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Doubt, Uncertainty, and Definitely a Good Time

Stuart Firestein

Stuart Firestein, PhD presenting at Science Pub RVA on October 24, 2017. Photo: Kevin Morley

With humor and insight, Neuroscientist Dr. Stuart Firestein gave a short talk in Richmond, Virginia on ignorance and uncertainty. He explored the essential role doubt has in the pursuit of knowledge. He examined how failure refines questions, creates paths forward, and that scientists’ communication of them would contribute to improving the public’s understanding of the scientific process which is less “scientific process” more like “farting around in the dark”.

Dr. Firestein is the chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, where his laboratory is researching the vertebrate olfactory receptor neuron as a model for investigating general principles and mechanisms of “signal transduction” — the ways in which chemicals, such as neurotransmitters, hormones, and peptides with membrane receptors, exert their influence in the brain and nervous system. He has published articles in Wired (magazine), Huffington Post, and Scientific American. He has been an adviser to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation program for the Public Understanding of Science, Technology and Economics. He has released two books with Oxford University Press; Ignorance: How it Drives Science and Failure: Why Science is So Successful.

Drs. Karen Rader, Stuart Firestein and John Powell at Science Pub RVA, Dr. Rader and Dr. Powell direct VCU’s Science, Technology, and Society Program (Photography by Kevin Morley)

This program was held October 24, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia and represents the third of a series of eight science cafes in partnership between Science Pub RVA and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Science, Technology and Society Program, a unit of the College of Humanities and Sciences, and is supported by a National Science Foundation grant (#1611953).

SciPubbers at the Capital Ale House in Richmond, Virginia on October 24, 2017 (Photography by Kevin Morley)

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Science Pub RVA is a program of Science Matters and the Community Idea Stations, central Virginia's PBS & NPR stations.