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2010-2011 Colloquia

Spring 2011

January 21, 2011 - Annual Science Studies Symposium

"The Clinical Trial as Pharmaceutical Marketing Tool"
Carl Elliott, Center for Bioethics, University of Minnesota
abstract J-2 cartoon

January 28, 2011

"Fundamentalist Cartoons, Modernist Pamphlets, and the Religious Image of Science during the Scopes Era"
Edward B. Davis, Professor of History of Science, Messiah College
abstract

February 4, 2011

"Einstein's Opponents: The Public Controversy about the Theory of Relativity in the 1920s"
Milena Wazeck, Environmental Studies Program, New York University
Co-sponsored by the Program in the History of Science

February 11, 2011

"How Developmental Evolution Became a Mechanistic Science:
From Regulatory to Synthetic Experimental Evolution"

Manfred Laubichler, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University
Co-sponsored by the Program in the History of Science

February 18, 2011

"A Kuhnian Perspective on Low Inter-Reviewer Reliabilities and Publication Biases"
Carole Lee, Department of Philosophy, University of Washington
This event meets the RCR continuing education requirement.
abstract

February 25, 2011

"The Technology of Arctic Conquest During Soviet Power"
Paul Josephson, Department of History, Colby College
Co-sponsored by the Program in the History of Science

March 4, 2011
Carlson School of Management, West Bank room 1-132
NOTE DIFFERENT PLACE

"Locke and Newton on Absolute Time and its Sensible Measure"
Geoffrey Gorham, Department of Philosophy, Macalester College
Co-sponsored by the Department of Philosophy
abstract

March 11, 2011
No Colloquium: Spring Break

March 18, 2011
No Colloquium: Spring Break

March 25, 2011

"Intelligent Design, Natural Selection, and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis"
John O. Reiss, Department of Biological Sciences, Humboldt State University
abstract

April 1, 2011
No Colloquium: Midwest Junto Conference

Tuesday, April 5, 2011, 12 noon
731 Heller Hall
**Note change of day and venue**

"The several parity theses of developmental systems theory"
Ulrich Stegmann, Department of Philosophy, University of Aberdeen
abstract

April 8, 2011

"Measuring the Inaccessible Earth: Geomagnetism, In Situ Measurements, Remote Sensing, and Proxy Data"
Gregory Good, Center for History of Science, American Institute of Physics
Co-sponsored by the Program in the History of Science

April 15, 2011

"From Aristotle to Moses: The Age of the Earth in Counter-reformation Italy"
Ivano Dal Prete, Program in History of Science and Technology, University of Minnesota
Co-sponsored by the Program in the History of Science

April 22, 2011

"The (In)visible Woman: Authorhip, Gender, and the Circulation of Natural Knowledge in the Eighteenth Century"
Paola Bertucci, Program in the History of Science and Medicine, Yale University
Co-sponsored by the Program in the History of Science

April 29, 2011, 12:10 pm
731 Heller Hall
**Note change of time and venue**

"A Little‐Known Case of Audacious Science: Postvocalic r in New York City"
Michael Kac, Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota
abstract

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Abstracts for Spring 2011

Carl Elliott
"The Clinical Trial as Pharmaceutical Marketing Tool"
Abstract: When a young man committed suicide in an industry-sponsored clinical trial of atypical antipsychotic drugs at the University of Minnesota in 2004, critics charged that he had been coerced into the study. They may be right, but the ethical problem is even larger. Today pharmaceutical companies are designing and analyzing clinical trials not to produce reliable scientific data, but to ensure that their own drugs look superior to the competition. These trials are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and distributed by drug reps as a way of marketing the drugs. Which raises the question-when is it ethically justified to enroll human subjects in marketing studies?


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Edward B. Davis
"Fundamentalist Cartoons, Modernist Pamphlets, and the Religious Image of Science during the Scopes Era"
Abstract:
Recent events in Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other states have raised once again fundamental questions about science and its public image: How is scientific knowledge related to religious knowledge? What image of science and its relation to morality and religion should scientists cultivate and promote? To what extent, and in what ways, should scientists cooperate with the clergy in educating the general public about the content, scope, and limits of scientific knowledge? Do religious scientists have a special responsibility to contribute to conversations of this type? Questions such as these emerge from the intense debate about science and religion in the United States during the years surrounding the Scopes “Monkey” trial of 1925. This talk, heavily illustrated with images, shows how the self-styled “fundamentalists” used cartoons to demonize evolution, and how their “modernist” opponents used religious pamphlets by leading scientists (including two Nobel Laureates and five presidents of the AAAS) and clergy to advance a more favorable religious image of science. The cartoons are largely forgotten today, and the pamphlets are unknown to both historians of science and historians of religion. This paper analyzes the cartoons, tells how the pamphlets were found, sketches their history, and briefly discusses their highly interesting content.
Two of my publications relate closely to the content of this talk:
“Fundamentalist Cartoons, Modernist Pamphlets, and the Religious Image of Science in the Scopes Era.” In Religion and the Culture of Print in Modern America, ed. Charles L. Cohen and Paul S. Boyer, (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008), pp. 175-98.
“Science and Religious Fundamentalism in the 1920s: Religious Pamphlets by Leading Scientists of the Scopes Era Provide Insight into Public Debates about Science and Religion.” American Scientist 93.3 (May-June 2005): 254-60.
Copies of these articles are available on request to mcps@umn.edu


