Spring 2022 - HUM 321W D100

The Humanities and Critical Thinking (4)

Class Number: 7213

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
    WMC 2533, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



A study of the counter-traditions within western civilization. Compares and contrasts diverse traditions within western culture that critique its central value systems. It will focus on the attempts of great artists and thinkers to break with tradition, and the subsequent creation of new ideas and forms of experience and expression. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


How do you know what you know? The answer is, you don’t. Information comes at you thick and fast, and to a large degree you rely on an informal assortment of cues to decide what to trust and believe, and what to disbelieve. An entire branch of philosophy—epistemology—is devoted to the study of how we know what we know, but the heart of it is the process of critical thinking.

Critical thinking also means being able to construct a clear, cogent, cohesive written argument free of logical fallacies. As this is also a writing course, you will have the opportunity to build this practical skill throughout the term. By the end of the course, you will have the ability to construct a clear, logical argument, and perhaps more importantly to deconstruct one.

This course builds the skills in critical thinking and analysis by focusing on the nature of belief, in particular folk belief and conspiracy theory. How did Western society transform from one where belief in magic and the supernatural was standard to one where such beliefs, though widespread, are considered invalid in our educational system? Why are illogical beliefs and opinion surveys still so prevalent and influential?


  • Fallacies Quiz 15%
  • New Analysis/Article Focus 10%
  • Folk Belief/Conspiracy Project 20%
  • Folk Custom/Ritual Project 20%
  • News Analysis (Deep Dive) 25%
  • Participation 10%



John Bodner et al., Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories: QAnon, 5G, the New World Order and Other Viral Ideas (McFarland Books, 2021). ISBN: 978-1-4766-8467-3 (paperback); 978-1-4766-4321-2 (digital).

Th. Schick & L. Vaughn, How to Think about Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age       (McGraw-Hill, 2019). ISBN 978-1260548075)

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.