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◌  “How To Think About Science”

18 March 2009


I cannot recant my contempt for their overproduction, but I must say that the CBC Ideas series How to Think About Science has some fascinating interviews. So far (listening out of order) I recommend Dean Bavington on the cod collapse, Wendell Berry on wendellberryology, Arthur Zajonc on a Goethean approach to hard science, Evelyn Fox Keller on gender issues in science, and Brian Wynne on science in public policy.

What’s really worthwhile here, what sets it apart from cheerleading, sensationalism or fluffiness, is how they’ve let the experts’ weirder opinions show through honestly. Each of them I’ve heard has said at least one thing I thought was probably wrong, but this is presented without making them seem like anything more artifically dramatic than the brilliant and mainstream-ish scientists and philosophers they are. There’s no (or not much) [whispery NPR voice:] but then the professor came to a strange conclusion, one strikingly at odds with her colleagues in the establishment. It’s just the professor saying it, and we listeners are entrusted with our own opinions.