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NS 110: Science and Popular Opinion: Myths of Science

Greetings and welcome to NS 110: Science and Popular Opinion: Myths of Science. In this course we will examine what "everyone knows" about a variety of scientifically related subjects, and compare this information with what is in the scientific literature.

Assigned reading will be listed on the course website; it is required to bring these readings to class. Additional readings will be placed on reserve in the Hampshire Library. Students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the reading. You are responsible for all material and announcements made in class, and extra handouts will be available outside NL's office on the south end of CSC.

Evaluations will be based on class attendance and participation, on-time completion of assigned work, participation in the class debate and class presentations, and completion of a self-evaluation.


Topics for NS 110: Science and Popular Opinion: Myths of Science
Note: This is a general outline, not a syllabus!

See the course web site for the day to day syllabus and assignmnets.

Monday Class Wednesday/Friday Classes
  Introductions and interests
Water Part I: Is drinking 8 8 ounce glasses of water daily REALLY necessary? How myths get started and how hard they are to change.

Water Part II: Is it safe to reuse PET pop bottles for water? How poor data takes on a life of its own. Due: a one page essay on an aspect of water that is of interest to you.

Chocolate, coffee and tea: Dogs and chocolate.

Chocolate, coffee, tea and vanilla: Student presentations. Due: a three page paper related to your presentation.

MSG Introduction to herbal remedies
Library class: Researching the secondary and primary literature.Bring a card with the name of an herb you want to research What's good/What¹s bad in the food/remedy/poison department
Poisons & medicines; toxicology:
Student presentations. Bring a one page handout for the class (with references) on your herbal remedy.
Due: A five page paper on the effects and toxicity of an herbal drug. Use at least thee primary references.

In-class preparation for the debate: : Should marijuana be legal for medical purposes?

The debate.

Playing around in the lab; preparation for Day in the Lab

Cold remedies The placebo effect
Chimps and herbal medicine: Ethnopharmacognosy "Murder, Magic and Medicine" discussion
Hoaxes, hallucinogens and controversies: short takes - banana peels, nutmeg, morning glories, burnt food and cancer, peanut butter, chemical phobias, and more. Discussion of final papers. Come prepared with ideas.
Roundtable on fish: What the nutritionists, ecologists, toxicologists, and environmentalists tell us about eating fish. Fish continued.
Catch-up class. Final papers. What else would you like to ask? In-class preparation for final presentations.
Presentations Presentations
Presentations Last class. Special topic and course appropriate food.
Due today: Final paper, self-evaluations.



Myths of Science; Spring 1999; Examples of final paper topics

Does Chocolate Cause Migraines? The Placebo Effect Ritalinn
Malarial Treatments Dogs As Healers Ginger
Medical Use Of Marijuana Music Therapy Aromatherapy
Effect Of Tallness On Heart Health Food's Effect On Mood Strychnine
An Examination of Natural Cancer Preventatives An Herbal Cancer Treatment Ant Venom
The Exxon Valdez Spill, Ten Years Later Effects Of Smoking On Young People Datura Abuse
Does Feverfew Alleviate Migraines? Lead Poisoning In Children Ma Huang - Is It Safe?
Herbs Used In Modern Wiccan: What Do They Do? Vegetarianism - Is It Safe For Children  

Professor Nancy Lowry,
School of Natural Science, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA 01002