We cannot live by scepticism alone

Harry Collins in Nature:

ScreenHunter_02 Mar. 05 14.32 The term 'science studies' was invented in the 1970s by 'outsiders', such as those from the social sciences and humanities, to describe what they had to say about science. Science studies have been through what my colleagues and I at the Cardiff School of Social Sciences, UK, see as two waves. In wave one, social scientists took science to be the ultimate form of knowledge and tried to work out what kind of society nurtures it best. Wave two was characterized by scepticism about science.

The recent dominance of this second wave has unfortunately led some from science studies and the broader humanities movement known as post-modernism to conclude that science is just a form of faith or politics. They have become overly cynical about science.

The prospect of a society that entirely rejects the values of science and expertise is too awful to contemplate. What is needed is a third wave of science studies to counter the scepticism that threatens to swamp us all.

We must choose, or 'elect', to put the values that underpin scientific thinking back in the centre of our world; we must replace post-modernism with 'elective modernism'. To support this, social scientists must work out what is right about science, not just what is wrong — we cannot live by scepticism alone.

More here. [Thanks to Kevin Killick.]