New Books in Science, Technology, and Society

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Interviews with Scholars of Science, Technology, and Society about their New Books
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1535 episodes

Modifying Maize: How Genetically Modified Corn Changed Science, Academia and Indigenous Rights in Mexico (Part 1 of 2)

This is part 1 of a 2-part series from Cited - the predecessor of Darts and Letters. When genetically modified corn was found in the highlands of Mexico, Indigenous campesino groups took to the streets to protect their cultural heritage, setting off a 20-year legal saga. The battle brought Indigenous rights, scientific methods, academic freedom, and law and trade into the mix. It’s a fascinating and eternally relevant story. You’ll hear from scientists, activists, farmers and more. In an era when food security, environmental protections, and Indigenous rights are as crucial and as fraught as ever before, this story is closer to home than you might think. —————————-SUPPORT THE SHOW—————————- You can support the show for free by following or subscribing on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whichever app you use. This is the best way to help us out and it costs nothing so we’d really appreciate you clicking that button. If you want to do a little more we would love it if you chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patrons get content early, and occasionally there’s bonus material on there too. ——————-ABOUT THE SHOW—————— For a full list of credits, contact information, and more, visit our about page. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

55m
Aug 11
Christian Wolmar, "British Rail: A New History" (Michael Joseph, 2022)

You think you know British Rail. But you don't know the whole story. Now, award-winning writer Christian Wolmar provides a new perspective on national loss in a time of privatisation in British Rail: A New History (Michael Joseph, 2022). From its creation after the Second World War, through its fifty-year lifetime, British Rail was an innovative powerhouse that transformed our transport system. Uniting disparate lines into a highly competent organisation - heralding 'The Age of the Train' - and, for a time, providing one of the fastest regular rail services in the world. Born into post-war austerity, traumatised, impoverished and exploited by a hostile press, the state-owned railway was dismissed as a dinosaur unable to evolve, and swept away by a government hellbent on selling it off. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

49m
Aug 11
Twitter, Intellectual Discourse, and Humility

For this episode of How To Be Wrong, I speak with George Styles, a biochemist and author of the book Contemplation. George is also what we describe these days as an “influencer”—although as we discuss he objects to that label—on social media, with over 37 thousand followers on Twitter. His approach to Twitter is novel in that he focuses on asking probing questions designed to generate discussion, which at times become rather heated. Our conversation moves through topics related to how Twitter is used and how it can be used as a tool for generating civil intellectual discourse. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

1h 9m
Aug 10
Minh-Ha T. Pham, "Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Social Media's Influence on Fashion, Ethics, and Property" (Duke UP, 2022)

In 2016, social media users in Thailand called out the Paris-based luxury fashion house Balenciaga for copying the popular Thai “rainbow bag,” using Balenciaga’s hashtags to circulate memes revealing the source of the bags’ design.  In Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Social Media's Influence on Fashion, Ethics, and Property (Duke UP, 2022), Minh-Ha T. Pham examines the way social media users monitor the fashion market for the appearance of knockoff fashion, design theft, and plagiarism. Tracing the history of fashion antipiracy efforts back to the 1930s, she foregrounds the work of policing that has been tacitly outsourced to social media. Despite the social media concern for ethical fashion and consumption and the good intentions behind design policing, Pham shows that it has ironically deepened forms of social and market inequality, as it relies on and reinforces racist and colonial norms and ideas about what constitutes copying and what counts as creativity. These struggles over ethical fashion and intellectual property, Pham demonstrates, constitute deeper struggles over the colonial legacies of cultural property in digital and global economies. Lakshita Malik is a doctoral student in the department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work focuses on questions of intimacies, class, gender, and beauty in South Asia. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

51m
Aug 10
J. R. McNeill and Peter Engelke, "The Great Acceleration: An Environmental History of the Anthropocene since 1945" (Harvard UP, 2016)

The Earth has entered a new age—the Anthropocene—in which humans are the most powerful influence on global ecology. Since the mid-twentieth century, the accelerating pace of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and population growth has thrust the planet into a massive uncontrolled experiment. J. R. McNeill and Peter Engelke's book The Great Acceleration: An Environmental History of the Anthropocene since 1945 (Harvard UP, 2016) explains its causes and consequences, highlighting the role of energy systems, as well as trends in climate change, urbanization, and environmentalism. More than any other factor, human dependence on fossil fuels inaugurated the Anthropocene. Before 1700, people used little in the way of fossil fuels, but over the next two hundred years coal became the most important energy source. When oil entered the picture, coal and oil soon accounted for seventy-five percent of human energy use. This allowed far more economic activity and produced a higher standard of living than people had ever known—but it created far more ecological disruption. We are now living in the Anthropocene. The period from 1945 to the present represents the most anomalous period in the history of humanity’s relationship with the biosphere. Three-quarters of the carbon dioxide humans have contributed to the atmosphere has accumulated since World War II ended, and the number of people on Earth has nearly tripled. So far, humans have dramatically altered the planet’s biogeochemical systems without consciously managing them. If we try to control these systems through geoengineering, we will inaugurate another stage of the Anthropocene. Where it might lead, no one can say for sure. J.R. McNeill holds the appointment of University Professor at Georgetown University, serving as a faculty member of the School of Foreign Service and History Department. Professor McNeill is also a past president of American Society for Environmental History and the American Historical Association. Peter Engelke is the Deputy Director of Foresight at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Strategy Initiative and a Nonresident Senior Fellow, Global Energy Center. Brady McCartney is an interdisciplinary environmental social scientist at the University of Florida. Email: Brady.McCartney@UFL.edu Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

