Our guiding question in Episode 1 was: How scientific is the practice of medicine? In this deeper dive of a follow-up effort, we’re pursuing a different and more radical question: Just how scientific is the practice of science?
Natasha Myers, author of Rendering Life Molecular, from Duke University Press, discusses her study of protein crystallographers at work, and particularly the ways in which their bodies and their emotions — not simply their rational minds — are involved in their scientific knowledge of their subject matter.
Jessica Riskin, author of The Restless Clock, with the University of Chicago Press, takes us through the history, the theoretical arguments, and the defining problems of modern life science since Descartes, with a particular eye toward the way that the competitions between models of how to understand living things — are they passively mechanical matter? Suffused with an inner force? Fundamentally immaterial in nature? — actually played out. Spoiler: Triumphant models weren’t necessarily victorious because of being closer to something like the truth.