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Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It

Explore the history of competing conceptions of scientific knowledge with a noted professor from Lehigh University.
Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 124.
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Stop Quibbling About the Title Those who are surprised that this is not a "science" course, as such, have only themselves to blame. When Professor Goldman does a science course, you know what's coming. Here, while his approach is often abstruse and, like a bull rider, sometimes makes it difficult to stay aboard as long as you would like, his delivery remains stimulating and deep. That is not to say that a full appreciation of the message always comes on a first listening or viewing; his depth is sometimes difficult to keep up with. This is neither pure science nor pure philosophy. Neither road alone will satisfy you, and I sometimes felt like getting more science, and sometimes more the philosophy. Ultimately, I decided to take his message on the level he delivered it. I have always respected his scholarship, as well as his ability to generate a highly animated delivery, which few of his Great Courses colleagues come close to matching. Give this course a fair chance.
Date published: 2024-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Describes the schizophrenia of science perfectly The Particle-Field of Scientists-Science described from either end of the political extremes. Presenter has totally bought the "stretchy space, non-causal quantum" model of the "authorities" (without understanding it himself), then argues that the authorties are correct simply because they agree. Math only predicts, only accurate predictions "prove" science. Predicting things that only gang members care about and only affect *you* if you are in the gang... is "advanced science" that you need to spend six figures on your education and certification... to get a six figure salary. The royalty of science need high paying salaries. So that they can predict things that do not affect you.
Date published: 2023-08-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from philosophy trying to make believe it's science To a degree, the course reminds me of the endless, meaningless, self-serving bull sessions in college. Though here, a bit loftier in concept. The course wavers between interesting & thought provoking at times (too infrequently) on one hand, & boring pseudo intellectual gibberish on the other hand. Professor Goldman's enthusiasm has him too often start a sentence & then in the middle of it, go off in tangents. In lecture #23, where he refutes intelligent design, while i'm no supporter of the religious fiction of intelligent design, i believe Prof Goldman unfairly misses the mark in attacking intelligent design's often response to "how" by its response "god did it" by his arguing that such a response is not a response. Indeed it is - perhaps a cop out, perhaps too simplistic, but it is the standard religion based response, & must be accepted as such.
Date published: 2023-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Facinating discussion of how science "works" Discusses interaction of history of science & philosophy of science, focused on question of how scientific knowledge evolves, as new theories about what "really is" supercede older ones. Very interesting, & insightful analyses of both scientific inquiry & how it can be constructively understood.
Date published: 2023-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from EXCELLENT account of philosophy of science Dr. Goldman has a communicative gift in explaining the complex nature of scientific reasoning and the philosophical context in which science has evolved over the centuries. His insights are transformative and empowering about what you (and scientists) THINK they know, and how knowledge, truth, rationality, and reasoning are rather equivocal by nature. I have watched this lecture series over and over again, and each time, I learn something new. His students at Lehigh University are incredibly lucky! I also recommend Dr. Goldman's lectures entitled Science in the 20th Century. It is equally engaging and enlightening! Anyone looking to better understand the big picture of reality must watch these two lecture series. Thank you, Dr. Goldman!
Date published: 2022-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect intro to history and philosophy of science I've listened to this course several times now. It's magnificent.
Date published: 2021-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent history of the Philosophy of Science Lots to unpack in this course. It can be hard to follow at times, but if you take your time to listen carefully to what Dr. Goldman has to say, I believe it is worth it. The course spends most of its time discussing the philosophical underpinnings of science, focusing on the nature of "knowledge claims" that science makes. Dr. Goldman argues very effectively and obviously knows the material very well.
Date published: 2021-12-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Course on the Philosophy of Science The lecturer was very good and certainly knew his stuff. However, I found it difficult times to keep up with him even though I am a trained scientist. The delivery was very rapidly and it was hard to absorb the material. I had to read the guidebook before and after the lectures.
Date published: 2021-08-25
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Overview

Explore the history of competing conceptions of scientific knowledge over issues such as evolution from the onset of the Scientific Revolution in the 1600s to the present.

About

Steven L. Goldman

After 50 years, I continue to find new depths and fresh excitement in studying the history and philosophy of science.

INSTITUTION

Lehigh University

Dr. Steven L. Goldman is the Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Lehigh University, where he has taught for 30 years. He earned his B.S. in Physics at the Polytechnic University of New York and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Boston University.

Before taking his position at Lehigh, Professor Goldman taught at The Pennsylvania State University, where he was a cofounder of one of the first U.S. academic programs in science, technology, and society studies.

Professor Goldman has received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award from Lehigh University. A prolific author, he has written or edited eight books, including Science, Technology, and Social Progress, and he has an impressive list of scholarly articles and reviews to his credit. He has been a national lecturer for the scientific research society Sigma Xi and a national program consultant for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

By This Professor

Knowledge and Truth Are Age-Old Problems

01: Knowledge and Truth Are Age-Old Problems

What is it that scientists know, and how do they know what they know? The "science wars" in the late 20th century were a dispute within modern science that signals a deep, longstanding conflict over this question....

32 min
Competing Visions of the Scientific Method

02: Competing Visions of the Scientific Method

This lecture casts doubt on the popular notion that the rise of modern science in the early 17th century was the result of discovering a single method for extracting objective truths about nature from subjective experience....

