I am so fascinated by this: a couple of professors from the University of Washington have created an entire course, with syllabus and lectures available online, Calling Bullshit. Its purpose is to teach people how data can be manipulated, and in turn to help create more enlightened consumers of information. Since we almost always discuss the issue of identifying what constitutes good science in my workshops on testimony, I am now pleasantly working my way through this whole course.
From the site:
Of course an advertisement is trying to sell you something, but do you know whether the TED talk you watched last night is also bullshit — and if so, can you explain why? Can you see the problem with the latest New York Times or Washington Post article fawning over some startup’s big data analytics? Can you tell when a clinical trial reported in the New England Journal or JAMA is trustworthy, and when it is just a veiled press release for some big pharma company?
Our aim in this course is to teach you how to think critically about the data and models that constitute evidence in the social and natural sciences.
Highly. Recommend. If you’re looking for me I’ll be sitting by my parents’ pool honing my bullshit detector 🙂