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.
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).
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.
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.
There are no required resources for this course.
The book "Uncomfortable Ideas" is meant to be read in conjunction with this course, but is not required.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.