Liveblog Workshop June 2012
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PhD presentations (blog by Marcello Aspria)
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|== Guest lecture by Hans Peter Peters - "Scientists and their concepts of public communication and 'the public'" (blog by Bart van Oost) ==||== Guest lecture by Hans Peter Peters - "Scientists and their concepts of public communication and 'the public'" (blog by Bart van Oost) ==|
|+||[http://www.wtmc.net/wiki/index.php?title=docrep&id=170 Slides of the presentation]|
|Hans Peter Peters' presentation is divided in 3 sections:<br>||Hans Peter Peters' presentation is divided in 3 sections:<br>|
Revision as of 14:06, 29 Jun 2012
Opening and introduction
Maud Radstake introduces the topic of the workshop. Subject is "science in society", science as it enters the public domain. This fits with recent concerns expressed over the authority of science (i.e. climate change, vaccination) and the relevance / value of science. It raises the question how the public does and should relate to science and vice versa. This is also a theme in STS research, looking for example at how publics mobilize around issues or the role of science in democracy and its relation with citizenship.
The workshop will discuss perceptions of, and relations between, citizens and scientists. A basic question that will return: What do 'we' mean by science, public, citizens? And reflexively: How to practice what we preach, as researchers ourselves?
After a brief introduction round, questions of the participants were collected.
It resulted in a mix of practical (i.e. how-to communicate), conceptual (i.e. what is 'science'? how to distinguish different types of knowledge?) and reflexive (i.e. what is the problem here and whose problem is it?) questions.
Guest lecture by Robert Zwijnenberg - "BioArt: Contemporary art & the life sciences" (blog by Bart van Oost)
Robert introduces his talk on the role of the arts in the public debate. He will discuss how art can shape citizenship in relation to the life sciences.
His talk has four starting points:
1. The life sciences are needed
2. Dilemma arising from the clash between scientific integrity and societal anxiety.
3. The rift between the sciences and society is real and urgent
4. Arts can help t shape modern society by encouraging the ability to debate.
The focus is on artists who go into the labs of life sciences and work with living materials. Importantly, such engaged works may help to i) thematize the ethical, political and cultural implications of life science, ii) disclose what is happening in the life sciences and iii) raise awareness about the commodification of living material via life sciences.
An example is Adam Zaretsky, a bio-artist who worked with pheasant embryos. The latter work may trigger moral responses, but is still within the legal limits (by which 'life' is defined as something which can reproduce and sustain itself). Responses of students working on this project indicate that there may be difference between the ethics of the life science and ethics that we use in our daily lives (Zaretsky, 2009).
Another example is the GFP Bunny project by Eduardo Kac. This is about the relocation of a technological product (the rabbit) into the public domain, as almost all innovation develop into household applications. This raises the question of who is responsible for what happens in the life sciences. Kac' contested art-work aims to inject ambiguity into the public debate.
Robert continues by discussing the 'Tissue Culture & Art Project' which runs in cooperation with biotechnology scientists. Artist organized a disembodied cuisine by taking, growing and preparing tissue from a living frog. It may trigger enthusiastic reactions about the possibility of serving 'vegetarian meat'. But the artists pointed to a risk as well: a new class of objects/being was created, the Semi-Living, which was immediately exploited for eating purposes. The artwork raises questions about this dynamic.
The last example that Robert presents is 'Bio Jewellery'. Wisdom teeth are technologically transformed into rings that partners can exchange. Again, a common practice in biomedical technology (tissue engineering) is relocated into the public domain and applied to particular social practices and cultural customs. As a result, the debate on responsibility is recast and potentially revived (for example when it comes to legal ownership on extracted body parts).
In reflection, Robert argues that an important aspect of bio-art has to do with the commodification of life, referring to the transformation of living things into marketable materials (see also Koepsel 2009; Dickinson 2009). Think also of the debate on GM seeds and 'designer babies', linking to questions like: who owns life?
Robert concludes with the issue of why is art needed for critical debate about the life sciences. What can art really add? The work of Adam Zaretsky ('Initial Attempts at Embryonic Transplant Surgery') may be illustrative, where the artist tried to manipulate a zebrafish embryo. The project is within legal limits and is about a quest for new ethics and aesthetics for biotechnology. Zaretsky stresses the importance of mimicking/mastering, comprehending and participating within the scientific practices if one wants to become a transformative force within the scientific network. Robert stresses that this involved attitude gives bio-art an important role in the public debate. Direct involvement allows for a hands-on form of bio-ethics.
Q: Role of bio-arts, you focused on ethics and aesthetics and argued that it creates understanding. To what extent does it create acceptance andis it a form of PR? In addition, I'm missing the political aspect (Agamben - Bare life) in your talk. By presenting bio-art in the way that you did, you may loose sight of the political edge to life sciences.
A: Critique on bio-art is that they are repeating was it already happening in the lab. I agree, but they also re-contextualize. You can hardly say that Zaretsky is against the biomedical practice, because he practices it himself. It is more about trying to expose the hidden agenda, dreams, expectations, fears that underpin the practice of the life sciences.
About the politics: I think that is what all the projects are about. The artist, working mostly on the internet, are all politically engaged, but they do not want to take a specific position. Rather, their aim is to inject ambiguity into the public debate. In that sense it is very much politically charged.
Q: You claim that this form of art demystifies science. could you substantiate this? I would argue the opposite, as it reinforces the scientific authority in these kind of fields.
Criticism has been voiced before and sometimes even by myself with regard to certain projects. There is a 'fetishm' involved in working with the material. And the artists are sometimes mystifying themselves too (e.g the debate over the existince of Kac' bunny). But still think that bringing this science in different domains demystifies science as it re-appropriates the ownership question with artists claiming the write to work with living materials too.
Q: Often, bio-art is primarily a response on art itself. It often involves in-crowd responses and jokes. If you state that arts can change social life, I wonder: how? Are we in daily life confronted with this? It seems to evolve around small 'geeky' communities. Another question about methods: You said that bio-art stands out for its participatory approach. But that's not new. So could you explain again what is special about it?
