STS学者Sergio Sismondo曰く「STS研究は中立ではない」

カナダQueen's Universityの哲学者・STS学者Sergio Sismondoは、STSの"科学論争"の研究の成果となりうるものについて、次のように書いている。
When controversy studies work well, then, they show how evidence is tied to its local culture and contexts. By itself, some piece of data has no meaning. Data is only given meaning - as evidence - by the people who make use of it. Studies of scientific controversies show how people can give meaning to information and how they sometimes convince members of community to agree with the meaning. They show how knowledge is build by a process of bootstrapping, but not that knowldge is groundless.



そのことについてSergio Sismondoも気付いている。
Captives of Controversies: The Politics of STS
論争の虜囚: STSの政治

While controversy studies may be symmetrical, they are rarely neutral. By showing the mechanisms of closure, controversy studies tend to be viewed as supporting the less orthodox positions. Therefore, the results of the studies can themselves become part of the controversy, picked up by one or more sides, probably by the underdogs. Controversy studies and the researchers who perform them, run the risk of being "captured" by participants (Scott et al. 1990). Especially since uses of the study are somewhat unpredictable, this can be worrisome for STS researchers.


How likely is it that controversy studies will be appropriated by one or another side in the controversy? Eveleen Richards (1996) reports that her earlier study of the controversy over vitamin C and cancer is viewed as supporting alternative medicine in its struggle to have the positive effect of vitamin C recognized. Organizations that support alternative medicine sell copies of her articles, and articles on alternative medicine cite her as exposing "the corruption at the heart of the cancer hierarchy in America", among other things (Richards 1996; 334). Nonetheless, she sees herself as articulating a position distinct from those of both alternative medicine and the medical establishment.

どれくらい論争研究が論争の一方の側に利用されるものだろうか? Eveleen Richardsは彼女自身のビタミンCと癌についての論争研究が、ビタミンCの肯定的影響を認識してもらおうと闘っている代替医療の側を支持するものだと見られたと報告している。代替医療を支持する団体は、彼女の論文のコピーを販売し、代替医療についての著作は彼女の論文を「米国の癌研究ヒエラルキーの中心が腐敗している」ことを曝露するものとして引用した。しかし、彼女自身は代替医療からも、確立された医療からも距離をとった立場にいると考えていた。


それどころか、論争研究を行ったEveleen Richardsが中立ではなく、「ビタミンCと癌についての肯定的影響」をまったくの間違いだと考えていたとしても、書かれた研究成果が論争の中立点にあるなら、代替医療支持者によって利用されるだろう。

Nonetheless, the recurring possibility of "capture" makes the non-neutrality of STS's work clear. Perhaps, the field should not pretend neutrality, and researchers should make their commitments explicit (Scott et al 1990).



There are different ways of making commitments explicit. The strongest version involves becoming an active participant in the controversy. Brian Martin (1996) reports on an “experiment” in which he helped to publicize an unorthodox theory on the origins of AIDS, the theory that it was transmitted via impure polio vaccines. His participation allowed Martin access to documents to which he would not otherwise have had access, although it also closed off his access to some people on the other side of the controversy. Although this experiment looks like an extreme case, it may not be: becoming a participant may be particularly easy when policy concerns are visibly intertwined with technical issues, as in many environmental controversies, medical controversies, and controversies over technologies in the public eye.

直接的にコミットメントを作る方法は色々ある。最も強いバージョンは論争へのアクティブな参加である。Brian Martinは、汚染されたポリオワクチンによって感染するという、AIDSの非正統理論の出版に協力した「実験」を報告している。Brian Martinは活動に参加することで、それ以外の方法ではアクセスできない文献にアクセスできたが、論争の反対側にいる人々へのアクセスを閉ざすこととなった。この実験は極端に見えるが、実際はそうでないかもしれない。公衆が目にする環境論争や医療論争やテクノロジー論争のように、政策課題が見た目にもテクニカルな問題と絡んでいる場合、参加者となることは特に容易だろう。