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November 4, 1960

“Science and Society,” a conference on the natural and social sciences, was held as part of the centennial celebration. The speakers included: Bentley Glass, professor of biology at Johns Hopkins University, who spoke on “The Growing Political Role of the Academic Scientist;” Yale University Professor of Biophysics Ernest C. Pollard, who discussed “The Advance of Physical Science into the Biological and Social Sciences;” Czech-American analytic philosopher of science Ernest Nagel, John Dewey Professor of Natural and Social Sciences at Columbia, who explored “Certainty and Doubt in the Natural and Social Sciences” and Donald W. Taylor, professor of psychology at Yale University, whose topic was “Creative Thinking among Scientists.”

Professor Nagel, according to The Miscellany News, “said the certainty of natural and social sciences often differ from reality: laws, in natural science, are formulated in ideal cases which are deceptively precise,” whereas in social sciences, “laws descrivbe irregularities. The tendency is not to formulate generalizations in terms of ideal cases…but in terms of actual observations. Because of these basic differences between the two sciences sharp comparison is ‘not playing the game fairly.’”

Noting scientists’ historic desire for “political immunity,” Professor Glass said that “with the advent of World War II…science became forever linked to government….Certainly, the dangers of nuclear fallout have necessitated international conferences where scientists and diplomats alike can discuss the problems of arms control and nuclear testing.”

The Years