About this Course
Most professions these days require more than general intelligence. They require in addition the ability to collect, analyze and think about data. Personal life is enriched when these same skills are applied to problems in everyday life involving judgment and choice. This course presents basic concepts from statistics, probability, scientific methodology, cognitive psychology and cost-benefit theory and shows how they can be applied to everything from picking one product over another to critiquing media accounts of scientific research. Concepts are defined briefly and breezily and then applied to many examples drawn from business, the media and everyday life. What kinds of things will you learn? Why it’s usually a mistake to interview people for a job. Why it’s highly unlikely that, if your first meal in a new restaurant is excellent, you will find the next meal to be as good. Why economists regularly walk out of movies and leave restaurant food uneaten. Why getting your picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated usually means your next season is going to be a disappointment. Why you might not have a disease even though you’ve tested positive for it. Why you’re never going to know how coffee affects you unless you conduct an experiment in which you flip a coin to determine whether you will have coffee on a given day. Why it might be a mistake to use an office in a building you own as opposed to having your office in someone else’s building. Why you should never keep a stock that’s going down in hopes that it will go back up and prevent you from losing any of your initial investment. Why it is that a great deal of health information presented in the media is misinformation.
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100% online courses

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Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Approx. 11 hours to complete

Suggested: 4 weeks of study; 3-4 hours/week
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, Ukrainian

Skills you will gain

Decision-MakingCost–Benefit AnalysisData AnalysisCost
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Approx. 11 hours to complete

Suggested: 4 weeks of study; 3-4 hours/week
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, Ukrainian

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Introduction

Individuals and cultures can make themselves smarter. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, people have become enormously smarter. The Information Age requires a brand-new set of skills involving statistics, probability, cost-benefit analysis, principles of cognitive psychology, logic and dialectical reasoning....
Reading
1 video (Total 15 min), 3 readings
Video1 videos
Reading3 readings
Welcome Message and Course Principles from Professor Nisbett10m
(Optional) Companion Readings from the Mindware book0m
Help us learn more about you!10m
Clock
1 hour to complete

Lesson 1: Statistics

Basic concepts of statistics and probability including the concepts of variable, normal distribution, standard deviation, correlation, reliability, validity, and effect size. Concrete examples are drawn from everyday life and show how the concepts can be used to solve ordinary problems....
Reading
2 videos (Total 29 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video2 videos
Introduction to Correlation16m
Reading2 readings
Interactive Activity10m
(Optional) Companion Readings from the Mindware book0m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Lesson 1 Quiz18m
Clock
1 hour to complete

Lesson 2: The Law of Large Numbers

How to think about events in such a way that they can be counted and a decision can be made about how much data is enough. You will learn about the concept of error variance and how it can be combatted by obtaining multiple observations. Your will learn that your judgments about people’s personalities are prone to serious errors that are largely avoided for judgments about abilities. And you will discover why it’s usually a mistake to interview job applicants. ...
Reading
2 videos (Total 27 min), 2 readings, 4 quizzes
Video2 videos
The Law of Large Numbers: Part 215m
Reading2 readings
Interactive Activity10m
(Optional) Companion Readings from the Mindware book0m
Quiz4 practice exercises
Pre-lecture Reflection Prompt5m
Pre-lecture Quiz5m
Lesson 2 Quiz12m
Post-lecture Reflection Prompt5m

2

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Lesson 3: Correlation

It can be extremely difficult to make an accurate assessment of how two variables are related to one another; prior beliefs can be more important than data in estimating the strength of a given relationship. You will learn simple tools to estimate degree of association. You will learn about the nature of illusory correlations and how to avoid them. You will learn about the concepts of confounded variable and self-selection error....
Reading
4 videos (Total 25 min), 3 readings, 2 quizzes
Video4 videos
The Draw-a-Person Test4m
Illusory Correlation6m
Confounded Variables; Statistical Significance9m
Reading3 readings
Pre-lecture Activity10m
Interactive Activity10m
(Optional) Companion Readings from the Mindware book0m
Quiz2 practice exercises
Correlation Exercises10m
Lesson 3 Quiz10m
Clock
2 hours to complete