1h 8m
Aug 10
M. I. Franklin, "Sampling Politics: Music and the Geocultural" (Oxford UP, 2021)

Music sampling has become a predominantly digitalized practice. It was popularized with the rise of Rap and Hip-Hop, as well as ambient music scenes, but it has a history stretching back to the earliest days of sound recording and experimental music making from around the world. Digital tools and networks allow artists to sample music across national borders and from diverse cultural traditions with relative ease, prompting questions around not only fair use, copyright, and freedom of expression, but also cultural appropriation and "copywrongs." For example, non-commercial forms of sharing that are now commonplace on the web bring musicians and their audiences into closer contact with emerging regimes of commercial web-tracking and state-sponsored online surveillance. Moreover, when musicians actively engage in political or social causes through their music, they are liable to both commercial and state forces of control. Shifts back to corporate ownership and control of the global music business—online and offline—highlight competing claims for commercial and cultural ownership and control of sampled music from local communities, music labels, and artists. Each case study is based on archival research, close listening, and musical analysis, alongside conversations and public reflections from artists such as David Byrne, Annirudha Das, Asian Dub Foundation, John Cage, Brian Eno, Sarah Jones, Gil Scott-Heron, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Dunya Yunis, and Sonia Mehta.  Sampling Politics: Music and the Geocultural (Oxford UP, 2021) provides ways to listen and hear (again) how sampling practices and music making work, on its own terms and in context. In so doing, M.I. Franklin corrects some errors in the public record, addressing some longstanding misperceptions over the creative, legal, and cultural legacy of music sampling in some cases of rich, and complex practices that have also been called musical "borrowing," "cultural appropriation," or "theft." This book considers the musicalities and musicianship at stake in each case, as well as the respective creative practices and performance cultures underscoring the ethics of attribution and collaboration when sampling artists make music. Marianne Franklin is Professor of Global Media and Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

52m
Aug 09
Ronald Meester and Klaas Slooten, "Probability and Forensic Evidence: Theory, Philosophy, and Applications" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

In Probability and Forensic Evidence: Theory, Philosophy, and Applications (Cambridge UP, 2021), Ronald Meester and Klaas Slooten address the role of statistics and probability in the evaluation of forensic evidence, including both theoretical issues and applications in legal contexts. It discusses what evidence is and how it can be quantified, how it should be understood, and how it is applied (and, sometimes misapplied). Ronald Meester is Professor in probability theory at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He is co-author of the books Continuum Percolation (1996), A Natural Introduction to Probability Theory (2003), Random Networks for Communication (2008), and has written around 120 research papers on topics including percolation theory, ergodic theory, philosophy of science, and forensic probability. Klaas Slooten works as Statistician at the Netherlands Forensic Institute and at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam where he is Professor by special appointment. He as published around 30 articles on forensic probability and statistics. He is interested in the mathematical, legal, and philosophical evaluation of evidence. Marc Goulet is Professor in mathematics and Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

1h 2m
Aug 09
Lindsay Starkey, "Encountering Water in Early Modern Europe and Beyond" (Amsterdam UP, 2020)

What is holding the oceans back from entirely flooding the earth? While a twenty-first century thinker may approach the answer to this question within a framework of gravity and geologic deep-time, Lindsay Starkey demonstrates in her monograph, Encountering Water in Early Modern Europe and Beyond: Redefining the Universe Through Natural Philosophy, Religious Reformations, and Sea Voyaging (Amsterdam University Press, 2020) how thinkers from antiquity to the sixteen-century held their own beliefs explaining the complex relation between dry land and water. After providing a detailed intellectual genealogy connecting the Early Modern Period with antiquity based on the transmission of knowledge through bookish methods, Starkey provides an extensively researched analysis explaining how and why perspectives and concerns about water began shifting in the sixteenth century due to sea voyages that revised medieval speculation about geographic composition of land-mass and oceans in the southern hemisphere. As we join the bookish lineage with Encountering Water in Early Modern Europe and Beyond please enjoy the episode not just for the incredible insight into the past, but to use as an opportunity to reconsider our current water crisis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