There are indeed trends within bio-arts and the target group of it is very limited.
That's also why I took bio-art into the classroom. I think that hands-on engagement of bio-art is important, as it the way that they re-appropriate scientific practices in their art practices. Students will be the policy-makers of the future, so you can introduce it within the context of the university even though the general exposure is limited.
Q: You said at the beginning that art can encourage critical debate and that it should be a transformative force. Isn't that a bit circular? You also mentioned ambiguity. But what is the ambiguity in the rabbit case (Kac)? To pick up on this example: It seems that not the bunny is at the centre of attention, but rather the artist and his feelings. Is that what bio-arts should be about?
The article argues that art should be about communication and about relations between different groups of people. I think Kac achieved that, in the sense that it triggered a huge public debate on GM animals and on the role and function of arts.
Q: I argue that we talked 'semi-ethics', because you seem to touch upon ethics but keep it at bay by saying that it was legal. I think that ethics are very much involved: If the artist in the case of pheasant embryos would consciously think that it is wrong what he/she is doing, he/she couldn't repeat it.
I emphasized the legality, because as an biotechnology scientist it seems like you don't have to think about ethics because there in 'Ethical Committee', while we as outsiders immediately experience some ethical hesitations about whether we're allowed to this. The fact that the artist is repeating this question is important: you can legally do this, but have ethical hesitations about it. Some students for example refuse to participate because they are vegetarians. But those that participate somehow go along with the procedures, after getting their white coats on.
Q: Part of the function is making bio-technology public. Who is the target group in your view?
Why I'm so involved in this bio-art practice, is that I feel that the humanities are lacking behind the development of and implications of the life sciences. We, philosophers and ethicists, reflect at the end of the pipeline. Bio-artists are involved from the beginning of the developments. They provide me with an entrance to this complex biotechnological practice by pointing to the ethical and aesthetic issues involved.
Q: Saying that artists are 'inside' the science, but they are also 'outside' being artist. So science-art hybrid, exploring the boundaries. I imagine that some problems arise regarding boundary work. Could this be harmful for the credibility of science too and for the democratization of science?
Life scientists are just like normal human beings worried about what happens in the world and acknowledge that it is important to bridge the rift between science and the public. So I recognize the fear of scientists (some of which have accused me of 'nihilstic Spielerei'), but their willingness to cooperate is an indication that they are open to it.
Q: Demystification of science. Artists are taking the methods of the 'hard' sciences out in the public and are reviewing ethical issues by re-contextualization. I'm wondering: Is it not relocalizing the mystification (as now the artist knows about the work that is involved in scientific practices, but the public looking at the art work still does not know).
I kind of agree with that. There is a form of mystification present in these art works and the fact that they are presented as art, as something different. But this underlines that science is culture and that we need various entrances to understand the sciences. The works that I like most of those where the beholders are involved as participants.
Q: Want to return to the issue of: What is new about bio-technology? We raise ethical issues because we think that there is something new on stage. But for me the important issue is how this makes is think about the body, which goes back to Roman times and beyond. So why not take a step back and first ask this more conceptual question about 'what is the body'. Think of the frog and the dis-embodied cuisines; why is this dis-embodied?
Agree that the issue of bio-technology is really about 'what is nature'? We have always been breeding animals and changing our body. But I think that the current technological possibilities can lead to much more radical changes than ever before. And that a lot of these artworks are dealing with this issue.
Q: You told us about bio-art project. Did you ever do such projects with scientists themselves or politicians? And did it change their ways of behaving in labs or in politics? Could it also be used to educate scientists instead of the broader public?
Life science students and scientists are involved as well. I've been doing it in Leiden for six years and it seems that some scientists are now convinced that it is important to involve arts in their projects.
Q: The ethical practices that I know (i.e. Ethical Committees or Ethical Rules) seem to be geared towards resolving ambiguity. Arts seems to do the opposite. Isn't there a tension between art and ethics in that respect?
Yes, but seems productive to me.
PhD presentations (blog by Marcello Aspria)
Lucie Dalibert: Materializing Bodies with/in Technologies, Enacting Humanness – Spinal Cord Stimulation as Case Study
Lucie studies human-technology relationships. Her case study is about spinal cord stimulation, a technique used for people who suffer from myopathy (a muscular disease that leads to pain in the lower back and legs). The technology involved consists of a lead that is implanted in the lower back; by administering electrical impulses through this lead, the pain sensation is replaced by a more pleasant, tingly feeling.
Lucie conducts research on the use of spinal cord stimulation, and argues that it is time to change the way we look at human-technology relationships. She juxtaposes two major paradigms in the debate on human enhancement: the bioconservative approach, which sees it as a violation of human nature, and the transhumanist approach, which welcomes it as a positive development. Lucie posits that both are flawed, as they pay no attention to the human body itself.
Lucie argues that a new materialist turn is necessary to understand the intertwinement between technology and humans (or what Peter Sloterdijk calls ‘anthropo-technologies’). The focus should not be on domesticating humans, but on reshaping them through technoscience.
At first glance, postphenomenological analysis (which starts from the premise that we experience the world through our body) seems appropriate here. Within this framework, a distinction is made between four types of relations:
But which type of relation is applicable to a body that carries an implant? Lucie argues that the postphenomenological framework is too limited, as it depicts the body as passive. Although we should not discard this framework entirely, more attention is required for bodily practices. The material turn that Lucie suggests entails a phenomenological twist to postphenomenology, where devices and implants need to be unpacked. To understand these technologies, we should look at the manner in which bodies materialize in these technologies. This new materialist turn adds agency to the material and the body at the same time.
Felix (discussant): how do you view the distinction between the biocoservative and the transhumanist approach?
Answer: it is a distinction between the loudest voice versus softer ones. They talk speculatively about technologies. You need to know what these technologies do. The current debate is not the right way to frame the questions at stake.
