Scientists regularly employ historical anecdotes as rhetorical tools in their communication of science. The stories scientists tell are not just poorly researched scholarly histories, they might better be understood as myth-histories. This chimeric storytelling genre bridges distinct narrative modes and tends to spark controversy. Scientific myth-histories undoubtedly deliver value, coherence, and inspiration to their communities. They are tools used to broker scientific consensus and navigate power dynamics. But beyond their explicit intent, these narratives have great social agency that bear unintended consequences. They are scientific imaginaries that left unexamined have contributed to misunderstandings and a growing mistrust of science. This study of myth-histories looks to establish a common ground upon which scientists and those that study science as a human and social phenomenon can discuss what the intended and unintended impacts are of employing these alternate historical epistemologies.
Speakers and Presenters
José G. Perillán, Associate Professor in Science, Technology and Society and the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Vassar College
STS, WCFIA, GSAS