52 episodes

A new public events series from the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine brings historical perspective to contemporary issues and concerns.

In the public forums, historians and other specialists speak about culturally relevant topics in front of a live audience at Consortium member institutions. Forum subjects range from medical consumerism to public trust in science and technology. Videos of these events are also available at chstm.org.

In podcast episodes, authors of new books in the history of science, technology, and medicine respond to questions from readers with a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise. These conversations illuminate the utility and relevance of the past in light of current events.

Perspectives on Science Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine

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A new public events series from the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine brings historical perspective to contemporary issues and concerns.

In the public forums, historians and other specialists speak about culturally relevant topics in front of a live audience at Consortium member institutions. Forum subjects range from medical consumerism to public trust in science and technology. Videos of these events are also available at chstm.org.

In podcast episodes, authors of new books in the history of science, technology, and medicine respond to questions from readers with a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise. These conversations illuminate the utility and relevance of the past in light of current events.

    Alberto Martínez — Burned Alive: Bruno, Galileo, and the Inquisition

    Alberto Martínez — Burned Alive: Bruno, Galileo, and the Inquisition

    In this episode of Perspectives, we speak with Alberto Martínez, author of Burned Alive: Giordano Bruno, Galileo and the Inquisition.

    In his book, Alberto Martínez reevaluates the life, career, and death of Giordano Bruno, the philosopher and cosmologist burned alive by the Catholic Inquisition in Rome in 1600. Martínez demonstrates that it was not his heterodox religious beliefs that led to his condemnation, but instead his visionary scientific beliefs—that the Earth moves, and that there are many worlds other than our own—that led to his demise. Dr. Martínez discusses the contrasting ways in which Bruno and Galileo were dealt with by the Inquisition, and shows how they drew upon the insights of prior thinkers to inform their own views about the heavens and the earth. He ends by discussing the immense power the Catholic Church has had over the construction of knowledge, and how it influences our collective memory of people like Giordano Bruno.

    Alberto Martínez is Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin.

    This podcast features a number of questions for Dr. Martínez from Lisa Nocks, a historian at the IEEE History Center, and from Vivion Vinson, a retired nurse.

    To cite this podcast, please use footnote:

    Alberto Martínez, interview, Perspectives, Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine, July 27, 2021, https://www.chstm.org/video/123.

    • 44 min
    From the Archives — Shopping for Health: Medicine and Markets in America

    From the Archives — Shopping for Health: Medicine and Markets in America

    If you've watch television or listened to the radio lately, you've probably been bombarded with direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising. Join us as we revisit our forum from October 2018 on the interplay between medicine and advertising, capitalism and consumerism.
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    Why do we refer to patients as "consumers" in the United States? Is today's opioid crisis the result of medical consumerism run amok--of pills hawked like soap to gullible shoppers? Is picking a doctor really like choosing a new car?

    In this talk, historians Nancy Tomes and David Herzberg discuss when and why patients started to be called "consumers," and examine the positive and negative aspects of twentieth-century medical "consumerism." We explore a century of efforts to deliver pharmaceutical relief through properly calibrated markets, and evaluate the risks (and often-misunderstood benefits) of governing addictive drugs as consumer goods.

    Find this presentation and further resources on the Consortium's website at:
    www.chstm.org/video/57

    • 1 hr 28 min
    From the Archives — Immortal Life: The Promises and Perils of Biobanking and the Genetic Archive

    From the Archives — Immortal Life: The Promises and Perils of Biobanking and the Genetic Archive

    Direct-to-consumer genetic testing has been in the news this week with the recent IPO of 23andMe. Thus, we are revisiting our forum from September 2017 on biobanking, genetics, and the competing interests of individuals, businesses, and society in the collection and use of genetic samples.
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    Are we now approaching a time when we could all live, at least in freezers, forever? Modern collection and storage of biological samples make possible a kind of "immortality" for anyone who has ever had a saliva sample frozen for genealogical testing or a blood sample stored in medical collections. New technologies, like CRISPR for gene editing, expand possible future uses of biological materials stored around the world. The story of Henrietta Lacks, popularized in a book by Rebecca Skloot and an HBO special starring Oprah Winfrey, illustrates the ways that a single person's cells and tissues can take on lives of their own as research material. In 1953, just before her death, Lacks's cancer cells yielded the oldest and most common human cell line still used in research.

