Every day we are confronted with paranormal and supernatural beliefs - loosely defined as things that exist or occur outside the natural world - and surveys show that most people in the United States and throughout the world are supernatural/paranormal believers. Such phenomena as UFOs, ghosts, astrology, and ESP (extrasensory perception) clearly defy conventional wisdom and understanding, yet belief in them is a widespread component of human culture, often exerting a profound effect on people’s lives. Why are such unusual beliefs part of the human experience for so many? Why do some people find such phenomena to be compelling, while others reject them outright? How do we decide which claims are credible? What distinguishes rational from irrational claims? This course practices critical thinking and reasoning through an examination of widely held beliefs about the paranormal, the supernatural, and the mysterious. By examining what distinguishes knowledge from opinion, science from pseudoscience, and evidence from anecdote, this course develops the skills needed to tell the true from the false and the reasonable from the unreasonable.
NEW - Hybrid Course Format
- All classes will be delivered both in person and online via live video streaming. Students will enroll in their preferred format during registration.
- In person classes will be held in the Rubel Room at the University of Arizona's Poetry Center (1508 E Helen St, Tucson, AZ 85721). Enrollment for in person classes is limited by classroom capacity and offered on a first come, first served basis. All students attending on campus will observe the relevant University of Arizona policies designed to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 (more information here). Students who enroll to attend in person will also have complete online access to the course including all class recordings.
- Online students may attend all classes via live video streaming and will be able to participate in all course Q&A sessions with the professor in real time. Students may also access class recordings for a limited time to assist those who may not be able to attend the live class times. Online access will be password protected and only available to enrolled students.
Registration will open online on Monday, August 9, 2021 at 8 AM (AZ Time)
- Bader, Christopher. Paranormal America (2nd Edition): Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture (NYU Press, 2017). ISBN: 978-1479815289