54m
Aug 09
Environmental Catastrophe

In this episode John Yargo speaks with Kim about Environmental Catastrophe. In the episode John quotes Hannah Arendt and N.K. Jemisin, discusses a Shakespeare play and a 17th century Peruvian painting, and optimistically suggests that environmental catastrophe will save us. He references the work of many scholars in the field of environmental humanities, including Geoffrey Parker and Dagomar Degroot on the Little Ice Age in Early Modern Europe, Gerard Passannante’s work on Catastrophizing, and Gavin Bailey on the Andean Baroque. He also talks about Amitav Ghosh’s recent work The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (UChicago Press, 2016) and Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell (Penguin Random House, 2010). In the longer version of the conversation, John told Kim about how he teaches the literature of catastrophe in reverse, starting with the present and working backward, to upset teleological readings of cultural history. The image for this week’s episode is Leonardo DaVinci’s drawing “A deluge” c. 1517-18, held by the Royal Collection Trust. You can read more about the painting in an “Anatomy of an Artwork” feature written by Skye Sherwin on 8 Feb 2019 in The Guardian. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

15m
Aug 09
On Online Churches

Dr. Tim Hutchings is a sociologist of digital religion. His Ph.D. (Durham University, 2010) was an ethnographic study of five online Christian churches. Dr. Hutchings is interested in the relationship between religion, media and culture, with particular attention to digital forms of Christianity. His research has included studies of online worship; digital evangelism and formation; online community; digital publishing and e-reading; apps and games; and death and dying. His research led to the publication of his book Creating Church Online: Ritual, Community and New Media (Routledge, 2017). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

1h 6m
Aug 08
Sébastien Philippe and Tomas Statius, "Toxique: Enquête sur les essais nucléaires français en Polynésie" (Companyédition PUF/Disclose, 2021)

What happens when you bring together an important collection of previously secret archival documents dealing with France's nuclear detonations in the Pacific from 1966 to 1996, a nuclear scientist, and an investigative journalist? Working together beginning in early 2020, Sébastien Philippe and Tomas Statius, the authors of Toxique: Enquête sur les essais nucléaires français en Polynésie (Presses universitaires de France and Disclose, 2021) have now shared with readers the meaningful and provocative results of just such a collaboration. Revisiting the history of France's nuclear weapons program over a period of three decades (following an initial set of atmospheric and underground detonations in the Algerian Sahara from 1960 to 1966), Toxique is a scientific and journalistic interrogation of the immediate and long-term health and environmental effects of the 193 bombs the French military exploded in the region, exposing civilians, as well as French military and other personnel to the fallout and radiation emitted by these explosions.  The significance of this interdisciplinary investigation cannot be overstated. As Toxique shows, these nuclear detonations continue to have harmful effects on the everyday lives of thousands of local residents, along with those veterans who served in the area. As Philippe and Statius have shown, the toxicity of these nuclear blasts has been consistently underestimated and misrepresented by the French military and state. Holding important implications for the victims of these detonations in terms of both recognition and financial compensation, the book and its accompanying online platform, Moruroa Files, have made a huge impact. I was thrilled to have the chance to speak with these remarkable researchers and writers and hope listeners will learn from and enjoy our conversation. The more people within and beyond the field of French Studies who are aware of this damaging past and present, the better. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

1h 3m
Aug 08
American Chernobyl, Part 2: The Most Poisonous Place in the USA

Hanford is the most-polluted place in America. In our last episode, you heard about the nuclear plant's largely-forgotten history--how it poisoned the people living downwind. On our season finale: a nuclear safety auditor tries to get it shut down, the downwinders struggle for justice, and we take you into the plant itself. This is part two, if you haven’t heard part one yet go check out yesterday’s episode. The story of Hanford reveals that expertise is always a political battle, and never as straightforward as simply collecting facts--whether it’s executives putting profit over a safety auditor’s well-documented warnings, a community-based research pitted against government-backed studies, or turning a world-changing nuclear reactor into a scientific lecture. This episode is from the pre-Darts and Letters era when we produced a documentary series called Cited. —————————-SUPPORT THE SHOW—————————- You can support the show for free by following or subscribing on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whichever app you use. This is the best way to help us out and it costs nothing so we’d really appreciate you clicking that button. If you want to do a little more we would love it if you chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patrons get content early, and occasionally there’s bonus material on there too. ——————-ABOUT THE SHOW—————— For a full list of credits, contact information, and more, visit our about page. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

