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The highly effective irrationality of science

Join Michael Strevens as he shows that much of science’s power derives from irrationality.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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.


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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.


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.

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