Felix: what is your definition of technology?
Answer: I don’t want to answer this question. There are different types of technology at stake in implants. I have to work on that.
Felix: there is ample criticism on notions of the body, and you want to solve the problem with a new notion of the body. Can you tell us some more about the materialist turn you propose?
Answer: bioconservatives claim the naturality of the body, but there is a whole historicity behind it. Philosophers have a functionalist concept of the body. Postphenomenologists talk about embodiment, but never about the body itself: the body is blackboxed. You can’t do that in this sort of issues.
Felix: you use your interviews to refute theories. Does your empirical evidence really refute them?
Answer: I do not use them to refute theories, but to illustrate the point I make. I indeed rely on people's experiences, and have to go beyond that. I have a bit of a problem there. I want to get to the body itself.
Marjolein: do you look at the notion of habits, as a practice?
Answer: In my research I always ask: can you show me how it works? Or describe your typical day? Did it change the conception of your body? It also depends on the setting (hospital or at home). I rely on people talking about their practices: I do not actually see them.
Marjolein: but when you talk to them, they also display habits (in a phenomenological sense).
Answer: they stuff their remote control away, all you can see is that the pain sometimes goes away. Sometimes I see the interactions with their spouses. But they don’t interact with the device.
Tjerk: what is your agenda?
Answer: I also talk to surgeons and manufacturers, because I need to report back to the hospital, and to show them how to improve the technology, to give recommendations.
Mijke: I agree with your critique of Latour. It reminds me of acquisition techniques for dancers, where the same problem exists. Perhaps that will be of help to you.
Answer: I will look into this.
Jochem: you seem to develop a critique of postphenomenology. Do you think the same critique applies to Verbeek?
Answer: I can’t work with Verbeek’s approach.
Marlous Arentshorst: Towards a societal responsible embedding of neuroimaging in healthcare
Neuroimaging, which makes it possible to study the biochemistry of the brain, is increasingly shaping our lives. While many promises are stemming from this technology – it may for instance contribute to preventive measures in healthcare – concerns are also raised: think of the possible stigma attributed to people at risk of developing brain disorders. So how is neuroimaging viewed in society?
In this presentation Marlous focuses on the methodology in her research. She adopts the interactive learning and action approach (ILAA), which belongs to Constructive Technology Assessment (CTA). She used focus groups (citizen panels) in which she encouraged participants to explore, among other things, which goals in neuroimaging are desirable and undesirable. There were 6 panels consisting of 47 citizens (from 16 to 63 years old); these participants were not professionally related to neuroimaging technologies, or affected by them as a patient. The research started with 2 pilot panels (16 citizens) from which Marlous was able to conclude that the focus group was a suitable method. Then she set out five steps:
Step 1: making participants somewhat acquainted with neuroimaging
Step 2: make an inventory of intuitive (un)desirable ideas
Step 3: ask participants to explain their ideas on post it notes, which were clustered on a board.
Step 4: reflect on future applications of neuroimaging
Step 5: closure
Marlous noticed that there were different lines of argument among participants, but she was also able to discern patterns. Depending on the goal, eight different visions on neuroimaging came up, which are listed in the Powerpoint presentation. As for the argumentation patterns, all discussions started with a “use” vision. Clearly, citizens were able to articulate benefits of neuroimaging.
Ties (discussant): as for your contribution to neuroethics: what values are at stake according to citizens?
Answer: I’m still thinking about that.
Ties: how did you present the examples in the procedure without steering them?
Answer: you need something to reflect on, so we leaned on medical and technical experts. They are all hypothetical examples (ex: ‘if you have a risk for developing a certain brain issue,..’).
Ties: as for your methodology, why did you not use scenarios?
Answer: I did not want to give them a scenario. I wanted to make an inventory.
Ties: how do you explain the difference between public and expert perceptions?
Answer: the guiding vision of experts is on prevention and treatment. The other people are reserved on this topic.
Ties: what is a good societal embedding? Do you take stance?
Answer: I’m not trying to define societal responsible innovation, but I’m aware of its problematic definition.
Franke: what does it mean that “the focus groups worked?”
Answer: we assumed that the focus group was a good method to inventory; since we are dealing with emergent technology, we needed to explore out its effectiveness first.
Misha: the divisions you ended up with, were they compatible or incompatible with eachother? Think of Wynne’s opening up to the public: you let them negotiate public meaning. What’s the next step? The technology is going somewhere, but how can these eight visions be taken up in this trajectory? Are they compatible? To what extent will they be taken up?
Answer: you have to integrate all perspectives.
Payam: can you explain what you meant by ‘slippery slope’?
Answer: the participants start on general level, then discuss more in depth.
Wytske Versteeg: The ordering of disorder – how people do employ expert knowledge to arrange their lives
At the start of her presentation, Wytske shows a poster of a holiday destination. The caption says: “You could have been there”.
Wytske conducts her research on internet fora. She uses discursive psychology to look at expertise, which she defines broadly as “entitlement to speak”. Her starting point is that there is an assumed crisis of trust in expert knowledge. In Modern Science, Tolstoj also observed the relevance of expert knowledge: he contrasted the scientist with the ‘plain, reasonable working man’. This creation of categories is still frequently done today: think of RIVM’s Roel Coutinho (“our opinion is like the florists…”) and the Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau (“our opinion did not seem to count…”).
Expert knowledge is not enough: you need entitlement. Wytske looked at various internet fora, such as the “Mothering” site. They include stories of how people came to doubt vaccination.
Rather than asking ‘what is this crisis?’ Wytske focuses on how people engage with expertise/experience, and how they employ it. ADHD is a famous example: people can build their identity on it, and make great investments to keep it stable. But expertise on ADHD changes: just look at the shifting definitions in the DSM.
Another example is narcissism. “Only trained people are allowed to diagnose it.” Expertise, and what constitutes the disorder. -> this person has to perform a lot of interactional work. Combines personal experience and formal scientific knowledge. They take care not to appear as naïve.
