The following is a sample syllabus for an example Spring semester at UC Berkeley. It begins with the course policies and is followed by an example schedule for a typical semester.
Sense, Sensibility, and Science: Syllabus and Other Important Information
Letters and Science 22
We’re facing a world that seems to struggle with rational democratic decision making. How can we take into account our values, fears, and aspirations while also grappling with and evaluating facts about our world? We make decisions as individuals, as groups, and as a society; we find this challenge everywhere we turn. Over the centuries, science has developed open-minded yet rigorous ways of thinking about the world that can help us address this universal and pressing concern. This course explores and directly engages with some of the most useful tools of scientific-style critical thinking, such as communicating and working with uncertainty or making group decisions that factor in both values and evidence. Sense and Sensibility and Science is a course for anyone who wants to learn about how we can use scientific-style critical thinking to deliberate better together in any situation - and, ideally, help each other build a better world.
Participation (iClicker + instructor appraisal)--------------18%
HW (~30, scores of 0, 1, or 2)-------------------------------17%
Waitlist. Admission to the course will be determined through the course waitlists. In the past, many students on the waitlist have been admitted to the course, but the number has varied from year to year.
Electronic Devices: The use of electronic devices other than iClicker2's are not permitted in class periods, unless specifically permitted by the instructor for a given class period. While we understand that many of you prefer to use your laptops or mobile devices to take notes, we have found that this is not best suited for a class of experimental nature such as SSS. Please talk with the GSI's and instructors if you have any concerns.
Appealing grades. If you believe an assignment, paper, or exam has received a grade in error, you may submit an appeal. To do so, write a cover letter explaining your concern, and send it to the gsi email list (firstname.lastname@example.org) along with the assignment or exam in question. An appeal must be submitted within 48 hours after the graded assignment, paper, or exam is returned to the class. Please note that documents submitted for an appeal will be regraded in their entirety. As a result your grade may increase, but it can also decrease.
Academic honesty. Cheating, plagiarism, and academic dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated. Any evidence of cheating or plagiarism will result in a zero on that assignment. Plagiarism on any project or cheating on the final exam will result in an ‘F’ for the course. Any breaches in academic honesty will be reported to Student Judicial Affairs, which may administer additional punishment. If you have any uncertainty about whether an action constitutes academic dishonesty, consult your GSI.
HW: Late homework will not be accepted, and will be scored as a 0. However, we will drop your lowest two HW scores.
Participation: Beginning after the second class, you are allowed three "freebie" days in which we will not count you absent if you forget your iClicker or miss class and/or section. Missing class counts the same as missing section. Use these freebies wisely. After your allotted iClicker freebies are used up, you will lose participation points for every day you forget your iClicker or miss class or section.
Projects: Projects that are handed in late after the due date, for 3 days, will lose 10% of their grade per day, where a day is defined as 24 hours following the time and date of the deadline. Submissions received more than 3 days after the original deadline will receive a zero and not be graded. Exceptions to this policy will only be considered under exceptional circumstances, such as a medical emergency.
Quizzes. Alternative accommodation for missed quizzes will only be made under exceptional circumstances, such as a medical or family emergency. If you will miss an exam due to religious observance or extra-curricular activities, please see the policies that follow.
Accommodation of disabilities. If you need accommodation for a physical, psychological, or learning disability, please see the instructor during office hours or by appointment to make any necessary arrangements. Please discuss this with the instructor as early in the semester as possible, and no later than 2 weeks before an exam for which accommodation will be required.
[Not shown here are more of the Berkeley specific scheduling and accommodation policies]
Schedule: This will be your go-to place for readings, HW's and other weekly assignments. See below for a more detailed syllabus.
For ALL SSS Questions, please email:
Here is a link to the seating diagram.
FINAL EXAM INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT THIS LINK. PLEASE BRING A PEN.
Sections in Dwinelle
Please read before the corresponding class period. Usually the HW will rely on the readings.
All HW's are due 1 hour before the corresponding lecture. Ie, HW 2.1 is due at 11AM, on Monday 1/23. Late homework will not be accepted.
HW can also be found under the bCourses "Assignments" tab.
|Week 1||Importance to Society: Decisions and Planning Need Science|
|1.1||Mon, 1/15||No Classes Yet||Do the Surveys!|
|1.2||Wed, 1/17||Introduction to course + Science in a Democracy||Slides||Suggested reading: (link)||Surveys:
Also Register your iClicker.
