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"Beyond Science?" Guide & Resources

This episode explores topics that go beyond the realm of science; in other words, topics that are hard to explore in a rigorous scientific way. The more we know about science, the less sense pseudoscience makes -- whether it is astrology, Bigfoot, spontaneous human combustion or visiting aliens. The scientific method gives us a way to evaluate claims and approach them critically. The scientists in this episode talk about why the scientific method is important to doing science.

Here are the topics and running times of stories on this show and a brief description of related activities you'll find in this online teaching guide. You'll find these activities particularly useful in helping to build students' critical evaluation skills.

  • Big Picture -- Science and Pseudoscience Through the Ages, in a PDF format.

  • Water, Water Everywhere...(running time: 12:12) -- Can dowsers detect underground water? Activities: Dowsing and science.

  • Aliens Have Landed (running time 11:17) -- Did aliens crash in the desert in 1947? Frontiers visits Roswell, New Mexico, to find out what really happened. Activities: The Value of Experts; The Drake Equation: Is Anybody Out There?; The Value of Eyewitnesses.

  • New Energy Age (running time: 7:57) -- The idea of a perpetual motion machine once captured the imagination of inventors. Today, zero-point energy evokes similar reactions. Activities: Waste Not, Want Not! (build a machine powered by water); Think More About It.

  • Paper Personality (running time 8:46) --What does your handwriting say about you? Activities: Sympathetic Magic and the Barnum Effect (understanding the phenomena behind graphology, astrology and more).

  • Healing Touch (running time 7:23) -- Therapeutic touch is used in many hospitals across the country. One student's science project evaluates the claims. Activities: The Scientific Method (applying the scientific process to experiments); Magnetic Personality (evaluating pseudoscientific claims).

  • Viewer Challenge -- After you watch Beyond Science?, test your viewing skills with ten questions about the show!


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.