Never Pure: Historical Studies of Science as if It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture, and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority

Steven Shapin, Johns Hopkins Univ., $70 (568p) ISBN 9780801894206; paper $30 ISBN 9780801894213
According to a Gallup Poll, while most Americans acknowledge the importance of science and technology, fewer than half believe in the theory of evolution. In this interesting collection of essays, Shapin (Leviathan and the Air Pump), Professor of the History of Science at Harvard, suggests that this is not necessarily contradictory. He examines the cultural role of science as it evolved from the early days of the Royal Society of London, to its recent fragmentation into varying fields of expertise. In 1662, Robert Hooke was appointed to the position of Curator of Experiments by the Society. One of his responsibilities was to organize public demonstrations of experiments in order to generate peer group support. These were "not trials but shows and discourses," and it was Hook's job as curator "to prepare these performances for the society's deliberation, instruction and entertainment." In 1950s America, talented young scientists and engineers were recruited from the Academy to join industrial and government laboratories where they would work as part of a team. In this interesting if dense account, Shapin argues that a confusion of experts has made it harder to establish scientific authority. (June)
Reviewed on: 07/19/2010
Release date: 05/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 568 pages - 978-0-8018-9421-3
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