In conclusion, Wytske comes back to the poster: “You could have been there” if you had known.
Marjolein (discussant): 1) you seem to define people with expertise along the way. Do you have some ideas on how to distinguish between them, or how they can come together in one person? 2) your research question is really descriptive. What does ‘engaging with’ mean? Doing something with their knowledge? Or acknowledging that expertise? 3) People have to do identity work to remain stable. How should they use expertise in their identity work?
Answer: I will answer all three questions at once, since they all have to do with the understanding of discursive psychology. It basically tries to see how people position themselves. The assumption is that general societal norms can become visible at this micro level, as people have to present themselves in a certain way. That’s why I don’t start with a definition of ‘expert’. My plan is to see how people invoke different kinds of knowledge that can be standardized as common sense or individual personal experience.
Marjolein: you used internet sources. What kind?
Answer: Internet sources and real-life settings combined. There are a lot of identity forms.
Marjolein: how do you see your own position as an expert or an experienced person?
Answer: In contested phenomena, many actors that constitute what is the truth. This is my puzzle.
Willem: but how to recognize expertise then?
Answer: in discursive psychology you treat your interview results as “the truth”: your respondents might position themselves towards you. In this process of positioning you can see how people orient towards norms. Perhaps they are not even aware of this orientation, but you can trace it in their conversation.
Marlous: aren’t you curious why the person on the forum you showed in your example relies on family history?
Answer: I could expand on this, but my presentation is short, so I was unable to go into detail here.
Mijke: there is tension between information coming from actors, and their personal intuition. What is the status of this information-intuition tension?
Answer: that tension will be a line in my research.
Guest lecture by Hedwig te Molder - "Discourse communities as catalysts for science and technology communication" (blog by Wytske Versteeg)
Te Molder does not focus on mass communication as many groups in the Netherlands do, but rather on interpersonal communication in actual, everyday talk.
The role of science has changed. The notions of mode-2 science, the triple helix post-normal science are different approaches but they also agree on one thing: science and technology are communicated and debated no longer in the ivory tower, but in the agora - not merely by scientific peers, but also by industry, publics, interest groups, government agencies et cetera - and this debate emerges often at unexpected moments. The distinction between science and non-science has become blurred, as has the distinction between the public and the private domain. The expert has become accountable to different groups for what he does or produces in many different ways and at unexpected moments.
Despite these changes in the environment, science communication has only adapted to a certain extent. But the consequences for science communication are far reaching: science communication is potentially everywhere, since the rights to speak have become distributed and globalized. Science communication is no longer organized from a central point or perspective, if it ever has been. Science communicators are no longer the alfa and omega of science communication, and this leads to a high level of unpredictabiltiy: it is unsure when and how the debate will start.
Whereas communication has moved from deficit to dialogue to participation, the assumption is still that there is a need or desire to be informed or to participate. Nowoty: ‘society talks back’. But this is not the complete picture, since society is already talking and it is often the expert who needs to talk back. The talk in these self-organizing discourse communities is not necessarily in the first instance oriented to technology, so an inversion of perspective is needed.
So how do they talk? A discourse community ‘model’. Discourse communities are groups of actors talking science and tehcnology, either directly or areas of everyday life that they apply to. The focus is on ‘natural talk’, that would also take place without the researcher being present, although ‘natural’ is a matter of debate. A central question is what interactional business is being performed by the interactants, either consciously or unconsciously. It is crucial to assess utterances in the interactional context in which they are done, and that they establish at the same time: talk is studied in its own right. Interactional business is not only about what people say, but also what they achieve by saying this at this particular moment, as understood through the eyes of the discussion partner. The shift is from a cognitive to a discursive model: rather than assuming that language reflects what people really do or thing (representation), discursive pscyhology assers that language is used for action, is a tool that can be drawn upon for a range of social-interactional goals. The crucial question is how the receiving person takes up or treats the language action from the previous speaker. Something that might look as merely a description can be treated by other speakers as an accusation (‘there is a pile of dishes’).
Case 1: The celiac pill
Case material: the threads about a future pill on a online discussion forum for celiac (gluten intolerance) patients (in total 152 posts). Research was part of a consortium and aimed to give a patient’s perspective. Question: why is the celiac pill (at that moment: in the making) not received as enthusiastically as the experts expected it to be, and sometimes even negatively?
Observation: the pill was received very differently, sometimes by the same people, depending on the way it was introduced. So: something happens in the interaction, but what exactly in the introduction triggers this? Italicized are inbuilt expert assumptions that are unpacked and resisted by patients: how much would you be willing to pay each day if you could take a pill that would let you eat a normal diet? Celiac patients resist the right of the expert to suggest that hteir pill will be accepted anyway, to replace an ‘abnormal’ diet and that it would fully repair their troublesome life. They react to the presentation of the pill as a panacea for a problematic life, denying the patient’s right to choose.
- Q: Is the emphasis indeed on the troublesome life, or does the poster (I wouldn’t give one red cent) react to the potentially exploitative nature of the question (how much would you be willing to pay?)
Q: What is the limit of this method (the dichotomy of epistemic versus function doesn’t apply everywhere)? Are there subject matters for which the method is not suited? Language is used to achieve something and epistemics can’t be separated from function - many traditions propose that context is crucial, but at they same time they often fail to take context seriously. Discursive psychology does take context seriously; it is not important whether what is said is right or wrong, but how the other interactants treat this - as an analyst, you’re not the ultimate assessor. Of course there are limitatons; the method does not aim to enable the analyst to make a distinction between right or wrong utterances.
Q: This example came from internet. How do you deal with the differences in different contexts such as face-to-face, internet, etc.? Important question, and one which analysts are struggling with. For instance, the failure to respond has a different meaning in face-to-face interactions than online.
