This course focuses on a critical inquiry into scientific thought, including the perspectives of Wesleyan faculty from the Division of Natural Science & Mathematics and those with expertise in science issues from the humanities and social sciences. Beginning with an overview of the intellectual foundations of the scientific methods in the 17th century as a response to Aristotelian scholasticism, the course will cover the contributions of Bacon, Descartes, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Pascal, and others; the current influence of contemporary thinkers such as Ayer and Popper; and the emergence of constructivism. A series of specific topics will be chosen, such as relativity theory, quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle, the big bang theory of the origin of the universe, the discovery of the DNA double helix, Godel's incompleteness theorem, Darwin's natural selection; and entropy, disorder, and chaos theory. Ongoing research on the biology of AIDS and controversial issues such as polywater and cold fusion will be used to illustrate how the scientific method seeks to validate knowledge and correct for mistakes. The course will consider current critiques of the validity and objectivity of science emanating from cultural studies, including cultural constructivism, postmodernism, feminist theory, and eco-environmentalism. A number of guest speakers from diverse sectors of the Wesleyan faculty will be invited. This course can be taken independently and also satisfies an expectation of the Science Writing Program. Not a gut.