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Institute for Science & Technology Studies launches inaugural lecture series today

Institute for Science & Technology Studies launches inaugural lecture series today

Considered to be one of the world’s leading historians of science, University of California, San Diego history and science studies Professor Naomi Oreskes will be at York University today to deliver a special lecture at 12:30pm in 320 Bethune College (The Delaney Gallery) on York’s Keele campus.

Left: Naomi Oreskes

Oreskes, who is an adjunct professor of geosciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and provost of Sixth College at UC San Diego, began her career as an exploration geologist working in the mining industry in the Australian outback. For the past 20 years, she has studied the process of consensus and dissent in science.

The central questions that inform her research are: How do scientists decide when a fact is established? How do they judge how much evidence is sufficient to deem something scientifically demonstrated? And what happens when scientists can’t agree?

Oreskes will be at York to talk about her new book, Merchants of Doubt (Bloomsbury Press, 2010).

In the book, Oreskes and her co-author Erik Conway, an historian of science affiliated with the California Institute of Technology, explore how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists, with extensive political connections, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades.

In seven chapters addressing tobacco, acid rain, the ozone hole, global warming and DDT, Oreskes and Conway roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how the ideology of free market fundamentalism, aided by a compliant media, has skewed public understanding of the most pressing issues of our era.

Oreskes’ lecture marks the official launch of York University’s new Institute for Science & Technology Studies. The institute, which launches today, was created to be a focal point for science and technology studies in Canada. Science & Technology Studies is a burgeoning field not only in Canada, but also the world, as scholars in humanities and social studies develop increasingly sophisticated intellectual and methodological tools for engaging with techno-scientific knowledge, practice and artifacts.

For more on the new institute, visit the Science & Technology Studies website.