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Common Reading 2016

Are We All Scientific Experts Now? by Harry Collins

“To ordinary people, science used to seem infallible. Scientists were heroes, selflessly pursuing knowledge for the common good. More recently, a series of scientific scandals, frauds and failures have led us to question science’s pre-eminence. Revelations such as Climategate, or debates about the safety of the MMR vaccine, have dented our confidence in science.

In this provocative new book Harry Collins seeks to redeem scientific expertise, and reasserts science’s special status. Despite the messy realities of day-to-day scientific endeavor, he emphasizes the superior moral qualities of science, dismissing the dubious “default” expertise displayed by many of those outside the scientific community. Science, he argues, should serve as an example to ordinary citizens of how to think and act, and not the other way round.

Harry Collins is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for the Study of Knowledge, Expertise and Science (KES) at Cardiff University. He is a Fellow of the British Academy. He has written 17 previous books including the well-known Golem series on science. Harry Collins is continuing his research on the nature of scientific knowledge, on the analysis of expertise and on the sociology of gravitational wave detection. 

"In his remarkable manifesto, sociologist Harry Collins, a major voice in the field of science studies, answers the provocative question presented in the book’s title: Are We All Scientific Experts Now? Collins starts out by outlining science's fall from grace in the public’s eye and by presenting a tongue-in-cheek caricature of scientific expertise based on the zeitgeist he holds responsible for the distortions." Physics Today

(Text used with kind permission of www.wiley.com)