Science or Not?
In this case, students read a news article about a study of the effects of intercessory prayer on cardiac patients published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. After reading the case and discussing the questions in small groups, students evaluate the study for its scientific validity and defend their reasoning. The case was developed to teach non-science majors in an introductory biology course about the scientific method. It could be adapted for courses in the allied health and rehabilitation fields, and perhaps for courses in sociology, psychology, and religious studies.
- Describe why science is distinct from other ways of knowing.
- Explain that science is defined by its method and describe the essential parts of the scientific method (hypothesis testing, collecting and analyzing evidence, and making conclusions).
- Identify the independent, dependent, and controlled variables in a study.
- Identify the control group and the experimental group in a study.
- List the assumptions made by researchers in a study.
- Use skeptical thinking to analyze a news story about a study.
- Identify missing information that would be essential or helpful in making an objective assessment.
- Analyze reports of studies in the news media as "pseudoscience," "junk science," or "anti-science."
KeywordsPrayer; scientific method; experimental design; pseudoscience
Topical AreasScientific argumentation, Scientific method, Science and the media
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division
Type / MethodsDiscussion, Journal Article
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Psychology | Sociology |
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