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About Keith M. Parsons
Keith M. Parsons is on the faculty of The University of Houston--Clear Lake, where he is Associate Professor of Philosophy and the recent winner of the President's Distinguished Research Award. His previous publications include the books God and the Burden of Proof (Prometheus Books, 1989), Drawing Out Leviathan (Indiana University Press, 2001), and The Great Dinosaur Controversy (ABC Clio Press, 2003). He holds a doctorate from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science of The University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in philosophy from Queen's University (Canada). Dr. Parsons was the founding editor of the philosophical journal Philo. He has often served as a lecturer, debater, and workshop leader in a number of venues.
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" . . . are dinosaurs social constructs? Do we really know anything about dinosaurs? Might not all of our beliefs about dinosaurs merely be figments of the paleontological imagination? A few years ago such questions would have seemed preposterous, even nonsensical. Now they must have a serious answer."
At stake in the "Science Wars" that have raged in academe and in the media is nothing less than the standing of science in our culture. One side argues that science is a "social construct," that it does not discover facts about the world, but rather constructs artifacts disguised as objective truths. This view threatens the authority of science and rejects science's claims to objectivity, rationality, and disinterested inquiry. Drawing Out Leviathan examines this argument in the light of some major debates about dinosaurs: the case of the wrong-headed dinosaur, the dinosaur "heresies" of the 1970s, and the debate over the extinction of dinosaurs.
Keith Parsons claims that these debates, though lively and sometimes rancorous, show that evidence and logic, not arbitrary "rules of the game," remained vitally important, even when the debates were at their nastiest. They show science to be a complex set of activities, pervaded by social influences, and not easily reducible to any stereotype. Parsons acknowledges that there are lessons to be learned by scientists from their would-be adversaries, and the book concludes with some recommendations for ending the Science Wars.