Jennifer Michael Hecht: Historian & Poet (B&I 27)

jmhecht Episode 27 of Books and Ideas is an interview with Jennifer Michael Hecht, author of Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson and The Happiness Myth. As a poet and historian Hecht brings a unique perspective to her examination of the role of science in modern society. She also shares how writing Doubt changed her attitude toward religion. I have wanted to interview Jennifer for several years so I was very grateful that my recent appearance on Point of Inquiry led to this conversation. Hecht earned her PhD in the History of Science and while Doubt was an examination of the history of belief (and non-belief), she said that The Happiness Myth shares  key ideas from the history of science. Hecht argues convincingly that the arrogance of modern science can not be justified,  because history shows how much science, despite its best efforts, is always influenced by the cultural fads of its time. She feels that this knowledge could free us from unnecessary guilt, but that it should also motivate us to question our priorities (such as placing so much emphasis on long life instead of the quality of life). You won't want to miss this thought-provoking conversation.

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