Topic: Epistemology

Truth, Lies and Bullshit

Part 1: What is the difference between Truth, a Lie and Bullshit? Students should begin by writing brief definitions of these words –> WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?  TRUTH, LIE, SATIRE/ JOKE, FICTION, MISTAKE, BULLSHIT (or, politely, BS) After 10 minutes, discuss how these concepts overlap and differ from each other.  It is important to get to the point where the Truth, Lies and Bullshit

Animal Minds: puzzling over Puppies and Parrots

parrot perched raising wings

For much of modern science, since the Enlightenment, animals were generally thought to be automatons:  materialist robots programmed to behave in certain ways.  Rene Descartes drew a sharp distinction between thinking beings, humans, and everything else, matter.  20th Century behaviorism continued to think of animals in this way but added humans to the mix.  “Mind” Animal Minds: puzzling over Puppies and Parrots

Beliefs and Evidence

Materials needed: Paper and pen/pencil Description: Begin by having a loose discussion about the difference between “opinion” and “knowledge.” This should bring up claims about reasons, evidence, and proof. After a brief discussion about this difference, have the students write down three things they know. For each statement, have the students write down their best Beliefs and Evidence

What Do You Know?

Materials needed: Piece of paper and writing utensil Description: Note: this session operates as a good follow-up to a lesson plan on beliefs and evidence more generally. Ask the students for some things that they know. Put a few examples on the board. Tell the students the following story. It’s important that, for most of the What Do You Know?

Activity: Keep the Question Going


This game involves students generating questions collaboratively. The exercise runs easily for about ten minutes and can go for a half hour or more with discussion. It is often a good exercise to use early in the year, as it helps students listen to each other and gets them thinking about what makes a question Activity: Keep the Question Going