283. Michael Strevens — The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science

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By Michael Shermer. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Shermer and Strevens discuss: irrationality and how it drives science • the scientific method • the knowledge machine • irrationality • the replication crisis, what caused it, and what to do about it • verification vs. falsification • the iron rule of explanation • Bayesian reasoning vs. falsification • climate/evolution skeptics • model dependent realism • morality • humanism • theistic arguments for: God, origin of life, morality, consciousness • known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns • Why should we believe Anthony Fauci? • how to evaluate media sources of science.

If is science so powerful why did it take so long — two thousand years after the invention of philosophy and mathematics — for the human race to start using science to learn the secrets of the universe? Philosopher of science Michael Strevens argues that science came about only once thinkers stumbled upon the astonishing idea that scientific breakthroughs could be accomplished by breaking the rules of logical argument. Using a plethora of vivid historical examples, Strevens demonstrates that scientists willfully ignore religion, theoretical beauty, and even philosophy to embrace a constricted code of argument whose very narrowness channels unprecedented energy into empirical observation and experimentation. Strevens calls this scientific code the iron rule of explanation, and reveals the way in which the rule, precisely because it is unreasonably close-minded, overcomes individual prejudices to lead humanity inexorably toward the secrets of nature.

Michael Strevens, a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow, is a professor of philosophy at New York University. He was born in New Zealand and has been writing about philosophy of science for twenty-five years. He lives in New York.

298 episodes