In 1646, Sir Thomas Browne wanted to rid the world of a vast range of false beliefs -- that elephants have no knees, that beavers bite off their testicles to avoid capture, that garlic disempowers magnets, and so on and on. Browne's problem was that he had no simple way of describing what he was doing.
David Wootton is Anniversary Professor of History at the University of York. He was educated at Cambridge and Oxford, and held positions in history and politics at four Canadian universities from 1980 to 1994, including two years at McGill University. He has held visiting positions at Princeton and Washington University in St Louis. His previous books include Paolo Sarpi (1983), Bad Medicine (2006) and Galileo (2010). In addition to his work on the history of science he also writes on the history of political and economic thought, 1500-1800, in North America, Britain, France and Italy. He has given the Raleigh Lecture at the British Academy (2008), the Carlyle Lectures at Oxford (2014) and the Benedict Lectures at Boston (2014), and he will give the Besterman Lecture at Oxford later this year. He has reviewed for the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the TLS, the LRB, and the Spectator.
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