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S2 Episode 1 – Fingerprinting Ghosts: Science, Technology & the Occult with The Media of Mediumship Project Team

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28th February 2024

Translating Data, Visualizing the Nation: How Quantitative Data Helped Envision Modern India 

By Sayori Ghoshal In 2022, I began working on an INSBS-funded grant project on the impact of race science and statistics on religious and caste identities in colonial India. Under colonial rule, Indian scientists had rejected the claim that Europeans were racially superior to Indians. However, they had not dismissed race as a scientific object. Instead, from the 1920s, Indian scientists had sought to measure the extent of racial mixing…

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5th December 2023

Science, Spiritualism, Stereoscopy: The Spectacular Photographs of ‘Margery’ Crandon

By Dr. Emma Merkling In late 2022 I began working on an INSBS-funded grant project on the scientific testing of the spiritualist medium Mina ‘Margery’ Crandon in Boston, c. 1925. ‘Margery’ was arguably the best-known medium in America at the time, having been made famous by a series of investigations into her mediumship initially funded by the popular magazine Scientific American. These investigations were conducted in Margery’s Boston home by…

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1st November 2023

The Cover That Wasn’t To Be

By Dr. Thoko Kamwendo I am busy putting together an edited collection of essays that take an STS approach to the study of science and religion, funded by the INSBS. As many of you know, there are several parts to creating an edited volume, including making tricky decisions about the cover.   I recently received options for the front cover of the volume from Palgrave who will hopefully publish it sometime…

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29th September 2023

S3 Episode 9: Emerging Trends in the History of Science and Religion with Dr Adam Shapiro

In the final episode of the season, James and Will are joined by Dr Adam R. Shapiro, an historian of science, whose work focuses on public understandings and misunderstandings of science and the relationship between science and religion. Adam provides an overview of some of the emerging trends in the history of science and religion and situates his own work within this wider disciplinary movement. The discussion ranges from…

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A black and white profile image of Dr Carissa Sharp and Dr Carole Leicht
3rd August 2023

S3 Episode 8: Psychology of (non)Religion with Dr Carissa Sharp and Dr Carola Leicht

In the penultimate episode of the season, Will and Rebecca are joined by Dr Carissa Sharp, Assistant Professor in Psychology of Religion in the School of Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham, UK and Dr Carola Leicht, Reader in Organisational Behaviour at the University of Kent, UK. Carissa and Carola discuss their almost decade-long collaboration, using social psychological methods to explore questions of science-religion conflict and how…

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A black and white image of Renate Ysseldyk and Emily Tippins
5th July 2023

S3 Episode 7: Religious Identity, Political Orientation and Vaccine Attitudes with Dr Renate Ysseldyk and Emily Tippins

In this episode Will is joined by a new co-host Dr Rebecca Hughes, a social psychologist at the University of Birmingham. Will and Rebecca welcome Renate Ysseldyk, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Sciences at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada specializing in Social and Health Psychology, and Emily Tippins, a PhD student at the University of Ottawa, who recently completed her Masters of Science working with Renate…

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20th June 2023

S3 Episode 6: Abortion, Religion & Liberalism with Professor Amy Adamczyk

In this timely episode James and Will welcome Amy Adamczyk, Professor of Sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Amy discusses her sociological exploration of attitudes towards abortion, in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), and the role that religious and other socio-demographic factors play in shaping these attitudes. Amy presents the results of a comparative quantitative…

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22nd May 2023

S3 Episode 5: Science and Religion in Argentina with Professor Reynaldo Rivera, Dr Arturo Fitz Herbert and Sol Barbera

In this episode James and Will welcome Professor Reynaldo Rivera, Full Professor in the School of Communication and Design, post-doctoral researcher Dr Arturo Fitz Herbert and researcher Sol Barbera from Austral University (Argentina). Reynaldo, Arturo and Sol discuss there work as project partners on the Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum of Global Perspectives project, which sees teams of researchers in eight countries investigate the relationship between science and…

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4th April 2023

S3 Episode 4: STS and Religion in Conversation with Dr Thokozani Kamwendo, Dr Caroline McCalman, Dr Will Mason-Wilkes & Dr James Riley

In this episode James and Will welcome Dr Thokozani Kamwendo, post-doctoral researcher at Durham University, and Dr Caroline McCalman, post-doctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham, for a roundtable discussion on the relationship between scholarship in Science & Belief and Science & Technology Studies (STS). Thoko is the editor of a collection exploring this relationship, with Caroline providing a single-authored and co-authored contribution. As well as hosting the podcast, both…

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21st February 2023

S3 Episode 3: Science and Meaning: From ‘Cultured Meat’ to the March for Science with Dr Neil Stephens

