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STS1Book programme

Each year, STS asks all students and staff to read one book as a community. The STS1Book for 2021-22 will be Gemma Milne's "Smoke and Mirrors," about hype in the world of technology innovation.

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STS1Book for 2021-22

Gemma Milne (2000) Smoke and Mirrors (cover)
Gemma Milne. 2020. Smoke & Mirrors: How Hype Obscures the Future and How To See Past It (Robinson). ISBN 978-1-4721-4366-2. Author's Website (order signed copies).
  • Publisher's description:
    Bombastic headlines about science and technology are nothing new. To cut through the constant stream of information and misinformation on social media, or grab the attention of investors, or convince governments to take notice, strident headlines or bold claims seem necessary to give complex, nuanced information some wow factor. But hype has a dark side, too.
    It can mislead. It can distract. It can blinker us from seeing what is actually going on.
    From AI, quantum computing and brain implants, to cancer drugs, future foods and fusion energy, science and technology journalist Gemma Milne reveals hype to be responsible for fundamentally misdirecting or even derailing crucial progress.
    Hype can be combated and discounted, though, if you're able to see exactly where, how and why it is being deployed.
    This book is your guide to doing just that.

STS will have a series of activities around the STS1Book during the year. 

What's the STS1Book programme?

Each year, the Department asks all staff and students to read one book in common during the summer, then arrive for the new session ready to discuss both its substance and its broader value. Incoming students should read this prescribed book. It will be the subject of activities during induction week and will be used in Year 1 courses. Titles are selected for inclusion by the STS Undergraduate Programme Tutor from suggested offered by students and staff. 

The goals of our STS1Book programme are:

  1. increase intellectual integration across our many different subjects
  2. increase common ground for students in different years of study
  3. encourage informal learning
  4. read more fabulous work from scholars and writers in our community

This is our 16th year!

Past books in the series include:

  • Amanda Rees and Charlotte Sleigh (2020) Human (Animal) (Reaktion Books)
  • Eubanks, Virginia. 2018. Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor (Picador)
  • Saini, Angela. 2017. Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story (London: Harper Collins)
  • Erik Conway and Naomi Oreskes. 2012. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (London: Bloomsbury)
  • Philip Ball's Invisible: The History of the Unseen from Plato to Particle Physics
  • Henry Nicholls' The Galapagos: A Natural History
  • Peter Dear's The Intelligibility of Nature: How Science Makes Sense of the World
  • Ron Number's Galileo Goes to Jail, and other myths about science and religion
  • Mark Henderson's Geek Manifesto
  • Jon Turney's The Rough Guide to The Future
  • Bill Bryson's Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society: 350 Years of the Royal Society and Scientific Endeavour
  • Ben Goldacre's Bad Science
  • Thomas Dixon's Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction
  • Jenny Uglow's The Lunar Men
  • Jared Diamond's Collapse

We invite authors to visit STS for a day, to meet students, discuss their ideas, and discuss careers. When Philip Ball visited in 2017, we filmed his seminar talk. The audience includes STS students and staff as well as students and staff across the university.

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://youtu.be/g89rvfQ8uVk

 

High praise

Our STS1Book programme was praised highly by UCL's quality review team in their 2012 regular audit of the department. It was described as innovative and key to creating a shared learning environment.