Anthropology, Reviews, Sociology

Review: Collins, Rethinking Expertise

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Harry Collins and Robert Evans’ Rethinking Expertise was given an interesting review last Friday by Matthew Reisz writing in the December 7 Times Higher Education Supplement. Praising the book Reisz writes:

The book offers a rich and detailed “periodic table” of expertise, ranging from the kind of beer-mat knowledge useful only in pub quizzes to the levels of skill that enable people to make a contribution to cutting-edge science. It considers wine buffs and art connoisseurs, hoaxers, journalists, and pseudoscientists. It looks at deep philosophical issues of “embodiment”—whether you need to move around in the world to acquire language or the jargon of a specialist field—that have major implications for the field of artificial intelligence and computer learning. It is full of case studies, anecdotes and intriguing experiments. But at its heart are questions arising out of the authors’ work in the sociology of science and the challenges of scientifically literate public decision making.

A deep exploration of what it means to be an expert and the role expertise plays in our society Rethinking Expertise is essential reading for scientists, scholars, and policy makers alike.