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Carole Lee
"A Kuhnian Perspective on Low Inter-Reviewer Reliabilities and Publication Biases"
Abstract:
A growing body of empirical research challenges the normative well-functioning of expert peer review: inter-rater reliability rates for reviewers is low enough to be considered “poor” by psychometric standards; publication biases skew the results of meta-analyses and suppress information useful for future research. I argue that a Kuhnian perspective can reframe these results so that they are normatively appropriate - which raises new empirical and normative questions. Undesirable consequences of low inter-rater reliability rates and publication biases (such as the “luck of the reviewer draw,” skewed meta-analyses, and suppressed information) can be addressed by modifying discipline-wide communication structures in appropriate ways.

Geoffrey Gorham
"Locke and Newton on Absolute Time and its Sensible Measure"
Abstract:
Locke and Newton agreed that space and time exist independently of their sensible measures, body and motion. They also agreed that sensible measures of space and time can only be approximate. But Locke was especially skeptical about measures of absolute time, in spite of Newton's famous arguments for absolute space and time in the Principia (which Locke reviewed) and the well-known demonstrations of pendulum isochrony. I argue that their opposing attitudes to absolute time ultimately depend on divergent forms of empiricism. Whereas Locke's more traditional, sensationalist brand of empiricism encourages skepticism about the laws of nature, including the laws that Newton and others appeal to in support of pendulum isochrony, Newton allows our best physical theory (namely his) to guide empirical judgments about the equality of spatial and temporal intervals.


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John O. Reiss
"Intelligent Design, Natural Selection, and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis"
Abstract:
Two very different evolutionary controversies now reign. In the political sphere, “intelligent design” is promoted as an alternative to evolution for explaining the complexity and adaptedness of organisms. Meanwhile, in evolutionary biology itself, new ideas such as evo-devo perspectives, self-organization, evolvability, and niche construction are promoted as keys to an extended and/or reformulated evolutionary synthesis. Neither controversy seems close to resolution. I argue that the implicit assumption that adaptedness needs an explanation—which Darwin inherited from the natural theology of Paley—has handicapped evolutionary biology both in arguing effectively against intelligent design creationism, and in broadening the synthesis. To move beyond Darwin, we must reject this assumption. We must begin again, rerooting evolutionary biology in the pre-Darwinian views of Epicurus, Lucretius, and the great comparative anatomist Georges Cuvier.


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Ulrich Stegmann
"The several parity theses of developmental systems theory"
Abstract: A central tenet of developmental systems theory is ‘parity’ or ‘symmetry’ between genes and non-genetic factors of development. Roughly, parity means that genes have no special status or importance for development vis-à-vis the non-genetic factors of development. But the precise content of parity claims remains obscure. The DST literature works with different notions, and the responses by DST sceptics have added further variations to the general theme. My talk aims to clarify the parity thesis. I distinguish seven versions that have been influential in discussions of parity. I then evaluate two of these versions and comment on Ken Waters’ (2007) objection to parity.


