HSHM 211 Lecture 1: Intro

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Yale University
Hist of Science, Hist of Med
HSHM 211
William Rankin

HSHM 211: GLOBAL CATASTROPHE SINCE 1750 1/18/17: Intro  Catastrophe vs. disaster 1. Catastrophe: prediction a. Evidence, consensus, prevention b. Not directly experienced o Haven’t happened, or may not happen o Problem in the history of knowledge 2. Disaster: unpredictable a. Preparedness and response  Catastrophes 1. Prehistoric a. The Flood b. Extinction of the dinosaurs 2. Natural resources a. Overfishing b. “peak oil” 3. Atmospheric a. Global warming b. Ozone hole c. Nuclear winter  Key takeaways 1. Predicting catastrophe means thinking about time a. Geologic time vs. human time 2. Scientific consensus is not a cumulative march of progress a. It’s about ways of doing science b. Change can be abrupt 3. No easy relationship between science and social, political, cultural responses 1/20/17: Chronology, fossils, and the Flood  Questions of the time 1. Have there ever been global catastrophes? a. Yes, but there has been disagreement 2. How old is the earth? a. 4.54 bil. years  Catastrophe and the age of the earth are about what counts as science 1. Catastrophe “allowed” before ~1840 2. Rejected as religion (especially the Flood) a. Geology “becomes a science” th 3. Allowed again in late 20 century due to better science? 4. Changing ideas of what counts as science rather than an increase in science  Discarding catastrophe 1. The conflict thesis: idea that science and religion are opposing concepts 2. If rejection of catastrophe is part of the definition of scientific geology, we must deal with the conflict thesis 3. Flood is earliest theory of global catastrophe, and separates science from non-science  James Ussher (1582-1656) 1. Moderate Calvinist, anti-Catholic 2. Creation of the world: evening before Sunday, Oct. 23, 4004 BC a. Biblical Flood: 2349-2348 BC b. Birth of Jesus: 4 BC c. Bible was seen as
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