Scientific Colloquium
June 13, 2018, 3:30 p.m.
Building 3, Goett Auditorium

"Surviving the Misinformation Age" 

We are said to be living in the Information Age, with quintillions of bytes of information just two swipes away. But there's a problem: most of it is junk -- useless, innocently wrong, or deliberately wrong. I believe it is more accurate to describe our current state as the Misinformation Age, a milieu that undercuts individual decision-making and is a potential disaster for the formation of rational public policy. I will discuss ways in which scientists are complicit in our society's descent into Medieval thinking, and offer some suggestions as to how we might mount a counterinsurgency against the purveyors of nonsense.
About the Speaker:

David J. Helfand, a faculty member at Columbia University for forty-one years, has served nearly half of that time as Chair of the Department of Astronomy. He is the author of nearly 200 scientific publications and has mentored 22 PhD students, but most of his pedagogical efforts have been aimed at teaching science to non-science majors. He instituted the first change in Columbia's Core Curriculum in 50 years by introducing science to all first-year students. In 2005, he joined an effort to create Canada's first independent, non-profit, secular university, Quest University Canada where served as President & Vice-Chancellor from 2008-2015. He also recently completed a four-year term as President of the American Astronomical Society. His first book, "A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age" appeared last year.
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