By Professor Christopher P. Toumey
What are the consequences for americans while actors who play medical professionals on tv advise scientific items, or whilst a whole city within the Midwest prepares for an earthquake according to the specious recommendation of a zoologist? those are only of the various questions Christopher Toumey asks in his research of the function of technological know-how in American tradition. Toumey makes a speciality of the ways that the symbols of technology are hired to suggest medical authority in quite a few circumstances, from the promoting of scientific items to the making of public coverage approximately AIDS/HIV––a perform he calls "conjuring" technology. it really is this "conjuring" of the pictures and emblems of medical authority that problems Toumey and leads him to mirror at the historical past of public realizing and perceptions of technology within the usa. He argues that whereas so much americans make investments loads of authority in technology, there's a vacuum of knowing approximately clinical wisdom. This hole among trust and knowing significantly affects public coverage judgements and democratic processes.
Toumey argues that rather than comprehending medical wisdom, equipment, or criteria, such a lot american citizens recognize technological know-how basically when it comes to symbols that stand for technological know-how and that stand among humans and medical realizing. He breaks this paradox down into 3 questions. First, what are the ancient stipulations that experience prompted the tradition of technological know-how to be so estranged from different elements of yankee tradition? moment, how does technological know-how healthy into American democratic tradition this present day? And 3rd, if the symbols of technological know-how are getting used to recommend or legitimize definite values and meanings, yet now not the values and meanings of technology, then to what do they refer?
In witty, readable prose, Toumey investigates those questions by means of proposing 5 episodes of technology in American existence: the fluoridation controversies; the 1986 California referendum on AIDS/HIV coverage; the chilly fusion controversy; the anti-evolution of creationism; and the mad- scientist tales of fiction and film.
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Extra resources for Conjuring science: scientific symbols and cultural meanings in American life
After all, they reasoned, the science of the new ethos was good science, but it could not be justified as such to voters, taxpayers, and elected officials. 1 This attitude was fine when hard results were plentiful and obvious but not so fine when the fruits of the new science were more abstract: thoughts about relativity, uncertainty, and the Hubble Constant or geology's hypothetical reconstructions of life on earth long ago. This attitude was also not so fine when scientists were candid about scientia gratia scientiae (science for the sake of science).
31Gone were the "autodictatic amateur" scientists who had sustained the Protestant model. 32In fact, says Walter Conser, as a result of the professionalization of science in a secular style, most of the Protestant ministry retreated from metaphysical questions about nature's role in verifying faith and turned instead to inner questions of God and conscience. 33 The scientific research ethos thus had several distinctive values. It was secular, that is, uncoupled from religious beliefs regarding purpose or method.
The intellectual friends of the scientific research ethos, most of whom were not scientists per se, gave much thought to that question about science and American culture.