Past Lectures

Lawrence Weiskrantz
Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Oxford University
Percepts, Brain Imaging and the Centrality Principle: A Triangular Approach to the Scientific Basis of Consciousness

Everett Mendelsohn
Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University
Cloned Sheep, Headless Frogs, Human Futures: Meanings for the New Biology
Everett Mendelsohn is professor and former chair of the History of Science Department

Owen Gingerich
Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University
The Copernican Revolution Revisited
Owen Gingerich is a senior astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Michael Ruse
Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University
Darwinism and Atheism: A Marriage Made in Heaven

Mary Jo Nye
Thomas Hart and Mary Jones Homing Professor of the Humanities, Oregon State University
Linus Pauling and Scientific Revolutions of the 20th Century

Ernan McMullin
The John Cardinal O'Hara Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame
Evolution as a Christian Theme

Martin Rudwick
Emeritus Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge and University of California, San Diego
Geology and Genesis: A Historical Perspective on the Interaction of Two Historical Sciences

Alfred Tauber
Zoltan Kohn Professor of Medicine and Professor of Philosophy, Boston University
Science & Reason, Faith & Reason: A Kantian Perspective
Benjamin Franklin and Medical Electricity

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), who is well known in many fields, especially as a witty writer and skilled diplomat, was an early, major contributor to medicine from the New World. Among his numerous accomplishments are many experiments on medical electricity, a fadish new cure that had just been introduced. In the middle of the eighteenth century, Franklin, who was already making a name for himself as an electrical scientist, set forth to determine whether electricity might in fact be a cure for palsies, hysteria, deafness, and a possible brain tumor. Later in his life, he even wrote about shocks to the head as a possible treatment for melancholia and other forms of madness. Franklin's "clinical trials" showed that electricity was neither a quack remedy nor a panacea. That is, it worked for some disorders, but not for others. Interestingly, Franklin never speculated on why this should be the case, having considerably more faith in his data than in popular theories.


Stanley Finger received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1968 and has been on the faculty of Washington University (St. Louis, MO) since that time. He holds a professorship in psychology and is associated with two programs at Washington University: Neural Sciences and Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology. He has written over 155 articles and has authored or edited 9 books, with two more in progress. His four most recent books are Origins of Neuroscience (1994: Oxford University Press), Minds Behind the Brain (2000: Oxford University Press), Trepanation (2003: Swets and Zeitlinger), and Doctor Franklin's Medicine (2006: Univ. Penn. Press). His articles dealing with the history of science and medicine have covered a wide range of topics, including: the science behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the man who recognized the first ancient trepanned skull, the early history of phantom limbs, and the discovery of cerebral dominance. Stanley Finger was the first president of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences and is currently Senior Editor of the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences.