Looking twice at the history of science

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How (not) to bring STS to the masses

This post is a response to reflections that Lee Vinsel posted on Saturday on the AmericanScience blog. His post was about science and politics rather than about the symmetry principle, and it is the latter that I am scrutinising in my current series of posts. But I take issue with Lee's post for the same reasons I take issue with Vanessa Heggie's earlier one on the symmetry principle. It seems to me that the effect of both posts (though perhaps not the intention) is to endorse one side of a confusing and controversial issue, present the opposing view as a vulgar error, and use the wisdom of STS to confound the distinctions that could have prevented the confusion from arising in the first place. Expand post.


  1. Good analysis.

    Lee's post did seem ridiculously naive, as if he has been oblivious to the last 30 years of American politics.

    1. Thanks Michael. I think "seem" is the crucial term here. I expect that Lee is pretty knowledgeable about the last 30 years of American politics, and as I said in the post I have no objection to much of the content of his post on the HQRA. The problem is precisely that the valuable part of the post is obscured by the simplification that all science is always political.