In this episode James and Will welcome Dr Neil Stephens, Associate Professor in Technology and Society at the University of Birmingham. Neil discusses his interest in meaning-making in and around science. This includes his 15+ year study of ‘cultured meat’; the processes of its scientific and technological development, how religious authorities have been involved in these processes, and the broader epistemological, ontological and sociological implications cultured meat raises. We go…

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13th December 2022

S3 Episode 2: Reflections on the History of Science & Religion with Prof. Bernard Lightman

In this episode (our first recorded in-person) we talk with distinguished historian of science Professor Bernard Lightman. We discuss his wide-ranging contributions to the historical study of science and religion, from his early work on the origins of agnosticism, to his views on more recent shifts and trends in the field – and the differences between T.H. Huxley and Richard Dawkins.  (This episode was recorded in October 2022)…

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a profile picture of Hauke Riesch
31st October 2022

S3 Episode 1: The End of the World with Dr Hauke Riesch

The Science & Belief in Society Podcast is back – but for how much longer? In this opening episode of Season 3, James and Will welcome Dr Hauke Riesch, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Brunel University, London, to talk about the end of the world… Narratives of the apocalypse – stories of how the world will end, and humanity’s fate before, during and after these variously prophesied cataclysms,…

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A 19th century script of the opening verse of the Qur'an written in the Sudani Script
20th September 2022

Making sense of Qur’anic school preference in West Africa

The challenges of secular bias and ontological injustice in scientific theories of educational decision-making Dr Anneke Newman, Université Libre de Bruxelles The remit of the INSBS is to study the relationships between ‘science’ and ‘belief’ in society. Yet what if the very conceptualization of these terms—and the tools social scientists have at their disposal to study these dynamics—were far from neutral, but instead privilege secular ontology and epistemology, leading…

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5th July 2022

S2 Episode 9: Measuring Meditation – the Study of Contemplative Science with Mareike Smolka

Religious practices and their effects are increasingly the subject of scientific investigation. In the field of Contemplative Science, mediative practices drawn from Buddhist traditions are united with techniques of analysis from cognitive and neurosciences. In this episode, James and Will welcome Mareike Smolka, a PhD Researcher at Maastricht University in Science and Technology Studies and Fullbright Scholar at Arizona State University, who has ethnographically explored this community. Mareike’s…

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14th June 2022

S2 Episode 8: Science and Colonial Legacies in East Africa with Professor Adam Chepkwony

In this episode, Richard and Will talk with Professor Adam Chepkwony, a Full Professor of Religion at the University of Kabianga in Kenya. Professor Chepkwony’s work covers a wide range of topics including African Religion, Inter-religious Dialogue, Science and Religion, and more. In this episode, Professor Chepkwony provides his perspective on how issues like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic have affected, and are perceived by, people in Kenya.

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1st June 2022

S2 Episode 7: Science and Islam in the 19th Century with Dr Sarah Qidwai

In this episode, Rachael and Richard talk with Dr Sarah Qidwai, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Regensburg, Germany. Sarah’s work explores transnational and local perspectives on scientific disciplines during the long nineteenth century. In this episode, we discuss the focus of Sarah’s doctoral thesis, the Muslim polymath Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), and her latest project entitled ‘Scientism and Empire’ while examining how disciplines such as…

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a black and white photograph of Dr Bastiaan Rutjens
11th May 2022

S2 Episode 6: Science Scepticism around the World with Dr Bastiaan Rutjens

Understanding public attitudes towards science has become an increasingly important area of research in recent decades, and the importance of this kind of work has only been heightened by the emergence of COVID-19, and the diverse and unpredictable public responses to scientific and medical advice during the pandemic. In this episode Will and Richard talk to Dr Bastiaan Rutjens, who investigates public attitudes to science around the world, with…

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6th April 2022

Religious Belief and the Geohistory of the Planet: Between Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy

By Richard Fallon In September 2021, Nature-affiliated journal Scientific Reports published a striking article arguing that the Bronze Age city of Tall el-Hammam was destroyed by a cosmic airburst. The authors, Ted E. Bunch et al, speculated that the Genesis story of the destruction of Sodom preserves memories of this impact – and received intense criticism in response. Just a few months later, scholars in Geology described another…

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22nd March 2022

Science and Religion, A Very Short Re-Introduction

By Adam R. Shapiro When Thomas Dixon first asked me to work with him to revise and update his excellent 2008 book Science and Religion, A Very Short Introduction, my first thought was to ask why such a text might need a new edition. On the face of it, many of the issues we typically associate with the study of “science and religion” seem timeless, or…

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15th March 2022

S2 Episode 5: Evolution and Creation in New Zealand with Dr John Stenhouse

In this episode James Riley and Richard Grove talk with John Stenhouse, Associate Professor of History at the University of Otago, New Zealand.  John’s research interests centre on the interconnections between science, religion, race, politics and gender in the modern world, particularly using New Zealand as the major site of study. We talk about the history of creationist and evolutionary ideas in New Zealand, and how…

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