Scientists, Readers, and Other Primates: Contesting Evolution in Public
Debates over science are found in newspapers, online, and in the media. What role have scientists played in these debates? How can they shape public opinion? The stakes are high. In her talk, historian of science Erika Lorraine Milam returns to the decades following the Second World War when scientific authority was equally fraught. During that period, the reading public faced a deluge of perspectives from anthropologists, paleontologists, and biologists who uncovered new fossils, gleaned insights from studying other primates in the wild, and provided vivid accounts of cultures located in far-flung places around the globe.
Scientists in this environment became public authorities on the pressing political issues of the day, from humanity’s capacity for violence to the biological basis of cooperation. Understanding how and why scientific authority shifted among public audiences during this era provides insights into continuing contestations over science today.
Erika Lorraine Milam, a Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in 2023/2024, is the Charles C. and Emily R. Gillispie Professor of the History of Science at Princeton University. She is the author of Looking for a Few Good Males: Female Choice in Evolutionary Biology (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) and Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America(Princeton University Press, 2019). During her stay at the Wissenschaftskolleg, she is writing a book on the history of long-term research projects in behavioral ecology.
Einführung: Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger, Rektorin des Wissenschaftskollegs
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