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NSCI 612 - Myth Busters – Science/Controversy/Evaluation

  • 3 credits

What is science? What isn’t? Modern western science is a product of the Age of Reason in the 18th century, but its origins are traced back to the ancient Greeks. Skepticism and the scientific method are critical to modern scientific practice. Throughout history there has always been an uneasy relationship between science and culture. Science as a human activity is influenced by culture and vice versa. The course weaves science philosophy, methodology, and history with social and cultural contexts. “Culture wars” centered around heliocentrism, evolution, relativity, continental drift, genetically-modified organisms, and climate change are examined.

A major part of the course is devoted to evaluating claims purporting to use “scientific” evidence. Are there common strategies that people use? The placebo effect and confirmation bias are discussed. The goal is to equip you with practical tools for making science-informed decisions, and not simply accept a claim at face value; in other words, being a skeptic. The course concludes with a section on bioethics and social policy, using The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as a resource.

Offered as an online course only.


Enrollment in MNSE programs. Written consent of instructor.; Must be enrolled in one of the following Levels: Graduate (GR) OR Professional (PR)

Important Information

Students should order books in time for them to be received before the start of classes.

Textbooks and Materials

Section 801


  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010)
    Skloot, Rebecca
    ISBN: 978-1400052189
  • A Little History of Science
    Bynum, William
    ISBN: 978-0300136593
    Not available at the CSU Bookstore
  • Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks
    Goldacre, Ben
    ISBN: 978-0865479180
    Not available at the CSU Bookstore
  • Philosophy of Science
    Gorham, Geoffrey
    ISBN: 978-1851686841
    Not available at the CSU Bookstore
  • Lies, Damned Lies, and Science
    Seethaler, Sherry
    ISBN: 978-0132849449
    Not available at the CSU Bookstore

Textbooks and materials can be purchased at the CSU Bookstore unless otherwise indicated.

All course texbooks are available at Amazon.


Donald L. Mykles

9704917616 |

Dr. Donald L. Mykles is a Professor of Biology, Director of the Masters of Natural Sciences Education Program, and former Director of the University Honors Program. He earned his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of California, Berkeley. After postdoctoral research in biochemistry at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, he joined the faculty at Colorado State University in 1985. He teaches courses in cell biology and developmental genetics. Trained as an invertebrate physiologist, his research concerns the endocrine control of growth, limb regeneration, and skeletal muscle atrophy in crustaceans.