Prof Bruce Hewitson, CSAG, Prof Michael Pepper, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Pretoria, Karl Stielau, senior lecturer, Associate Prof Tim Gebbie, Dr Sarah Blyth, Faculty of Science, UCT

This course focuses on exposing common scientific myths . It presents an objective perspective grounded in the scientific method, beginning with an exploration of scepticism over the existence of climate change . This is followed by a set of case studies in the history of bad science . The third lecture examines the origin and definition of stem cells and gene therapy, their therapeutic potential, especially in South Africa, but also their potential for abuse, particularly in giving false hope to patients and their families . The fourth lecture explores the myth that machines are taking over stock markets and making the world more dangerous, unequal and unfair . The final lecture uses science to investigate some misconceptions related to astronomy, from the Moon to black holes and horoscopes . Participants can expect to leave with a greater ability to identify and assess scientific news.



  1. Climate change: a reality check  Prof Bruce Hewitson
  2. Intelligence, sedges, HIV and the tragedy of Sally Clarke: case studies in bad science   Karl Stielau
  3. Cell and gene therapy: the hype and the hope   Prof Michael Pepper
  4. Algorithmic trading: rise of the machine  Assoc Prof Tim Gebbie
  5. From the dark side of the moon to black holes  Dr Sarah Blyth


Recommended reading

Goldacre, B. 2008. Bad Science. London: Fourth Estate

Cartea, A., Jaimungal, J., Penalva, J. 2015. Algorithmic and High-Frequency Trading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (difficult)

Hasbrouck, J., (2007), Empirical Market Microstructure. Oxford: Oxford University Press (easy).

Wolfgang, P., Baschnagel, J. 1999. Stochastic Processes: From Physics to Finance. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer International



Date: 13–17 January
Time: 9.15 am
COURSE FEES: Full R590 Staff & Students R295
Venue: LT2 Kramer Law Building UCT