58m
Aug 05
America's Chernobyl, Part 1: Living in a Poison Town

In this episode of Cited: What it means to live in a place where your home can give you cancer. Richland, Washington is a company town that sprang up almost overnight in the desert of southeastern Washington. Its employer is the federal government, and its product is plutonium. The Hanford nuclear site was one of the Manhattan Project sites, and it made the plutonium for the bomb that devastated Nagasaki. The official history is one of scientific achievement, comfortable houses, and good-paying jobs. But it doesn’t include the story of what happened after the bomb was dropped -- neither in Japan, nor right there in Washington State. In part one of this Cited two-parter we tell the largely-forgotten story of the most toxic place in America. This episode was produced before Darts and Letters existed, when Cited Media was all about a documentary series called Cited. —————————-SUPPORT THE SHOW—————————- You can support the show for free by following or subscribing on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whichever app you use. This is the best way to help us out and it costs nothing so we’d really appreciate you clicking that button. If you want to do a little more we would love it if you chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patrons get content early, and occasionally there’s bonus material on there too. ——————-ABOUT THE SHOW—————— For a full list of credits, contact information, and more, visit our about page. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

53m
Aug 04
Nina Rattner Gelbart, "Minerva's French Sisters: Women of Science in Enlightenment France" (Yale UP, 2021)

In Minerva’s French Sisters: Women of Science in Enlightenment France (Yale University Press, 2021), Nina Gelbart, Professor of History and Anita Johnson Wand Professor of Women’s Studies at Occidental College, shares the stories of six, incredibly resourceful, and dedicated women who contributed substantially to the sciences of their time. While offering valuable comments on the challenges of writing gender-inclusive histories of science, the book restores the legacies of the mathematician Elisabeth Ferrand, the astronomer Nicole Reine Lepaute, the botanists Jeanne Barret and Madeleine Françoise Basseporte, the anatomist Marie-Marguerite Bihéron, and the chemist Marie Geneviève Charlotte Thiroux d’Arconville. Minerva’s French Sisters also reads as the personal journey of an historian looking for lost evidence and piecing together traces to offer a unique vision of the Enlightenment sciences through the lens of these women. Victor Monnin, Ph.D. is an historian of science specialized in the history of Earth sciences. He is also teaching French language and literature to undergraduates. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

54m
Aug 04
Daniel Bergner, "The Mind and the Moon: My Brother's Story, the Science of Our Brains, and the Search for Our Psyches" (Ecco, 2022)

In The Mind and the Moon: My Brother’s Story, the Science of Our Brains, and the Search for Our Psyches (Ecco, 3033), Daniel Bergner examines these and other by describing three riveting case studies in the context of the history of psychiatry and psychopharmacology. Alongside the story of his brother Bob’s struggle with bipolar disorder, we learn about Caroline, who is besieged by the hallucinations of psychosis, and David, an attorney who is engulfed by anxiety and depression. In telling their stories while describing the frontiers of brain research, Bergner shows how the pharmaceutical industry has played a key role in perpetuating a biological view of the mind and drug-based cures for its disorders – despite mediocre drug effectiveness, many challenging side effects, and questionable patient outcomes. The Mind and the Moon addresses fundamental issues of selfhood and identity in ways that will challenge basic beliefs about who we are and who we might be. Steve Beitler’s work in the history of medicine focuses on how pain has been understood, treated, experienced, and represented. His recently published articles examined the history of opiates in American football and surveyed the history of therapeutic drugs. He can be reached at steve@stevebeitler.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

37m
Aug 04
Ellis Jones, "DIY Music and the Politics of Social Media" (Bloomsbury, 2020)

Since the 1970s, there has been a rich, global lineage of broadly guitar-based music scenes which have enacted a political critique of the commercial music industries under the banner of ‘DIY’. DIY music practice has involved taking control of production and distribution processes and lowering barriers to participation and performance, as a form of cultural resistance. In DIY Music and the Politics of Social Media (Bloomsbury, 2020), Ellis Jones analyses the effects of the internet and social media on the inner lives and the communal music-making of practitioners in contemporary DIY music scenes. Jones provides a nuanced and original reading of the points of convergence and (substantial) divergence between the emancipatory and participatory rhetoric of digital platforms and the ethical imperatives of DIY music, past and present. He argues that the imperatives toward self-branding, commodification and individualization that are baked into the affordances of social media are fundamentally inimical to the convivial, oppositional politics of DIY music. As digital platforms seep into and mediate more and more facets of everyday life, this book underscores the need for a renewed critique of the conditions of cultural production – and offers valuable points of departure for forms of culturally resistant DIY musicking in the 21st Century. Ellis Jones is a Lecturer in Music and Management in the Department of Music at the University of Leeds. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

1h 31m
Aug 03
The Revolution Will Not Be Streamed: The Intellectual Culture of Twitch Streamers