Lesson 4: Experiments

You will learn that correlations can only rarely provide conclusive evidence about whether one variable exerts a causal influence on another and why experiments provide far better evidence about causality than correlations. You will be shown how to conduct experiments in business settings and experiments on yourself. You will learn the distinction between within subject designs and between subject designs. You will learn about the concept of artifacts and some tricks for avoiding them. You will learn how to discover natural experiments....
Reading
3 videos (Total 42 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video3 videos
A/B Testing9m
Experimental Design and Natural Experiments17m
Reading2 readings
Pre-lecture Activity5m
(Optional) Companion Readings from the Mindware book0m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Lesson 4 Quiz26m

3

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Lesson 5: Prediction

You will learn about the kinds of systematic errors we make when trying to predict the future. You will learn about regression to the mean and why you should assume that extreme values on a variable will be less extreme when next observed. You will learn how to think about observations in terms of true score plus error. You will learn about the concept of base rate and why it must be taken into account when estimating probabilities of specific events....
Reading
2 videos (Total 40 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video2 videos
Base Rate22m
Reading2 readings
Pre-lecture Question5m
(Optional) Companion Readings from the Mindware book0m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Lesson 5 Quiz8m
Clock
1 hour to complete

Lesson 6: Cognitive Biases

We understand the world not through direct perception but through inferential procedures that we are unaware of. Our understanding of the world is heavily influenced by schemas or abstract representations of events. We are prone to serious judgment errors that can be avoided to a degree when we understand their basis. We make guesses about probability and causality by applying the representativeness heuristic based on similarity assessments which can be very misleading. We make judgments about frequency and probability by relying in part on the availability heuristic, judging things as frequent or probable to the degree that instances come readily to mind....
Reading
3 videos (Total 36 min), 1 reading, 2 quizzes
Video3 videos
Heuristics11m
Fundamental Attribution Error; Confirmation Bias11m
Reading1 readings
(Optional) Companion Readings from the Mindware book0m
Quiz2 practice exercises
Pre-lecture Quiz5m
Lesson 6 Quiz22m

4

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Lesson 7: Choosing and Deciding

How to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. Why you should throw the analysis away after doing it if the decision is personal and very important. How to avoid throwing good money after bad. How to avoid doing something that will prevent you from doing something more valuable. Why it can be expensive to try to avoid the possibility of loss. Why incentives can backfire....
Reading
3 videos (Total 38 min), 1 reading, 2 quizzes
Video3 videos
Sunk Costs10m
Loss Aversion12m
Reading1 readings
(Optional) Companion Readings from the Mindware book0m
Quiz2 practice exercises
Pre-lecture Activity5m
Lesson 7 Quiz14m
Clock
1 hour to complete

Lesson 8: Logic and Dialectical Reasoning

The distinction between inductive logic and deductive logic. Syllogisms. Conditional reasoning. The distinction between truth of an argument and validity of an argument. The concepts of necessity and sufficiency. Venn diagrams. Common logical errors. When to avoid contradiction and when to embrace it, how to avoid undue certainty about judgments and decisions, and why attention to context rather than form is crucial for analysis of most real-world problems....
Reading
2 videos (Total 36 min), 1 reading, 2 quizzes
Video2 videos
Dialectical Reasoning16m
Reading1 readings
(Optional) Companion Readings from the Mindware book0m
Quiz2 practice exercises
Pre-lecture Quiz8m
Lesson 8 Quiz20m
Clock
16 minutes to complete

Conclusion

...
Reading
1 video (Total 6 min), 2 readings
Video1 videos
Reading2 readings
(Optional) Companion Readings from the Mindware book0m
Post-course Survey10m
4.7

Top Reviews

By NPAug 7th 2017

A very good course prof Richard has explained very difficult to understand concepts in a very simple language and made it easy for students to grasp the subject matter easily.

By SNMay 27th 2017

Excellent! A very informative course delivered in a very effective manner. I would highly recommend this course to all who have any interest at all in critical thinking.

Instructor

Avatar

Richard E. Nisbett

Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished University Professor

About University of Michigan

The mission of the University of Michigan is to serve the people of Michigan and the world through preeminence in creating, communicating, preserving and applying knowledge, art, and academic values, and in developing leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future....

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