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Internationally Renowned Historian of Science to Speak at W&L

Naomi Oreskes, provost and professor of history and science studies at the University of California San Diego, will give a public talk as part of the 2011-2012 Speaker Series WS2: Women Scientists and Women in Science on Monday, Nov. 14, at 5:30 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater of Elrod Commons.

The title of Oreskes’ talk is “Moving Past Doubt: History, Ideology, and Anthropogenic Climate Change.” A book signing will follow.

Oreskes will be speaking on the topic of her recent book, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (2010), an exhaustive, well-written and fascinating account of how we arrived at the current disconnect between science and society on global warming.

A former geologist, Oreskes’ early work examined the 20th century transformation of earth science, in The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science (1999) and Plate Tectonics: An Insider’s History of the Modern Theory of the Earth (2003).

Oreskes has also written on the under-acknowledged role of women in science in “Objectivity or Heroism? On the Invisibility of Women in Science” (1996, OSIRIS); on the role of numerical simulation models in establishing knowledge about inaccessible natural phenomena in “Verification, Validation and Confirmation of Numerical Models in the Earth Sciences” (1994, Science); and most recently, an article on the science of climate change. “Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” (2004, Science) is one of the many papers on this subject by Oreskes.

Her opinion pieces have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Nature, Science and The New Statesman, among others. Her book, Merchants of Doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco to Global Warming, co-authored with Erik M. Conway, was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

She has received grants for her work from the U.S. National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Philosophical Society, and won numerous major prizes and awards, including, most recently, the Francis Bacon Award in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (2009) and the UC San Diego Chancellors Associates Faculty Excellence Award for Community Service (2008).

Oreskes’ received her B.Sc. from The Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, University of London in England, and her Ph.D. from Stanford University.

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Julie Cline
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