Allman Family Lecture

The Allman Family Lecture is a yearly lecture that connects SMU students, faculty and the greater Dallas community with highly acclaimed professionals and academic leaders prominent in interdisciplinary disciplines.


Fall 2015

Should We Trust Science?
Perspectives from the History and Philosophy of Science

Naomi Oreskes, Harvard University

Thursday, October 29th
5:30 p.m. Reception, 6:00 p.m. Lecture
McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall
This Lecture is Free and Open to the Public

Parking will be available in Airline, Binkley and Moody Parking Centers. See map link here. A parking permit is required and can be found here


Many people are confused about the safety of vaccines, the reality of climate change, and other matters. Doctors tell us that vaccines are safe, and climate change is real, but how do they know that? And how are we to make sense of competing claims? In a recent Presidential Debate, Donald Trump rejected the position of Ben Carson, a doctor, and insisted that vaccines should be more widely spaced.

Professor Naomi Oreskes argues that we should trust science, and explains why.

Naomi Oreskes is Professor of the History of Science, and Affiliated Professor Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. She is the author of both scholarly and popular books and articles on the history of earth and environmental science, including

The Rejection of Continental Drift (Oxford, 1999), Plate Tectonics: An Insider’s History of the Modern Theory of the Earth (Westview, 2003), and The Collapse of Western Civilization (Columbia University Press, 2014). For the past decade, Oreskes has been primarily interested in the science and politics of anthropogenic climate change. Her 2010 book, Merchants of Doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco to Global Warming, co-authored with Erik M. Conway, was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the Watson-Davis Prize from the History of Science Society. The film version was released in 2015.

Oreskes’ current research projects include completion of a scholarly book on the history of Cold War Oceanography, Science on a Mission: American Oceanography from the Cold War to Climate Change (Chicago, forthcoming), and Assessing Assessments: A Historical and Philosophical Study of Scientific Assessments for Environmental Policy in the Late 20th Century. She has lectured widely and won numerous prizes, including the 2009 Francis Bacon Medal for outstanding scholarship in the history of science and technology, the 2011 Climate Change Communicator of the Year, the 2014 American Geophysical Union Presidential Citation for Science and Society; and the 2015 Herbert American Historical Association Herbert Feis Prize for public history.

Copies of Professor Oreskes' books, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future and Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, will be available to purchase before the lecture, with a book signing following.

An SMU faculty panel discussion, moderated by Lee Cullum of KERA, will be held the following week.

Scientific Research and Public Responses: A Faculty Panel Discussion
Thursday, November 5th
5:00 p.m. Reception, 5:30 p.m. Panel
McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall

Panel Members: Louis Jacobs, Earth Sciences; John Wise, Biology; David Meltzer, Anthropology; and Randall Scalise, Physics

Parking will be available in Airline, Binkley and Moody Parking Centers. See map link here. A parking permit is required and can be found here.