UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies


EVENT: JBS Haldane Lecture - Prof. Heather Douglas

9 November 2017

The JBS Haldane Lectures are the flagship public lectures held by the Dept. of STS - our chance to present work by the best our field has to offer. Our first Haldane lecture of the 2017/18 session will be from Prof. Heather Douglas, the Waterloo Chair in Science and Society at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. She will give a talk on 'How the public can assess expertise', and her talk will take place on Weds 31st January from 6pm in the Cruciform Building B404 LT2.

Dr Heather Douglas

Prof. Douglas is a world reknowned philosopher of science, and her book "Science, Policy, and the Value Free Ideal" is considered a class in the field. We are excited to have Prof. Douglas visit us to speak, and invite interested parties to attend. As with all Haldane Lectures, the event is open to the public and you do not have to register. If you have any questions, please contact us at sts@ucl.ac.uk to enquire.


Although general trust in expertise remains relatively high, trust in specific expertise has seen drops for some publics.  More worrisome, the relationship between experts and the public in democratic societies remains fraught.  Expertise is not something that any of us can gain in all the areas where we need to make decisions, and we still need experts to help inform our decisions.  Yet, straightforward reliance on experts is made complicated by experts whose work is not readily assessable in the short term and by the normal state of disagreement among experts.  Such complications are exacerbated by failures of expertise, both historical and contemporary.  In this talk, I will describe how the public can plausibly assess expertise, even cases of genuine expert disagreement, without demanding that they become experts themselves.  These bases for assessing expertise serve ultimately as bases for trust in expertise.