What is science and why should we care?Export this event to calendar

Friday, November 22, 2013 — 7:30 PM EST

St. Jerome's University

Bridges Lecture

What is science and why should we care?

SpeakersAlan Sokal, New York University and University College London (Physics)

James Robert Brown, University of Toronto (Philosopy)


Friday, November 22 2013 @ 7:30 p.m.

Siegfried Hall   -  St. Jerome's University 
FREE ADMISSION  -  OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

FREE PARKING
FOLLOWED BY A RECEPTION

http://sju.ca/news-events/public-events/bridges-lecture-series/2013-2014-bridges-1

We are concerned with two related issues:  What is good science, that is, what are reason and evidence?, and how can we be most effective in putting it to good use in society?  One of us (Sokal) will attempt to answer the question posed in his title, stressing the importance of adopting an evidence-based worldview.  He will discuss several groups of adversaries of this worldview: academic postmodernists and radical social-constructivists, advocates of pseudoscience, and advocates of religion.  The other (Brown) will stress the difficulty in approaching some issues armed with reason and evidence as the only tools.  The way to deal with some views, especially when social and political matters are at issue, is with  mockery, ridicule, and hoaxing in addition to reason and evidence.  Tactics matter.  Dramatic confrontations are sometimes the handmaid of reason and evidence.  This should be clear when dealing with topics as diverse as global warming, religion, and commercialized pharmaceutical research, where ideology and interests often prevail.

Speakers:

Alan Sokal is Professor of Physics at New York University and Professor of Mathematics at University College London. His main research interests are in statistical mechanics and quantum field theory.  He is co-author with Roberto Fernández and Jürg Fröhlich of Random Walks, Critical Phenomena, and Triviality in Quantum Field Theory (Springer, 1992) and co-author with Jean Bricmont of Intellectual Impostures: Postmodern Philosophers' Abuse of Science (Profile Books, 1998). His most recent book is Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture (Oxford University Press, 2008). 

James Robert Brown is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto.   His interests include a wide range of topics in the philosophy of science and mathematics: thought experiments, foundational issues in mathematics and physics, visual reasoning, and issues involving science and society, such as the role of commercialization in medical research.  He has written and edited a number of books on these topics.

This event is part of the Bridges lecture series sponsored by St. Jerome's University, the uWaterloo Faculty of Mathematics, and the uWaterloo Faculty of Arts. Each of the series' public lectures is delivered jointly by a mathematician and a non-mathematician.  More informations about the series can be found at sju.ca/bridges

Coming up next:

February 28th, 2014:  Mathematics and what it means to be human with Michele Osherow (English) and Manil Suri (Math)

March 14th, 2014: Damn Lies, Truths, Statistics and History with Douglas Peers (History) and Don McLeish (Statistics)

Location 
STJ - St. Jerome's University
Siegfried Hall
290 Westmount Road North

Waterloo, ON N2L 3G3
Canada

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