Professors Emily Oster and Stuart Firestein offer advice for rabbis for deciding what to do about the High Holy Days during COVID-19 – and how to live with the unavoidable uncertainty.
Professor Stuart Firestein is the former Chair of Columbia University’s Department of Biological Sciences where his colleagues and he study the vertebrate olfactory system, possibly the best chemical detector on the face of the planet. Dedicated to promoting the accessibility of science to a public audience, Dr. Firestein seeks to reach broader audiences through nonscientific writing, public appearances, and his support of science in the arts. Dr. Firestein also serves as an advisor for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s program for the Public Understanding of Science. Recently he was awarded the 2011 Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award for excellence in scholarship and teaching. Most notably, Dr. Firestein’s commitment to engaging the public in science can be seen in his TED Talk entitled “The pursuit of ignorance”, which has garnered 1.5 million views and counting. His book on the workings of science for a general audience, Ignorance: How it Drives Science, was released by Oxford University Press in the spring of 2012. Dr. Firestein’s first book captures the hard work of science, the informed curiosity found among scientists, and the exhilaration of discovery. The book has received esteemed praise from the public and critics and has even become integrated into the curricula as required readings among several high schools and colleges. In 2015, his next book, Failure: Why Science is So Successful, was published.
What do we learn from failure? What happens when our dogma — whether scientific or religious — turns out to be wrong?
Knowledge and uncertainty, and belief and doubt, are often two sides of the same coin, and it’s the dynamic relationship between the two that drives us forward. At the second Sinai and Synapses seminar, Professors Karl Giberson and Stuart Firestein share their thoughts on this tension.