It was billed as “the biggest event in the history of the terminally online.” A debate: socialism vs. capitalism. On your left side, the esteemed Marxist economist Richard Wolff. On your right, a StarCraft player-turned-online intellectual: Steven Bonnel II, better known as Destiny. But this debate didn’t take place on TV, or in a university debate club… it was on Twitch.tv. The online streaming platform that is mainly used for watching other people play video games. We dissect the debate, and its limitations. But more broadly, we ask, why are gamers becoming an emerging political commentariat, and what does that mean for the rest of us? Twitch is reshaping political and intellectual discourse, whether we like it or not; is it making that discourse more vibrant and more inclusive, or more phoney and more bro-y? —————————-SUPPORT THE SHOW—————————- You can support the show for free by following or subscribing on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whichever app you use. This is the best way to help us out and it costs nothing so we’d really appreciate you clicking that button. If you want to do a little more we would love it if you chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patrons get content early, and occasionally there’s bonus material on there too. ——————-ABOUT THE SHOW—————— For a full list of credits, contact information, and more, visit our about page. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

1h 27m
Aug 03
Socialise the Series of Tubes: Toward a Democratic Internet

Recently a major outage took nearly a third of Canada offline. No phone, no internet… even access to 911 got shut down in some places. So why does one company get so much control over a vital service… the internet? This is the story in the USA as well as Canada, so at Darts and Letters we wanted to look for a different way. We also don’t necessarily believe the market is the solution… so what is? How do we make a more democratic, socially driven internet? Gordon Katic interviews Ben Tarnoff, author of Internet for the People, to help us answer these questions - and most importantly, we ask whether the internet is indeed a series of tubes. —————————-SUPPORT THE SHOW—————————- You can support the show for free by following or subscribing on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whichever app you use. This is the best way to help us out and it costs nothing so we’d really appreciate you clicking that button. If you want to do a little more we would love it if you chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patrons get content early, and occasionally there’s bonus material on there too. ——————-ABOUT THE SHOW—————— For a full list of credits, contact information, and more, visit our about page. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

57m
Aug 02
Mark Solovey, "Social Science for What? Battles over Public Funding for the 'Other Sciences' at the National Science Foundation" (MIT Press, 2020)

This is part two of a two part interview. Mark Solovey’s ‘Social Science for What?’ is essential reading for anyone in either the history of science policy or the history of the social sciences in the United States. The book is not, as the subtitle might imply, merely an institutional history of the social sciences at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). Rather, Solovey’s follow-up to his 2013 book, ‘Shaky Foundations: The Politics-Patronage-Social Science Nexus in Cold War America’, is a commanding explanation of certain characteristics of academic social science as commonly practiced in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. — Audra J. Wolfe, PhD. history and sociology of science, in ISIS Vol. 113, No. 2, June 2022 In our first episode, Professor Solovey shared some of the political and legislative history establishing the National Science Foundation; heated controversy over the social sciences that undermined the effort to include them in the initial legislation for the new science agency; how they nevertheless became included on a small and cautious basis grounded in a scientistic strategy; and some of the landmark developments, controversies, and interesting individuals involved from roughly the mid-1940s to the late 1960s. This included Senator Harris's remarkable legislative proposal in the mid-to-late 1960s to establish a separate national social science foundation. This second part of the interview opens with the late 1960s' controversy over Project Camelot and draws on Mark’s 2001 journal article in the Social Studies of Science, titled ‘Project Camelot and the 1960s Epistemological Revolution: Rethinking the Politics–Patronage–Social Science Nexus’ - which remains the professor’s most often cited scholarly article. We then move up through the dark days of the Reagan years, along the way discussing key figures, from David Stockman to Talcott Parsons, Clifford Geertz, Thomas Kuhn, Milton Friedman, and Richard Atkinson, the emergence and impact of the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), alternatives to the scientistic strategy, and persistent challenges faced by the social sciences at the levels of institutional representation, leadership and funding constraints relative to the natural sciences - all of which continue to the present day. We end with Professor Solovey’s call for reviving the idea of a new federal agency for the social sciences, a National Social Science Foundation, as first introduced by Senator Harris of Oklahoma, and finally, with some book recommendations. An open access edition of Social Science for What?: Battles over Public Funding for the "Other Sciences' at the National Science Foundation (MIT Press, 2020) was made possible by generous funding from the MIT Libraries. Mark Solovey is professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. His research focuses on the development of the social sciences in the United States, and especially the controversies regarding the scientific identity of the social sciences, private and public funding for them, and public policy implications of social science expertise. He has written and co-edited a number of books related to the Cold War and social science history. Keith Krueger lectures in the SILC Business School at Shanghai University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

