This experience is optimized for Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

Please upgrade your browser

Send the Gift of Lifelong Learning!

Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills

Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills

Professor Steven Novella, M.D.
Yale School of Medicine

Gifting Information

FAQ
FAQ

To send your gift, please complete the form below. An email will be sent immediately to notify the recipient of your gift and provide them with instructions to redeem it.

  • 500 characters remaining.

Frequently Asked Questions

With an eGift, you can instantly send a Great Course to a friend or loved one via email. It's simple:
1. Find the course you would like to eGift.
2. Under "Choose a Format", click on Video Download or Audio Download.
3. Click 'Send e-Gift'
4. Fill out the details on the next page. You will need to the email address of your friend or family member.
5. Proceed with the checkout process as usual.
Q: Why do I need to specify the email of the recipient?
A: We will send that person an email to notify them of your gift. If they are already a customer, they will be able to add the gift to their My Digital Library and mobile apps. If they are not yet a customer, we will help them set up a new account so they can enjoy their course in their My Digital Library or via our free mobile apps.
Q: How will my friend or family member know they have a gift?
A: They will receive an email from The Great Courses notifying them of your eGift. The email will direct them to TheGreatCourses.com. If they are already a customer, they will be able to add the gift to their My Digital Library and mobile apps. If they are not yet a customer, we will help them set up a new account so they can enjoy their course in their My Digital Library or via our free mobile apps.
Q: What if my friend or family member does not receive the email?
A: If the email notification is missing, first check your Spam folder. Depending on your email provider, it may have mistakenly been flagged as spam. If it is not found, please email customer service at (customerservice@thegreatcourses.com) or call 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: How will I know they have received my eGift?
A: When the recipient clicks on their email and redeems their eGift, you will automatically receive an email notification.
Q: What if I do not receive the notification that the eGift has been redeemed?
A: If the email notification is missing, first check your Spam folder. Depending on your email provider, it may have mistakenly been flagged as spam. If it is not found, please email customer service at (customerservice@thegreatcourses.com) or call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: I don't want to send downloads. How do I gift DVDs or CDs?
A: eGifting only covers digital products. To purchase a DVD or CD version of a course and mail it to a friend, please call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance. Physical gifting can still be achieved online – can we describe that here and not point folks to call?
Q: Oops! The recipient already owns the course I gifted. What now?
A: Great minds think alike! We can exchange the eGifted course for another course of equal value. Please call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: Can I update or change my email address?
A: Yes, you can. Go to My Account to change your email address.
Q: Can I select a date in the future to send my eGift?
A: Sorry, this feature is not available yet. We are working on adding it in the future.
Q: What if the email associated with eGift is not for my regular Great Course account?
A: Please please email customer service at (customerservice@thegreatcourses.com) or call our customer service team at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance. They have the ability to update the email address so you can put in your correct account.
Q: When purchasing a gift for someone, why do I have to create an account?
A: This is done for two reasons. One is so you can track the purchase of the order in your ‘order history’ section as well as being able to let our customer service team track your purchase and the person who received it if the need arises.
Q: Can I return or Exchange a gift after I purchase it?
A: Because the gift is sent immediately, it cannot be returned or exchanged by the person giving the gift. The recipient can exchange the gift for another course of equal or lesser value, or pay the difference on a more expensive item
Video title

Priority Code

Cancel

Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills

Course No. 9344
Professor Steven Novella, M.D.
Yale School of Medicine
Share This Course
Course No. 9344
Sale
  • Audio or Video?
  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for names, works, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. The video version features nearly 300 visuals to enhance your learning, including approximately 250 photographs to illustrate various phenomena, key people, and historical events and places mentioned in the course. The course also contains about 20 illustrations to support thought experiments and discussions of the brain, plus on-screen prompts for logical faults.
Streaming Included Free

Course Overview

What should you think? Who should you believe? Could you be deceiving yourself? These are questions that all critical thinkers of any age must constantly ask themselves. There is no more important skill in today's world than being able to think about, understand, and act on information in a way that is both effective and responsible. Critical thinking transforms you from a passive member of society into an active participant in the ideas and issues of the day. It empowers you to better understand nearly every single aspect of everyday life, from health and nutrition to science and technology to philosophical and spiritual belief systems.

