Is STS trivial? Chris Toumey reflects on writing a book about nanotech and the humanities

This is a guest post by Chris Toumey, a cultural anthropologist who has observed and studied developments in nanotechnology for many years. Chris and I have known each other for a long time, and his work and words have always inspired me. He has just published a book entitled Nanotech and the Humanities: An Anthropologist …

The social construction of science: What does it mean?

40 years ago science was still carried out in an ivory tower, scientists were highly respected bearers of truth and certainty and labs were mysterious and closed spaces.* Then came along some young and enterprising social scientists and showed that scientists are human, labs are places of messy human practices and science is fallible. Science …

Promises, promises, promises

It all started with this tweet – a conversation between Oliver Morton, Jack Stilgoe and David Keith about the hopes and fears related to geoengineering. In this conversation, they stumbled against the words ‘promise’ and ‘promising’, with Oliver and Keith interpreting them in terms of ordinary language use, while Jack interpreted them also in terms …

Improving climate change communications: moving beyond scientific certainty

This is a co-authored post with Gregory Hollin. It is based upon our new paper in Nature Climate Change, which is the first piece of original research from science and technology studies (STS) published in the journal. In the last 25 years scientists have become increasingly certain that humans are responsible for changes to the …

STS Concepts

For many years I have been working alongside a number of eminent Science and Technology Studies researchers. During that time I have come across many concepts that at first baffled me, then intrigued me and then prompted me to dig into their conceptual history. This blog provided me with a good space to engage in …

You say regulatory science, I say mandated science; let’s call the whole thing off?

One issue of contention after the Circling the Square conference was the apparent confounding of science with regulatory science. I finally took a bit of time to dig into the history and use of the concept of ‘regulatory science’ and a related concept, ‘mandated science’. I should stress that there are whole courses on ‘regulatory …

Families of climate scepticism I: faulty science?

At last week’s British Sociological Association conference, I presented some initial observations from my research on climate change scepticism. My starting point was that climate change scepticism – or as it is often inaccurately described, denial – is not monolithic. Those people typically labelled as sceptics vary in their arguments. Sometimes may employ many different arguments, some may focus on …