Thursday, December 17 2015 at 8:00PM

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James Williams

What's the talk about?

Come and join us for a festive talk followed by a party, with punch. Tickets will be available on the door.

We often see contradictory headlines in newspapers “scientists say drinking read wine is good for you” only to be followed the next day by “Drinking alcohol is bad for you, say scientists” It’s difficult to know who or what to believe sometimes! Scientists have their own language, not just complicated names for plants and animals or unpronounceable chemical names, but a whole set of meanings for words that we use every day like ‘theory’, ‘law’, hypothesis etc. In some instances people play on these different meanings to try and discredit science e.g. creationists who say that evolution is ‘just a theory’. They characterise evolution as a ‘belief system’. But is any science part of a belief system? Or should we talk about accepting the ideas of scientists rather than ‘believing’ in them.

In this talk James Williams will look at the language of science, how familiar words can mean quite different things in everyday and scientific contexts and argues that rather than ‘believe’ what science and scientists tell us, we should accept them, provided there is evidence to back them.

James Williams is a lecturer in education, specialising in science education, at the University of Sussex. His research interests currently revolve around teaching "The Nature of Science" and "The Scientific Method". In particular, what do science teachers understand about these concepts and ideas in science.

Linked to this work is research on the teaching of evolution in science and the controversy of evolution vs creationism in a school and wider context. He has published papers in academic journals on the evolution/creationism controversy as well as articles in the professional and popular press. He is a textbook author and publishes professional books for teachers on approaches to science teaching. His other research interests involve issues surrounding the publication of the Theory of Evolution by means of Natural selection by Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin. He is a regular contributor to BBC Sussex on education matters.