Q:If context is an important thing, we have to talk about mediation as well: a forum has a particular kind of interface, rules, et cetera. To which extent does this mediation play a role in the analysis? Also an important question, that cannot be solved completely. But again, the entrance is to search for the way the other interactants treat the utterances and (fail to) make the context relevant, for instance by comparing different threads. In doing this, it often emerges that something that could have been attributed to characteristics of the medium, is in fact a result of the interaction (in the medium), but not of the medium as such.
Q: Why is the method called discursive psychology instead of plain discourse analys? It started from discourse analysis (Gilbert/Mulkay): how did scientists account for their own work in different contexts? But there are many branches of discourse analysis with a lot of different assumptions: therefore, a different name was chosen: discursive psychology. Psychology is used here in a different way than usual; the question is not ‘is this intention’ or not, but to study ‘intention’ through the eyes of the interactants. Psychology is not so much the analyst’s topic, but rather a topic of negotiation between the interactants among themselves.
Lecture part 2
Hard and soft impacts. Experts tend to make themselves accountable for at least discussing the topics that are treated as ‘hard impacts’ (health, safety, environment), but not for ‘soft impacts’ (political, cultural, moral). The latter disappear from the debate, or the agenda, even though they tend to be highly relevant for citizens, consumers.
Case 2: Naturalness
Organized discussion between 20 expert participants. The topic of interest: who is accountable for knowing what (whose epistemic territory)? What is being achieved by distributing rights and responsibilities in this way (action)? Responsibility: there is a difference between asserting that ‘this food is good’ or ‘I find this good food’ - by saying something, you make yourself responsible for the knowledge. In turn, other participants can make you accountable to do something as a consequence of this knowledge.
What does the expert claim to know about naturalness? Does he know what it is? Does he know better or less than the consumer? What effect is being achieved by talking in this way about naturalness? For which actions does he make himself responsible? Does he initiate the debate on naturalness?
Expert claims superior epistemic access to ‘naturalness’ without disclosing that definition; he does not further explore this.
Question: are you not still claiming to have access to a hidden meaning that the speaker himself isn’t aware of, despite the DP claim to the contrary?
A: Good point in the case of a rhetorical analysis of a monologue. Preferably, you would analyze the response to see how the utterance is treated by others, and that would be a more accurate base for the analysis.
PhD Presentations (blog by Marijke Hermans)
Brian Keller - "Dialoguing with monsters"
Brian proposes a Dialogic Technology Assessment. His central questions are: How to evaluate new tomorrow’s technology with today’s values? Moral landscape can change. Technologies can be felt to be behind times. How to bridge the gap? How to assess technologies in the future? This is the problem of techno-moral change. Traditional Technology Assessment focuses solely on hard impacts (risks), soft impacts don’t come into discussion because they are difficult to assess. Brian wants to analyze the products of our imagination. How to step out of this problem of assessing future technologies with today’s values? Brian’s solution: utilizing the metaphor of traveling, a narrative of fiction to take a step in a morally other world in fiction; in order to centre the writer, reader and characters in another world and initiate dialogue. It is explorative.
It means stepping out of the circularity of traditional TA but also stepping back into the policy arena; it is speculative but can be put back in the policy arena. This arena is more suitable for applying ethics: instead of informing stakeholders in the policy arena; we step back in popular culture and film in order to imagine these future cultures and produce alternative narratives.
In the analysis of literature and film, Brian looks at fictive monsters. They have special role: they are both articulating and producing, they introduce ambiguity, question abilities to understand symbolic order. Disorder, death and dirt are common themes in Brian’s research. Brian focuses on nanotechnology, in particular on artificial cells, theronostic devices and novel neurotransmitter ligands. Brian concludes by presenting his theories: possible worlds theory (estranged worlds, re-centering in possible world and discovering things from that perspective; enables possibility of dialogue between this and future world); and Monster theory (monstrous worlds; what can we learn through dialoguing with them?). Brian will also do focus group dialogues (initiate dialogue on techno-moral change) and in the end he hopes to cultivate a dialogic moral imagination.
The discussant asks ‘How do the types of monsters relate to the case of nanotechnology? It’s all related to the body? Is there a special reason? How does it help to conceptualize techno-moral change? Brian answers that it is a move from directly advising the policy making, it’s important to step back from that. Scenario’s are more about how to help them cope with future debates; controversies and pave the ground for future debate. To deal more complexly with concepts, theories and methods that are used. It offers reflection and critical appraisal; and shows gaps in knowledge. But they must be grounded in what are potential technologies; epistemologically grounded; not pure fantasy. It will help solve the problem: because speculating about the technology in policy, about consequences and solutions is not the right way to go.
Why did you choose biotechnology? Brian answers that he focuses on embodiment, turned into a question of monsters, it was a choice because he needs to narrow down; and it reflected issues that are relevant; things that effect the body; very relevant to moral issues. The monsters he identified are based on movies and books that are dealing with technology. E.g. Gollum has to do with idea ‘are we trying to play God’, do we have the right, do we know what we are doing? Vampires are about life and death; the boundary.
What does the robot story about destroying the world say about our future technologies? I don’t understand the circular argument? Brian answers that the circle is referring to assessment circle: assessing future technologies with values of today; measuring stick changes; is circular argument; no way to step out of that. He seeks to map the opportunities of future world for which we have other values. We need to explore future worlds, they may indicate disturbances. But re-centering is key; you can’t just go visit and assess. Brian is not judging the process but offers a means to step out of it.
Question: There is a risk in what you’re doing that judging future fiction. You mix lots of temporalities; also very gendered thinking. Are you not exploiting the figure of monster?
Question: you try to go into dialogue and use monsters. What if there is some mentioning of super heroes?
