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Project MUSE - Science and Justice: The Massachusetts Witchcraft Trials (1968)
"Far from being an isolated outburst of community insanity or hysteria, the Massachusetts witchcraft trials were an accurate reflection of the scientific ethos of the seventeenth century. Witches were seldom hanged without supporting medical evidence. Professor Fox clarifies this use of scientific knowledge by examining the Scientific Revolution's impact on the witchcraft trials. He suggests that much of the scientific ineptitude and lack of sophistication that characterized the witchcraft cases is still present in our modern system of justice. In the historical context of seventeenth-century witch hunts and in an effort to stimulate those who must design and operate a just jurisprudence today, Fox asks what the proper legal role of medical science—especially psychiatry—should be in any society. The legal system of seventeenth-century Massachusetts was weakened by an uncritical reliance on scientific judgments, and the scientific assumptions upon which the colonial conception of witchcraft was based reinforced these doubtful judgments. Fox explores these assumptions, discusses the actual participation of scientists in the investigations, and indicates the importance of scientific attitudes in the trials. Disease theory, psychopathology, and autopsy procedures, he finds, all had their place in the identification of witches. The book presents a unique multidisciplinary investigation into the place of science in the life of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the seventeenth century. There, as in twentieth-century America, citizens were confronted with the necessity of accommodating both the rules of law and the facts of science to their system of justice."
to:NB  books:noted  witch-craze  law  american_history  scientific_revolution  history_of_ideas  forensics 
october 2019 by cshalizi
Beyond the Laboratory: Scientists as Political Activists in 1930s America, Kuznick
"The debate over scientists’ social responsibility is a topic of great controversy today. Peter J. Kuznick here traces the origin of that debate to the 1930s and places it in a context that forces a reevaluation of the relationship between science and politics in twentieth-century America. Kuznick reveals how an influential segment of the American scientific community during the Depression era underwent a profound transformation in its social values and political beliefs, replacing a once-pervasive conservatism and antipathy to political involvement with a new ethic of social reform."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  history_of_science  science_in_society  intellectuals_in_politics  1930s  american_history 
october 2019 by cshalizi
The Culture of Feedback: Ecological Thinking in Seventies America, Belgrad
"When we want advice from others, we often casually speak of “getting some feedback.” But how many of us give a thought to what this phrase means? The idea of feedback actually dates to World War II, when the term was developed to describe the dynamics of self-regulating systems, which correct their actions by feeding their effects back into themselves. By the early 1970s, feedback had become the governing trope for a counterculture that was reoriented and reinvigorated by ecological thinking.
"The Culture of Feedback digs deep into a dazzling variety of left-of-center experiences and attitudes from this misunderstood period, bringing us a new look at the wild side of the 1970s. Belgrad shows us how ideas from systems theory were taken up by the counterculture and the environmental movement, eventually influencing a wide range of beliefs and behaviors, particularly related to the question of what is and is not intelligence. He tells the story of a generation of Americans who were struck by a newfound interest in—and respect for—plants, animals, indigenous populations, and the very sounds around them, threading his tapestry with cogent insights on environmentalism, feminism, systems theory, and psychedelics. The Culture of Feedback repaints the familiar image of the ’70s as a time of Me Generation malaise to reveal an era of revolutionary and hopeful social currents, driven by desires to radically improve—and feed back into—the systems that had come before."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  american_history  1970s  environmentalism  cybernetics 
september 2019 by cshalizi
The 1619 Project - The New York Times
massive nyt project on the 400th anniversary of slavery in America and its consequences
slavery  america  american_history  af_am 
august 2019 by gwijthoff
The Great Broadening: How the Vast Expansion of the Policymaking Agenda Transformed American Politics, Jones, Theriault, Whyman
"Beginning in the late 1950s and continuing through the 1970s, the United States experienced a vast expansion in national policy making. During this period, the federal government extended its scope into policy arenas previously left to civil society or state and local governments.
"With The Great Broadening, Bryan D. Jones, Sean M. Theriault, and Michelle Whyman examine in detail the causes, internal dynamics, and consequences of this extended burst of activity. They argue that the broadening of government responsibilities into new policy areas such as health care, civil rights, and gender issues and the increasing depth of existing government programs explain many of the changes in America politics since the 1970s. Increasing government attention to particular issues was motivated by activist groups. In turn, the beneficiaries of the government policies that resulted became supporters of the government’s activity, leading to the broad acceptance of its role. This broadening and deepening of government, however, produced a reaction as groups critical of its activities organized to resist and roll back its growth."
to:NB  books:noted  american_history  us_politics  sociology  public_policy  class_struggles_in_america 
august 2019 by cshalizi
The Class Politics of the Civil War
From 1790 to 1860, nearly every president was either a slaveholder or a proslavery Northerner. The Supreme Court was dominated by proslavery justices. The House of Representatives and the Electoral College were skewed by the Constitution’s three-fifths clause, which enhanced Southern political influence over Congress and the presidency. The foreign- policy apparatus was dominated by imperial-minded slaveholders and their allies. This was the Slave Power, and its opponents had clear and convincing explanations for the source of its strength and compelling reasons for wanting to destroy it.
slavery  civil_war  history  electoral_politics  american_history  labor 
july 2019 by perich
Syndicate Women by Chris M. Smith - Paperback - University of California Press
"In Syndicate Women, sociologist Chris M. Smith uncovers a unique historical puzzle: women composed a substantial part of Chicago organized crime in the early 1900s, but during Prohibition (1920–1933), when criminal opportunities increased and crime was most profitable, women were largely excluded. During the Prohibition era, the markets for organized crime became less territorial and less specialized, and criminal organizations were restructured to require relationships with crime bosses. These processes began with, and reproduced, gender inequality. The book places organized crime within a gender-based theoretical framework while assessing patterns of relationships that have implications for non-criminal and more general societal issues around gender. As a work of criminology that draws on both historical methods and contemporary social network analysis, Syndicate Women centers the women who have been erased from analyses of gender and crime and breathes new life into our understanding of the gender gap."
to:NB  books:noted  crime  american_history  social_networks  sexism  to_teach:baby-nets  gender_gaps_of_questionable_injustice  chicago 
july 2019 by cshalizi

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