Scientific Literacy in the Information Age

Course Title: “Scientific Literacy in the Information Age”

Course #19S06

Dates: July 8, 15, 22, and 29 – Mondays, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM (totaling 8 course hours)

Location: Iron County Courthouse, 300 Taconite St., Hurley, Wisconsin

Course fee: $35 minus $5 if registration is received by June 24, 2019

Course Objective: How do you find accurate and well-researched scientific and medical information online in a world overflowing with misinformation and bias? In this course you will learn how use critical thinking strategies to engage with scientific reporting in the media and online sources. Learn how to identify problematic claims or hoaxes attempting to take advantage of you or your money, in addition to well-informed but misguided information based on personal bias or hidden agendas. Navigate the internet wisely and safely!

Maximum Number of Students: 20

Course Outline:

Week 1 – Understanding Science and the Scientific Method

  1. Introduction to Science and the Scientific Method.
  2. Differentiating between scientific journal articles and other media.
  3. Science as a self-correcting discipline – the power of peer review.
  4. Identifying disreputable sources of scientific and medical information.


II: Week 2 – Search Strategies for locating reputable Information

  1. How to identify bias in the media – “news” vs. “opinion”.
  2. Introduction to good internet search strategies and fact-checking basics.


III: Week 3 – The Psychology of Misinformation

  1. Goals of pseudoscientific and misleading information.
  2. Observational bias and logical fallacies.
  3. Claims of conventional (allopathic) vs. alternative (traditional/homeopathic) medicine
  4. How to cope when information doesn’t fit your hopes/expectations.


IV: Week 4 – Where Do We Go From Here?

  1. Becoming “experts” at identifying false claims and “bad” science.
  2. Communicating our knowledge to others.

Requirements: Students may be asked to do a small amount of home research. Also, access to the internet is a plus. Access by smart phone is fine, or students may do internet work at the local libraries.


Darrin Kimbler – Darrin Kimbler is the UW Extension Agriculture Educator for Iron County. Darrin comes to Iron County from Kentucky by way of the US Army and UW-Madison where he majored in Botany and Forest Ecology.  He did his graduate work in Forest Physiology and has done research in different ecosystems from southern Appalachia to northern Manitoba.  He is an avid canoeist and a general outdoor enthusiast. He and his wife own Taiga Farm and Vineyards in Ironwood Township. They raise Icelandic sheep, pastured pigs, produce and wine grapes using evidence-based husbandry and growing methods.


Chenin Limback – Chenin Limback is the Biology Instructor at Gogebic Community College in Ironwood, MI. She received her BA in Biology from Adrian College, her MS in Entomology (the study of insects) from Michigan State University, and her PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. She enjoys educating others about the fascinating aspects of science and biology, and is enjoying getting to know the Iron and Gogebic County areas since moving here in August, 2018.