unresolved controversy bleg

Installing Order, the sociology of science and technology blog, has a request – can you identify scholarly work about unresolved scientific controversies? 

I need your help: anybody know a few research papers or a book specifically about unresolved controversies? It would be terrific if there was some conceptualization, or even a functional analysis of the manifest and latent consequences of unresolved controversies. In fact, it would be amazing to see research on “intentionally unresolved controversies.”

My hunch is that they should be rare because writers probably want to focus on narrative with clear stories. Anthropology is full of unresolved controversies, so maybe focusing on the writing surrounding Napoleon Chagnon might be helpful.

What would you suggest?

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Written by fabiorojas

November 28, 2016 at 12:33 am

5 Responses

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  1. Much of Harry Collins’ work covers this ground. See especially Gravity’s Shadow, or early work on difficulties in settling controversy through experiment (eg TEA set).


    A Science Studies Person

    November 28, 2016 at 2:54 am

  2. Collingridge & Reeve’s Science Speaks to Power has a pretty radical take on the inability of science to resolve controversies involving politically charged issues. Mike Lynch et al.’s Truth Machine addresses the controversy over DNA testing. Sai Suryanarayanan and Daniel Kleinman have a brand new book out, Vanishing Bees, that looks at the controversy over colony collapse disorder.

    I kind of feel like most of STS is about unresolved controversies.



    November 28, 2016 at 3:34 am

  3. I wrote a whole book about this: Misbehaving Science: Controversy and the Development of Behavior Genetics (Chicago 2014)


    Aaron Panofsky

    November 28, 2016 at 5:14 am

  4. Thank you all, please keep them coming if they come to mind.



    November 28, 2016 at 1:47 pm

  5. Agreed about Chagnon–in a similar vein, “The Trashing of Margaret Mead” might work well.



    November 29, 2016 at 4:51 pm

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