50m
Aug 01
Lost Utopias: A History of World’s Fairs

Techno-utopianism is everywhere. It’s driven by a new tech-bro/crypto culture, supported by online hordes of true believers, and couched in philosophies of meritocracy and technocracy. But this thinking is not new, and World’s Fairs are a perfect example. One of our ongoing series within Darts and Letters is techno utopias, and we do mean that with all the skepticism it’s due. Silicon Valley is trying to change the world with NFTs and metaverses and electric cars and all kinds of nonsense technologies that will do nothing to improve the lives of the world’s poor, but will increase the wealth of Zuckerburg and Musk, probably while destroying the planet in the process. To start that series off we decided to go to the original techno-utopia: The World’s Fair. Host Gordon Katic talks to a historian of world’s fairs, and then to a photographer who spends her time in the dilapidated abandoned glory of former world’s fair sites. We’ve got loads of really fun historical footage in this episode too… it’s funny and nostalgic, I think you’re gonna love it. It’s not all world’s fairs though. We also explore the nature of technology itself… like what actually is a technology? So that seemed a good place to start off this week’s theme of the politics of technology and techno utopias. We’re doing a different theme every week until we relaunch the show on September 18th. So here it is… Lost Utopias: A History of World’s Fairs. —————————-SUPPORT THE SHOW—————————- You can support the show for free by following or subscribing on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whichever app you use. This is the best way to help us out and it costs nothing so we’d really appreciate you clicking that button. If you want to do a little more we would love it if you chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patrons get content early, and occasionally there’s bonus material on there too. ——————-FURTHER READING AND LISTENING—————— Check out Rob Rydell’s books on the history of world’s fairs: All the World’s a Fair, World’s Fairs: The Century-of-Progress Expositions, and Fair America: World’s Fairs in the United States. Plus, see more of his work on ResearchGate. Visit Jade Daskow’s photography project Lost Utopias to see what remains once the fair leaves town. Then, visit her homepage to have a look at her other projects, including The Architecture of Activism. Have a look at Jennifer Slack’s co-written book Culture and Technology: A Primer. Then, see her faculty page at Michigan Tech to peruse more of her work. —————————-SUPPORT THE SHOW—————————- You can support the show for free by following or subscribing on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whichever app you use. This is the best way to help us out and it costs nothing so we’d really appreciate you clicking that button. If you want to do a little more we would love it if you chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patrons get content early, and occasionally there’s bonus material on there too. ——————-ABOUT THE SHOW—————— For a full list of credits, contact information, and more, visit our about page. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

1h 12m
Aug 01
The Science Wars: Post-Truth and the Nature of Science

Welcome to the final day of our weeklong deep dive into the politics of education. Today, we’ve got another episode of Cited for you. If you haven’t heard a Cited episode before, it’s the documentary show that came before Darts and Letters and it specialised in immersive storytelling. This piece takes us on a journey through a little-known, long-past set of debates on the nature of science in democratic society: the Science Wars. They may seem lost to time, but some scholars say the Science Wars might just explain how we got our 'post-truth' moment. Learn about the bold hoax that became a determining factor in the Science Wars and how that moment in history might have foretold the wars on science to come. Next week, we’ll be bringing you episodes on a whole new theme - activism and academia. You won’t want to miss it. And you really won’t want to miss our brand-new episodes, launching on the New Books Network from September 18th. —————————-SUPPORT THE SHOW—————————- You can support the show for free by following or subscribing on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whichever app you use. This is the best way to help us out and it costs nothing so we’d really appreciate you clicking that button. If you want to do a little more we would love if you chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patrons get content early, and occasionally there’s bonus material on there too. —————————-CONTACT US————————- To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. If you’d like to write to us, email darts@citedmedia.ca or tweet Gordon directly. ———-CREDITS———- Today’s episode was produced by Gordon Katic, and edited by Cited's Sam Fenn. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

1h 8m
Jul 29
Erica Gies, "Water Always Wins: Thriving in an Age of Drought and Deluge" (U Chicago Press, 2022)

Trouble with water – increasingly frequent, extreme floods and droughts – is one of the first obvious signs of climate change. Meanwhile, urban sprawl, industrial agriculture and engineered water infrastructure are making things worse. As our control attempts fail, we are forced to recognize an eternal truth: sooner or later, water always wins. In Water Always Wins: Thriving in an Age of Drought and Deluge (U Chicago Press, 2022), award-winning science journalist Erica Gies follows water 'detectives' as they search for clues to water's past and present. Their tools: cutting-edge science and research into historical ecology, animal life, and earlier human practices. Their discoveries: a deeper understanding of what water wants and how accommodating nature can protect us and other species. Modern civilizations tend to speed water away. We have forgotten that it must flex with the rhythms of the earth, and that only collaboration with nature will allow us to forge a more resilient future. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

57m
Jul 29
The Battle of Buxton: Saving a Lighthouse in the Era of Climate Change

