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New Books in Science, Technology, and Society

Science Podcasts

Interviews with Scholars of Science, Technology, and Society about their New Books

Interviews with Scholars of Science, Technology, and Society about their New Books


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Interviews with Scholars of Science, Technology, and Society about their New Books




M. Newhart and W. Dolphin, "The Medicalization of Marijuana: Legitimacy, Stigma, and the Patient Experience" (Routledge, 2018)

Medical marijuana laws have spread across the U.S. to all but a handful of states. Yet, eighty years of social stigma and federal prohibition creates dilemmas for patients who participate in state programs. Michelle Newhart and William Dolphin's The Medicalization of Marijuana: Legitimacy, Stigma, and the Patient Experience (Routledge, 2018) takes the first comprehensive look at how patients negotiate incomplete medicalization and what their experiences reveal about our relationship with...


Michael E. McCullough, "The Kindness of Strangers: How a Selfish Ape Invented a New Moral Code" (Basic Books, 2020)

Why Give a Damn About Strangers? In his book The Kindness of Strangers: How a Selfish Ape Invented a New Moral Code (Basic Books, 2020), Michael E. McCullough explains. McCullough is a professor of psychology at the University of California San Diego, where he directs the Evolution and Human Behavior laboratory. Long interested in prosocial behavior and morality, he’s conducted research on forgiveness, revenge, gratitude, empathy, altruism, and religion. His other books include Beyond...


Li Zhang, "Anxious China: Inner Revolution and Politics of Psychotherapy" (U California Press, 2020)

The breathless pace of China’s economic reform has brought about deep ruptures in socioeconomic structures and people’s inner landscape. Faced with increasing market-driven competition and profound social changes, more and more middle-class urbanites are turning to Western-style psychological counseling to grapple with their mental distress. Anxious China: Inner Revolution and Politics of Psychotherapy (University of California Press, 2020) offers an in-depth ethnographic account of how an...


Dan Royles, "To Make the Wounded Whole: The African American Struggle Against HIV/AIDS" (UNC Press, 2020)

In the decades since it was identified in 1981, HIV/AIDS has devastated African American communities. Members of those communities mobilized to fight the epidemic and its consequences from the beginning of the AIDS activist movement. They struggled not only to overcome the stigma and denial surrounding a "white gay disease" in Black America, but also to bring resources to struggling communities that were often dismissed as too "hard to reach." To Make the Wounded Whole: The African American...


D. Bilak and T. Nummedal, "Furnace and Fugue. A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s 'Atalanta fugiens' (1618)" (U Virginia Press, 2020)

In 1618, on the eve of the Thirty Years’ War, the German alchemist and physician Michael Maier published Atalanta fugiens, an intriguing and complex musical alchemical emblem book designed to engage the ear, eye, and intellect. The book unfolds as a series of fifty emblems, each of which contains an accompanying "fugue" music scored for three voices. Historians of alchemy have long understood this virtuoso work as an ambitious demonstration of the art’s literary potential and of the...


Valerie Olson, "Into the Extreme: U.S. Environmental Systems and Politics Beyond Earth" (U Minnesota Press, 2018)

What if outer space is not outside the human environment but, rather, defines it? This is the unusual starting point of Valerie Olson’s Into the Extreme: U.S. Environmental Systems and Politics Beyond Earth (U Minnesota Press, 2018), revealing how outer space contributes to making what counts as the scope and scale of today’s natural and social environments. With unprecedented access to spaceflight worksites ranging from astronaut training programs to life science labs and architecture...


Kristina M. Lyons, "Vital Decomposition: Soil Practitioners and Life Politics" (Duke UP, 2020)

In Colombia, decades of social and armed conflict and the US-led war on drugs have created a seemingly untenable situation for scientists and rural communities as they attempt to care for forests and grow non-illicit crops. In her new book Vital Decomposition: Soil Practitioners and Life Politics (Duke University Press, 2020), Kristina M. Lyons presents an ethnography of human-soil relations. By following the practical engagements of soil scientists and peasants across labs, forests, and...


Rene Almeling, "GUYnecology: The Missing Science of Men’s Reproductive Health" (U California Press, 2020)

Rene Almeling’s new book GUYnecology: The Missing Science of Men’s Reproductive Health (University of California Press, 2020) provides an in-depth look at why we do not talk about men’s reproductive health and this knowledge gap shapes reproductive politics today. Over the past several centuries, the medical profession has made enormous efforts to understand and treat women’s reproductive bodies. It is only recently, however, that researchers have begun to ask basic questions about how men’s...


Scholarly Communication: An Interview with Joerg Heber of PLOS

Open Access is spelled with a capital O and a capital A at the Public Library of Science (or PLOS, for short), a nonprofit Open Access publisher. Among PLOS's suite of journals, PLOS One is the nonprofit's largest in number of articles published and its broadest in coverage, ranging as it does over all topics in the natural sciences and medicine, to include, as well, some in the social sciences, too. PLOS One appears only online, a format the staff bring into service to foster Open Access...


Ernest Freeberg, "A Traitor to His Species: Henry Bergh and the Birth of the Animal Rights Movement" (Basic Books, 2020)

In Gilded Age America, people and animals lived cheek-by-jowl in environments that were dirty and dangerous to man and animal alike. The industrial city brought suffering, but it also inspired a compassion for animals that fueled a controversial anti-cruelty movement. From the center of these debates, Henry Bergh launched a shocking campaign to grant rights to animals. Ernest Freeberg's book A Traitor to His Species: Henry Bergh and the Birth of the Animal Rights Movement (Basic Books, 2020)...


