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The eradication of smallpox, one of the deadliest diseases ever to afflict humanity, was a sensational triumph of medical science and public health in the 20th century. How did it happen, and what lessons does it hold for us today?

In this next edition of LIVE@Frost Science, we are proud to welcome philosopher of science James Robert Brown as he presents The Eradication of Smallpox: Triumph in the Midst of Highly Complex Science, Society and Religious Tensions. This event is produced in collaboration with the Appignani Foundation Chair for the Study of Atheism, Humanism, and Secular Ethics at the University of Miami.

Smallpox was eradicated in 1979, after a 13-year coordinated effort by the whole world. This was achieved in spite of profound differences in political, scientific and religious outlooks. How did this come about? The roles of science and religion (especially in India) are far from what we might expect. At issue were rival views of disease, class conflict, imperialism, the cold war, practical problems of organization and above all, profoundly different religious views that had to be negotiated. There are morals concerning the relation between modern science and so-called traditional knowledge, vaccine education, freedom of choice and other issues today.

Admission is complimentary. Tickets are limited to two per transaction. Program will take place inside the Frost Planetarium.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Program starts promptly at 7:00 p.m. Seating is first-come, first-served. Snacks and beverages will be available for purchase prior to the event. (Food and beverage is not allowed inside the Frost Planetarium).

Please note registration to the event does not include museum admission. Museum exhibitions close at 6:00 p.m. Onsite parking is available in the museum garage for $8 flat rate starting at 6:00 p.m.

About the Speaker

Professor James Robert Brown is a philosopher of science at the University of Toronto and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His interests range over a number of areas from thought experiments, to the foundations of mathematics and physics, to science and society, including science and religion. He is the author of several books, including: The Laboratory of the Mind (about the nature and importance of thought experiments in the natural sciences), Who Rules in Science (about the so-called science wars, social constructivism, objectivity and their relation to social issues), and Philosophy of Mathematics (about visual reasoning, the role of diagrams in mathematics, and what should count as evidence in mathematics).

Parking Instructions

  • Onsite parking is available in the museum garage for $8 flat rate starting at 6:00 p.m.