iClicker2 Registration Instructions
Get credit for doing the survey by entering your anonymous code in HW 1.2 under Assignments: (link)
|S1||Fri, 1/19||Introduction||Section 1|
|Week 2||Science's View of Reality||Seating plan|
|2.1||Mon, 1/22||Belief in a common, shared reality||Slides||
“Spirit, Air and Quicksilver”
|Link to HW 2.1|
|2.2||Wed, 1/24||Our senses and instrumentation||Slides||Hacking, "Do You See Through a Microscope".||Link to HW 2.2|
|S2||Fri, 1/26||Preparation for Quiz 1||Section 2|
|Week 3||Causal Reasoning / Why Statistics||Seating Plan|
|3.1||Mon, 1/29||Systematic uncertainty + Scientific Optimism and Arrogance||Slides||Reading 1 - 2016 Election Polling and Reading 2 - Experimental Uncertainty||Link to HW 3.1|
|3.2||Wed, 1/31||Causal Illusions + Introduction to interventions||Slides||Scientific Optimism||Link to HW 3.2|
|S3||Fri, 2/2||Quiz 1|
|Week 4||Why We Need Statistics||Seating Chart|
|4.1||Mon, 2/5||Finding signal in noise||Slides||Cocktail Party Effect||Link to HW 4.1|
|4.2||Wed, 2/7||Seeing patterns in random noise + Trading off false-positives and false-negatives||Slides (Part 2)||Patternicity and Better Decisions through Science||Link to HW 4.2|
|S4||Fri, 2/9||Section 4|
|Week 5||Calculus of Tentative Propositions||Seating Plan|
|5.1||Mon, 2/12||Assigning credence levels to propositions and using them||Slides||
|5.2||Wed, 2/14||Calibration of credence levels||Slides||
Please listen to this podcast. It takes about 45 minutes to get through.
This HW is a survey. Please complete at least an hour before class so that we can use the results.
|S5||Fri, 2/16||Section 5|
|Week 6||More calculus of Tentative Propositions||Seating Plan|
|6.2||Wed, 2/21||Causal Claims in the Messy Real World||Slides||
Association or Causation?
Relationships between poverty and psychopathology
|Link to HW 6.2|
|S6||Fri, 2/23||Section 6|
|Week 7||Sanity Checks||Seating Plan|
|Orders of understanding / Parsable world||Slides||
R1 - Asimov Reading
R2 - Orders of Approximation
|Link to HW 7.1|
|7.2||Wed, 2/28||Fermi problems||Slides||Reading: How many licks?||Link to HW 7.2|
|S7||Fri, 3/2||Quiz 2|
|Week 8||"Cold" Biases||Seating Plan|
|Inductive and deductive reasoning||Slides||"Logic: A Very Short Introduction"||Link to HW 8.1 (this is a survey - complete at least 1 hour before class, as usual)|
|8.2||Wed, 3/7||Heuristics & Biases||Slides||
"Judgment Under Uncertainty - Heuristics and Biases"
|Link to HW 8.2|
|S8||Fri, 3/9||Section 8|
|Week 9||"Hot" Biases and Other Topics||Seating Plan|
|When is science suspect?||Slides||Mismeasure of Man||Link to HW 9.1|
EVERYONE READ: Langmuir, Pathological Science
Groups A, D, G, J, M, P, and S: Reading 2a
Groups B, E, H, K, N, Q, T: Reading 2b
Groups C, F, I, L, O, R, U: Reading 2c
|Link to HW 9.2|
|Week 10||Recognizing Biases and "Good Practice"||Seating Plan|
|10.1||Mon, 3/19||Confirmatory biases in the search for/assessment of evidence||Slides||
You can skim the middle pages (133-136) that discuss the details of the methods and statistics.
|Link to HW 10.1|
Extra Seating Chart
PublicEditor Homework - This is worth twice the normal points (4 instead of 2).
Mid-Semester Survey (2pts)
Verify that you completed mid-semester survey HERE
|Week 11||Recognizing Biases and "Good Practice" (continued)||Seating Plan|
|Singular and General Causation - the Trolley Problem||
Optional reading: NPR blog post by Tania
|11.2||Wed, 4/4||Grill a guest lecturer using concepts from the course||Slides||
Reading 2 (Intro, Experiment 1, General Discussion, and Open Practices - pp. 1745-1750 and 1760-1761. The rest is optional)
|Link to HW 11.2|
|S11||Fri, 4/6||Section 11|
|Week 12||Group Thinking||Seating Plan|
|12.1||Mon, 4/9||Wisdom of crowds vs. Herd thinking & Ways that groups fall short of their optimal||Slides||Reading (up to page 13)||Link to HW 12.1|
|12.2||Wed, 4/11||The Denver Bullet Study||Slides||No HW|
|S12||Fri, 4/13||Section 12|
|Week 13||Can we do better together?||Seating Plan|
|13.1||Mon, 4/16||Scenario Planning, + Group Decision Making Guest Speakers!||(Peter Schwartz Art of Long View Excerpt)||HW 13.1|
|Deliberative Polling||Reading: VERY IMPORTANT, MUST READ BEFORE CLASS!||Link to HW 13.2 (external survey)|
|S13||Fri, 4/20||Section 13|
|Week 14||Can we do better together? (continued)|
|14.1||Mon, 4/23||In Class Design Project - In Jacobs 310!||HW Link|
Part I slides
Part II slides
|No reading, but fill out both surveys!!||Survey #1 & Survey #2 (do these on your own before class) and BRING LAPTOPS TO CLASS (or other device)|
Poster session - In LeConte 375