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Estimated Lesson Time: 30 minutes (self-evaluated option) / 1 hour (instructor-evaluated option)

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Lesson 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.

Lesson To Do List

Proceed to each section below. Click on the header bar to expand the section and follow the instructions in that section. Once complete, click on each item that you have completed.

Watch each lesson video
Review the lesson key points
Match the lesson terms with their definitions
Review the discussion questions
Do the lesson assignments
Take the quiz

Lesson Resources

Rudman, L. A., & Goodwin, S. A. (2004). Gender differences in automatic in-group bias: why do women like women more than men like men? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(4), 494–509. http://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.87.4.494

Iyengar, S., & Hahn, K. S. (2009). Red Media, Blue Media: Evidence of Ideological Selectivity in Media Use. Journal of Communication, 59(1), 19–39. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2008.01402.x

The Importance of Cognitive Errors in Diagnosis and Strategies to Minimize Them : Academic Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://journals.lww.com/academicmedicine/Fulltext/2003/08000/The_Importance_of_Cognitive_Errors_in_Diagnosis.3.aspx
Stanovich, K. E., & West, R. F. (2008). On the relative independence of thinking biases and cognitive ability. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(4), 672–695. http://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.94.4.672

Research on Reasoning. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://keithstanovich.com/Site/Research_on_Reasoning.html

Lesson Presentation (00:00:32)

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Lesson Videos

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Introduction and Question (00:48)

Imagine for a moment that a Neo-Nazi group is speaking at a local university...

Cognitive Biases (04:16)

A cognitive bias is like an illusion for the mind. It is a deviation from rationality in judgment.

A Few Words About Me (02:38)

As a social psychologist, my goal is to see issues as objectively as possible while recognizing my own biases.

Political Correctness (01:46)

Political correctness is defined as “the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.”

Lesson Key Points

Rationality is only needed to the extent that it supports reproduction or survival.
Biases are not correlated with general cognitive ability, that is, intelligent people are not immune to biases.
One’s ability to reason effectively, that is to recognize and avoid biases largely responsible for our avoidance of uncomfortable ideas, is a separate intelligence just like emotional intelligence differs from general intelligence.
There is no universally agreed upon ideal level of political correctness and what is extreme to one person might be perfectly reasonable to another
Uncomfortable Idea: You are not the authority or standard on what is or is not politically correct. You don’t have moral superiority; you have the illusion of it.

Lesson Terms and Definitions

To Do: Match the correct terms with the definition.

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a learnable intelligence related to how well we reason
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the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against
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a deviation from rationality in judgment
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a cognitive bias that allows us to quickly and efficiently (but not always accurately) make judgments about people

Lesson Discussion Questions

Are you ever aware of your cognitive biases? Recall a time when a cognitive bias led you to a poor decision or belief.
Describe a situation where stereotyping is useful.
What are your thoughts on political correctness? Has it gone too far? Is it not going far enough? Provide examples.
Imagine for a moment that a Neo-Nazi group is speaking at a local university. They are advertising that they are reaching out to the general public to help them understand that the Nazi party has been unjustly demonized, and they promise to discuss historical facts that will put the party in proper perspective. Do you go? Why or why not?

Lesson Assignments

Assignment #1:

This assignment is for students with the instructor-evaluated course option.

Search online for TWO examples of political correctness. One, in your opinion, that has gone too far, that is, is more destructive than beneficial, and one that represents a good example of protecting the marginalized. Provide the URLs to the examples with your commentary as to why you chose those examples.
Assignment #2Answer one of the following questions found in the "Lesson Discussion Questions" section using the discussion section below, and respond to/comment on at least one student's post. Comment on a post that has no comments yet, if possible.

Alternatively (or in addition to), if you have any questions about this lesson, post them in the discussion section below. Answer another member's question if you can.

Lesson Quiz

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This lesson's quiz comprises 5 multiple choice questions. Choose the best answer. Achieving passing score of 80% will register this lesson as complete if you have also passed the manually-reviewed assignments. You can take the quiz as many times as you wish.

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    Lesson Progress

    This lesson is not yet complete. Still left to do: Lesson Presentation, Terms and Definitions, Assignments, Quiz


    Lessons greyed out are for enrolled students only.

    #2: The Uncomfortable Idea
    #3: Uncomfortable Ideas and the Reasons Why We Avoid Them
    #4: Why We Refuse To Accept Uncomfortable Ideas
    #5: Some More Uncomfortable Ideas
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    Lesson Quiz

    Be sure to click the "Submit Quiz Answers" at the end of the quiz to save and submit your quiz answers. Select the best answer.

    1) Who said “The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science”?
    a) Neil DeGrass Tyson
    b) Mike Tyson
    c) Carl Sagan
    d) Aristotle
    2) Evolution "cares" about
    a) rationality
    b) survival
    c) reproduction
    d) both B and C
    3) An example of a behavior that has not had time to evolve to our current social environment is
    a) sleeping
    b) overeating
    c) yawning
    d) laughing
    4) Which group is most biases?
    a) republicans
    b) democrats
    c) libertarians
    d) it depends on too many factors to make a sweeping claim that is accurate
    5) Cognitive biases are not a problem in reasoning for intelligent people.
    a) true
    b) false
    submitting answers...

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