30 min
Galileo, the Catholic Church, and Truth

03: Galileo, the Catholic Church, and Truth

The Catholic Church has been cast as villain in its condemnation of Galileo, but a great deal hinges on whether Galileo possessed knowledge and was defending truth, or was promoting personal opinions based on his beliefs....

30 min
Isaac Newton's Theory of the Universe

04: Isaac Newton's Theory of the Universe

Isaac Newton's mathematical theory of gravity and motion works, and for more than 200 years was lauded as finally giving knowledge of physical reality. But Newtonian physics is wrong, in spite of "working."...

31 min
Science vs. Philosophy in the 17th Century

05: Science vs. Philosophy in the 17th Century

From the beginning, modern science used novel instruments that disclosed realities that cannot be experienced directly. But the very novelty of these instruments raised questions about what it was they revealed....

31 min
Locke, Hume, and the Path to Skepticism

06: Locke, Hume, and the Path to Skepticism

John Locke formulated the classic empirical theory of knowledge, while George Berkeley mounted a vigorous attack on modern science, and David Hume embraced skepticism, criticizing unjustifiable knowledge claims....

31 min
Kant Restores Certainty

07: Kant Restores Certainty

Immanuel Kant invented a philosophical system that guaranteed universal, necessary, and certain knowledge, but at a price. We could have knowledge of experience, but not of the world as it "really" is, beyond experience....

31 min
Science, Society, and the Age of Reason

08: Science, Society, and the Age of Reason

The role that scientific knowledge plays in society today is the realization of the 18th-century Enlightenment vision linking social reform and the idea of progress to reason by way of science....

31 min
Science Comes of Age in the 19th Century

09: Science Comes of Age in the 19th Century

In spite of science's growing applicability to the real world through technology, scientists began to question the relationship between theories and reality, influenced by such startling ideas as non-Euclidean geometry....

31 min
Theories Need Not Explain

10: Theories Need Not Explain

Joseph Fourier and others showed that a theory can provide prediction and control without describing realities behind experience. But then as now, the dominant view was that scientific theories reveal what is really out there....

32 min
Knowledge As a Product of the Active Mind

11: Knowledge As a Product of the Active Mind

William Whewell invented the term "scientist" and tried to demonstrate that creative activity by the mind is a fundamental factor in scientific reasoning, and that the history of science is crucial in understanding this process....

31 min
Trading Reality for Experience

12: Trading Reality for Experience

This lecture looks at thinkers as diverse as Ernst Mach, Pierre Duhem, and Heinrich Hertz, who argued from three different perspectives that theories were non-unique interpretations of experience, not descriptions of reality....

31 min
Scientific Truth in the Early 20th Century

13: Scientific Truth in the Early 20th Century

Ironically, just as science increasingly mattered to the general public, and for that reason scientific knowledge was accepted as true, the 19th-century scientific theories responsible for this perception were being discarded!...

32 min
Two New Theories of Scientific Knowledge

14: Two New Theories of Scientific Knowledge

The most proscience philosophies in the first half of the 20th century were logical positivism, which embraced the primacy of scientific knowledge, and pragmatism, a homegrown American philosophy that rejected it....

32 min
Einstein and Bohr Redefine Reality

15: Einstein and Bohr Redefine Reality

Relativity and quantum theory raised new questions about the relationship of science to reality. This lecture addresses these questions, which continue unresolved to this day....

32 min
Truth, Ideology, and Thought Collectives

16: Truth, Ideology, and Thought Collectives

The most radical theory of scientific knowledge to be formulated in the 1930s came from immunologist Ludwik Fleck, who used the history of syphilis as a vehicle for exploring what scientists know and how they know it....

32 min
Kuhn's Revolutionary Image of Science

17: Kuhn's Revolutionary Image of Science

The 1962 publication of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions sparked a reassessment by intellectuals of the privileged status of scientific knowledge and more broadly of the possibility of true objectivity....

32 min
Challenging Mainstream Science from Within

18: Challenging Mainstream Science from Within

Scientific thinking has a collective character shaped by education and professional community life, but scientific theories also evolve, and highly credentialed "outsiders" play a role....

32 min
Objectivity Under Attack

19: Objectivity Under Attack

Israel Scheffler and Paul Feyerabend assumed opposite stances in response to Kuhn's thesis. Independently, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida launched an attack on the very possibility of objective knowledge....

32 min
Scientific Knowledge as Social Construct

20: Scientific Knowledge as Social Construct

In the 1980s, a consensus formed that scientific and technological knowledge were not value-neutral, but the products of communal practices deeply affected by professional and societal values....

32 min
New Definitions of Objectivity

21: New Definitions of Objectivity

While many intellectuals after 1960 were busily denouncing Western ideals of rationality, knowledge, and truth as politically motivated myths, many philosophers of science proposed defensible theories of scientific realism....

32 min
Science Wars of the Late 20th Century

22: Science Wars of the Late 20th Century

In 1996, a postmodern journal addressed the science wars after a decade of hostility between scientists and supporters of the social construction view. The journal unwittingly published a parody of postmodernism known as Sokal's hoax....

31 min
Intelligent Design and the Scope of Science

23: Intelligent Design and the Scope of Science

Is intelligent design a scientific hypothesis? This question highlights issues of who defines what science is, what constitutes good science, and what words like rationality, truth, knowledge, and reality mean....

32 min
Truth, History, and Citizenship

24: Truth, History, and Citizenship

At a time when science is involved in profound social, moral, and environmental challenges, misunderstanding the positions of competing interpretations of science is an obstacle to effective action....

33 min