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The Course of Uncomfortable Ideas

Presented by Bo Bennett, PhD

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This is a course designed to help college-age and adult students appreciate and even celebrate questioning the unquestionable, thinking the unthinkable, and facing reality head on, no matter what that reality is. It is a course about uncomfortable ideas.

Facts Don't Care About Feelings.
Science Isn't Concerned About Sensibilities.
Reality Couldn't Care Less About Rage.

Learn how problematic our brains can be when it comes to reality
Learn why entertaining uncomfortable ideas is so important
Learn why we avoid uncomfortable ideas
Learn why we refuse to accept uncomfortable facts
Learn strategies that help facilitate reason and fight these cognitive biases that lead to poor decision making and irrational beliefs
Hear over 100 uncomfortable ideas!

This is a course about uncomfortable ideas—the reasons we avoid them, the reasons we shouldn’t, and discussion of dozens of examples that might infuriate you, offend you, or at least make you uncomfortable.

Many of our ideas about the world are based more on feelings than facts, sensibilities than science, and rage than reality. We gravitate toward ideas that make us feel comfortable in areas such as religion, politics, philosophy, social justice, love and sex, humanity, and morality. We avoid ideas that make us feel uncomfortable. This avoidance is a largely unconscious process that affects our judgment and gets in the way of our ability to reach rational and reasonable conclusions. By understanding how our mind works in this area, we can start embracing uncomfortable ideas and be better informed, be more understanding of others, and make better decisions in all areas of life.


This course was designed for college-age and adult students.

Personalized Feedback

Unlike most online courses unaffiliated with a university, each lesson in this course includes assignments that are manually evaluated by the instructor with detailed feedback provided (instructor evaluated course option only).

Learning Resources

For this course, text, audio, and video resources are used. All of the resources are compatible with virtually all modern web-browsers and mobile devices.

Instructor Availability

The instructor is available for students to discuss course-specific content via e-mail, online chat, Skype, and telephone for the first six months of the course (instructor-evaluated option only).


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Required Resources

There are no required resources for this course.

Optional Resources

The book "Uncomfortable Ideas" is meant to be read in conjunction with this course, but is not required.

Course Organization

This course begins with an introduction lesson, then the other lessons presented are in no particular order. You are free to skip around to the lessons that interest you most at the time and complete the lessons in any order.


This course is graded on a pass/redo scale. When lessons are reviewed, the student will either get a "pass" or a "redo". Students can redo assignments as many times as they like. All of the lessons are evaluated by both manual review of lesson-specific assignments and automatic grading of quizzes.

Student Evaluation

This course contains instructor-reviewed assignments, self-evaluated assignments, and multiple choice quizzes. There are no due dates or time limits on any of the assignments or quizzes.

Student Expectations

As a self-paced course, there are no time expectations. However, student support is limited to 6 months from the start of the course date. Students are expected to communicate with instructors and other students in a professional and respectful manner.

This Syllabus May Be Updated

The contents of this syllabus may change from time to time. All students will be notified by e-mail of any significant changes.

Lessons in this Course

Click on any lesson below to see the lesson details. If you are a student and logged in, or if the lesson is a sample lesson, you will be able to go to the lesson.

Lesson #1: Introduction (sample lesson)

Lesson #1: Introduction

In this lesson, we will cover

The Structure of This Course
Introduction and Question
Cognitive Biases
A Few Words About Me
Political Correctness

The Structure of This Course

In lesson two, we look at the meaning of “uncomfortable idea,” specifically what uncomfortable ideas are, what it means to avoid them, and why it’s so important to entertain them and, at times, embrace them.

Lesson three deals with the most common unconscious and conscious reasons why we avoid uncomfortable ideas and includes dozens of examples, most of which will fall outside your comfort zone.

Lesson four looks at why we refuse to accept uncomfortable ideas that we would likely accept if they weren’t uncomfortable.

In lesson five, you are presented with several uncomfortable ideas that should make you rethink many of your core beliefs.

Not everyone will find all of these ideas uncomfortable, but the chances are most of you will find most of these ideas uncomfortable. Don’t avoid them; entertain them and either accept them or educate yourself as to why they shouldn’t be accepted, so you will be prepared with reasons as to why the ideas are bad when someone is attempting to convince you otherwise. This is the foundation of critical thinking.

Go To Lesson

Lesson #2: The Uncomfortable Idea

Lesson #2: The Uncomfortable Idea

In this lesson, we cover

What is an “Uncomfortable Idea?”
Avoiding Uncomfortable Ideas
Why it is Important to Entertain Uncomfortable Ideas and Accept Uncomfortable Facts and Truths
Expose Dangerous Thinking
Attempting to Solve the Wrong Problem
Treating Symptoms and Not the Disease
Understanding Unintended Consequences
Understanding Reduces Animosity
Avoiding Manipulation
The Importance of a Shared Reality
Embracing Uncomfortable Ideas
The Conscious, Unconscious, Group, and Individual Aspects of Avoidance
Conscious, Group Avoidance
Conscious, Individual Avoidance
Unconscious, Group Avoidance
Unconscious, Individual Avoidance
Lesson #3: Uncomfortable Ideas and the Reasons Why We Avoid Them

