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The History of Science, by Michael Shermer

The History of Science, by Michael Shermer

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The History of Science: A Sweeping Visage of Science and its History
from the Middle Ages to the Present
Order Digital Edition

The Skeptics Society is pleased to announce that Michael Shermer’s college course on the History of Science is now available in audio, with 24 lectures on MP3 files totaling 25.5 hours (the equivalent of over 20 uncompressed CD disks).

This is a sweeping look at science, its history and philosophy from the Middle Ages to the present, with special emphasis on defining science within the cultural context of the age, who was doing science at the time, and what their goals were in conducting science.

The first four lectures discuss how the history and philosophy of science is conducted, how the definitions of science have changed through time, how the boundary issues between science and pseudoscience and other cultural traditions such as religion are resolved, and how revolutions happen in science.

The next four lectures deal with the scientific revolution — what it was revolting against (the medieval worldview), how astronomy made the transition from astrology to a mechanical science, and how that methodology was applied to the study of society.

The next four lectures are on science in the Enlightenment, where the methods of science as we think of them today were solidified. Two lectures follow on the applications of science to technology, particularly the Industrial Revolution. Two more lectures are devoted to Darwin, the Darwinian Revolution, and how Darwinism was applied to the social sphere.

The course then shifts toward the social sciences, exploring how the study of morals, economies, and societies were influenced by the power science now carried in Western culture. We then move into the 20th century with a look at Einstein’s theories of general and special relativity, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and how chaos and complexity theories are applied to the study of physical, biological, and social systems. The course concludes with an overview of the meaning of science in our time. Course Lectures include:

  1. Introduction: Historiography of Science, Philosophy of Science
  2. What is History? What is the History of Science?
  3. What is Science? Science, Pseudoscience, & the Evolution-Creation Controversy
  4. Scientific Revolutions, Paradigms, and Paradigm Shifts in Science
  5. The Medieval Worldview, Magic and Science, Astrology and Astronomy
  6. The Copernican Revolution
  7. The Scientific Revolution: Brahe, Kepler, Newton, and Newtonianism
  8. The Scientific Revolution: Hobbes and the Science of Society
  9. Science in the Enlightenment: Science Spreads Throughout Culture
  10. Science in the Enlightenment: Science and Aesthetics, Value-Free Science
  11. Science in the Enlightenment: Science and Politics
  12. Science in the Enlightenment: Science and Religion
  13. Science and Technology
  14. Science and the Industrial Revolution
  15. Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution
  16. Social Darwinism
  17. Science and Society: Adam Smith and the Rise of Classical Liberalism
  18. Science and Society: Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill
  19. Science and Society: Hegel and Marx
  20. Science and Society: Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand
  21. Cosmology, Relativity, and Einstein’s Revolution
  22. Heisenberg, Uncertainty, and the Implications of Einstein
  23. Applying Science to History: The Chaos of History
  24. The Meaning of Science in History

These lectures were originally delivered in the Spring of 1991.

Produced by John Wagner of John Wagner Studios.
Copyright © 2009 Michael Shermer. All rights reserved.

NOTE: These disks are designed to play on MP3 players, computers, and newer automotive CD players. 27 hours of lectures are compressed into only 3 CDs.

Download a free audio sample

This is one of Dr. Michael Shermer’s finest college courses that he taught in his 20-year tenure as a college professor, presenting his sweeping visage of science, its history, philosophy, and impact, particularly over the past 500 years. In this free audio download of Lecture 1, Dr. Shermer answers the questions What is History? What is Science? and What is the History of Science? Along the way he shows that the facts never just speak for themselves but must be interpreted through hypotheses, theories, models, paradigms, and even worldviews, and that science is a social process conducted by people with a host of cognitive biases, and how this fact led to the development of a rigorous scientific method to help avoid these psychological shortcomings to our observations and conclusions.

DOWNLOAD the free sample MP3 (65MB)

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