The Politics of Science
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Naomi Oreskes | Matthew England
“We don’t know for sure smoking causes cancer. The science isn’t settled...,” says the scientist funded by Big Tobacco.
More than anyone, Naomi Oreskes understands the politics of science and how public understanding of science is created. In her 2010 book, Merchants of Doubt, the internationally renowned geologist, scientist, historian and author drew several parallels between the tobacco industry’s denial of science, and similar tactics used by the fossil fuel industry to create uncertainty about human-induced climate change.
Now, in her latest book Science on a Mission, Oreskes looks at how military funding has shaped what we do and don’t know about the oceans.
Join her for a conversation with UNSW climate scientist Matthew England, and explore the enduring challenge of what scientists can do to maintain public trust in their work, and how the community can be more discerning about what they choose to believe.
You can also order Naomi’s Oreske's books from the UNSW Bookshop and receive a 20% discount:
The Centre for Ideas’ International Conversations series brings the world to Sydney. Each digital event brings a leading UNSW thinker together with their international peer or hero to explore inspiration, new ideas and discoveries.
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Naomi Oreskes is Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. A world-renowned geologist, historian and public speaker, she is a leading voice on the role of science in society and the reality of anthropogenic climate change.
Oreskes is author or co-author of seven books, and over 150 articles, essays and opinion pieces, including Merchants of Doubt (2010), The Collapse of Western Civilization (2014), Discerning Experts (2019), Why Trust Science? (2019), and Science on a Mission: American Oceanography from the Cold War to Climate Change, (2021).
Merchants of Doubt, co-authored with Erik Conway, was the subject of a documentary film of the same name produced by Participant Media and distributed by SONY Pictures Classics, and has been translated into nine languages. A new edition of Merchants of Doubt, with an introduction by Al Gore, was published in 2020.
Matthew England is a Scientia Professor of Ocean & Climate Dynamics at the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, and Deputy Director of the Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science. His research explores large-scale ocean circulation and its influence on regional and global climate – from the tropics to Antarctica, and from time-scales of seasons to millennia.
England completed a PhD at the University of Sydney in 1992 and held a Fulbright Scholarship at Princeton University in 1990. He has previously worked at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France and at CSIRO’s Climate Change Research Program. He has been with UNSW Sydney since 1995, where he held an ARC Federation Fellowship from 2006-2010 and an ARC Laureate Fellowship between 2011-2016. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.