The Effect of Reading Workshops on Ability to Identify Pseudoscience
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Pseudoscience, or scientific research presented with manipulated data or conducted with flawed methods, has measurable and potentially dangerous impacts on society. With increasing media focus on pseudoscientific data, learning how to identify pseudoscience is vital to the modern public. As such, this research project seeks to assess if the average person can distinguish pseudoscience from peer-reviewed science based on visual cues within the writings, such as experimental methods, tone, and organization of the paper. A critical reading workshop will be implemented to train individuals to recognize pseudoscience so that they may base important, life-altering decisions on reliable sources. Individuals in six different age groups will be presented with two medical research articles, one peer-reviewed and one pseudoscientific, and will be asked to label which is which and explain their answers. Afterwards, we will lead a short language workshop designed to develop critical reading skills. Next, we will survey the age groups again. We expect to find close to half of each age group in the sample will be unable to determine the pseudoscientific article from the initial survey. Our estimates may increase for specific age groups based on prior research. After completing our workshop, we expect meaningfully larger portions of individuals will be able to recognize falsified work. In summary, the workshop strategy suggests that workshops should be implemented into educational systems so that citizens are better prepared to analyze scientific research when making important decisions for themselves and their children.