Contributors to Cause & Effect

John Barry – Historian, author, advisor. He is a prize-winning and New York Times best-selling author whose books have won more than twenty awards. In 2005 the National Academy of Sciences named The Great Influenza: The story of the deadliest pandemic in history, a study of the 1918 pandemic, the year’s outstanding book on science or medicine. In 2006 the National Academy also invited him to give its annual Abel Wolman Distinguished Lecture; he is the only non-scientist ever to give that lecture. In 1998 Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America, won the Francis Parkman Prize of the Society of American Historians for the year’s best book of American history. Before becoming a writer, Barry coached football at the high school, small college, and major college levels. Currently Distinguished Scholar at the Center for Bioenvironmental Research of Tulane and Xavier Universities, he lives in New Orleans.

Helen Beebee –  University of Birmingham. Her research encompasses a range of related topics in metaphysics, epistemology and the history of philosophy, and mostly engages with issues relating to ‘Humeanism’. She’s worked recently on freedom of the will (defending compatibilism), causation and laws of nature, natural kinds, the problem of induction (in connection with a Humean account of laws), and Hume himself (in particular, developing a ‘projectivist’ interpretation of his work on causation).

Prof. Beebee is currently Director of Research for the School of Philosophy, Theology & Religion. Additionally she is Director of the British Philosophical Association, a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Advisory Board, and an honorary professor at the Centre for Time, University of Sydney.

Luke Constas – Biology Instructor. New York City.

Christopher Jargocki – University of Central Missouri Physics Dept. He is a Polish-born American physicist, author, and translator who is a professor as well as the Director of the Center for Cooperative Phenomena. His four books, the last two co-authored with Franklin Potter, deal primarily with paradoxes and misconceptions in physics and astronomy.

Michael Esfeld – Univeristy of Lausanne. He researches the structures and causation in the philosophy of physics and the philosophy of mind. His physics interests are summarized here:

Structural realism is a form of holism in the philosophy of physics, claiming that in the domain of fundamental physics, there are in the first place certain structures in the sense of networks of concrete physical relations instead of objects whose identity is constituted by intrinsic properties. We develop a conception of moderate ontological structural realism that recognizes objects as that what stands in the relations, but those objects are characterized mainly by the relations in which they stand. We apply this conception to quantum physics and to space-time as treated in general relativity theory. We currently investigate whether and in what sense these structures can be considered to be causal, their being causal distinguishing physical from mathematical structures and grounding the direction of time.

Ned Hall – Harvard University. He works mainly on metaphysics and philosophy of science, with a special emphasis on philosophical problems associated with the foundations of quantum physics. In the philosophy of physics, his current research focuses on disentangling the various problems associated with the quantum mechanical treatment of measurement, and on elucidating the implications of and conceptual basis for the usual quantum mechanical description of systems containing identical particles. His current interests in the philosophy of science center on the analysis of natural laws and their role within scientific theories. His other work has included investigations into the connections between probability theory and the logic of conditionals, the epistemology and metaphysics of objective probability, and the analysis of causation. He recently edited (with John Collins and L. A. Paul), Causation and Counterfactuals.


Melanie Mac – The Facing History School (New York City). She is a French teacher and has been central to the school’s leadership team.


Alfredo Morabia, MD – Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. He was board certified in Internal Medicine at the University Hospital of Geneva, where he specialized in Occupational Medicine. He practiced both in Switzerland and Italy, before receiving a PhD in Epidemiology and an MHS in Biostatistics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. Dr. Morabiz returned to Switzerland and served as professor and head of the division of Clinical Epidemiology at the University Hospitals of Geneva from 1990 to January 2006. He is currently professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and at Queens College, City University of New York.

Nathalie Miebach – Her work focuses on the intersection of art and science and the visual articulation of scientific observations. For her most recent project called “Recording and Translating Climate Change”, she gathers weather observations from specific ecosystems using very simple data-collecting devices. The numbers are then compared to historical / global meteorological trends, before being translated into sculpture. By examining the complex behavioral interactions of living/non-living systems between weather and an environment, she hopes to gain a better understanding of complexity of systems and behaviors that make up weather and climate change. Lately, she have also started to translate the data into musical scores, which are then interpreted through sculptures as well as through collaborations with musicians. Her aim is twofold: to convey a nuance or level of emotionality surrounding my research that thus far has been absent from my visual work and to reveal patterns in the data musicians might identify which I have failed to see.

George Newman  Yale University. He is interested in the application of basic cognitive processes, such as categorization and causal reasoning, to consumer behavior.

Currently, his research examines the psychological processes underlying our concepts of authenticity and authentic “originals” in the domains of art, celebrity possessions, and consumer products. He is also interested in pro-social behaviors such as charitable giving and purchasing environmentally-friendly products, and how consumers may balance their desires to “do good” with desires to maximize the efficiency of their donations or purchases. Newman has published work on essentialism, perceptions of animacy, children’s conceptual development, causal reasoning, and identity continuity.

Rob Rowan – Financial consultant.

Samantha Rowan – She is the managing editor of Real Estate Finance & Investment. Her articles have also appeared in Institutional Investor and she has spoken at conferences and on audio and video podcasts concerning the commercial real estate industry. Previously, she was the managing editor of Securitization News and a reporter for Private Asset Management. Samantha earned a B.A. in American Literature and Creative Writing from Barnard College. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, cycling and quilting and coaches Columbia University’s collegiate cycling team. She lives in New York.

Jonathan Schaffer– Australian National University. He received his PhD from Rutgers University in 1999. He joined the ANU in 2007, from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Jonathan’s main interests are in metaphysics and epistemology. His current research centers on metaphysical monism, coupled with contrastive theories of causation and knowledge.

Richard Scheines – Carnegie Mellon University. His research is on causal discovery, in particular the problem of learning about causation from statistical evidence. The theoretical and computational dimensions of this work have come to be called the TETRAD project, which represents nearly 25 years of collaboration with Clark Glymour, Peter Spirtes and many, many others. Building efficient and practically useful algorithms for causal discovery is as much computer science as philosophy, and thus I have a courtesy appointment in the Machine Learning Department.

Prof. Scheines also put a lot of effort into building and researching the effectiveness of educational software, ranging from intelligent proof tutors to virtual causality labs to a full semester course on Causal and Statistical Reasoning.   Because of this work I have a courtesy appointment in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute.

Daniel Schneider – University of Wisconsin. He is interested in Early Modern Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy and Philosophy of Science. He is particularly interested in the works of Spinoza and the development of a viable rationalist epistemology. He is currently working on a dissertation that examines the foundations of Spinoza’s metaphysics and reexamines the traditional Rationalist/Empiricist dispute.

A show that explores the bigger questions.