Beyond IQ


Upcoming events

    • 16 Oct 2017
    • 18 Dec 2017
    • 10 sessions
    • On line (e-Lecta)

    Current Events: Here, There, and Everywhere: Explore the news in your area, the US, and the world, with focus on the interest of the attendees. The instructors will present various articles and context on the issues of the day, and encourage students to contribute as well. Then we’ll discuss the historical perspectives and their implications for the future. Students will be encouraged to consider potential stakeholders and perspectives on various isssues. Articles will sample widely to support this.

    Our goals are to provide a safe space for gifted people to discuss current events; to support healthy discussion; to think critically about sources, language, and other causes of bias in reporting; and to build a community where we engage over challenging ideas with respect.

    Teachers: Lisa Fontaine-Rainen and Josh Shaine

    • 16 Jan 2018
    • 13 Feb 2018
    • 5 sessions
    • On Line
    • 15

    Josh Shaine, instructor

    It was the best of courses, it was the worst of courses. In this class, we will read original works of fiction and poetry and the pieces that make fun of them or turn them on their heads. We will read pieces that are mocking entire genres. We will watch films that spoof more famous films and listen to music that skewers everything from specific pieces to entire periods. And we will look at cartoons and how they describe the petty foibles of humans through caricature. Along the way, we will attempt to write our own pieces of parody and satire and maybe even make a cartoon or film, depending on how ambitious we are feeling! Among works we may use are The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, The Brand X Anthologies of Poetry and Prose, The Daily Show, In Like Flint, Blazing Saddles, and many others, depending on the tastes, times, and talents of the students in the class.

    This course is intended for students age 13 and up.



    Plan for the day

    January 16

    Definitions and Differences, Exploration of Syllabus, Some early satire

    January 23

    Fiction: Bored of the Rings, The Wind Done Gone, and more

    January 30

    Music: Lehrer, PDQ Bach, Anna Russell, Filk, and more

    February 6

    Movies (tbd)

    February 13

    Comedians (tbd)

    February 20

    Cartoonists from Ancient Egypt to the Present

    February 27

    Poets, Plays, and other Printed Matter

    March 6

    How to Craft Your Own

    March 13

    Students' Choice of Topic

    March 20

    Our own Parodies and Satires!

    March 27

    Potential make-up day

    All times are U.S. East Coast.

    Students will have access to a recording of each class the day after it runs.

    • 16 Jan 2018
    • 27 Mar 2018
    • 11 sessions
    • Online

    Kazimierz Dabrowski, a Polish psychiatrist, developed a theory that explains why you can't hold still, why things that are unfair bother you more than anybody else, why it seems to you that everybody else seems to have shallow emotions and reactions, and why your mere existence (or the world's) is enough to make you depressed! Curious? Come learn about Overexcitibilities, Dynamisms, and how disintegration can be positive!

    • 24 Jan 2018
    • 09 May 2018
    • 16 sessions
    • Online
    • 14

    In Part 2, we’ll continue our study of the science and literature of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.  We’ll work on improving our own abilities as rationalists, and exploring the ideas behind humanism as well.  We will move a little more quickly through the chapters than we did in part 1, as the science isn’t quite as dense, so be prepared to read more each week. 

    Because the science isn’t as dense, the storyline gets richer, and departs more from the original books.  We will probably spend less time doing direct comparisons to the original text, though topics will crop up from time to time, and more time focused on how these characters grow, what puzzles they are presented with, and where it all might be leading.  Also, we’ll start seeing some comparisons to other works as well. 

    We will complete “books” 2 and 3 of HPMOR, or Chapters 23-64 of the entire book. 

    A syllabus is forthcoming.

    As before, science is more than a set of facts.  We will work to expand our scientific thinking.

    Total class time is 15 sessions – one of these weeks will be a spring break, to be determined with your input.

    All times are U.S. East Coast. 

    Students will have access to class recordings the day after each class.

    • 26 Jan 2018
    • 13 Apr 2018
    • 12 sessions
    • On Line
    • 13

    Lisa Fontaine-Rainen, instructor

    (NOTE 1: This course typically meets from 3:45 pm - 5:00 pm Eastern time, except on the first day, when it meets 45 minutes earlier.)

    (NOTE 2This course is identical to the 2017 summer and fall courses.  For the next course in the series, please register for Scientific and Rational Thought and Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality PART 2)

    Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is a fanfic that begins with the premise that Harry’s aunt Petunia marries an Oxford chemistry professor (rather than Vernon Dursley) and Harry is homeschooled – and has a particular talent for scientific thinkng.  Thus the 2000 page fanfiction re-envisions the Harry Potter story through the lens of a child who engages in scientific and rational thinking. 

    And here’s a bit of honesty.  I don’t read fanfic.  I don’t begrudge it for those who love it – I think it’s a great way to get writing or to explore ideas, but I generally don’t read it myself.  I don’t want to see changes to stories I love.  I had to be dragged into reading this one. 

    And I don’t regret it one bit.  Even if you’re like me and not into fanfic, this one’s worth it.  This one makes me think.  It lets me move through the world I love, examine it through a different lens, laugh at its quirks, love it all the more, and become a better scientist.  Not only do I hope to share it with you, I hope to bring you deeper into the thinking, exploring the story and the premise fully to help you also think rationally, like this version of Harry. 


    In this course we will read the first  “book” of the work and explore the various scientific ideas introduced in the text.  We’ll talk about Harry’s approach to the world, and where it might get in his way.  Our course will weave literature and science, as they have been woven in this text.  We’ll also ask the question about the changes made from the original text – which were driven by an intent to steep the main character in scientific thought and which were not.  Thus, having at least some knowledge of the original Harry Potter texts, or at least the movies, is useful for this course. 

    Some of the ideas presented in the text can be quite dark – much like the original books, but sometimes even more so.  Parents are encouraged to read chapter 1 to get a flavor for the text, and chapter 7 (starting around page 85) as it contains some of the most troubling material that we will address in this class.   Alternatively, feel free to e-mail me directly for excerpts to review, and I’m happy to discuss the content as well. 

    Participants will have the opportunity to engage in a number of assignments that explore the ideas in the course.  These will be flexible and tailored to participants’ interests and abilities.  Other work will be primarily reading the book and supplementary material and participating in discussions in and out of class.  The book is available online for e-readers or to print  and as podcasts, all at no cost. 

    Science isn’t a set of facts, but instead a way of thinking.  Come explore the science and the magic of this world.

    All times are U.S. East Coast. 

    Students will have access to class recordings the day after each class.

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