Episode Description

Polymath Christine Ladd-Franklin is best known for her theory of the evolution of color vision, but her research spanned mathematics, symbolic logic, philosophy, biology and psychology. Born in Connecticut in 1847, she was clever and sharp-tongued, and she never shied away from a battle of wits. When she decided to go to college instead of pursuing a marriage, she convinced her skeptical grandmother by pointing to statistics: there was an excess of women in New England, so a husband would be hard to find; she’d better get an education instead. “Grandma succumbed,” Ladd-Franklin wrote in her diary. When a man didn’t give her credit for her “antilogism,” the core construct in her system of deductive reasoning, she took him to task in print, taking time to praise the beauty of her own concepts. And when Johns Hopkins University attempted to give Ladd-Franklin an honorary Ph.D. in 1926, she insisted that the university grant her the one she’d already earned—after all, she’d completed her dissertation there, without official recognition, more than 40 years earlier. Johns Hopkins succumbed.

EPISODE GUESTS

  • Frederique Janssen-Lauret is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Manchester.
  • Sara Uckelman is an associate professor of logic at Durham University in England.

HOSTS

  • Katie Hafner
  • Carol Sutton Lewis

PRODUCERS

  • Ann Tyler Moses (producer): Ann Tyler Moses is a documentary producer who loves archives and old footage. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Elah Feder (senior producer)

FURTHER READING

Episode Transcript

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