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Myths of Human Nature

Session A: July 6 - July 16, 2021
1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Philosophy and Society
Alexandra Kralick

Myths About Human Nature is a course that engages with introductory topics in the field of biological anthropology in order for to critically evaluate misconceptions. Students will use critical thinking skills to question assumptions about human nature, from gender to race to sexual orientation to diet. Students will engage with course material through lecture, reading, and discussion, as well as a final project. This course will provide students with the skills necessary to evaluate scientific claims in popular media with evidence and to communicate scientific understandings to the public. Through the study of myths in human evolution, students will gain a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be human.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will gain an understanding of basic biological anthropology concepts through an introductory exposure.
  • Students will learn about popular myths around human nature pertinent to their lives and be able to dispute these myths with evidence.
  • Students will demonstrate an ability to evaluate scientific claims in popular media with evidence and to communicate that scientific understanding with the public.
  • This course seeks to engage students in a scientific discipline with relevant and engaging course material.

Online Syllabus

Video Lecture- Students will watch a video lecture to address the myth about human nature for that day.

Readings- Students will complete the readings prior to course time to facilitate discussion. Most readings will be based on the course text, Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths About Human Nature by Agustin Fuentes. However, some readings will be from articles.

Discussion- If the course meeting is asynchronous, students write a post and comment on two other students’ posts using the canvas discussion board. If the course meets synchronously, the discussion will be held on zoom in breakout groups.

Project- Students will complete an activity on how to evaluate science claims in popular media which entails choosing a piece of popular media with a misconception and producing a piece of to demystify the chosen misconception. These pieces will be presented on the final day of class.


Day 1. Introduction & Evolutionary Misconceptions
Day 2. Human supremacy (Primate human similarities, chances of humans evolving)
Day 3. Nature vs. Nurture
Day 4. Biological Race
Day 5. Gender
Day 6. Sex
Day 7. Sexual Orientation & Monogamy
Day 8. Diet & Fat
Day 9. “Normal”