HISTSCI 197. Why Trust Science?


  • Professor: Naomi Oreskes
  • Term: Fall
  • Days: M, W
  • Time: 12:00-1:15
  • School: Faculty of Arts and Sciences
  • Course ID: 216010
  • Subject Area: History of Science

The covid-19 pandemic has poignantly illustrated what can happen when scientific advice is ignored. Yet, at the same time, opinion surveys show that many Americans are distrustful of science and scientists, particularly when scientific findings seem to contradict their worldview. This class examines the basis for trust in science. We will explore the question of whether there is a scientific method, the role of consensus in science, the reasons why scientists sometimes come to faulty conclusions, and how we, as citizens, can judge scientific information and make informed choices in our lives. Topics may include the scientific basis for understanding climate change, the ozone hole, the sources of pandemics, the benefits (or lack thereof) of vitamins, and why you should wear sunscreen and floss your teeth.