Past Event

Jamie Pietruska - Weather Prophets, Frauds, and Counterfeiters from the Gilded Age to the New Era

March 30, 2016
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
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NYU Gallatin (Room 801), 1 Washington Place, New York

Speaker: Jamie Pietruska, Assistant Professor of History, Rutgers University

This talk will draw together histories of science, capitalism, and culture to examine epistemological debates over weather prediction during a period when the first national weather service in the United States found itself in constant competition with a multitude of private commercial forecasters in a contest for professional scientific authority. In its attempts to convince the public to trust in short-term government forecasts and renounce the ubiquitous long-range predictions of almanacs and private forecasters, the U.S. Weather Bureau sought to discredit and suppress the work of its competitors, whom it classified variously as frauds, counterfeiters, and cranks. The predictive labors of this array of weather prophets—as all late-nineteenth-century forecasters were called—reveal that the historical production of predictive weather knowledge was not a frictionless narrative of scientific progress and ever-increasing technical proficiency but rather as an ongoing epistemological controversy in which weather forecasting was a mutually constitutive form of scientific and public knowledge. This talk will illuminate the social lives of weather forecasts as they circulated outside of scientific institutions and through culture and the marketplace.

This event is free and open to the public.

This event is part of the New York History of Science Lecture Series.

Sponsoring Organizations:
New York University
Gallatin School of Individualized Study
Columbia University in the City of New York
City University of New York
The New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Medicine