Fabian de Kloe - "Beyond Babel: Science and International Language in the Early Twentieth Century"
Fabian’s research is very historical. He looks at scientific internationalism: scientists peacefully transcending national boundaries. The image is positive: e.g. in EU, it’s good when science cooperates. It seems like shedding the cloak of local interests. Fabian offers a more refined image. He takes it seriously because it pops up time and time again. He shows that it has a history. He has two examples of scientists: Wilhelm Ostwald and Frederick Cottrell. Ostwald was involved in international language (ido) as a means to transcend nation states; inspired by Esperanto. He was a logician and a positivist; he believed language could be made more precise. Then you would have a perfect distillate of European languages. Ostwald and Cottrell worked together and published in a journal in this language ido. Bertrand Russel collaborated as well. But it wasn’t very popular. The general tendency was one of internationalism; now we take it for granted; but it only emerged at the beginning of 20th century. Scientists wanted to facilitate this but wanted to overcome language barriers. They wanted to speak the same language. It would relegate war to the past. The facilitator of a new and rational world. The fact that it wasn’t well received shows they had more local politics. Fabian claims that instead of it being a reaction to culture in Europe it was pushed by local politics. Couturat promotes structured objectivity as a reaction against mechanical objectivity. It is a typical belle époque debate. Politically it was a reaction against the Dreyfus affair. It divided the country (France) in patriots and scientists that were more cosmopolitan. His promotion of ido was an expression to Dreyfus affair. Ostwald on the other hand defended ido as an extension of his local politics that saw German scientists as culture bearers. Science became more fragmented, the larger questions were no longer asked of scientists. Ostwald started arguing for science involvement in society at large. By creating ido it was a distinct political move: identity of scientists. Ostwald’s promotion of ido was patriotic: he promoted an institution, ido was the language to communicate. It is very much German expansionism. Fabian’s research is relevant because it does not only say that internationalism is locally embedded. It adds on to recent literature on internationalism that we see as something good and positive. But you can see underlying motives that are quite narrow.
The discussant asks questions about politics; and about language and philosophy. ‘You don’t speak about the workers movement. Is there a connection? –around that time national languages were promoted to overrule regional languages. How does the ido project relate to that? As every logician knows, it’s just a way of reasoning, it doesn’t give answers but answers come up according to axiom. So it’s not logical that international language would promote world peace as such.’ Fabian answers that France wanted to homogenize its identity at the end of 19th century, reacted against local interests; to transcend the nation state. Scientists copied this, appropriated it and stuck on it all that was virtuous in science. They were positivists. As an historian Fabian wants to understand why they promoted it even if it is silly. Science was extension of political ideas.
Sara Heidenreich - "Offshore wind researchers imaginations of the public"
Sara’s project is part of bigger project on post-fossil energies. It is about public engagement. Question is how do lay people engage with science and technology and how does science engage lay people? Today Sara talks about the science side and the idea of the imagined public. Concept of imagined lay person (Maranta et al 2003). They are the scientists’ conceptions of the public, there often is no direct contact, but scientists have images of public; can come from media; other publics etc. These imaginations influence the technology design; implementation and future discussion with public. The research question is what are the researchers imagination of the public in connection to offshore wind technology? Especially the role of public and public attitudes. Sara’s data are interviews with researchers. She also had 2 focus groups but it was not possible to find more than 2 focus groups, but that is not enough to get clear data. The data analysis is inspired by grounded theory with atlas.ti. But Sara is critical about that because it takes bits of interviews and puts them out of context but she wanted to look at interview as a whole; as a narrative; what story are researchers are making. But the problem always is that you are creating the narrative yourself. Sara presents some stories of public from scientists. There is a dominant narrative that the public is very absent when scientists talk about implementation of technology. They don’t mention them if Sara doesn’t ask. When she asks the answer is that the turbines are going to be far away, out of sight out of mind. Siting turbines off shore is going to solve lots of public problems there are with siting on shore. This goes together with understanding of their own role as no need to engage with public debate. They don’t see it as their role, say ‘you as a social scientist or politics should do that’; or they say ‘it should be good to engage’ or ‘it is very difficult’. They are ambiguous about their role. If Sara looks at the literature that looks at wind energy in other countries, they found that there is expectation of public hostility, and NIMBY (not in my backyard). Sara found in 3 interviews that public is imagined as negative: people are skeptical, negative to wind turbines; and NIMBY. Only minor view. The next are stories about public as positive. Two different things: one is people are relaxed about it; or people are enthusiastic. Because it is green, creates job, it’s off shore. However, the story she encountered mostly is ambivalent story about negative and positive. Back and forth argument. So in general the public doesn’t play a big role in development of wind energy. They think people are positive when it’s out of sight and out of mind; but there is some fear. There is a NIMBY ghost that is present. It would be interesting to find out why these fears remain in the research environment. How does it influence the implementation? How does it influence dialogues with public?
The discussant asks ‘There are different groups of scientists. Who were the ones in your focus group? You found out that scientists didn’t view the public as important but maybe they are present because scientists are afraid of NIMBY reactions.’ Sara answers that it would be interesting to look at policy makers ideas of the public; but she focuses more on the technology design and public dialogue. When scientists think of implementation they don’t have public in mind. It’s not really something which is very worrisome but small thing which is there.
Question: ‘Where are the researchers performing their imaginations of the public?’
Guest lecture by Erwin van Rijswoud - "Expert communication in the boundary zone of science, policy and public debate" (blog by Andreas Mitzschke)
Van Rijswoud’s Dissertation: public face of science, experts and identity work in the boundary work of science, policy and public debate; his data: policy documents, interviews, documentaries, various media sources
· Science, politics the media
· Expertise is relational
· Identity work: experts do identity work in public; this relates to what they think they should do, can do and what they have done so far
1. Experts and policy in the media (Weingart article)
2. Case studies
3. Where does this leave us with citizenship and democracy?
1. Experts and policy in the media:
Crisis as focusing events in policy that reflect in media
Relation between what scientists do, how this is taken up by politics and the media (see Weingart, 2000)
· Agenda setting
· Scientists views on science/policy boundary and science/public boundary
· How this shapes public communication => Weingart article connects these issues
· rational linear model: science is there to identify problems and find solutions; this is communicated to the public and politics
· When communication fails: we need more and better information; how risk communication turns into risks for communication (different frames, understandings while talking about the same issue)
· Climate discourses in Germany (see table)
· Climate catastrophe as boundary object: catastrophe as triggering a momentum of its own and creates points of reference on its own
Lessons to be taken along:
· It is not simply about science communication => the linear rational model does not work
· Accidental use of crisis => but lack of experts as policy entrepreneurs
· Risks of communication => but lack of talk about benefits of communication
1. Crisis as focusing events
2. Experts as policy entrepreneurs
3. Organisatzion of policy as crucial element
4. Where does it leave citizenship and democracy
· Example: Hurricane Katrina and SARS/ Birdflu
· Focusing event: affects public and policy makers and restricted to a defined geographical area
· Policy entrepreneurs use these events with their technical and political expertise to work on the boundary between science and policy
Van Rijswoud presents a case and the experts who were involved as boundary workers who used the cultural meaning of ‘disaster’: what did these experts do, especially in relation to the media; how they specifically used these focusing events in their career as experts
History of both fields, water security and virology, is important => the role of crisis is important in both domains (outbreaks, floodings => stimulated experts to go public but also triggered a specific knowledge mode of their expert knowledge from ‘indoors’ with policy makers to engagement with the media)
2. Case study on the structure of policy arramgements: Water
Establishment of different expert bodies such as Rijkswaterstaat, Technical adivisory committee for waterworks
Two shifts: old vs. new engineering (ecological and economic values became important, but also included other expertise in civil engineering); 2005: TAW was dismantled, decrease of privileged expert access to policy makers
Tradition of crisis, expert involvement, based on succession
In 2001: 35% of dikes did not pass the norm set by law, 2005 Hurricane Katharina, 2008 Delta committee 2 (ca. one billion EUS per year are saved for dike engineering)
What was the role of the experts discussing the meaning of Katharina for the Netherlands?
Han Vrijling: Upset about state of the dikes, Katharina as gunpowder for his concern over decreasing importance of expert; he addressed the media: flooding of new Orleans used to enforce image of potential disaster, opinion article “new Orleans a lesson for the Dutch” => he tried to convey the message that policy makers were too optimistic
Marcel Stive: upset about state of dikes, but not as concerned as Vrijling but a similar idea: now he wanted to talk to the media; different view on policy making: not the old linear rational model; public criticism in wake of degradation; he was elected as sole engineer in Delta Committee 2 (maybe because he was modest about the political meaning of his work)
Hub de Vriend: temporary moderator; at present the director of Water Laboratory, his message: we are not up to date in the Netherlands, unrealistic computer model, not enough data
Pier Vellinga: From engineer to climate broker (1987 IPCC), meaning of climate change for water security (need to listen to the experts, restore power of engineers): his policy view: follow opportunities make opportunities, Katrina: embedding in his sea level rise agenda
In conclusion: experts in policy and public debate
Case of Katrina shows that experts were doing five things:
1. their communication in public was attuned to political and media debate
2. Communication risky, yet it was successful (Katrina was a successful example)
3. Risks of communication <-> urgency, window of opportunity
4. Different roles and strategies
5. Different types of experts/ field of science become important with different issues issues
Type of governance arrangement as a selection environment: experts attunes their information to the wider context of policy and media attention, attuning message to meaning of publicly discussed events changed the content of their message
Person/ professional as steering framework: experts had their own ideas on what is appropriate action within the frames of their capacities (collective experiences, personal view of science/policy boundaries, capacity to do something- defined their strategy)
Citizenship and democracy?
Climate, SARS and Katrina: shape interaction and expert communication between science, policy and media
Discourse communities function as catalysts
Guest lecture by Hans Peter Peters - "Scientists and their concepts of public communication and 'the public'" (blog by Bart van Oost)
Slides of the presentation (http://www.wtmc.net/wiki/index.php?title=docrep&id=170)
Hans Peter Peters' presentation is divided in 3 sections:
1. summarize issues/findings that are available in preparatory reading
2. scientists and their concepts of public communication and 'the public'
3. differences between scientific disciplines (humanities - hard sciences) regarding the relations between the scientific community and the public.
Peters starts with a model on public-science-communication. Public constructs of science, technology and risk can be found in the media. These have an influence on politics and science, not just on the public. This is the theme that underlies the research. How do such constructs arise? Journalism is important, referring broadly to the social web, science festivals, organized dialogues, fiction/novels, etcetera. All shape the public images of science, technology and risk.
Currently, there is discussion whether journalism is still as important as before. Colleagues from US suggest that it is rapidly changing, with social media taking over the job of traditional media. Peters disagrees with that.
The relation between science and the public is often depicted by images of a (problematic) gap. A lot of research focuses on the difficulties that scientists face when communicating to the public. Peters' own research has also focused on this, i.e. when analyzing how both sides (scientists and journalists) try to control the content of what is in the news. Such work focused most on the hard sciences and engineering, less on humanities and soft sciences. Looking at the latter may give a different picture.
A question is whether there are bridges, who enters them and who might control entrance? Hans briefly sketches the result of two recent studies on this issue. Another study focused on the contacts that German researchers have with journalists. A large difference was found between different disciplines and research fields. Humanities and social sciences score considerably higher than engineering and hard sciences in terms of media contact. However, this does not say anything about journalistic interests in these fields. The main explanation is the size of the research fields and the experience that scientists within the communities have with public communication.
When thinking about journalistic mass media, three functions have to be distinguished. Firstly, dissemination of information to a mass of people. Secondly, and perhaps even more important to the scientists involved, news coverage is seen as a marker that the research is relevant to society. Thirdly, mass media transforms the scientific knowledge too. This goes further than just 'making it simple', but it often integrates different views on the subject matter (which may trigger annoyance amongst scientists).
Current trends in public science communication include the increased institutionalization and professionalization of media relations (which may be a way to overcome the resource problem of science journalism and also may change the power relation between the two). Another trend is the increasing strategic utilization of media. A preliminary and bold claim (still under study) would be that those involved in science communication are increasingly concerned about the "effects" of the report that about presenting the "truth" and that the public image of science is changing under the identified trends.
