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?
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
- What’s the use of all this course, anyway? Why on earth are we learning this? What’s
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
- 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)
Why is thinking about Science & Technology so hard?
Scientism; facts vs. values where good science is supposed to eliminate
Technological Progressivism; the ‘Star Trek’ image
‘Public Capacities’ (Wynne & Kleinmann)
BACKGROUND: 1) deficit model of PUS
2) founded on notions of ‘scientific literacy’ ( or
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?
o Notion of partiality- people bring their own ‘baggage’ to a
controversy; the more consultation, the more baggage, the
'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
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