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Expertise: Between the Scylla of certainty and the new age charybdis

Collins, Harold Maurice 1997. Expertise: Between the Scylla of certainty and the new age charybdis. Accountability in Research 5 (1-3) , pp. 127-135. 10.1080/08989629708573904

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Abstract

Scientists should be seen as expert advisors rather than producers of certainty. The progress of scientific controversies shows both why this is the case, and why it is so little understood. Those very close to the research front are aware of the many points at which experimental procedures and theoretical arguments could be wrong. They understand the ‘expert’ quality of their conclusions. Those further distanced from the research front are unaware of the immense complexity of the research and, consequently, are more certain of the truth of science. That scientific results are less conclusive than they are generally taken to be does not mean that ‘anything goes’. There is a difference between experts and non‐experts; it is just that experts should not be expected to agree. Scientific controversies rarely end; it is usual to find equally well qualified experts on both sides of a scientific debate long after a view has been reached throughout the larger part of the scientific community.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
ISSN: 0898-9621
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2017 00:55
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/89230

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