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ERIC Number: EJ779602
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 27
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0741-0883
Lone Geniuses in Popular Science: The Devaluation of Scientific Consensus
Charney, Davida
Written Communication, v20 n3 p215-241 2003
Popular accounts of scientific discoveries diverge from scholarly accounts, stripping off hedges and promoting short-term social consequences. This case study illustrates how the "horse-race" framing of popular accounts devalues the collective sharing, challenging, and extending of scientific work. In her best-selling "Longitude," Dava Sobel (1996) depicts John Harrison's 18th-century invention of a marine chronometer, a ground-breaking precision instrument that eventually allowed sailors to calculate their longitude at sea, as an unequal race with Harrison as beleaguered hero. Sobel represents the demands of the Board of Longitude to test and replicate the chronometer as the obstructionist machinations of an academic elite. Her framing underreports the feasibility of the chronometer and its astronomical rival, the lunar distance method, which each satisfied different criteria. That readers accept Sobel's framing is indicated by an analysis of 187 reviews posted on, suggesting that popular representation of science fuels cynicism in popular and academic forums.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A