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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My first interview: Matthew Cobb, author of "Generation" (B&I 7)

matthewcobb.jpgMatthew Cobb Show Notes In this podcast is an interview with Matthew Cobb who wrote Generation: The Seventeenth-Century Scientists Who Unraveled the Secrets of Sex, Life, and Growth, which was discussed in Episode 6. Cobb discusses how he became interested in the Dutch Golden Age and the pioneers who discovered the egg and the sperm, even though it was almost 200 years before the discovery of genetics helped solve the mystery of human reproduction. We also discuss how the history of of science reveals the role of human nature in the scientific endeavor. Matthew gave a great interview, but I haven't had time to compile detailed shownotes. Listen to the interview now. Download Episode Transcript Subscribe to this podcast Subscribe via iTunes™ Join email list Egg and Sperm website
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Review: "Generation" by Matthew Cobb (B&I 6)

generation.jpgGeneration: The Seventeenth-Century Scientists Who Unraveled the Secrets of Sex, Life, and Growth by Matthew Cobb Listen to this episode now Subscribe to this podcast Subscribe via iTunes™ Join email list Show Notes In this episode I discuss the highlights of Matthew Cobb’s account of the early days of the scientific revolution. During the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, several Dutch thinkers made important contributions to discovering how human reproduction happens. Their work helped established the scientific method of experimentation and helped revolutionize how we see ourselves relative to the other living things on earth. Here are the full names of the people mentioned: William Harvey Neils Steno Francesco Redi Robert Hooke Johannes van Horne Jan Swammerdam Reinier de Graaf Antoni Leeuwenhoek Gregor Mendel Other interesting Links: Matthew Cobb’s Website an American Scientist Bookstand interview of Matthew Cobb
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