Teacher Event – Wednesday 31 July

Dr Stephen Law will lead practical workshops for teachers in which he will share his ideas on teaching critical thinking in the secondary curriculum. in the secondary curriculum. This is a valuable workshop for Religious Studies, Philosophy and Theory of Knowledge teachers – and anyone looking for opportunities to teach critical thinking in their subject area.

Taking Students Further: Teaching Critical Thinking


1. Why do I believe what I do? What mechanisms shape what we believe, and what mechanisms can we use to influence the beliefs of others? Stephen Law will look at reason versus other causally effective – often much more causally effective – methods, including peer pressure, repetition, emotional manipulation, censorship, and even brainwashing. How does using reason to persuade differ from these other methods? And why, if at all, is reason to be preferred? How can we immunise the next generation against brainwashing and indoctrination?

2. Fallacies and Cognitive Biases. How do people become trapped inside false and sometimes highly toxic political, pseudo-scientific, religious, and other ideologies? Drawing on his book Believing Bullshit: How Not to Fall Into an Intellectual Black Hole, Stephen Law will explore various pitfalls and dangers lurking on the internet and elsewhere. He will cover some of the most seductive fallacies, including slippery slope, ad hominem, and affirming the consequent. He will also look at anchoring effect, power of suggestion, and other cognitive biases that can, without our realising, skew what we believe and lead us away from the truth.

3. Scientism. Can every legitimate question be answered by science? Is the supernatural off limits to science and if so, why? Are Richard Dawkins and other critics of religious belief guilty of scientism, as critics like scientist and theologian Alister McGrath suggest? Are there other ways of finding out about what’s true other than by relying on science and empirical observation? If not, doesn’t that make philosophy a grand waste of time? What, if anything, can we find out just by sitting in our armchairs and having a good think?

WHEN: Wednesday 31 July 2019
WHERE: Old Boys Lecture Theatre, Newington College
REGISTRATION: 9am for a 9.30am start and 3pm finish.
BOOKINGS: Please email jhall@newington.nsw.edu.au to express your interest.