Peter Dizikes: Writings on Science and Society


A Talk with Steve Shapin
A Harvard historian says our image of scientists is all wrong
By Peter Dizikes. The Boston Globe, July 6, 2008

TESTIFYING BEFORE CONGRESS in 1950, MIT president Karl Compton declared, of American scientists: “I don’t know of any other group that has less interest in monetary gain.”

That view of scientists might draw a few wry smiles around Kendall Square today. But it also represents a lingering 20th-century ideal: The scientist as a virtuous academic who pursues knowledge as an end in itself. In contrast to that ideal stands the wealth-seeking industrial scientist, a specialist who merely applies science to the problem of putting new products on the market.

That’s the wrong way to think about the whole scientific enterprise, says Steven Shapin, the Franklin L. Ford professor of the history of science at Harvard. In an upcoming book, “The Scientific Life,” to be published this fall by the University of Chicago Press, Shapin argues that our notion of the noble scientist untethered by monetary obligations is bad history.

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My work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Slate, Salon, Technology Review, and numerous other publications. You can learn more about me here.

SELECTED ARTICLES BY PETER DIZIKES

E. Coli and You
The New York Times, June 29, 2008

The Meaning of the Butterfly
The Boston Globe, June 8, 2008

Joseph Needham's Grand Question
Seed, May/June 2008

Pure Science
The New York Times, April 13, 2008

Nature Nurtures Learning
The Boston Globe, December 31, 2007

Genes Open New Frontier in Privacy Debate
The Boston Globe, September 24, 2007

Cambridge Scientists Put on a Show
Nature Network Boston, May 1, 2007

Edward O. Wilson Sees Accord on Climate Action
The Boston Globe, January 29, 2007

Genome Human
The New York Times, July 30, 2006

Galileo Groupies
Slate, February 3, 2006

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Peter Dizikes: Writings on Science and Society


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