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Are We All Scientific Experts Now Paperback – April 21, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-0745682044 ISBN-10: 0745682049 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (April 21, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745682049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745682044
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #565,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A valuable contribution to the ways in which we ascribe value to expertise ... Although Collins convincingly answers the book’s title question with a resounding ‘no’, what is most interesting and refreshing about his analysis is that it enables people holding different kinds of expertise to recognise their role in scientific debate."
LSE Review of Books

"Certainly a book for those who are interested in science and its role in society. For those who are curious about how scientists tackle problems and why they do often have the answers, it should prove illuminating."
Times Higher Education

"This brave, thoughtful little book should be sent to every newspaper editor. Collins doesn’t write with Ben Goldacre’s righteous anger, but his careful, nuanced scholarship is just as persuasive."
Seamus O’Mahony, Dublin Review of Books

"Masterful new book."
Mother Jones

"Brief book with a very high level argument relying a lot on his experience... this kind of nuanced, important thinking about science and expertise is a wonderful gift from Collins that I truly hope we don't squander."
Stark Reality - Todd I. Stark

''I read this short book with admiration - an analysis by a social scientist which (unlike much of that genre) should resonate with most actual researchers.''
Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and Former President of the Royal Society

''Packed into a slim polemic that succinctly yet movingly distills years of painstaking research into expertise, Harry Collins delivers an immensely rich book-- a thorough cultural and intellectual analysis of why attitudes towards towards scientific expertise have changed, and why a new view of them needs to be adopted, to preserve society. Readers who are new to Collins's ideas will find come away with a fresh take on explosive controversies, including Climategate and anti-vaccination campaigns. Long time readers of Collins will be amazed at how accessible his technical arguments are and the big impact that's made by seeing them integrated into a gripping, short-form narrative.''
Evan Selinger, Rochester Institute of Technology

 

About the Author

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.

Customer Reviews

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This is a truly remarkable little book, full of relevant deep insights into modern life yet accessibly and clearly written.
Todd I. Stark
Professor Harry Collins is doing some truly amazing work in the area of knowledge, scientific research, and how that information is disseminated to the public.
Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Man
A scientific expert is obviously in a better position to evaluate the relevant science of his domain than anyone else outside this community.
Gaetan Lion

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W. Jamison VINE VOICE on May 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
While a short book, this is exciting for several reasons to me. First, it seems a natural follow up to the 60s book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition which Harry Collins refers to - along with a chain of previous thinkers to Wittgenstein who certainly seems to have set the language game paradigm with all of the associated issues. The reason it is important is because it helps define the various types of expertise as still further language games wherein certain kinds of vocabularies and axioms are part of the game. Remember Philosophical Investigations, the nature of the certainty is the type of the language game. Harry Collins describes a vocabulary and language game that is necessary to organize the types of scientific expertise - so in a sense is a meta language about such languages. Since disputes in public media over scientific positions that are subject not only to expert debate but also democratic non-expert decision making processes, several interesting examples of which Harry Collins describes to make his points, this vocabulary ought to become part of our ubiquitous meta-expertise.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Todd I. Stark VINE VOICE on December 29, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a truly remarkable little book, full of relevant deep insights into modern life yet accessibly and clearly written. Harry Collins is one of the founding contributors of the field of science studies and gives us a great gift with this stimulating account of his thinking about expertise and how it relates to science and communication about science.

We use the term expertise to cover a multitude of things, from the way we certify people as high priests of specialized obscure knowledge to the simple basis of doing something well. The delight of this book is that Collins has bridged those uses beautifully by breaking expertise down into a number of different forms based on the ways we acquire it, the environment in which we acquire it, how long it takes, and how much effort it takes. He has also drawn some extremely critical inferences about what we need to be thinking about in order to be doing science well by thinking of its actual processes realistically rather than in terms of ideals and fairy stories.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Peter Davies on September 21, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a classic Polity Press book. It's a short book- more an extended essay, and it tackles an interesting, and potentially controversial, question in an interesting way. The answer to the question it addresses, "Are we all scientific experts now?" is of course "No." But I don't think we have all claimed to be such experts- either in our own narrow specialities or in the wider arena of science.

I think the real question the author wants to address is why do people seem to have lost trust in science? Why is the scientific expert not always believed nowadays? What basis do we have for doubting their expertise?

In medicine we have been facing this loss of trust for some time now. Onora O'Neill described the problems well in "A Question of Trust?"- her 2002 Reith Lectures. Well described failings in basic medical care have been seen in many settings- and although the doctors involved may have been "expert" the results of their care was not "good."

Collins tries to describe and circumscribe certain specific types of expertise. He sees science as a very special way of knowing the world- and he'd like to elevate it on this basis, and give it great respect, and expect its practitioners to live up to this ideal. He describes having great respect for the "norms of science."

I think Collins doesn't quite get his answer to the question of why scientific expertise is not always respected right.

I think science done well, reported honestly, and by scientists who both know a lot, but also have some sense of what they do not know, or what might be wrong with their account will be respected. It's all covered by the classic report writer's cliche, "to the best of my knowledge and belief.
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