The highly effective irrationality of science

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Thursday 18 March

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Price

Pay what you can

Event description

Modern science has done amazing things: creating covid vaccines, sending humans to the moon, finding the ultimate nature of gravity. What makes it so powerful—and so different from the attempts to understand nature made by the philosophers and monks of old?

Leaping from Aristotle to Descartes to quarks and gravitational waves, Michael Strevens will show that much of science’s power derives from an epistemic limitation that can only be understood as irrational. The paradigmatic scientist is a paradigmatic reasoner in many ways, but in at least one way, their perfection as a scientist lies in the deliberate cultivation of a gaping intellectual blind spot.

Book tickets

Donate

These online events are free for everyone to access. However, donations are an extremely important source of support for us and we would be most grateful if you are able to contribute. We are a small, independent charity and receive no government funding.  Our income from ticket sales and venue hire has been significantly reduced and will continue to fall. Donations, alongside our membership subscriptions are vital to our development and survival.

Please donate via our JustGiving page. Every donation we receive makes a difference. Thank you for your support.

About the speakers

Michael Strevens was born and raised in New Zealand. He moved to the US in 1991 to undertake a PhD at Rutgers University; currently, he teaches philosophy of science at New York University. His academic work is principally concerned with the nature of science, covering topics such as scientific explanation, understanding, complex systems, probability of various sorts, causation, and the social structure of science; he also applies contemporary research in cognitive psychology to explain aspects of both philosophical and scientific thinking. In The Knowledge Machine, he explains why science is so successful at creating knowledge and why it took so long for humans to figure out how to do it right.

Timing

The live stream will go live at 6.55pm, and the introduction will begin at 7.00pm. If you register but miss the live stream, the video will be available to you via the same link for up to a week after the event date.

The Royal Institution is part of the Amazon Affiliate Programme and book links on this page are affiliate links, which means it won't cost you any extra but we may earn a small commission if you decide to purchase through the link. All procceeds help support the charitable work of the Ri. Affiliate disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate The Royal Institution earns from qualifying purchases.

Become a member

Benefit from free and better than half-price tickets, special offers and access to the CHRISTMAS LECTURES ticket ballot.

Join todayGo