 min), 7 readings, 4 quizzes
Video15 videos
Optional video: full length interview Elizabeth Dunn25m
Optional video: full-length interview Peter Singer26m
Measuring your own happiness - question 11m
Measuring your own happiness - question 2 & 31m
Measuring your own happiness - question 42m
Measuring your own happiness - question 5 - 82m
Measuring your own happiness - question 9m
Measuring your own happiness - question 10m
Some final comments on happiness1m
In the best of wealth12m
Optional video: full-length interview Robert Wiblin31m
9 to 513m
Imagine. You are almighty - what would you do?8m
Optional: full-length interview Marcel Fafchamps46m
Reading7 readings
Week Introduction1m
Optional video: Want to find out more about measurement validity?28m
Thought Experiment Conclusion1m
Arctic expedition10m
Doing Good Better7m
Optional: Beth Barnes on how to save the world7m
Optional: Want to find out more about how organizations can calculate cost-effectiveness10m
Quiz3 practice exercises
Graded multiple choice quiz: measurement matters20m
Thought Experiment5m
How rich are you?7m

4

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Yes but wait

...
Reading
5 videos (Total 44 min), 10 readings, 2 quizzes
Video5 videos
Optional: Full-length interview Karen Maas6m
Fishy finance9m
Optional video: Full-length interview Helen Toxopeus13m
Know this tune?5m
Reading10 readings
Week 4 Introduction5m
Existential Risk1m
Optional: Ted Talk Bill Gates10m
Optional: Video of the Ocean Cleanup Project10m
Other existential risks10m
Expert risk assessment10m
Existential Risk Conclusion10m
Comparing potential for impact10m
Podcast: How can we prioritize global challenges?59m
Optional videos: mini tutorials by Dirk Bezemer10m
Quiz2 practice exercises
Existential Risk5m
What's your carbon footprint?7m
4.3

Top Reviews

By AVOct 12th 2016

This is a very interesting and possibly even eye-opening course. I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to use more rationality and solid science in everyday life.

Instructors

Vera Schölmerich

PhD
Erasmus University College, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Erasmus University

Kellie Liket

PhD
Impact Centre Erasmus (ICE) - Erasmus School of Economics

About Erasmus University Rotterdam

Erasmus University: a top-100 ranked international research university based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Our academic teaching and research focuses on four areas: health, wealth, culture and governance. Erasmus University Rotterdam: make it happen. ...

Frequently Asked Questions

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