Course Coordinator: 
Gordon Arbuthnott
Controversies in Science

The course Controversies in Science aims to develop critical thinking and argument, essential skills for effective independent scientists. The course will be flexible in content and presentation. Invited lecturers will present topics of some controversy or recent interest in science and lead debates by the students. We will also look at some historical controversies in different fields such as neuroscience and genetics, in which we will assign students to take sides by reading only one side of a specific argument and encourage them to discuss the issue and arrive at a resolution in class. 

This course aims to develop the argument and critical powers of scientists by examining the scientific process and its relation to knowledge, and looking at a wide range of topics of moral controversies in science.
Detailed Syllabus: 
  1. Neuroscience started in a disagreement
  2. Scary influence at a distance
  3. Paradigm shifts: the real scientific advances are not predictable
  4. Some other theories of scientific knowledge and its advancement
  5. Conclusions: science as a social enterprise
Course Type: 
Participation and contribution to discussion and debate.
Text Book: 
Scientific Controversies: Case Studies in the Resolution and Closure of Disputes in Science and Technology, by Engelhardt and Caplan (1987) Cambridge University Press
Reference Book: 
Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson, by JW Hecht (2004)