What's more: At no point in human history have we had access to so much information, with such relative ease, as we do in the 21st century. Information is literally everywhere around you; in newspapers and magazines, on the radio and television, and across the Internet. But as the amount of information out there increases, so too does the amount of misinformation. So it's more important than ever before to become a better critical thinker—someone who can analyze and construct arguments and arrive at more sound, more informed opinions. And the key to success lies in

  • understanding the neuroscience behind how our thinking works—and goes wrong;
  • mastering the fundamental skills behind logic, reasoning, and argumentation;
  • avoiding common pitfalls and errors in thinking, such as logical fallacies and biases; and
  • knowing how to distinguish good science from pseudoscience.

All this and more you can find in the 24 rewarding lectures of Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills. Dr. Steven Novella of the Yale School of Medicine—an academic neurologist, award-winning instructor, and public educator—equips you with the knowledge and techniques you need to become a savvier, sharper critical thinker in your professional and personal life. By immersing yourself in the science of cognitive biases and critical thinking, and by learning how to think about thinking (a practice known as metacognition), you'll gain concrete lessons for doing so more critically, more intelligently, and more successfully than ever before.

Explore the Inner Workings of Critical Thinking

Our brains, according to Dr. Novella, are our greatest strength as critical thinkers. But they can also be the source of many weaknesses and impairments in critical thought. In Your Deceptive Mind, you'll take a closer look at the neuroscientific details of critical thinking and how the (often unfamiliar) ways in which our brains are hardwired can distract and prevent us from getting to the truth of a particular matter:

  • The neuroscience of critical thinking: Approach the act of thinking not as some abstract concept but as an action rooted deep within your brain. In clear, easy-to-understand language, Dr. Novella takes you deep inside this powerful organ to examine how you form beliefs, perceive your surroundings, and remember events.
  • Biases and problems in critical thinking: The key to success as a critical thinker lies in understanding the range of biases and problems that can stand in the way of reason and truth. You'll encounter—and learn how to deftly sidestep—fallacies such as retrofitting of evidence, collective wish fulfillment, reliance on "factoids,"and ad hominem arguments.
  • Science and pseudoscience: Knowing how to separate science (the foundation of critical thought) from pseudoscience is of the utmost importance to any well-rounded critical thinker. Here, you'll investigate common examples of pseudoscience that surround us every day—from the denial of established evidence to the belief in grand conspiracies.

Along the way, you'll sample a range of illuminating case studies, experiments, and observations from nutrition, science, technology, mass culture, and even politics; all of which vividly illustrate the core components of (and threats to) responsible critical thinking. These include

  • how purported sightings of UFOs, ghosts, and Bigfoot are, in reality, plagued by a host of cognitive flaws that also reveal secrets about how we all make sense of unexplainable events;
  • how functional MRI scans have demonstrated that different parts of our brain work together to construct an aggregate consciousness and sense of reality;
  • how a 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds so easily incited mass hysteria in listeners and actually convinced them that an alien invasion was at hand; and
  • how reactions to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy illustrate the inherent tendency in human beings to fall into the cognitive trap of grand conspiracies.

Unpack the Critical Thinker's Toolbox

Throughout Your Deceptive Mind, Professor Novella provides you with a critical thinker's toolbox that you can use to better assess the quality of information or to make a more informed decision.

  • The smaller the scientific study, the greater you should be concerned about the potential for statistical noise. Larger scientific studies are often needed for the random effects to average out so that a more reliable answer can be arrived at.
  • While it's important to remember that emotions have an influence on an individual's thought processes, it's dangerous to completely deny them when analyzing information or trying to make an informed decision.
  • Learn to be comfortable with the uncertainty of the world. The truth is that there is no single guarantee of legitimacy when it comes to scientific information, only solid indicators of legitimacy.
  • Be particularly on guard when dealing with controversial subjects frequently covered in the media. The more controversial a topic, the greater the chances are that information about that topic is skewed in one direction or another.

These invaluable tips, techniques, and strategies are only a few of what you'll find in these lectures.

And that's not all. Your Deceptive Mind's greatest strength lies in Professor Novella's delivery and engagement with the material. In addition to being a master teacher, he is an expert on critical thinking and its intersection with science. President and cofounder of the New England Skeptical Society and the host of its award-winning show, The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, Professor Novella has dedicated himself to increasing the public's ability to use critical thinking skills to better navigate the mass of information (and misinformation) in today's highly mediated world.

