Dialogue between the disciplines is thriving

Sir

As an interdisciplinary group of scholars, committed to the social studies of science and engaged in a series of productive dialogues with colleagues in the life sciences, we were taken aback to be branded as “overly cynical” towards science by Harry Collins in his Essay 'We cannot live by scepticism alone' (Nature 458, 30–31; 2009).Footnote 1

Contrary to Collins's view, hardly anyone in science studies rejects the values of science and expertise. We find it striking that he does not provide a single specific example of the scepticism he is talking about.

Collins does not adequately credit the fruitful cooperation between scientists and social scientists that is a long-established reality in many universities and networks worldwide. (Last year's joint EU–US Science and Technology Studies conference in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, called 'Acting with Science, Technology and Medicine', is one example.)

In this sense, talk of a “third wave” that will be “resisted” by “post-modernists” is surprising. This is not how most sociologists think about the natural sciences: the field is already filled with scholars who are engaging scientists in conversation, collaboration and — yes — mutual critique, without resorting to the cliché version of post-modernism depicted by Collins. With backgrounds ranging from sociology to molecular biology, all of those signing this letter are committed to continuing and developing this dialogue.

See also Let's not reignite an unproductive controversy What does applying 'scientific values' mean in reality? Widen the channels of communication with society

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Frazzetto, G. Dialogue between the disciplines is thriving. Nature 458, 702 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/458702c

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