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

A course that could save the world

Any additional comments?

Steven L. Goldman takes you along on a journey through the seemingly obvious: the success of science to improve the world. Even though that is non-arguable the case, science almost lost it's trust among the general public, with incomprehensible possible consequences due not to the failings of science to generate results, but due to what philosophers of science was arguing about scientific knowledge.

This is a profound question. Is there objective, universal truth? And is that what science gives us? As Derrida and Foucalt came into fashion during the mid 20th century, more and more started questioning the earlier privileged position of scientific knowledge. Social construction theory was slowly undermining the trust in science. This was an important wake up call for the scientific community who had been too busy doing science not to bother engaging themselves in the "philosophical debate". In the 1980s it had become obvious that science was about to lose the war.

Goldman gives an intelligent analysis with key events and individuals explaining the reasons why the science wars came into existence, and how it can be resolved.

Science is not objective truth, but that does not diminish science. Science is still the greatest tool there is for dealing with ordinary experience, giving us control over our environments. Why that is the case, and how that can be argued is brilliantly explained in this course.

Understanding that, is the best way in which most of us can support science, the greatest invention there ever was.

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- Orange Monkey

Book Details

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