CBC radio’s “How to think about science”

The Canadian Broadcasting Company radio show Ideas has an interesting eighteen part series of hour long shows called How to think about Science. These shows are available on the web as podcasts or streaming audio.  They describe the series:

If science is neither cookery, nor angelic virtuosity, then what is it?

Modern societies have tended to take science for granted as a way of knowing, ordering and controlling the world. Everything was subject to science, but science itself largely escaped scrutiny. This situation has changed dramatically in recent years. Historians, sociologists, philosophers and sometimes scientists themselves have begun to ask fundamental questions about how the institution of science is structured and how it knows what it knows.

Some of the episodes are a bit annoying, but some are excellent.  In particular I liked

  • Episode 4 – December 5 – Ian Hacking and Andrew Pickering A new generation of historians and philosophers have made the practical, inventive side of science their focus. They’ve pointed out that science doesn’t just think about the world, it makes the world and then remakes it. Science, for them, really is what the thinkers of the 17th century first called it: experimental philosophy.
  • Episode 5 – December 12 – Ulrich Beck and Bruno Latour Few people ever apply a name that sticks to an entire social order, but sociologist Ulrich Beck is one of them. In 1986 in Germany he published Risk Society, and the name has become a touchstone in contemporary sociology. Among the attributes of Risk Society is the one he just mentioned: science has become so powerful that it can neither predict nor control its effects. It generates risks too vast to calculate. … Later in the hour you’ll hear from another equally influential European thinker, Bruno Latour, the author of We Have Never Been Modern. He will argue that our very future depends on overcoming a false dichotomy between nature and culture.
  • Episode 6 – January 2 – James Lovelock In this episode David Cayley presents a profile of James Lovelock. It tells the story of a career in science that began a long time ago.
  • Episode 10 – January 30 – Brian Wynne
  • Technological science exerts a pervasive influence on contemporary life. It determines much of what we do, and almost all of how we do it. Yet science and technology lie almost completely outside the realm of political decision. … In this episode we explore the relations between politics and scientific knowledge. David Cayley talks to Brian Wynne … one of Britain’s best-known writers and researchers on the interplay of science and society.
  • Episode 13 – March 5 – Dean Bavington David Cayley talks to environmental philosopher
    Dean Bavington about the role of science in the rise and fall of the cod fishery.

2 thoughts on “CBC radio’s “How to think about science””

  1. Thanks. Other episodes which are also good are:

    Episode 16 – Steven Shapin

    Steven Shapin has argued in books like A Social History of Truth, and Science is Culture that science is social all the way down, and that this in no way undermines its truth claims, truth also being, by nature, social. In this episode, Steven Shapin shares his thoughts on the history of science and the sociology of scientific knowledge.

    Episode 20 – Michael Gibbons, Peter Scott, and Janet Atkinson Grosjean
    Janet Atkinson Grosjean of the University of British Columbia. Shes the author of recent book called Public Science, Private Interests, which looks at Canadian science policy, and its attempt to harness science to social and economic goals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>