Lesson #3: Uncomfortable Ideas and the Reasons Why We Avoid Them

In this lesson, we cover

Unconscious Avoidance
Cognitive Dissonance
Semmelweis Reflex
Reaction Formation
Intolerance of Nuance and Ambiguity
Feeling Over Fact
Uncomfortable and Unfalsifiable
Protecting Sacred Beliefs
Conscious Avoidance
Fear of the Slippery Slope
Fear For Society
We Don’t Want To Be Seen As “Unpatriotic”
The Desire to Hold Popular Views or the Fear of Social Response
Fantasy is Sometimes Better Than Reality
The Work of Satan
Fear of Entertaining Evil, Sick, or Immoral Thoughts
Fear of Questioning / Refusal To Question Authority
Fear of Confusing Support for Personal Desire
Fear of Exposing Our Own Demons
Lesson #4: Why We Refuse To Accept Uncomfortable Ideas

Lesson #4: Why We Refuse To Accept Uncomfortable Ideas

In this lesson, we cover

Evaluating Evidence
Belief-Related Cognitive Biases and Effects
Backfire Effect
Belief Bias
Confirmation Bias
Ostrich Effect
Status Quo Bias
Refusal to Accept Due to Refusal to Reject
Lesson #5: Some More Uncomfortable Ideas

Lesson #5: Some More Uncomfortable Ideas

In this lesson, we cover

The Self-Fulfilling Nature of Social Injustice
Love Isn’t Always Beautiful, and You Don’t Love Everyone
People Are Much More Selfish Than You Think
“Microaggressions” Are Less Common and Less Problematic Than People Think
Religious Ideas Are Protected By Motivated Reasoning More Than Any Other Class of Ideas
Adam, Eve, and the 6000 Year Old Universe
The Soul
The Christian Bible
The “Goodness” of the Biblical God
Belief and Faith
Being an Atheist Doesn’t Make You Smarter and Certainly Not Better at Critical Thinking
There is Evidence for God
No, Believing in God is Not the Same as Believing in Santa Clause.
Your Examples of History’s Jesus-like Figures are Likely
Made Up or Greatly Exaggerated
Evolution Does Not Answer the Question of Where we Came From
It is Foolish To Demand That Believers Prove That God Exists
No, Theists Will Not Understand Why You Don’t Believe In God When They Realize Why They Call Zeus a Myth
Everyone is Not Born an Atheist
Most Apparent Bible Contradictions Can Easily Be Explained
You Should Give President Trump or President Clinton Your Support
If You’re Offended, You’re Part of the Problem
Why We Choose To Be Offended
The Unconscious Factors That Influence Our Decision To Be Offended
The Person/Idea Distinction Myth
The Optimal Strategy
It is Okay to Change Your Mind
Concluding Thoughts

About Your Instructor

Bo Bennett, PhD. Bo Bennett's personal motto is "Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime." Much of his work is in the area of education—not teaching people what to think, but how to think. His projects include his books, The Concept: A Critical and Honest Look at God and Religion, Logically Fallacious, the most comprehensive collection of logical fallacies, and Year To Success, a full year course in success. Bo has a podcast/blog called "The Dr. Bo Show" at http://www.TheDrBoShow.com where he takes a critical thinking-, reason-, and science-based approach to issues that matter with the goal of educating and entertaining.

Bo holds a PhD in social psychology, with a master's degree in general psychology and bachelor's degree in marketing. His complete bio along with current projects can be found at BoBennett.com.

Course Rating

(6 ratings)

Course Information

Self-Evaluated Course Option:

  • 5 lessons
  • 62 videos
  • 19 narrated slides
  • 37 discussion questions
  • 81 terms and definitions
  • 5 self-evaluated assignments
  • 40 multiple-choice quiz questions
  • upon successful completion of this course, students will receive an authenticated certificate of completion

A total of approximately 6 hours 35 minutes of student learning.

This is a FREE Course

Instructor-Evaluated Course Option:

Everything in the self-evaluated course option, PLUS...

  • 5 instructor-evaluated assignments
  • direct access to the instructor for one-on-one, personalized learning
  • upon successful completion of this course, students will also receive a more personalized letter of achievement that can be added to any resume or CV.

A total of approximately 8 hours 35 minutes of student learning.

Why Take the Instructor-Evaluated Course?
I personally work with you on the assignments in each lesson. In the instructor-evaluated assignments, challenge your thinking and do my best to help you think more critically.

- Bo Bennett, PhD, Instructor

Limited Time Offer: $299.00

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Refund Policy: All course purchases can be refunded within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.

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Student Testimonials

A bumpy ride indeed. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the content, it still manages to make one think critically about certain things, and that is always a good thing. What's more, it is being presented in a non-threatening, clear, balanced, and objective way. A great way to tackle uncomfortable ideas.

Stephen John (Steve Vorster)
Self-Evaluated Option
Student since Dec 12 2017
Day 807 of enrollment

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