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Science History Podcast

Oct 10, 2021

How do we distinguish real science from hogwash? How does real science evolve over time into pseudoscience? Why will science always be plagued with sister movements on the fringe that make us cringe? With us to explore these topics and their relationship to the demarcation problem is Michael Gordin. Michael is the Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History and the director of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University. He specializes in the history of modern science in Russia, Europe, and North America, especially issues related to the history of fringe science, the early years of the nuclear arms race, Russian and Soviet science, language and science, and Albert Einstein. He is the author of On the Fringe, which we discuss today, as well as The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe, Scientific Babel: How Science Was Done Before and After Global English, and Red Cloud at Dawn: Truman, Stalin, and the End of the Atomic Monopoly. Today we discuss diverse topics in fringe science, including Bigfoot, extra sensory perception, UFOs, astrology, alchemy, the ether, Aryan physics, Lysenkoism, phrenology, cryptozoology, Velikovsky, Mesmerism, Uri Geller, cold fusion, and where all of this leaves us as we navigate the waters between science and pseudoscience.