ECEN 4009/5009 – Science Court

Spring 2017 - TTh 12:30-1:45 – Professor Garret ModdelLocation: ITLL 1B50 (seminar room in the southeastern extension to the Engineering Center)

Please check this page and the schedule regularly – Last update 21 Apr 2016



  • Rick Cantwell has pointed out this current proposal for a modified version of an adversarial science court
  • Important information on how to read an academic paper.
  • The new procedure has been posted. Changes are in red. The first day of hearings is adversarial, as with the old procedure, but the both members of each team may act as expert and counsel due to time limitations. The second day of hearings is collaborative, with the aim of reaching a consensus. Both sides “win” if a meaningful consensus is reached. (Advocacy reports are unchanged.)
  • Two samples of good advocacy reports are posted here (#1, #2). They express a clear opinion, are well documented and well written. (They could be a bit more forceful.)




Cases: questions, evidence & verdicts



Contacts & Locations

Ideas for topics

Individual  issues





Jan 17

General introduction: Science court proposals & need

Reading: Kantrowitz

Jan 19  The methods of science

Readings: informational cascades, Scientific reasoning, revolutions (pay particular attention to Popper’s & Kuhn’s ideas)

Jan 24  Topic and team proposals due

Where science goes wrong I

Readings: Falsification issues, Traditional knowledge: Ayurveda, Native American

Jan 26  Topic and team decisions

Decline, and funding

Readings: power poses, decline effect, sugar

Jan 31  Where science goes wrong II
Readings: funding sources,, conflicts of interest, harlots (optional), fMRIs, scientific consensus

Feb 2

Statistics primer  Be prepared to take notes in class.

Reading: Aikin on inference

Feb 7

Research quality, and discussion of jury and advocacy reports

Readings: medical lies (just skim), flossing, quality

Also: direct examination

Feb 9

Court procedures: cross examination

cross examination, 10 commandments & video

Feb 14  Case 1a - Dinosaur extinction (Guevara, Madan, Michalak, Van Court)

Feb 16  Case 1b

Feb 21  Case 2a – GMOs (Jin, Johnsen, Widener, Wang)

Feb 23  Case 2b

Feb 28  Case 3a - Mobile phone radiation (Haney, Jennings, Sagaser, Qazi)

Mar 2  Case 3b

Mar 7 Case 4a – Precognition (McGrew, Raghavenran, Van Court, Widener)

Mar 9  Case 4b

Mar 14  Case 5a – Consciousness after death (Belkadi, Guevara, Motazedi, Weerakkody)

Mar 16  Case 5b

Mar 21  Case 6a – Nuclear power fault tolerance (Haney, Landreth, Madan, Paryekar)

Mar 23  Case 6b

Mar 28  No class – Spring break

Mar 30  No class – Spring break

Apr 4  Case 7a – Vaccination safety (Belkadi, Cantwell, Johnsen, Michalak)

Apr 6 Case 7b

Apr 11  Case 8a – Photovoltaics prices (Cantwell, Jin, Sagaser, Wang)

Apr 13  Case 8b

Apr 18  Case 9a – Big bang certainty (Motazedi, Qazi, Raghavendran, Weerakkody)

Apr 20  Case 9b

Apr 25  Case 10a – Low-dose ionizing radiation (Jennings, Landreth, McGrew, Paryekar)

Apr 27  Case 10b

May 2


May 4