Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It by Professor Steven L. Goldman, Ph.D.  Reviews

Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It by Professor Steven L. Goldman, Ph.D.

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Science Wars: Disagreements and Change

Feb 22, 2012
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Intellectual discussion; Good history and philosophical discussion

Cons:Lecturing is a tad fast

The Bottom Line: This is a very good, informative lesson about science and its many controversies


Science is associated with knowledge and truth but as any historian knows, scientists have not always seen eye to eye and have even challenged the validity of their fellow scientists’ theories and ideas. There has always been a battle raging among scientists and science is in a constant state of change. The history of the internal conflict of science is the subject of Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It, an educational lesson brought to you by the Teaching Company.

Educational Lesson Facts and Figures:

Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It is an educational history lesson about science and its controversies. This lesson is offered on CD and on DVD (this review covers the CD version) and it includes a total of 24, thirty minute lectures on 12 CDs. The lesson is presented by Dr. Steven Goldman of Lehigh University and the package includes two cases with six CDs each, plus a course guide to use as a reference.

Science Wars covers many of the historic figures from science and some of the controversy caused by their proposals- controversies that existed between one scientist and other scientists who questioned their wisdom and controversies between governing bodies and other individuals or groups. Some of the famous scientists mentioned in this CD lesson include Isaac Newton, Galileo, Kant, Locke, Hume, Einstein, and others. Each of these men often struggled to make his voice heard and convince others to accept his ideas and many specific moments of conflict are covered in this CD lesson. The lecture wraps up with some words on Intelligent Design and some comments on truth, history, and citizenship.

Final Thoughts:

Scientists know a lot, or so they claim. They put together ideas, facts, assumptions, etc. to create theories about existing phenomena and to try to explain the unexplainable. Modifications are made to the ideas over time as new information is discovered and scientists are generally held in high regard for their willingness to seek out the truth and improve humanity.

As well intentioned as they may be, however, scientists and their ideas are often subjects of controversy and these disputes are the main subject of the Science Wars, which is a history lesson about scientific controversy and resolution. Curious students can listen to this lecture series and discover all sorts of disputes between famous scientists, between scientists and the public at large, and between scientists and various governing bodies. Some of the wars covered in this lesson are better known than others, such as Galileo’s struggle with the Church over his theories about astronomy. Others are not so well- known, but represent important turning points in science as a profession and an intellectual pursuit. This audio lesson covers many of them and shows how, over time, science continues to evolve and change and how even the best scientific ideas are still open to scrutiny and subject to modification at any moment.

One fact about this educational lesson I wasn’t expecting is that it’s really more of a philosophy lesson about science than it is about science itself. The lecture doesn’t stay specifically in line with its main idea, which is talking about battles within the scientific community. It actually spends most of its time debating such topics as knowledge, scientific truth, ideology, and the like. Yes, it does cover some of the actual debates about certain scientific ideas and how controversy can arise in the field of science, but the lesson is more philosophical then anything.

The parts of Science Wars that I like best are the parts where Goldman is actually lecturing about some of the battles scientists have fought with others when their ideas were deemed too controversial for acceptance. Galileo’s frustration over his sun- centered solar system and the inability to get people to listen to him is one good discussion in this CD lesson because it shows what can happen when a scientific idea comes into conflict with religious teachings. Along those same lines, I also liked Goldman’s discussion on the doctrine of Intelligent Design and I felt he did an effective job explaining why Intelligent Design, while certainly intelligent and thought provoking, does not qualify as science.

As for the presentation, Professor Goldman is a very good, intellectual lecturer but listeners need to be prepared for the rapid delivery of Goldman and his tendency to add quick footnotes as he lectures along with lengthy words. Goldman obviously likes to lecture and wants to pack in as much information as possible to his lectures. To accomplish this, he talks at a rapid pace and, when he feels the need, he quickly inserts a side note. What I means is that he will be lecturing along, quickly remember something else to say, and then just suddenly insert it, the same way a person who is writing inserts a random but related thought between parentheses. Then, there is Goldman’s habit of using long words. I couldn’t help but laugh when, for example, I heard Goldman use the word “positivistically.” I didn’t even know such a word existed.

Overall, I found Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It a very good philosophical lesson on science and its many areas of controversy. Science seeks to find answers to all of life’s problems and mysteries and in doing so, there are bound to be disagreements from time to time. Science eventually changes and adapts as new facts and evidence are brought to the forefront and this process of controversy and change is covered well in this Teaching Company audio lesson.


Be sure to click these links to read reviews of more Teaching Company educational offerings:

Psychology of Human Behavior

Doctors: The History of Scientific Medicine Revealed Through Biography

Consciousness and its Implications

Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln

Natural Law and Human Nature


Recommend this product? Yes


Great Music to Play While: Driving

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