Can Scientific Thinking Save the World?

May 2, 2024

A physicist, a philosopher and a psychologist walk into a classroom.

Although it sounds like a premise for a joke, this was actually the origin of a unique collaboration between Nobel Prize–winning physicist Saul Perlmutter, philosopher John Campbell and the psychologist Rob MacCoun. Spurred by what they saw as a perilously rising tide of irrationality, misinformation and sociopolitical polarization, they teamed up in 2011 to create a multidisciplinary course at the University of California, Berkeley, with the modest goal of teaching undergraduate students how to think—more specifically, how to think like a scientist. That is, they wished to show students how to use scientific tools and techniques for solving problems, making decisions and distinguishing reality from fantasy. The course proved popular, drawing enough interest to run for more than a decade (and counting) while sparking multiple spin-offs at other universities and institutions.

Scientific American