And the world is only going to get more and more saturated with information. So take the initiative and become better prepared to make sense of it all with this intriguing and rewarding course. While these lectures can't read the news or make decisions for you, they'll undoubtedly give you the concrete knowledge for doing so more intelligently.

Hide Full Description
24 lectures
 |  31 minutes each
Year Released: 2012
  • 1
    The Necessity of Thinking about Thinking
    Start by learning how to think about thinking itself (an act known as metacognition). Dr. Novella reveals how to distinguish good science from bad science; the individual steps involved in the critical thinking process; and how we can use critical thinking to break down topics such as the existence of UFOs. x
  • 2
    The Neuroscience of Belief
    Our brains are hardwired to believe in something. What is the neuroscience that drives this desire? What are the reasons behind the specific things you believe in? How can you use this understanding to mitigate the effects of your need to believe on your critical thinking skills? Find out the answers here. x
  • 3
    Errors of Perception
    A solid understanding of metacognition relies on an understanding of the nature of perception. First, examine the nature of how our brains acquire and process information. Then, investigate the ways we can be deceived by what we think we perceive in phenomena such as attentional blindness, change blindness, and optical illusions. x
  • 4
    Flaws and Fabrications of Memory
    Memory is tricky, to say the least. Here, unpack the vital role that memories—even inaccurate memories—play in critical thinking. Some of the many topics you’ll explore: how memory recall works; the roots of source amnesia; the inverse relationship between confidence and accuracy in a memory; and how memories can even be manufactured. x
  • 5
    Pattern Recognition—Seeing What’s Not There
    Pattern recognition is both a cognitive strength and a weakness; sometimes our brains can perceive patterns that aren’t there. By seeing hyperactive pattern recognition at work in everything from data mining to superstitious thinking, you’ll be better equipped to sort out what’s real from what only appears to be real. x
  • 6
    Our Constructed Reality
    Explore how different parts of your brain work together—and sometimes in conflict with one another—to construct your aggregate consciousness and the illusion of a single reality. In the process, you’ll examine a range of interesting topics, including out-of-body experiences, phantom limbs, and altered states of consciousness such as dreaming. x
  • 7
    The Structure and Purpose of Argument
    Focus on one of the most important reasoning tools you can use to override the flaws in neurological function: argumentation. What makes for a true argument? How is an effective argument built? What’s the difference between inductive and deductive logic? What common logical fallacies are we most susceptible to—and how can you avoid them? x
  • 8
    Logic and Logical Fallacies
    Delve further into logical fallacies, including the ad hominem argument (attacking the person instead of the argument) and the genetic fallacy (assuming the historical use of something is relevant to its current use). Dr. Novella provides vivid examples to hammer home each fallacy’s specific description and damaging implications. x
  • 9
    Heuristics and Cognitive Biases
    The worst biases are the ones you’re not aware of. Avoid this pitfall of critical thinking by mastering the common biases in our thinking. After focusing on heuristics (mental short-cuts that can lead to erroneous conclusions), explore other powerful cognitive biases, including confirmation bias, familiarity bias, and optimism bias. x
  • 10
    Poor at Probability—Our Innate Innumeracy
    Unfortunately, our brains are horrible when it comes to probability—and that can often lead to a number of probability-based cognitive biases. See the effects of this flaw, known as innumeracy, in everything from numerology (the supposedly mystical meaning behind numbers) to hot-and-cold streaks in competitive games. x
  • 11
    Toward Better Estimates of What’s Probable
    Continue your exploration of innumeracy by turning to the nature and perception of false positives, insignificant risks, and other manifestations in statistics and probability. Then, engage with some fun and revealing probability puzzles to discover just how lacking our intuition is when it comes to numbers. x
  • 12
    Culture and Mass Delusions
    The culture and people around you can also have a profound impact on your critical thinking. Using powerful examples such as the response to Orson Welles’s 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds and the Salem witch trials of the late 1600s, Dr. Novella explains the hidden power and pervasiveness of mass delusion and hysteria. x
  • 13
    Philosophy and Presuppositions of Science
    Turn now to an in-depth examination of science, which serves as the foundation for critical thinking and can compensate for the tendency of human thinking to go awry. Specifically, you’ll focus on and make sense of the philosophical interpretations of science (including Occam’s razor), as well as probe some of the limits of scientific reasoning. x
