Vanier College is one of Montreal’s most respected colleges, offering a wide range of credit and non-credit courses. Sadly that range is a little too wide. Last weekend I was reading through the new course brochure from the college, and found a section entitled “World of the Supernatural”; this did not bode well. In this section I found:
- Tarot – The Spiritual Journey
- Relationship Astrology
- Numerology Workshop
- Psychic Development Workshop
- Past Life Workshop
- Evolution of the Soul
- Zodiac Series
Elsewhere in the course list I found:
- Introduction to the Chakra system
- The Principles of Kabbalah
- Prophesy: Book of Revelation
Those last three should at least be in the World of Supernatural section.
I found it shocking that a reputable educational institution would be offering such courses and I fired off an email to them telling them so. A quote from my email:
How is this educating people? Half of these courses are faith based and seem to be more like worship sessions than serious classes. The other half are pseudo-science and quackery. You even bracket most of them under “The World of the Supernatural”. Is this serious education or just a way for you to make a quick buck out of the gullible?
Here is the complete response I received:
Vanier College is a recognized reputable educational institution and the Continuing Education department has successfully offered different types of courses for many years. As you probably noticed, we offer a wide range of Credit courses for the academically focused students. We also have a selection of LifeSkills courses for those individuals who may wish to pursue other avenues of learning and discovery. Both our Credit and LifeSkills courses have run successfully for many years.
As this reply did not address the points I raised, I replied explaining that I would publish our exchange on my website and forward it to James Randi. I also suggested they might be interested in claiming his million dollar prize. So far I’ve had no further response.
I don’t hold out much hope of colleges like Vanier dropping the quackery courses, as there is obviously a demand for them. The challenge for skeptics everywhere is to reduce that demand so such courses are no longer financially viable. Sometimes it feels like a losing battle, then Randi publishes an email from someone who became less credulous or a snake oil salesman gets prosecuted and suddenly things don’t seem so bad.