Michael Kac
"A Little‐Known Case of Audacious Science: Postvocalic r in New York City"
Abstract: The work I’ll discuss comes from a field little known to even the educated public — linguistics, more specifically, the subfield of dialectology. Fortunately, it can be discussed in a way easily understood by the nonspecialist.
In the 1930’s, when the investigators involved in the compilation of the Linguistic Atlas of the United States began gathering data from New York City, they found an initially bewildering phenomenon: an unexpectedly high degree of variation in the pronunciation of words containing, in their written form, an r preceded by a vowel within the same syllable (examples: car, board). Expecting to find consistent nonpronunciation of these r’s, in keeping with New York’s history as an ‘Anglophile’ linguistic region, they instead found speakers sometimes pronouncing and sometimes omitting postvocalic r’s with no apparent rhyme or reason. Their response was to merely throw up their hands, and declare the variation to be completely nonsystematic, which is where matters stood until the early 1960’s, when a Columbia University graduate student named William Labov solved the mystery.
A number of features of this work make it of interest to philosophers and historians of science. First, Labov was triply audacious: a lesser being in the academic Great Chain who had not yet earned his union card, he not only set his elders and betters straight on what was going on but did so by means of a methodology never before employed in the field. The way he went about investigating the problem involved a particularly ingenious piece of social‐science research design, its ingenuity consisting in part of the ease with which the work could be carried out (the entire data‐gathering phase took place on a single day); the data were as crisp and unequivocal as meter readings; no special equipment was needed; and the work could be easily replicated. Especially interestingly, this is not a case of an idea initially dismissed as crazy only later finding acceptance — Labov more or less instantly succeeded in convincing the aforementioned elders and betters that he was right, and, in the process, revolutionized the field of dialectology.


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Fall 2010

September 17, 2010

“Telling Scientific Lives and the Return of Biography”
Florence C. Hsia, Department of the History of Science University of Wisconsin-Madison
Co-sponsored by the Program in the History of Science and Technology and the Center for Early Modern History

September 24, 2010
Upson Room, Walter Library **note change of venue**

Author meets readers
"Teaching Children Science: Hands-On Nature Study in North America, 1890-1930"
University of Chicago Press
Cloth ISBN: 9780226449906 Published May 2010
E-book ISBN: 9780226449920
Author:
Sally G. Kohlstedt,
Department of Geology & Geophysics, University of Minnesota
Readers:
Nancy Beadie, College of Education, University of Washington
Pamela M. Henson, Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, DC
Co-sponsored by the Program in the History of Science and Technology
abstract

October 1, 2010

“Truly Social Cognition: Repeatedly Assembling Culture and Mind”
Linnda R. Caporael, Department of Science & Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
abstract

October 8, 2010

“Origin Stories and Theoretical Biology: On Not Begging The Question”
James Griesemer, Department of Philosophy, University of California, Davis
abstract

October 15, 2010

“The Moral Condition of Victorian Science: Patience, Humility and the Inductive
Method”
Richard Bellon, Lyman Briggs College, Michigan State University
Co-sponsored by the Program in the History of Science and Technology
abstract

October 22, 2010

“Scientific Nationalism in Postcolonial East Asia”
Hiromi Muzuno, Department of History, University of Minnesota
Co-sponsored by the Program in the History of Science and Technology

October 29, 2010

“Challenging the Applicability of Geometry”
Douglas Marshall,
Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science, Visiting Scholar
abstract

November 5, 2010

No Colloquium

November 19, 2010

“Heuristic Appraisal: How to Learn from the "Future"”
Thomas Nickles, Department of Philosophy, University of Nevada, Reno
abstract

November 26, 2010

No Colloquium, THANKSGIVING

December 3, 2010

“Studying Cultural Evolution: Beyond the Meme?”
William C. Wimsatt,

Winton Professor of the Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota,
and Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago
abstract

December 10, 2010

No Colloquium

December 17, 2010

No Colloquium


Abstracts for Fall 2010

Author MeetsReaders
Teaching Children Science:  Hand-On Nature Study in North America, 1890-1930 (by Sally Gregory Kohlstedt) This book traces the object-based approach to teaching about the natural world that first introduced science into the public schools. The widespread curriculum movement coincided with public enthusiasm for zoos, botanical gardens, natural history museums and national parks, which also promoted the idea that direct knowledge of nature would benefit an increasingly urban and industrial nation. Scientists concerned about preparing students for advanced work, educational psychologists attending to child development, and reforming progressive educators found nature study a way to heighten the observational capacity of youth and prepare them to integrate local knowledge with the increasingly scientific culture around them.

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Linnda R. Caporael
“Truly Social Cognition: Repeatedly Assembling Culture and Mind”
Abstract: Human self-interest is highly constrained by obligatory interdependence: people are unable to survive and reproduce without a group. I expand a model of the evolutionary and developmental dynamics of sociality in face-to-face groups with Wimsatt and Griesemer’s (2007) research on material overlap, generative entrenchment, and scaffolding. The combined view suggests a number of topics for which an evo-devo perspective might be put to work meshing cognition and culture. I develop an analysis of folk psychology to illustrate, as well as to encourage further discussion about the approach. (An early online version of my work is easily accessed at: http://www.cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/cgi/psyc/newpsy?6.01). 

