Science, Knowledge and Humanity

'Science, Knowledge and Humanity' is a major series of public debates about the future prospects for human innovation and progress, taking place in New York City from 26 to 28 October 2001.

Tony Gilland

Topics Politics

‘Science, Knowledge and Humanity: debating the future of progress’ is a major series of public debates organised in New York by the London-based Institute of Ideas and New York’s Wolfson Center for National Affairs at the New School University.

‘Science, Knowledge and Humanity’ is sponsored by Reason Magazine, and supported by the New York Academy of Sciences, Novartis and spiked.

Debates run from the evening of Friday 26 October through to Sunday 28 October 2001, and take place at the New School University’s Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, New York City. To purchase a ticket, telephone the box office on +1 212 229 5488. For a full programme, see the Institute of Ideas website.


At the beginning of the twenty-first century human achievement is a cause for celebration – not least in the fields of scientific enquiry and technological application. We live longer, healthier lives than ever before and have unlocked many of the great mysteries of the natural world.

But have we gone too far? Global warming, species extinction, genetic experimentation and the unexpected side-effects of agricultural technology, to name but a few, are recurrent themes in newspaper headlines – and in our nightmares.

Are scares about modern food and medicines a rational response to a world apparently dominated by corporate greed and government corruption, or do they express an ill-founded pessimism about human achievement? Do the complexities of the natural world demand a more precautionary approach, or are we exaggerating uncertainties for fear of the future?

Have we abandoned the concepts of universal knowledge and objectivity? Is there something important about these ideas that needs to be rescued? Does the ever-increasing ethical scrutiny of scientists’ work reflect a more responsible attitude to competing interests – or an unhelpful politicisation of science?

Speakers include:

Bruce Ames, National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences Center at UC Berkeley; Ron Bailey, science editor, Reason Magazine; Jean Bethke Elshtain, author of Who Are We?; D Graham Burnett, author of Masters of All They Surveyed; Napoleon A Chagnon, professor of anthropology (Emeritus), University of California at Santa Barbara, and author of Yanomamo and Adaptation and Human Behaviour; James Chatters, paleoanthropologist, author of Ancient Encounters; Jon Entine, author of Taboo; Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, author of The Tyranny of Health and columnist for spiked; Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History and the Last Man; Frank Furedi, author of Culture of Fear; Jean Halloran, Consumers Union; Gregory Jaffe, Center for Science in the Public Interest; Joseph LeDoux, author of The Emotional Brain and of Synaptic Self (forthcoming); Phil Mullan, CEO, Cyberia and author The Imaginary Timebomb; Virginia Postrel, editor-at-large, Reason Magazine and author of The Future and Its Enemies, Edward Rothstein, critic-at-large, New York Times, author of Emblems of Mind; Charles Secrett, Director of Friends of the Earth UK; Danny Schechter, executive editor,; Jace Weaver, author of Other Words: American Indian Literature, Law, and Culture

Debates include:

What is it to be Human?: what science can and cannot tell us about human nature; Who’s Afraid of Science?; Folklore versus Scientific Lore – Food Biotechnology; Folklore versus Scientific Lore – Alternative Medicine; The Future of Progress; The Ethics of Knowledge – Knowable but Unthinkable?; The Kennewick Man Dispute; Genetically Engineering People; Is the Future Human?

For a full programme, see the Institute of Ideas website

Dates: Friday 26 October to Sunday 28 October 2001

Venue: New School University, Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, NYC (Between 5th and 6th Avenues)

Tickets: $35 for all three days ($10/$15/$15 Fri/Sat/Sun day prices, respectively)

Student prices: $18 for all three days ($4/$8/$8 Fri/Sat/Sun day prices, respectively)

To purchase tickets, telephone: +1 212 229 5488 (Monday to Thursday 1 to 8pm, Friday 1 to 7pm)

For further information:

Telephone (USA): +1 212 229 5353

Telephone (UK): +44 20 7269 9229

Press enquiries: call Tony Gilland on +1 646 303 3629


To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics


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