If you tuned in to our “ideas in strange places” themed programming last week, you would have heard an episode of Darts and Letters’ predecessor: Cited. (If you didn’t, check it out - there’s everything from science fiction to prison activism back there!) Today, as we continue exploring the politics of education, we’re bringing you another episode of Cited. This one was produced in collaboration with 99% Invisible. It tells a vivid story of science, politics, nature, and a heated battle over a small town’s beloved lighthouse. The forces of nature versus the forces of human willpower has been an eternal struggle. This is an evocative short documentary, melding history with salient reminders: in the face of climate change, the struggle is becoming more and more intense. We’ve got one more episode for this week, and then we’ll be moving on to a different theme! Stay tuned for more of our classic content, and get ready for new episodes of Darts and Letters right here on the New Books Network starting on September 16th. —————————-SUPPORT THE SHOW—————————- You can support the show for free by following or subscribing on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whichever app you use. This is the best way to help us out and it costs nothing so we’d really appreciate you clicking that button. If you want to do a little more we would love if you chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patrons get content early, and occasionally there’s bonus material on there too. —————————-CONTACT US————————- To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. If you’d like to write to us, email darts@citedmedia.ca or tweet Gordon directly. ———-CREDITS———- Today’s episode was produced by Gordon Katic, and edited by 99% Invisible’s Delaney Hall and Cited's Sam Fenn. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

32m
Jul 28
Stuart Ellis-Gorman, "The Medieval Crossbow: A Weapon Fit to Kill a King" (Pen & Sword Military, 2022)

The crossbow is an iconic weapon of the Middle Ages and, alongside the longbow, one of the most effective ranged weapons of the pre-gunpowder era. Unfortunately, despite its general fame it has been decades since an in-depth history of the medieval crossbow has been published, which is why Dr. Stuart Ellis-Gorman’s detailed, accessible, and highly illustrated book The Medieval Crossbow: A Weapon Fit to Kill a King (Pen & Sword, 2022) is so valuable. The book approaches the history of the crossbow from two directions. The first is a technical study of the design and construction of the medieval crossbow, the many different kinds of crossbows used during the Middle Ages, and finally a consideration of the relationship between crossbows and art. The second half of the book explores the history of the crossbow, from its origins in ancient China to its decline in sixteenth-century Europe. Along the way it explores the challenges in deciphering the crossbow’s early medieval history as well as its prominence in warfare and sport shooting in the High and Later Middle Ages. This fascinating book brings together the work of a wide range of accomplished crossbow scholars and incorporates the author’s own original research to create an account of the medieval crossbow that will appeal to anyone looking to gain an insight into one of the most important weapons of the Middle Ages. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

55m
Jul 28
Lachlan Fleetwood, "Science on the Roof of the World: Empire and the Remaking of the Himalaya" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

Today, the idea that the Himalayas have the world’s tallest peaks—by a large margin—is entirely uncontroversial. Just about anyone can name Mount Everest and K2 as the world’s tallest and second-tallest mountains respectively. But the idea that this mountain range had the highest summits used to be quite controversial. Mountaineers claimed that the Himalayas could not be taller than peaks in Europe or South America, like Ecuador’s Chimborazo. Even when it was proven that the Himalayas were taller, mountaineers would praised the aesthetic quality of European and South American peaks—essentially giving the nineteenth-century equivalent of “height isn’t everything” That’s merely one of the historical details from Lachlan Fleetwood’s Science on the Roof of the World: Empire and the Remaking of the Himalaya (Cambridge University Press, 2022), which studies the first attempts to survey this mountain range. Fleetwood’s book examines not just the expeditions themselves, but also how surveyors procured their equipment, how they handled altitude sickness, and the fossils they found (among other details), in order to analyze the connection between knowledge, the frontier, and empire. Lachlan Fleetwood is a historian of science, empire, geography and environment. He holds a PhD in history from Cambridge University, and is currently a research fellow at University College Dublin. He is currently developing a new project that examines climatic sciences and environmental determinism in imperial surveys of Central Asia and Mesopotamia in the long nineteenth century. In this interview, Lachlan and I talk about the Himalayas, how the first surveyors studied them, and why these early efforts to understand this mountain range are important to how we understand the history of science. You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of Science on the Roof of the World. Follow on Facebook or on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia. Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at@nickrigordon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

45m
Jul 28
James Steinhoff, "Automation and Autonomy: Labour, Capital and Machines in the Artificial Intelligence Industry" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021)

Automation and Autonomy: Labour, Capital and Machines in the Artificial Intelligence Industry (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021) argues that Marxist theory is essential for understanding the contemporary industrialization of the form of artificial intelligence (AI) called machine learning. It includes a political economic history of AI, tracking how it went from a fringe research interest for a handful of scientists in the 1950s to a centerpiece of cybernetic capital fifty years later. It also includes a political economic study of the scale, scope and dynamics of the contemporary AI industry as well as a labour process analysis of commercial machine learning software production, based on interviews with workers and management in AI companies around the world, ranging from tiny startups to giant technology firms. On the basis of this study, Steinhoff develops a Marxist analysis to argue that the popular theory of immaterial labour, which holds that information technologies increase the autonomy of workers from capital, tending towards a post-capitalist economy, does not adequately describe the situation of high-tech digital labour today. In the AI industry, digital labour remains firmly under the control of capital. Steinhoff argues that theories discerning therein an emergent autonomy of labour are in fact witnessing labour’s increasing automation. James Steinhoff is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto, Canada. Reuben Niewenhuis works as a software developer for a warehouse automation company. He double majored in computer science and philosophy at Calvin University. In addition to philosophical theory, he is interested in interdisciplinary topics. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

