Monday, November 29, 2021

"Science Wars"

New from Oxford University Press: Science Wars: The Battle over Knowledge and Reality by Steven L. Goldman.

About the book, from the publisher:

There is ample evidence that it is difficult for the general public to understand and internalize scientific facts. Disputes over such facts are often amplified amid political controversies. As we've seen with climate change and even COVID-19, politicians rely on the perceptions of their constituents when making decisions that impact public policy. So, how do we make sure that what the public understands is accurate? In this book, Steven L. Goldman traces the public's suspicion of scientific knowledge claims to a broad misunderstanding, reinforced by scientists themselves, of what it is that scientists know, how they know it, and how to act on the basis of it.

In sixteen chapters, Goldman takes readers through the history of scientific knowledge from Plato and Aristotle, through the birth of modern science and its maturation, into a powerful force for social change to the present day. He explains how scientists have wrestled with their own understanding of what it is that they know, that theories evolve, and why the public misunderstands the reliability of scientific knowledge claims.

With many examples drawn from the history of philosophy and science, the chapters illustrate an ongoing debate over how we know what we say we know and the relationship between knowledge and reality. Goldman covers a rich selection of ideas from the founders of modern science and John Locke's response to Newton's theories to Thomas Kuhn's re-interpretation of scientific knowledge and the Science Wars that followed it. Goldman relates these historical disputes to current issues, underlining the important role scientists play in explaining their own research to nonscientists and the effort nonscientists must make to incorporate science into public policies. A narrative exploration of scientific knowledge, Science Wars engages with the arguments of both sides by providing thoughtful scientific, philosophical, and historical discussions on every page.
--Marshal Zeringue