Margaret Heffernan, "Uncharted: How to Map and Navigate the Future Together" (Simon and Schuster, 2020)

Today I spoke with Dr Margaret Heffernan about her latest book, Uncharted: How to Map and Navigate the Future Together (Simon and Schuster, 2020). Margaret produced programmes for the BBC for 13 years. She then moved to the US where she became a businesswomen. She is the author of six books and a successful TED Talk speaker. She is also a Professor of Practice at the University of Bath. In her 2012 TED Talk, ‘Dare to disagree’, she told the story Alice Stewart. This is the story of how...


Boel Berner, "Strange Blood: The Rise and Fall of Lamb Blood Transfusion in 19th-Century Medicine and Beyond" (Transcript Verlag, 2020)

In the mid-1870s, the experimental therapy of lamb blood transfusion spread like an epidemic across Europe and the USA. Doctors tried it as a cure for tuberculosis, pellagra and anemia; proposed it as a means to reanimate seemingly dead soldiers on the battlefield. It was a contested therapy because it meant crossing boundaries and challenging taboos. Was the transfusion of lamb blood into desperately sick humans really defensible? Boel Berner, Strange Blood: The Rise and Fall of Lamb Blood...


John Whysner, "The Alchemy of Disease" (Columbia UP, 2020)

Since the dawn of the industrial age, we have unleashed a bewildering number of potentially harmful chemicals. But out of this vast array, how do we identify the actual threats? What does it take to prove that a certain chemical causes cancer? How do we translate academic knowledge of the toxic effects of particular substances into understanding real-world health consequences? The science that answers these questions is toxicology. In The Alchemy of Disease: How Chemicals and Toxins Cause...


Daniel Macfarlane, "Fixing Niagara Falls: Environment, Energy, and Engineers at the World’s Most Famous Waterfall" (UBC Press, 2020)

Water and diplomatic historian Dan MacFarlane has written a fascinating book on a fundamental debate in environmental history: What is a natural landscape? Fixing Niagara Falls: Environment, Energy, and Engineers at the World’s Most Famous Waterfall (UBC Press, 2020) argues that one of the world's most famous natural attractions is not wholly natural but is an engineered landscape. Though the falls have been altered, it's designers seemingly found a balance between preserving its wonder and...


Anthony Hodgson, "Systems Thinking for a Turbulent World: A Search for New Perspectives" (Routledge, 2020)

In the view of Anthony Hodgson, fragmentation of local and global societies is escalating, and this is aggravating vicious cycles. To heal the rifts, Hodgson believes we need to reintroduce the human element into our understandings – whether the context is civic or scientific – and strengthen truth-seeking in decision-making; and that the application of appropriate concepts and methods, will enable a switch from reaction to anticipation, even in the face of discontinuous change and high...


Eric Weiner, "The Geography of Genius: Lessons from the World’s Most Creative Places" (Simon and Schuster, 2016)

Living, as we do, in a time in which a U.S. president anoints himself “a very stable genius”, we are particularly appreciative of Eric Weiner, a former foreign correspondent for NPR who writes with humility and humor, as he brings us along with him on his travels to times and places that produced genius. Beginning with Athens in the Golden age, and ending with Palo Alto in the Silicon age, Weiner steps lightly through a most serious and fascinating topic, aided and supplemented with the...


Arleen Tuchman, "Diabetes: A History of Race and Disease" (Yale UP, 2020)

In her new book Diabetes: A History of Race and Disease (Yale University Press, 2020), Arleen Tuchman, professor of history at Vanderbilt University, describes the history of how the perception of diabetes has evolved over the past two centuries. She charts the chronology of diabetes, from its beginnings as a disease associated with Jews to one associated with “non-whites.” She explores the connotations that patients, advocates, physicians, and policymakers have attached to diabetes (e.g.,...


Jeremy England, "Every Life is on Fire: How Thermodynamics Explains the Origins of Living Things" (Basic Books, 2020)

“How did life begin? Most things in the universe aren't alive, and yet if you trace the evolutionary history of plants and animals back far enough, you will find that, at some point, neither were we. Scientists have wrestled with the problem through the ages, and yet they still don’t agree on what kind of answer they are even looking for. But in 2013, at just 30 years old, physicist Jeremy England published a paper that has utterly upended the ongoing study of life’s origins. In Every Life...


Thom van Dooren, "The Wake of Crows: Living and Dying in Shared Worlds" (Columbia UP, 2019)

Crows can be found almost everywhere that people are, from tropical islands to deserts and arctic forests, from densely populated cities to suburbs and farms. Across these diverse landscapes, many species of crow are doing well: their intelligent and adaptive ways of life have allowed them to thrive amid human-driven transformations. Indeed, crows are frequently disliked for their success, seen as pests, threats, and scavengers on the detritus of human life. But among the vast variety of...


Robert M. Geraci, "Temples of Modernity: Nationalism, Hinduism, and Transhumanism in South Indian Science" (Lexington, 2018)

What is the relationship between science, religion and technology in Hinduism? We speak with Robert M. Geraci about his research into religious ideas and practices in Indian science and engineering circles. Temples of Modernity: Nationalism, Hinduism, and Transhumanism in South Indian Science (Lexington, 2018) uses ethnographic data to investigate the presence of religious ideas and practices in Indian science and engineering. Geraci shows 1) how the integration of religion, science and...