Peters conducted a survey on beliefs about the public and public communication. Five labels were used: expert paternalism, effect of science communication the public (linking to debates on the 'defecit model'), views on the ability and right to participate in science governance (linking to studies on i.e. Mode-2 science), separation of scientific and public arenas and the modes of communication.
(see slides for preliminary findings)
One of the finding is that scientists verbally reject the deficit model, but are skeptical about the ability of the public to be involved in decision-making on research policy.
Question: Do younger scientists have a more positive image of the public than older scientists? No.
And: in some respects female scientists seem to be more 'hardliners' than male scientists in their views on the public. But no clear trend to be seen.
The third part of Peters' talk is on differences between scientific disciplines. A study amongst scientists focused on six indicators:
1, do scientists perceive that the scientific publication is in danger is results already published in mass media
2. scientists prepared to talk about unpublished research
3. do scientists think that the knowledge that they produce is part of knowledge that should be generally available
4. what is topic of talk with journalists (research or expert opinion)
5. is consultation required with the PR department
6. how many prerequisites have to be met, how strong does the scientific community regulate the contact with the mass media
(see slides for results)
Peter Weingart developed the hypothesis of 'medialization of science', meaning that scientists nowadays are so eager to be in the media that they anticipate the criteria of journalism which may affect the research agenda (making the scientific relevance less important). See slides for graphs on the relationship between public communication type and repercussions on science. An important findings is that the humanities show more signs of this effect than the hard sciences. Different models on the relationship between media and science can be found in the various fields.
In conclusion, Peters addresses the question why the difference in the type of interface occur. Three factors may play a role: i) the comprehensibility of the scientific field, ii) the societal relevance and iii) power (in social sciences, researchers do not have an opinion monopoly on their subject matter, whilst this seems to be the case in for example mathematics).
Mathematics is an out-lier on the graph. Do you have an explanation for that?
This is primarily due to the medalization aspect. Mathematics is sometimes in the mass media, but often historical and not about todays research. And: individual researchers are often at the foreground. So, this hardly impacts the decision on what research to pursue within the field.
Some fields like philosophy are very diverse for example regarding comprehensibility of the produced knowledge. Could it be that the philosophers put more effort in the translation of their work to the public?
Completely right that the scientific fields are highly diverse. We have variables to distinguish differences within the field. Regarding philosophy: they make more efforts to translate, but it is also easier for them to translate. In the field of ethics for example it is about making decisions. So even if the theory is very abstract, the problem is not.
Could you explain the medialization of neuro-sciences more and why you studied it?
Reason is that our Institute focuses on this. (joke) But we talked to neuro-scientists before starting the project a found a rise in studies on neuro-imaging of anorexia patients. It was hypothesized that this was clearly linked to media coverage and the agenda setting effect. We wanted to know about the mechanisms underlying these by looking at neuro-sciences in Germany and the US. We found effects, but very mildly.
You talked briefly about the belief of scientists in the deficit model. You also mentioned that some answer may be socially accepted. You also said that it we let go of the deficit model, a dialogical model is not the most likely outcome. Could you expand on that?
We found that scientists still think in terms of the deficit model, although the express seeing benefits in the dialogical model (for example: the efficiency of communication could be increased by dialogue). However, they are less positive on the benefits of participation. My argument is : researchers will probably not turn to a participatory model of dialogue as an alternative to the deficit model, but they will probably seek much more strategic options (i.e. persuasive means like emotions, framings, etcetera to get the beneficial effects). Note: I'm a researcher, so what I say applies to myself too. However, there is a warning regarding the strategic uses of science communication, because it may deceive society on what science is.
You started with the gap and said that it is real. From an STS point of view, we say that it is constructed and the scientists did their best to both create the image and repair it. In your research, you interviewed the scientists. Could you speculate on what the public might have answered?
Could look at Eurobarometer studies, they expect to have a say in science affairs. What I did not mention, because the data is little old: we did parallel surveys of scientists and journalists on how the science communication process should be organized. The opinions differed most on the question of who should control it.
You mentioned a problem of the strategic move potentially having negative consequences. But in my opinion the Eurobarometer survey data helps in that respect. Some studies show that adding more knowledge does not mean that resistance decreases, sometimes the contrary. would that be a way to make a communication between public surveys and the scientists?
The problem of the Eurobarometer is that it is strongly affected by social acceptability. The interest of the public arises when there is a controversy or something like that. This is a normative point of view: I think the public has right to be involved, but all well adviced to keep some distance if no specific reason to be involved, because science works partly due to its efficiently achieved by having some distance and autonomy. So, it would be likely slaughtering the cow that gives milks.
How do you define quality of scientific publications. Was thinking of the Wynne (1992) article, where the scientists kept distance from the local knowledge.
I think there are other knowledge sources than scientists, like practitioners. A combination of scientific and local knowledge is often needed. However, I think for most routine problems science will acquire that local knowledge. If you really have an extreme case like Chernobyl, this is different because adjusting to it takes time. But if it were to happen twice a year, science would build it in their theories. So my opinion is that sheep farming and these problems are an exception, because they are single cases. This is different for routine problems. (I know that this goes against one of the premisses of STS).
I see an attempt to deconstruct the scientific expert with people talking about for example the 'lay expert'. But I'm critical of that. I think we live in a highly differentiated society with special knowledge that is actually unavailable to lay people. Personally, I therefore have the model of a consultant working for a company in mind: there are specialists that you can hire, but the lay people remain the decision-maker.
I know that in a democratic society, it is hard to accept that there is secluded knowledge which is not available for democratic governance, but I see that in the structure of our society this is the case.
You presented a study of a particular period of time. I wonder if this is systematic (regarding differences between soft - hard sciences). And a methodological question: How do you dodge the social desirability issue in your surveys?
You can find neutral wording and you have to do other kinds of qualitative research in addition. This is also what we have been doing, for example by having interviews with the scientists.