  • 14
    Science and the Supernatural
    What are we to make of “supernatural” issues such as the existence of ghosts and the possibility of miracles? Approach these and other topics from a critical thinker’s perspective. Along the way, examine the deeper issue at work here: what is—and what should be—the relationship between science and the belief in things we can’t see. x
  • 15
    Varieties and Quality of Scientific Evidence
    Scientific studies are often used to provide evidence and support to a range of ideas and arguments. What questions should you ask when you are presented with an experimental or observational study? What specific biases should you be on the lookout for? What’s the best way to compare studies with one another? Find out here. x
  • 16
    Great Scientific Blunders
    Learn how important skepticism is as a first response to scientific claims by surveying blunders that resulted from a lack of critical thinking. Among them: the claimed existence of “n-rays,” cold fusion, Lord Kelvin’s calculations for the age of the Earth, and a psychologist drawn into reports by patients convinced they were abducted by aliens. x
  • 17
    Science versus Pseudoscience
    Many claims label themselves as scientific—but are they really? Break down the concept of pseudoscience by exploring some of its most prominent features (or warning signs), including its tendency to work backward from desired results, its shifting of the burden of proof onto others, and its bold claims that go beyond evidence. x
  • 18
    The Many Kinds of Pseudoscience
    Deconstruct several specific examples of pseudoscience to see how its various features work. You’ll investigate the pseudoscience behind iridology (the idea that our irises reflect our health), photographs that claim to capture ghosts, psychic abilities such as precognition, spontaneous human combustion, and more. x
  • 19
    The Trap of Grand Conspiracy Thinking
    Theories about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The existence and power of the Illuminati. The Roswell incident. Grand conspiracies such as these are cognitive traps that result from our attempts to make sense of our complex world. Examine both the compelling nature of conspiracy thinking and ways to determine which theories are true and which are just pseudoscience. x
  • 20
    Denialism—Rejecting Science and History
    Dr. Novella introduces you to denialism, a subset of pseudoscience that seeks to deny established science. By exploring the features and tactics of denialism, as well as extreme examples of it at work, you’ll shed light on how critical thinking helps you sidestep the more subtle forms of denialism we’re all susceptible to. x
  • 21
    Marketing, Scams, and Urban Legends
    Ever since its creation, the Internet has revolutionized our access to facts and become a veritable “Wild West of Information.” Gain tips for using critical thinking to filter the wealth of information out there in chain emails, popular scams, and other everyday outlets that exploit human psychology. x
  • 22
    Science, Media, and Democracy
    How does one find sound, reliable information in today’s world? Topics you’ll explore include the strengths and weaknesses of science reporting in the media; traps reporters fall into when covering science topics; the intersection between science and ethics, politics, and social issues; and the important role of science literacy. x
  • 23
    Experts and Scientific Consensus
    How reliable is scientific consensus on hot-button issues such as climate change? What is the definition of an expert, and when should you defer to an expert’s knowledge on important questions? Is there any characteristic that guarantees an expert’s legitimacy? Probe these and other tricky questions related to the nature of scientific consensus. x
  • 24
    Critical Thinking and Science in Your Life
    In the course’s final lecture, Dr. Novella leaves you with some final thoughts on thinking more critically in your everyday life. These include accepting humility in the face of your own knowledge; understanding—but not denying—your emotions and their influence on thinking; and accepting the need to be comfortable with uncertainty. x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Video Download Includes:
  • Ability to download 24 video lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
Audio Download Includes:
  • Ability to download 24 audio lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 240-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
CD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 12 CDs
  • 240-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 240-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos & illustrations
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

Enjoy This Course On-the-Go with Our Mobile Apps!*

  • App store App store iPhone + iPad
  • Google Play Google Play Android Devices
  • Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Tablet + Firephone
*Courses can be streamed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract.

