virus: Studying science

Reed Konsler (
Wed, 10 Feb 1999 12:53:26 -0500

>I don't agree that only research scientists
>have the perogative to examine the history, evolution, aims, methods,
>and underlying assumptions of the scientific enterprise. What's more,
>few scientists seem interested in this kind of careful and sustained
>examination. As you pointed out, they tend to be focused on results.


A good example would be Bruno Latour, who spent a few years studing in a biochemisty laboratory as an anthropologist. He worked in the lab side by side with his subjects. He studied them as a native tribe, and he derived a lot of insight.

As an analogy, you recently took a trip, right? Why? What purpose does going to the foriegn land and sitting at the feet of the shaman serve? Do you think someone should preach about drugs and shamantic practice that hasn't ever participated in the rituals?

What is the purpose of the history and philosophy of science? It can't be to represent scientists to themselves, becuase scientists don't read it and it gets published and perpetuated anyway.

Is it to provide an "unbiased" representation of scientists and science to the greater culture? Is it reasonable to expect such a representation to be derived from actual exposure to science and scientists? That would be the least intermediated and characatured representation.

In the end, there is no line between facts and fictions. But all rational enterprises are based upon some vague attempt to observe before concluding, right?

I take your point though, everyone is entitled to form their own opinions. The contention is with how you evaluate them.



  Reed Konsler