The Relationship Between Political Processes and Science Essay

The Relationship Between Political Processes and Science Essay

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The political processes involved in the production of scientific facts and technology continues to be misrepresented and underemphasised in contemporary academic and wider public discourse. This is evident when considering the approaches employed by historians, philosophers and commentators when interpreting past revolutions, paradigm shifts and controversies in science. In this failure to account for the intrinsic association of politics, scientific facts and technology, it has led to the problematic distortion of how science relates to society and operates as an institution.

Several assumptions are often made about science, for example the existence of an objective ‘scientific method’. Naïve inductivists who maintain this view claim that “science starts with observation”, and secondly that “observation yields a secure basis from which knowledge can be derived” (Chalmers, 1982, p. 22). This standard model of science raises much concern as it negates to account for the complex nature of observation. Firstly, Gestalt imagery demonstrates the variety of distinct meanings which can be extrapolated from one image and so a variety of stimuli. Secondly, the standard story of ‘scientific method’ through observation is weakened when considering the importance of ‘gaps’ within science, shown through the Solar Neutrino case study. Scientists observed the activity of solar neutrinos and in 1967, when data begun to transpire, inconsistencies were noticed which defied their predictions. There were disagreements concerning the reading of the results and from 1968 to 1978 the scientific community continued in their attempt to resolve the ‘gaps’. A crucial question arises, which interpretation of the image or data is ‘correct’ or ‘legitimate’...

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...999, p. 17
- Bishop, J. and Landell-Mills, N., ‘Forest Environmental Services: An Overview’ in Selling Forest Environmental Services: Market-based mechanisms for conservation and development, Earthscan, London 2002, p. 30
- Ede, A. and Cormac, L., A History of Science in Society: From Philosophy to Utility, Broadview Press, Ontario, 2004, p. 209
- Kill, J., ‘The Scientific Uncertainty of Carbon Sinks’ & ‘Why Carbon Sinks Won’t Help Stop Forest Destruction’ in Sinks in the Kyoto Protocol: A dirty deal for forests, forest peoples and the climate, FERN, 2001, p, 9
- Kuhn, T., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The University of Chicago Press, 1996, p. 56
- Pinch, T. J. and Bijker, W. E., ‘The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts’ in The Social Construction of Technological Systems, ed. W. E. Bijker, T. P. Hughes and T. J. Pinch, MIT Press, 1987, p. 19

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