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A House Built on SandExposing Postmodernist Myths About Science$
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Noretta Koertge

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780195117257

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0195117255.001.0001

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An Engineer Dissects Two Case Studies An Engineer Dissects Two Case Studies Hayles on Fluid Mechanics and MacKenzie on Statistics Hayles on Fluid Mechanics and MacKenzie on Statistics Philip A. Sullivan

An Engineer Dissects Two Case Studies An Engineer Dissects Two Case Studies Hayles on Fluid Mechanics and MacKenzie on Statistics Hayles on Fluid Mechanics and MacKenzie on Statistics Philip A. Sullivan

Chapter:
(p.71) An Engineer Dissects Two Case Studies Hayles on Fluid Mechanics and MacKenzie on Statistics Philip A. Sullivan
Source:
A House Built on Sand
Author(s):

Philip A. Sullivan

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195117255.003.0006

Building on a discussion of the nature of scientific knowledge, it is argued that a convincing demonstration of the presence of social values in the content of such knowledge requires showing that it occurs in disciplines where the knowledge has become stable, or has a record of accurate prediction. Two studies of this type are reviewed: a feminist critique of fluid mechanics, and an analysis by an Edinburgh sociologist of a dispute in the early 20th-century development of statistics. Both studies are shown to be fatally flawed. The first is riddled with elementary technical errors, making its subsequent case for male bias meaningless. The second ignores fundamental mathematical questions at issue in the dispute, leading its author to cast about for implausible sociological explanations.

Keywords:   fluid mechanics, statistics, feminist critiques, strong programme, sociology of scientific knowledge, Katherine Hayles, David Mackenzie

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