I have the great fortune of having the other customer review posted here on Amazon to show just exactly why this book, and post-normal science studies, are so important.
The writer of the preceding review (Introducing Science???) demonstrates perfectly just the kind of fear, knee-jerk reactionism and intentional misunderstanding that permeate the commentary of the conservative "science is king" crowd. To begin, before we go any further: Ziauddin Sardar is one of the most influential and highly respected scholars of post-normal science in the world. His work is has been published and cited constantly, and he has lectured and taught throughout the world. The previous reviewer's ignorance of Sardar's stature and brilliance should not give anyone perusing this listing on Amazon an incorrect idea of the book's worth.
A few more pointed criticisms of the previous review: the first several pages of this book are a parody; Sardar certainly doesn't actually believe that "[almost every benefit of life - from antibiotics to computers, our understanding of human evolution to our ability to land a satellite on Saturn - is a product of science". In the context of this farcical opening section (which is openly and obviously satirical), landing a satellite on Saturn is not a mistake but an intentional gloss on the typical "wonders of science" that are recounted by those who worship science. And, though it might be a "sound bite" criticism, Isaac Newton was, in fact, more of an alchemist than a scientist. He certainly spent more time in his life attempting to change iron to gold than he did on physics. His plagiarism and ethical lapses are well documented.
What the previous review demonstrates perfectly is the fear that scientists demonstrate towards the postmodern critic; fearful of a loss of their media acclaim, their wealth, their culturally imbued sense if superiority. In our society, science is the new religion; any scientific edict must be accepted wholly by everyone or they risk being marginialized as a religious nut or a crazy. Science is never expected to withstand a comprehensive review of itself. We are merely to accept science as sacrosanct.
But this attitude ignores the reality of science. Science, like every other human construct, is the product of conjecture, assumption, prejudice, and greed. Scientists frequently ignore data which does not fit their hypothesis, or worse, fabricate data which does. Scientists frequently Scientist are often close-minded, rash, self-obsessed and defensive. Everyday, old scientific notions are replaced. And yet we still do not learn the lesson that science is fequently wrong; we cling to the notion that science is infallible, continuing the current worship of the unreal notion of "objective fact" with scientists as our new high priests.
None of this is to argue that science is unimportant or unnecessary. Science is a powerfull and important tool that, when used appropriately and responsibly, can improve our lives. Understand that scientists would never offer a similar equivication to science studies or postmodern criticism in general; science is a dogma, and as such, science can extend no respect to any disciplince which does not toe its line. A scientist has no respect for an opinion which is not his own.
What ultimately must be done--as Sardar, and Science Studies, have pointed out-- is to move from questions of truth to questions of use. Does science have use? Of course; the world needs asprin and radios. But is science the truth? No. It is a man made viewpoint, a system-- often very useful-- for organizing the symbols we have created in the world. It is a part of human consciousness, a perspective. It is not a perfect and correct view on an objective and static world. What this book accomplishes is to provide an introduction to anyone who wishes to learn why.
- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Icon Books (May 30 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1840463589
- ISBN-13: 978-1840463583
- Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.2 x 20.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 254 g
- Customer Reviews: 1 customer rating
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,753,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)