Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It : The Great Courses: History of Science

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Steven L. Goldman
  • Series: The Great Courses: History of Science
  • 12 hrs and 23 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Choose one: (A) Science gives us objective knowledge of an independently existing reality, or (B) Scientific knowledge is always provisional and tells us nothing that is universal, necessary, or certain about the world.
Made your choice? Welcome to the science wars. This long-running battle over the status of scientific knowledge began in ancient Greece, raged furiously among scientists, social scientists, and humanists during the 1990s, and has reemerged in today's conflict between science and religion over issues like evolution.
This series of 24 lectures explores the history of competing conceptions of scientific knowledge and their implications for science and society, beginning with the onset of the Scientific Revolution in the 1600s up until today. It will provide you with an understanding of how science works that is as important as ever. Though it may seem that the accelerating pace of discoveries, inventions, and unexpected insights into nature over the centuries should secure foundations of scientific inquiry, that is far from true, as every day's headlines demonstrate.
By the end of these lectures, you will understand what science is, and you will be enlightened about a fascinating problem you might not even have known existed. "There have been a raft of popular books about what scientists know," says Professor Goldman, "but to the best of my knowledge, there is not a single one of these popular books that focuses centrally on the question of how scientists know what they know." These lectures are an answer to that critical need.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Emancipation from what you think you don't know

What made the experience of listening to Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It the most enjoyable?

It's literally a page turner. Each lecture leads into the next, touching on aspects of human history that one has learned about but never really analyzed in this context. Professor Goldman brings his arguments to life - well reasoned, crystal clear and intellectually challenging. For the most part objective too

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The humanization of the historical and contemporary characters

Which character – as performed by Professor Steven L. Goldman – was your favorite?


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Many... but the overall effect was one of growth. As in all the best courses, you come out the other end having learned more about yourself and your place in the world around you... This course provides it in spades

Any additional comments?

The hypotheses, philosophical arguments and scientific postulations are too numerous to mention. Suffice to say there's something in here for every level of neophyte and expert in the sciences... a real roller coaster ride through it's philosophical history

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- Larry

Mind Twister!

What is Truth? Who defines it? Can scientists, as human beings, no matter how brilliant, ever achieve Objective Truth? What's 'Knowledge?' Is there a 'Reality?' Are there 'Facts'? Does it matter? Should it? Why listen to this??

In this course, the questions just keep coming - often, questions most of us never even think to ask. And visiting (or revisiting) those queries, it turns out, makes for time well spent!

My husband and I listened to this on a long summer car trip with lots of traffic jams and road construction delays. His background is in physics, mine is in the humanities - and we both really got a lot out of this set of lectures. They, in fact, went a long way toward making the trip bearable! There's more philosophy and history here than equations and theorems, and thus the course presents a very different angle for viewing the concerns of science and great scientists and philosophers through the ages. And there's much to prove that these questions are just as relevant and important today as ever before.

There are times when it gets pretty esoteric and can make the head spin - I certainly got lost occasionally - but these are issues well worth considering and very pertinent to our time. Professor Goldman assumes intelligence in his listeners and the ability to take in a lot during each lecture. So, the listener has got to work at it - and perhaps it will take more than one time through to get the most from the experience.

Everything is here - history, classic and modern philosophy, politics, science, religion, ethics . . . . If you have any curiosity about how these relate to science and to today's most vital issues, then I, for one, highly recommend you fight out these "Science Wars." It's a wild - and enlightening - ride!

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- C. Telfair "Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses