In DepthSOCIOLOGY OF SCIENCE

‘Science wars’ veteran has a new mission

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Science  13 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6360, pp. 159
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6360.159

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Summary

French sociologist Bruno Latour, 70, has long been a thorn in the side of science. But in the age of "alternative facts," he's coming to its defense. Central to Latour's work is the notion that facts are constructed by communities of scientists, and that there is no distinction between the social and technical elements of science. In the 1990s, such relativist and "social-constructivist" views triggered a heated debate known as the "science wars." In later writings, Latour acknowledged that the criticism of science had created a basis for antiscientific thinking and had paved the way for the denial of climate change. Latour, who retired last month from his official duties at Sciences Po, a university for the social sciences in Paris, spoke to Science about his goal of helping rebuild confidence in science.

  • * Jop de Vrieze is a science journalist in Amsterdam.