Numbers & Reasons
We live surrounded by numbers, and a central part of the college experience is learning how numbers and measurements help us think clearly. This course explores how numbers work as part of sound reasoning in science and society. Sometimes they settle disagreements, such as a 1908 article on the existence of atoms, a 1953 article announcing the discovery of the double helix, or one from 1963 about when people do and don’t obey. In other contexts, such as discussions of global warming or earthquakes, numbers are just the beginning of serious scientific arguments. Underneath this there are basic rules, like making sense of a bell curve or how to tell a meaningful pattern from a random one.
Course Curriculum and Features
The course presents a broad introduction to college thinking, with readings followed by discussion about science as a human activity. You’ll write two short essays and a term paper on topics of your choice that involve numbers or measurements. No matter what concentration you choose at the UW, this material will help you become a better, more thoughtful student.
Those with an interest in science and/or social science; a background in advanced mathematics is not required.
Attendance and Workload
All Early Fall Start courses require the same amount of academic work as any other UW course, and full attendance and participation is required. In general, each course requires about 10 hours of homework each week.
Professor Emeritus, Department of Statistics
Dates & Times
Aug 22–Sep 15, 2017
9 a.m.–11:30 a.m.