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York University
Natural Science
NATS 1760
Darrin Durant

NATS 1760 DARRIN DURANT/JAMES ELWICK Monday, January 7, 2013 Science, Technology & Citizenship 4: The Future of Techno-Science - MAIN THEMES 1) Tension between expertise and democracy a) What roles can and should experts and lay public play in controversies where political and ethical claims intersect with appeals to factual matters? - What happens when an expert interacts with non-experts in a controversy that is both political and ‘science’? Paraphrase: What should happen when experts and non-experts collide in controversies that involve both facts and values? b) Why is ‘knowing the fact’ not enough to truly understand debates involving factual claims? But also, why is ‘understanding the big picture’ also not enough?  Data is not enough, ‘should’ questions - Why is ‘knowing the facts’ usually insufficient to understand what seems to be just a scientific controversy?  Paraphrase: why is it not enough to understand the ‘big picture’ alone? Why does ‘big picture’ mean exactly? 2) Risk a) What is risk? Why, in time of seeming abundance, are people so worried about different ‘risks’ – a worry we will refer to as ‘risk consciousness’? How do we respond to and manage the rise in this risk consciousness  Beck; more power, someday everyone will die of something etc.  Douglas; always tension between different groups of people 3) Uncertainty/ Doubt a) Should we be wary of ‘merchants of doubt’ who attack science where they perceive a lack of certainty? Or should we be wary of those who claim they are certain but may overestimate what they know, either by a little or a lot? - What does a non-expert like me do when hearing experts (science/scientists) being attacked because they don’t seem certain about something? Paraphrase: when a scientist recommends a certain policy but is not entirely certain, when should we listen? When should we ignore her? Paraphrase: what does a non-expert like me do when hearing an expert who claims they’re certain, but whose track record about predicting stuff isn’t exactly stellar? - What’s the use of all this course, anyway? Why on earth are we learning this? What’s the relevance?  Interactive expertise, grid/group theory, concerns about scientism etc. - TECHNOSCIENCE & THE FUTURE  Everyone in favor of increasing investment in STEM increased productivity, economic growth, etc.  BUT maybe we should also thing about how use STEM more wisely  Current issues facing us (climate, energy, GMOs, nukes) aren’t going to be solved with ‘more’ science and technology, but with alternative, social science tools- ways to think about expertise, risk, doubt/certainty CONCEPTS - Expertise vs. Democracy  Democracy the 'rule by the many' - power spread out  ADVANTAGES: 1) Leaders have to listen to large # of people 2) Public pressure to make changes 3) Less-observed; elites more likely to be swept out if in power too longer  Expertise the concentration of knowledge amount specialists in topics; different kinds of knowledge is concentrated  ADVANTAGES: 1) Division of labour; more efficient to learn 2) Too much for everyone to know everything 3) Science is not just a way to figure out stuff; it’s also a great way to figure out who knows stuff, and trust that person (peer review)  Why might there be a clash between experts and democracy? Aren’t knowledge and power distinct?  maybe knowledge is power at some points  more accurately, knowledge makes new kinds of power possible, i.e. ‘populism’ vs. ‘fascism’ (Collins) o Too much expertise and you ‘fascism’ (or dictatorship of experts); too much democracy and you get populism (dictatorship of non-experts) - Kleinmann  Why is thinking about Science & Technology so hard?  Scientism; facts vs. values where good science is supposed to eliminate value-talk  Technological Progressivism; the ‘Star Trek’ image  ‘Public Capacities’ (Wynne & Kleinmann)  BACKGROUND: 1) deficit model of PUS 2) founded on notions of ‘scientific literacy’ ( or illiteracy)  but what is science literacy/ illiteracy?  is notion of science illiteracy valid/ invalid? 3) non- experts lack something (scientific knowledge) - Wynne & Kleinmann Wynne’s sheep-farming case exemplified o sometimes experts can be wrong; sometimes non-experts can be right; non-experts may lack something, but they may also possess something valuable  Kleinmann says to bring non-experts into technical matters, But when? Why? How? o Notion of partiality- people bring their own ‘baggage’ to a controversy; the more consultation, the more baggage, the better (pluralism)  'Framing' notion (Wynne; Collins) o narrow framing vs. broad framing o exemplifies the experts vs. public tension o experts want to restrict an issue/controversy to technical issues alone o public/non experts want to broaden the issue o EXAMPLE: politics of GM food  GM experts; GM food is safe, look at all the studies!  GM opponents: it's not just about GM food's 'safety,' it's about how the whole food system is set up - corporate control over agriculture, monocultures, politics of food distribution
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