Honors | Scientific Controversies (HON)
H240 | 29012 | Noretta Koertge

TuTh 9:30-10:45am
HU 108

American citizens often need to rely on science in order to make
informed decisions. But what are we to do when the media tell us
that scientists disagree? Will this vaccine in fact increase the
probability that my baby will be autistic? Should I really support
public policy based on predictions of global warming?

This course on Scientific Controversies begins with two classic
controversies from the history of science, the so-called Galileo
Affair and early debates about Darwinian Evolution. We will see how
genuine differences of scientific opinion in the early stages of
research continued to be exploited for political, religious and
ideological purposes long after a scientific consensus had been

The second half of the course will deal with current controversies
where the balance of evidence is less clear cut -- or at least less
easy to understand. We will treat all viewpoints critically, but
with respect.

Students will have the opportunity to make oral presentations, as
well as write short essays and take exams over assigned readings.