Naomi Oreskes: "Trust in Science?"

Nov 30, 2016, 4:30 pm6:15 pm
McCormick Hall, Room 101
Event Description

Video of Event:

Naomi Oreskes is professor of the history of science and affiliated professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University, and an internationally renowned geologist, science historian, and author.  She received a B.Sc. (First Class Honours) in Mining Geology from the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, London and then worked as an exploration geologist in the Australian outback. She received an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Geological Research and History of Science from Stanford University. Oreskes joined the faculty at Harvard in 2013 after 15 years at the University of California, San Diego. Oreskes is the author of both scholarly and popular books and articles on the history of earth and environmental science, including The Rejection of Continental Drift (Oxford, 1999), Plate Tectonics: An Insider’s History of the Modern Theory of the Earth (Westview, 2003), and in recent decades has been a leading voice on the issue of anthropogenic climate change.

Lecture I: Professor Oreskes will lecture on the subject of when and why should we trust science? Many people are confused about the safety of vaccines, the reality of climate change, and other matters. Doctors tell us that vaccines are safe, and scientists that climate change is real, but how do they know that? How are we to make sense of competing claims? Consider one example: In a Presidential Debate, Donald Trump rejected the position of Ben Carson—a doctor—and insisted that vaccines should be more widely spaced. Oreskes argues that we should generally trust science and she explains why.

With Commentators: Ottmar Edenhofer, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Marc Lange, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Ottmar Edenhofer is Deputy Director and Chief Economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Professor of the Economics of Climate Change of the Technical University Berlin, and former Co-Chair of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Moreover, he is director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) as well as adviser to the World Bank and member of various other important scientific committees and advisory boards. He has published articles in a number of high-ranking peer-reviewed journals and authored a number of books.

Marc Lange is a philosopher of science. He is the Theda Perdue Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and the Chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his A.B. from Princeton and his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Because Without Cause: Non-Causal Explanations in Science and Mathematics (Oxford, forthcoming), Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature (Oxford, 2009), and An Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics: Locality, Fields, Energy, and Mass (Blackwell, 2002), as well as numerous articles.