University of Washington instructors push for 'calling BS' class

Published: Jan. 24, 2017 at 4:58 PM

Ben Hooper

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- A pair of University of Washington faculty members are proposing a course dedicated to a specific aspect of critical thinking -- "calling BS."

Dr. Jevin West, who works in the school's data lab, said he and colleague Carl Bergstrom developed a curriculum for a "Calling Bull[expletive]" course that could be ready to accept enrollment during the spring semester if it is approved.

"It's something you can use in any circumstance," West told KOMO-TV. "You tend to find a lot of BS, I don't know if we can call it the other version on camera, so we'll just call it 'bad science.'"

He said the course, which already has a full syllabus published online, would focus on how data can be manipulated.

"The ability to identify BS, sift through the BS, to be able to respond to BS," West said.

He said the course would also deal with the proper way to call out "BS" when students recognize it.

"Being careful not to attack people's character," West said.

He said the syllabus has proven popular online.

"We released it last week, and within a few days, we had over 100,000 users on our site," he said.

West said the course's skills could be applied to students in all fields.

"This kind of skill can be used anywhere and everywhere, and in a world that's so information rich nowadays, we need this skill more than ever," he said.

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