The Vocabulary of Science: First Steps to Science Literacy
Learn to think more critically about science by mastering the language we use to talk about scienceWatch Promo
This course has over 3 hours of video content.
WHAT IS THIS COURSE ABOUT?
Is evolution a theory, a fact, or both? This question has been debated by critics and defenders of evolution for many years.
Some claim that evolution is a theory, not a fact. Others claim that evolution is a fact, not a theory. And still others say that evolution is both a theory and a fact.
What exactly is going on here?
One reason why the debate persists is that people disagree not only on the strength of the evidence for evolution, but also on the meanings of the key terms, “theory” and “fact”.
This course is designed to help you understand and think critically about debates like these, debates about the nature of science that turn on the meanings of scientific terms like “theory”, “fact”, “law”, “hypothesis” and “model”.
WHO IS THIS COURSE FOR? WHAT WILL I LEARN?
The ideal student for this course is a science educator or a science enthusiast who is passionate about science and wants to improve their understanding of science, and their ability to engage productively in debates about science.
In this course you’ll learn the various meanings of the key terms, “theory”, “fact”, “law”, “hypothesis” and “model”, as they're used both within and outside science.
You’ll be able to identify the most common arguments about science that rely on specific uses of these terms, and the most common misunderstandings that people have about how scientists actually use these terms.
And you'll have an opportunity to test your understanding through quizzes and a video critique assignment.
There are no requirements except an interest in learning. The course doesn’t presuppose any special background in science or the philosophy of science.
Kevin deLaplante is the lead instructor at the Critical Thinker Academy. He earned an undergraduate degree in physics from Carleton University and a PhD in philosophy from Western University.
Kevin spent most of his academic career as an Associate Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Iowa State University. From 2008-2013 he served as Chair of that department.
In 2015, Kevin left his academic job to work full time as an independent educator, creating video courses and other educational content that helps people develop their critical thinking and communication skills.
You can learn more about Kevin, his background and his current web projects at
Start"It's Just a Theory": "Theory" as Down-Player (2:56)
Start"Theories are the Pinnacles of Science": "Theory" as Up-Player (5:11)
StartWhy We Need a Neutral Definition of "Theory" (3:56)
StartA Neutral Definition of "Theory": A Classical (But Incomplete) Story (6:39)
StartA Neutral Definition of "Theory": A More Sophisticated Story (6:13)