Categories
Historical Expertise

Flat Earth Belief ≠ Neo-Medievalism

Paula Simons has no patience for people who believe that the earth is flat, and she is particularly upset, it seems, that Edmonton is hosting the first Flat Earth International Conference: “No Getting Around the Absurdity of Edmonton’s Flat Earth Conference.” She dismisses “flat earthers” as delusional conspiracy theorists, reasonably benign if you don’t think […]

Categories
Historical Expertise

“Nothing New” is “Really Bad”

In their impressive compilation of Assyrian and Babylonian medical fragments JoAnn Scurlock and Burton R. Andersen remark about the āšipu: “like intellectuals everywhere, it was not possible for him to approach a medical problem without bringing to it a bit of preconceived theory.”[1] Their observation holds true for modern intellectuals (in this case, a psychologist […]

Categories
Historical Expertise

Martin Rundkvist’s Enlightenment Project

The following is essentially a guest post by Martin Rundkvist. He is responding to my comments a few days ago about “Scientific Progress and the History of Science,” which was a response to his “Historians of Science Need to Know Current Science.” Dr. Rundkvist was polite and invited me to respond to his comments. Although […]

Categories
Historical Expertise

Scientific Progress and the History of Science

In “Historians of Science Need to Know Current Science” Martin Rundkvist rants about those annoying “knowledge relativist historian[s] of science.” Those degenerates are ignorant and lazy, and mock the hard intellectual work and real accomplishments of science. They are also hypocritical. They don’t really believe all that relativist claptrap. Rundkvist wants, instead, a history of […]

Categories
Academia

History Beyond the Walls of the Academy

As Adrian Bingham points out in his recent post, Is anyone listening? History and public policy, historians have not been terribly successful in contributing their expertise to debates beyond the walls of the academy. The recent overhaul of the history curriculum in England illustrates this point, as do the new science curriculum standards in the […]

Categories
Historical Expertise

Scientists Prove that Herodotus Lied

Flushed with their success in proving when the Iliad was written, scientists have now proven that Herodotus’s Histories do not necessarily reflect universal practices and timeless truths. A pair of anthropologists recently compared Herodotus’s account of Egyptian embalming practices to some scholarly descriptions of and a handful of their own CT scans of surviving mummies. […]

Categories
Historical Expertise

David Nutt is Wrong …

Unfortunately, as David Nutt’s recent comments indicate, journalists, audiences, and scientists themselves too readily assume that universal authority and knowledge inhere science.[1] Expertise in a specific technical scientific domain is readily equated with expertise in general. Knowledge in one domain, however, does not in itself demostrate knowledge in another. According to The Independent and Reuters […]

Categories
Academia

It’s About Domains of Expertise

Some great suggestions on Cleaning Up Science but some questionable history of science: In the long run, science is self-correcting. Ptolemy’s epicycles were replaced by Copernicus’s heliocentric system. Well, not really. Copernicus replaced the equant and freely used eccentrics and epicycles for purposes of calculation. See Robert Westman, The Copernican Question (2011), 215. (Or, see […]

Categories
Research

Nikephoros Gregoras and Byzantine Science

In March I am talking on the Byzantine polymath Nikephoros Gregoras and his efforts to establish his scientific authority. In “Empiricism, Prediction, and Instruments: The Creation of Expertise in 14th-Century Constantinople” I will examine the ways that Gregoras tried to distinguish his own expertise by grounding it in precise, empirical predictions and his command of […]