James Griesemer
"Origin Stories and Theoretical Biology: On Not Begging The Question"
Abstract: Origins of things in the natural world are hard to explain. Science is mostly about changes, unfoldings or endings of things we take for granted—things we presuppose to be on metaphysically solid ground. Our scientific narratives tend to take what is “given”—what we find; what is literally given to us; what we assume, presume, presuppose—and spin tales about what happens next, after that, and last. More sophisticated causal narratives consider what might have happened next, after or last if conditions had been different, but rarely if origins had been different. In this essay, I develop an epistemological tool for thinking about an indirect method of investigating origins problems and then apply it to several cases of interest to theoretical biology. The tool is to study biological practice, not as an exercise in theory-making or theory-testing, but rather as an exercise in tracking. Biologists track things, phenomena, processes to reveal information about them. In contrast, explanation and testing depend on theoretical representations that embed the presuppositions that beg origins questions. Three cases I will briefly sketch without any technical details are: units of selection, evolutionary transitions, and Mendelian heredity. In each case, a rich body of theoretical and philosophical understanding has been built, but each provokes serious problems about origins. By sketching these stories, I hope that you too will be provoked to think about origins problems and what we can do about them, given our general scientific condition and fate to start and end our work in the middle of problems rather than at the beginning or end.

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Richard Bellon
"The Moral Condition of Victorian Science: Patience, Humility and the Inductive
Method"

Abstract: For the Victorians, a constitutive relationship existed between legitimate ideas and virtuous behavior. The leaders of nineteenth-century British science insisted that honorable character (and not just skill and knowledge) was essential to scientific theorizing. Patience and humility were the defining qualities in this moral economy, across generations and ideological divides, because these traits necessarily underwrote the toilsome and perseverant work required by the inductive method; arrogant and reckless speculation was the besetting sin. A theory had legitimacy only if the product of right behavior. The evaluation of ideas therefore involved moral and not just technical judgments. As theoretical controversies arose, disputants routinely fought to associate their preferred ideas with patience and humility—and whenever justifiable (or sometimes simply expedient) they attempted to delegitimize opposing truth claims and metaphysical positions as the poisoned fruit of rashness and pride. We cannot fully understand how the self-appointed leaders of Victorian science conducted their intellectual battles without understanding how evaluations of behavior drove both their rhetoric and their day-to-day scientific practice. As geologist Adam Sedgwick explained: “Perfection (in the limited sense in which the word can be used in speaking of the feeble powers of man) comes only by continued and well applied labour: and the remark bears on our moral condition as well as our intellect.”

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Douglas Marshall
"Challenging the Applicability of Geometry"
Abstract:  In this talk I articulate a family of challenges to the applicability of geometry which hinge on the contention that geometry fails to fit or correspond to nature.  Some of the challenges are drawn from the history and philosophy of science:  e.g., the challenge attributed to Protagoras that a hoop does not touch a straightedge at a point.  I ultimately argue that some challenges in the family are insuperable, or, in other words, that the applicability of geometry does impose non-trivial constraints on the relationship between geometry and nature.

Thomas Nickles
“Heuristic Appraisal: How to Learn from the "Future”
Abstract:  Although I am a historically-oriented philosopher of science, I think philosophers (even the historically-oriented ones) are too past-oriented rather than future-oriented. (Ironically, historians are usually more future-oriented in the way that I mean.) That is one reason why philosophers have had so much trouble making sense of "revolutionary" transitions to relatively untried and unorthodox modes of thought and practice. Traditional confirmation theory and even the most sophisticated recent Bayesian approach fall short when it comes to the problem of heuristic appraisal (as I call it), that is, understanding scientists' evaluations of the relative future potential of theories, models, experimental techniques, open problems, and so on, and its role in research decisions. "Revolutionary" transitions are only the most dramatic, large-scale instances of a phenomenon that also occurs on the smallest scales.

William Wimsatt
“Studying Cultural Evolution: Beyond the Meme?”
Abstract: Parallels between biological and cultural evolution are obvious. And serious attempts to develop an evolutionary theory of culture now abound—often based on “memetic” ideas or practices loosely modeled on “genes”. This is a tempting mistake that sidesteps deep issues about cultural change, and useful directions for further theoretical development. Memetics cannot explain who acquires what memes—and in what order: their acquisition is commonly order-dependent. Nor can it account for the complex organization of culture. One must integrate individual developmental acquisition of competencies from others within the social, technological, and institutional structures that scaffold and are created by these same patterns—a self generating recursion. Generative entrenchments or dependency relations within and between individuals are crucial—an insight from evolutionary developmental biology—in explaining the diverse patterns of stasis and change in the division of labor and articulation of patterns in culturally induced population structures in cultural evolution.

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