Beyond IQ


Upcoming events

    • 06 Sep 2017
    • 22 Nov 2017
    • 12 sessions
    • On Line
    • 13

    Lisa Fontaine-Rainen, instructor

    (NOTEThis course is identical to the summer course - if students from the summer course wish for an HPMOR 2, let Lisa know.)

    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 moreso.  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.

    • 08 Sep 2017
    • 01 Dec 2017
    • 12 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 abilities of the students in the class.

    NOTE: While the syllabus is the same as P & S 101, specific material will be different if there are students who take both courses.

    This course is intended for students age 13 and up.



    Plan for the day

    September  8

    Definitions and Differences, Exploration of Syllabus, Some early satire

    September 15


    September 22


    September 29


    October  6


    October 13

    Poets and other Printed Matter:

    October 20

    Musicians: Borge, Lehrer, Dr. Demento

    October 27

    Fiction and other Printed Matter

    November 3


    November 10

    Musicians: Anna Russell,
    PDQ Bach, Filk

    November 17

    Our own Parodies and Satires!

    November 24

    Thanksgiving - No Class

    December 1 More of our own Parodies and Satires!

    December 8 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 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

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