In today’s world people have realized that the heroic episodes of science – Newton, Einstein, Quantum Theory, Gravitational Waves – do not represent most of the science we encounter in our lives – climate change, econometric modelling, old age. We can no longer rely on justifying the value of science by reaching for its truth and citing the old icons. Instead we must value science for its intrinsic values, which can survive and lead democracy as other professions fold under the pressure of the free market. Science is also a check and balance on the power of governments – a need which, with the growth of populism, has never been more clear. The social studies of science have to accept their role in the transformation of the image of science and consider their position.
Professor Harry Collins is a British sociologist of science at the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Wales. In 2012 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. He has written for over 30 years on the sociology of gravitational wave physics.
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