Date: January 29, 2011 at 2pm
Where: Jefferson Market Library - 425 Avenue of the Americas (btw 9th & 10th St.)
Join Julia Galef and Massimo Pigliucci for a live taping of the Rationally Speaking podcast! In this special episode they will be talking about Massimo’s latest book: "Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk". It will feature an extended question and answer session from the audience, which will be released as part of the podcast.
There will be a social gathering following the event. Details coming up soon.
Double Podcast Teaser: Our first anniversary, and is anthropology still a science?
by Massimo Pigliucci
- from Rationally Speaking Blog
Next week Julia and I will be taping two episodes of the Rationally Speaking podcast, so we are inviting comments on both topics simultaneously.
To begin with, we are about to hit episode number 26, which means that we have been podcasting already for one year! Time really flies when you are having fun. Still, that got our producer, Benny Pollak, to think of the arbitrariness of anniversaries, both those that mark events of personal significance and those that have a wider societal impact. I mean, why exactly is episode 26 so important? Why not celebrate when we hit a nice round number, say 30? Or a prime number, like 29? Or the approximate square root of a prime number? Okay, okay, you get the point. Interestingly, that episode will be taped on the Perihelinox, a “holiday” Benny made up based on the day the earth is closest to the sun (around January 3rd). To help us discuss anniversaries and their history, we will chat with our guest, Prof. Timothy Alborn, a historian at the City University of New York—Lehman College (and, incidentally, my boss).
The other episode we will be taping deals with the recent controversy concerning the scientific status of anthropology. An article by Nicholas Wade in the New York Times reported that the American Anthropological Association had decided “to strip the word ‘science’ from a statement of its long-range plan.” (See also this response in the NYT, penned by Tom Boellstorff, the current editor of American Anthropologist, the journal of the AAA.) To some extent, this reflects the long standing division between physical and cultural anthropology, the first one often associated with science departments, the latter with the humanities. In this particular instance, the revised statement says that “the purposes of the association shall be to advance public understanding of humankind in all its aspects,” a wording that opens the possibility for cultural anthropologists to engage in public advocacy on behalf of cultures they are studying, like the Yanomamo of Venezuela. So, what kind of discipline is anthropology, after all? And, more broadly, should scientists cross the line from research into public advocacy? If you think the answer to that question is easy, just consider the controversies concerning both climate change and the teaching of evolution in public schools...
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