There’s a new university class ‘calling bulls**t’ on fake news


Two professors at the University of Washington have a new course for students wanting to navigate our world of fake news.

It’s called Calling Bullsh*t In the Age of Big Data, and it will be taught at the college’s Seattle campus.

The course website states:

Politicians are unconstrained by facts. Science is conducted by press release. Higher education rewards bullsh*t over analytic thought.

The aim of this course is to help students navigate the bullshit-rich modern environment by identifying bullsh*t, seeing through it, and combating it with effective analysis and argument.

The professors shared the syllabus online, and Carl Bergstrom, a biologist who helped create the course, told Stat News that they had 20,000 visitors the next morning.

The course’s two professors will dissect scientific case studies to show students how data can be manipulated to mislead people.

And their response to other institutions wanting to create their own course inspired by this one? The course’s other professor, Jevin West, said:

No copyright. No trademark. Use it. Take it. Run with it.

We need a citizenry that’s more informed and has the ability to call bullshit. That’s good for everyone.

While it only has room for 160 students, the professors hope to share some video clips online, so watch this space.

West explained the decision to put bullsh*t in the course name in an interview with K5. He said:

If we called the course critical reasons and statistical inference the students would just scan right through that on the course catalogue. But in the English language that term actually means something, there’s not a lot of synonyms for the oomph the word gives you. 

It’s actually fun to call BS. We think students will engage with that. 

Watch the professors talk about the course here.

More: 'Fake news' was around before Donald Trump was even born

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