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Rethinking Expertise by Harry Collins
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Rethinking Expertise

by Harry Collins, Robert Evans

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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 authors begin in chapters 1 and 2 with a "periodic table of expertise". There's nothing periodic about it and its logic seemed confused to me. But even so, the discussion that follows in chapters 3 and 4 provides a reasonable review of various types of knowledge, with particular emphasis on the "interactional expertise" that trumps everyday knowledge but falls short of "contributory expertise".

The concept of interactional expertise is indeed interesting. However, I couldn't understand why the authors wanted to connect it to things like "embodiment", deafness, color blindness or perfect pitch in later parts of the book. I think they stray too far from scientific expertise into vague domains like social psychology. Chapter 5 on demarcating science from non-science also seemed quite naive. I don't think Wittgenstein's linguistic idea of family resemblance can be a satisfactory demarcation criterion, and the authors' obscure conceptualization of science as a "form of life" certainly does more harm than good.

For the most part this book is clearly written and the authors have obviously put a great deal of work into it. The problem is that they steer their work in an uninteresting direction. I would have like to see a much greater emphasis on political questions and on "meta-expertise". Instead the authors work the concept of "interactional expertise" towards more psychological questions, which simply didn't interest me at all.
  thcson | Mar 7, 2014 |
Collins and Evans put their points vividly, with elegant language and diagrams. They admit that there is more to technological decision-making than "sorting out the appropriate groups of experts" and that they are only addressing the technical phase of public controversies. They modestly claim to be only setting "the ball rolling".

Their book 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.
added by jlelliott | editNature, Robert Crease (pay site) (Nov 15, 2007)
 

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Evans, Robertmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0226113612, Paperback)

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)

 

 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:50 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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.… (more)

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