Rethinking Expertise

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University of Chicago Press, Sep 15, 2008 - Social Science - 160 pages

What does it mean to be an expert? In Rethinking Expertise, Harry Collins and Robert Evans offer a radical new perspective on the role of expertise in the practice of science and the public evaluation of technology.

Collins and Evans present a Periodic Table of Expertises based on the idea of tacit knowledge—knowledge that we have but cannot explain. They then look at how some expertises are used to judge others, how laypeople judge between experts, and how credentials are used to evaluate them. Throughout, Collins and Evans ask an important question: how can the public make use of science and technology before there is consensus in the scientific community? This book has wide implications for public policy and for those who seek to understand science and benefit from it.

“Starts to lay the groundwork for solving a critical problem—how to restore the force of technical scientific information in public controversies, without importing disguised political agendas.”—Nature

“A rich and detailed ‘periodic table’ of expertise . . . full of case studies, anecdotes and intriguing experiments.”—Times Higher Education Supplement (UK)


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I pondered a long time whether or not I should read this book. In retrospect, I think I made the wrong choice in deciding to read it. I was disappointed by the way the argument is structured. The ... Read full review


Ubiquitous and Specialist Expertises
Metaexpertises and Metacriteria
THREE Interactional Expertise and Embodiment
Experiments on Color Blindness Perfect Pitch and Gravitational W
FIVE New Demarcation Criteria
CONCLUSION Science the Citizen and the Role of Social Science
APPENDIX Waves of Science Studies

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About the author (2008)

Harry Collins is distinguished research professor of sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Knowledge, Expertise, and Science at Cardiff University. He is the author of, most recently, Gravity’s Shadow and, with Trevor Pinch, Dr. Golem, both published by the University of Chicago Press. Robert Evans is reader in sociology at the Cardiff School of Social Sciences.

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