1h 2m
Jul 27
Nic Maclellan, "Grappling with the Bomb: Britain’s Pacific H-Bomb Tests" (ANU Press, 2017)

Nic Maclellan's book Grappling with the Bomb: Britain’s Pacific H-Bomb Tests (ANU Press, 2017) is a history of Britain’s 1950s program to test the hydrogen bomb, code name Operation Grapple. In 1957–58, nine atmospheric nuclear tests were held at Malden Island and Christmas Island—today, part of the Pacific nation of Kiribati. Nearly 14,000 troops travelled to the central Pacific for the UK nuclear testing program—many are still living with the health and environmental consequences. Based on archival research and interviews with nuclear survivors, Grappling with the Bomb presents i-Kiribati woman Sui Kiritome, British pacifist Harold Steele, businessman James Burns, Fijian sailor Paul Ah Poy, English volunteers Mary and Billie Burgess and many other witnesses to Britain’s nuclear folly. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

1h 47m
Jul 27
Felix Schniz, "Genre and Video Game: Introducing an Impossible Taxonomy" (Springer, 2021)

Felix Schniz's book Genre and Video Game: Introducing an Impossible Taxonomy (Genre und Videospiel: Einführung in eine unmögliche Taxonomie) explains video game genres as multidimensional and deeply mutable concepts enacted by the interplay of three dimensions: In addition to the hybrid approaches of genre theory, fiction genre and game genre, there are also social components that shape the gaming experience. Working with video games (and working with their genres) turns out to be working with an objet ambigu: an intangible object of art whose potential is revealed and developed, again and again, in the process of interacting with the user. Rudolf Inderst is a professor of Game Design at the IU International University of Applied Science. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

1h 23m
Jul 26
Mark Solovey, "Social Science for What?: Battles over Public Funding for the 'Other Sciences' at the National Science Foundation" (MIT Press, 2020)

This is part one of a two part interview. "The social sciences have prospered best in the federal government where they have been included under broad umbrella classifications of the scientific disciplines. … In close company with scientific areas which enjoy the prestige and status of biological or physical sciences, the social sciences have enjoyed a protection and nourishment which they normally do not have when they are identified as such and stand exposed, 'naked and alone.'" — Harry Alpert, sociologist and first social science policy architect, 1960 (Solovey: Ch. 1 lead-in) In the early Cold War years, the U.S. government established the National Science Foundation (NSF), a civilian agency that soon became widely known for its dedication to supporting first-rate science. The agency's 1950 enabling legislation made no mention of the social sciences, although it included a vague reference to “other sciences.” Nevertheless, as Mark Solovey shows in this book, the NSF also soon became a major—albeit controversial—source of public funding for them. Solovey's analysis underscores the long-term impact of early developments, when the NSF embraced a “scientistic” strategy wherein the natural sciences represented the gold standard, and created a social science program limited to “hard-core” studies. Along the way, Solovey shows how the NSF's efforts to support scholarship, advanced training, and educational programs were shaped by landmark scientific and political developments, including McCarthyism, Sputnik, reform liberalism during the 1960s, and a newly energized conservative movement during the 1970s and 1980s. Finally, he provides a balanced assessment of the NSF's relevance in a “post-truth” era. Solovey's study of the battles over public funding is crucial for understanding the recent history of the social sciences as well as ongoing debates over their scientific status and social value. In this first part of two episodes the professor takes us from the mid-1940s up to the tumultuous 1960s and the (ultimately unsuccessful) legislative proposal for a National Social Science Foundation. Look for the second part which moves from the late 1960s' controversy over Project Camelot up through the dark days of the Reagan years, culminating in a call to revive discussion about the need to create a new federal agency, a National Social Science Foundation. An open access edition of Social Science for What?: Battles over Public Funding for the "Other Sciences' at the National Science Foundation (MIT Press, 2020) was made possible by generous funding from the MIT Libraries. Mark Solovey is professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. His research focuses on the development of the social sciences in the United States, and especially the controversies regarding the scientific identity of the social sciences, private and public funding for them, and public policy implications of social science expertise. He has written and co-edited a number of books related to the Cold War and social science history. Keith Krueger lectures in the SILC Business School at Shanghai University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

47m
Jul 25
Effective Altruism: What it is, What it Does, and How You Can Help

80,000 Hours provides research and support to help students and graduates switch into careers that effectively tackle the world’s most pressing problems. Benjamin Todd is the president and co-founder of 80,000 Hours. He managed the organisation while it grew from a lecture, to a student society, to the organization it is today. He also helped to get effective altruism started in Oxford in 2011. Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network (Twitter: @caleb_zakarin). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-technology-and-society

34m
Jul 25