    There has been significant public interest in her remarkable story, but the "immortality" of people like Henrietta Lacks raises pressing questions for all of us. Who owns and controls bodily materials extracted from research subjects and patients? Who can profit from the cells and genes that make us who we are? How do we weigh the value of personal privacy and an individual’s sense of self against the potential for medical progress? How do imbalances of wealth and power influence questions of consent, exploitation, and identity for people who provide biological materials? These questions framed a public forum organized by the Consortium and hosted by the American Philosophical Society on September 28, 2017.

    Find this presentation and further resources on the Consortium's website at:
    www.chstm.org/video/51

    • 1 hr 32 min
    Sciences Of The Mind with Courtney Thompson and Alicia Puglionesi

    Sciences Of The Mind with Courtney Thompson and Alicia Puglionesi

    Held in partnership with the American Philosophical Society, this discussion brings together historians Courtney Thompson and Alicia Puglionesi to discuss the fascinating world of the mind sciences in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries. During this time period, the human mind captured the imagination of the American public. Efforts to reveal the subconscious and to understand mental physiology inspired the creation of new technologies, modes of experimentation, and collaborations that aspired to make visible the inner workings of the brain. These developments had a profound impact on the production of scientific and medical expertise that continues to influence conceptions of race, gender, and mental illness in the present.

    Dr. Thompson focuses on the history of phrenology, exploring its connection to popular and elite theories of criminality. As she explains both in her presentation and in her book An Organ of Murder: Crime, Violence, and Phrenology in Nineteenth-Century America, phrenology constructed scientific ways of identifying, understanding, and analyzing criminals and their actions - ways which often recruited and justified folk notions and stereotypes of what criminals looked like and how they acted.

    Dr. Puglionesi recounts how and why psychologists and others interested in the mind investigated seances, clairvoyance, and telepathy in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although some researchers were interested in debunking frauds and con artists, most were interested in reconciling the mind sciences with the supernormal. Dr. Puglionesi's book, Common Phantoms: An American History of Psychic Science, tells this history and highlights the ways in which psychical research troubled the boundaries of science and its relationship to democracy and popular ways of experiencing the world.

    To cite this content, please use footnote:

    "Sciences of the Mind," Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine, accessed Month Day, Year, https://www.chstm.org/video/121.

    • 1 hr 7 min
    From the Archives — Trust in Science: Vaccines

    From the Archives — Trust in Science: Vaccines

    In light of the current global vaccination campaign against COVID-19 and the struggles to increase vaccine acceptance and ensure vaccine compliance, we revisit our Trust in Science: Vaccines forum from January 2019.

    What are the historical roots of resistance to vaccination? What is the data about contemporary attitudes? How do these attitudes relate to changing social, economic and political contexts? How do these issues play out in the relationship between a doctor and a patient? Listen to experts share their research and experience on these questions, and lead our discussion.

    "Trust in Science: Vaccines" is the first event in a series inspired by Perceptions of Science in America, a report from the Public Face of Science Initiative at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    • 1 hr 28 min
    Behind the Scenes: Black Holes | The Edge of All We Know

    Behind the Scenes: Black Holes | The Edge of All We Know

    Black Holes | The Edge of All We Know is available now on Netflix, or go to https://www.blackholefilm.com and click on the Watch button at the top for more options.

    What can black holes teach us about the boundaries of knowledge? These holes in spacetime are the darkest objects and the brightest—the simplest and the most complex. With unprecedented access, Black Holes | The Edge of All We Know follows two powerhouse collaborations. Stephen Hawking anchors one, striving to show that black holes do not annihilate the past. Another group, working in the world’s highest altitude observatories, creates an earth-sized telescope to capture the first-ever image of a black hole. Interwoven with other dimensions of exploring black holes, these stories bring us to the pinnacle of humanity’s quest to understand the universe.

    In the video above, historians of science Lorraine Daston and Simon Schaffer join Peter Galison for a roundtable discussion about the film, its scientific, philosophical and artistic content, and the choices Peter made as director. Afterwards, Peter answers questions about the film from friends of the Consortium.

    To cite this content, please use footnote:

    "Behind the Scenes: Black Holes | The Edge of All We Know," Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine, accessed Month Day, Year, https://www.chstm.org/video/120.

    • 1 hr 34 min

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