Harvard Book Store, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Cabot Science Library welcome acclaimed author and Harvard professor NAOMI ORESKES for a discussion of her latest book, Why Trust Science?.
Do doctors really know what they are talking about when they tell us vaccines are safe? Should we take climate experts at their word when they warn us about the perils of global warming? Why should we trust science when our own politicians don’t? In this landmark book, Naomi Oreskes offers a bold and compelling defense of science, revealing why the social character of scientific knowledge is its greatest strength―and the greatest reason we can trust it.
Tracing the history and philosophy of science from the late nineteenth century to today, Oreskes explains that, contrary to popular belief, there is no single scientific method. Rather, the trustworthiness of scientific claims derives from the social process by which they are rigorously vetted. This process is not perfect―nothing ever is when humans are involved―but she draws vital lessons from cases where scientists got it wrong. Oreskes shows how consensus is a crucial indicator of when a scientific matter has been settled, and when the knowledge produced is likely to be trustworthy.
Based on the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Princeton University, this timely and provocative book features critical responses by climate experts Ottmar Edenhofer and Martin Kowarsch, political scientist Jon Krosnick, philosopher of science Marc Lange, and science historian Susan Lindee, as well as a foreword by political theorist Stephen Macedo.
“How do we get to the truth? How do we safeguard scientific knowledge (and ourselves) from those whose interests are threatened by it? With her trailblazing work on climate denial and much else, Naomi Oreskes offers essential perspective on these questions. She tackles them head-on in this clear, utterly compelling book.” ―Naomi Klein, author of No Is Not Enough and This Changes Everything
“Naomi Oreskes, who grabbed our attention with her keen insights into climate denial, now tackles a threat to the very basis of an informed democracy―attacks on science itself. Captivating, forceful, and grounded in critical analysis, Why Trust Science? is for anyone who cares about our world.” ―Jane Lubchenco, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
“This is a troubled time in the history of science and a perilous one for its reputation with the public, which is why now is exactly the right time for the fearless and brilliant Naomi Oreskes to explore this issue. The result is a don’t-miss investigation into the very human nature of research―its successes, its failures, and its fundamental integrity in the search for truth.” ―Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Poison Squad
Certain books were “banned in Boston” at least as far back as 1651, when one William Pynchon wrote a book criticizing Puritanism.