Your professor

Steven Novella

About Your Professor

Steven Novella, M.D.
Yale School of Medicine
Dr. Steven Novella is Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Yale School of Medicine. He earned his M.D. from Georgetown University and completed his residency training in neurology at Yale University. Dr. Novella is active in both clinical research and in medical education at every level, including patients, the public, medical students, and health professionals. An expert in neuroscience, Dr. Novella focuses his practice...
Learn More About This Professor
Also By This Professor

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by 69 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by Fair, even-handed and valuable I recommend this course. I am impressed by Dr. Novella's ability to be rational and fair, even when discussing unscientifc, even "crazy" ideas. This includes such topics as conspiracy theories, aiien invasion theories, mass hysteria, etc. He gives a generous hearing to all sides, the rational, the non-rational and the irrational, and tells you how to distinuguish them. Much of what Dr. Novella teaches in in the realm of cognitive and social psychology, including various cogntive biases and distortions. He explains that there are human tendencies to think emotionally rather than logically, tendencies to seek order, patterns (even when none exist) predictability, be influenced by peer pressure, and so on. This is why we prefer "black and white" thinking rather than "the gray." Novella gives excellent examples of these common thinking biases as well as why they are likely to occur. I am suprised that he is a physician, since such topics are usually the purview of psychologists rather than medical doctors. Nevertheless, this is excellent material. Many times there is emphasis on content rather than critical thinking, This is true in politics, consumer behavior and health behavior. By listening to this course you will be better able to evaluate your decisions. While some of the lecture topics sound a bit dry, the discussion is more lively and thought provoking. This is a course of value to all listeners. March 12, 2012
Rated 4 out of 5 by Useful without being exceptional Dr. Steven Novella's Your Deceptive Mind was a useful refresher on logical fallacies and cognitive biases paired with insights from the world of neuro-psychology. It was really not a course proper on critical thinking, but was rather a helpful re-introduction into the mindset of scientific skepticism. A relabelling of the subtitle could be helpful. I would recommend it highly to reacquaint oneself with the barriers to critical thinking, although the strong leanings of the presenter toward scientific skepticism are apparent throughout. This can be a problem when he touches on philosophical problems and metaphysical claims, although he is rather respectful of those who disagree with his position. This course was worth the price of admission. January 23, 2016
Rated 4 out of 5 by A little confusing I did learn a good bit about argument and logic from Mr Novella. But ironically he himself does not listen to sound reason. His staunch support of evolution reveals that he does not concede that evolution is only a theory. I ask him - how can something come from nothing? He ridicules the lack of evidence for bigfoot but conveniently does not mention the gaps in the fossil record. His word salad dances around the fact that man has an eternal soul (will, emotions, a mind) but does not acknowledge his creator. "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God." Also he willfully chooses to ignore the overwhelming evidence that proves that gwb and cheney misled the country into the Iraq war. Anyone who paid attention or has used Google knows this. January 22, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by Improve your analysis and decision skills Throughout our lives, each of us will be exposed to vast quantities of information -- much of it confusing and/or contradictory. We will need to make choices based on this information. While some choices are mundane, others will literally be life-altering. Obviously, making good choices is important. No one course can ever make you an expert on all topics. But this course will help you use the knowledge you have most effectively. It will help you evaluate different sources of information and decide which are the most reliable and likely to be true. It will improve your ability to spot logical inconsistencies and thus avoid being mislead by things that sound plausible but really aren't. Most importantly, it will help you to avoid being fooled by your own emotions. All of us have a tendency to find reasons to believe what we want to believe while ignoring contradictory evidence. Just recognizing that problem is part of the solution, but Dr. Novella goes much farther than that. He helps us understand the many other different ways that our brains can fool us, and how we can avoid being fooled. In summary, not only a useful course, but a very interesting one as well. Over and over again, I found that his examples would apply directly to real world situations, either in my own life or else in my acquaintances. Understanding the many different ways we can fool ourselves makes it much easier to see why incorrect decisions are made so often. Now, I find it much easier to recognize the flaws in other people's reasoning as well as my own. January 21, 2016
  • 2016-07-27 T11:57:59.312-05:00
  • bvseo_lps, prod_bvrr, vn_prr_5.6
  • cp-1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_69, tr_69
  • loc_en_US, sid_9344, prod, sort_default
2 3 next>>

Questions & Answers

Buy together as a Set
and
Save Up To $18.00
Choose a Set Format
$129.90
$151.90