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Tantalus and the aliens: Publications, audiences and the search for gravitational waves

Collins, Harold Maurice ORCID: 1999. Tantalus and the aliens: Publications, audiences and the search for gravitational waves. Social Studies of Science 29 (2) , pp. 163-197. 10.1177/030631299029002001

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Different audiences at different distances from the core-set read scientific papers in different ways. If the institutional circumstances are right, an `inner audience' may try to control an outer audience's reading. In Physics, the literature is sufficiently open to allow some papers that have no credibility with the mainstream to be published. This normally causes no problem within `core-groups' of scientists, because the orthodox interpretation is widely understood. There can still be trouble, however, from those who have not been socialized into the core-group's interpretative framework. Strangers to the field may give credence to papers which the core-group considers to be interpretatively dead. The `strangers' to which I refer are not scientific antagonists but scientists in different specialisms to those in the core-group, as well as policymakers and funders. A problem arises for the core-group when non-core-groupers are drawn into important decisions - as when a Big Science is fighting for funds. The case of heterodox publications in gravitational radiation is examined. It is shown that papers published between 1985 and 1995, of which the core-group could normally be expected to think, `Ho hum - more of this', were strongly attacked. The institutional background of these attacks is explained.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0306-3127
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 09:47

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