We Should All Be Science Critics
我们都应该成为科学批评家
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2019-08-11 21:27
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A while back my school, Stevens Institute of Technology, created a new major called science and technology studies, or STS. It seemed a little amorphous, but I felt an affinity for it. Also, I’ve liked pretty much every STS scholar I’ve met. They are a diverse bunch, both in personality and interests, but they all grapple with compelling issues, ranging from allergies and pharmaceuticals to marine biology and nuclear weapons (and that's just at Stevens). One of the most impressive STS scholars I've met is a pioneer of the field, Sheila Jasanoff. Born and raised in India (Jasanoff is her husband’s name), she ended up at Harvard, where she earned a bachelor’s in mathematics, law degree and doctorate in linguistics. After founding an STS program at Cornell, she returned to Harvard to create its STS program, which she oversees. Jasanoff is an imposing woman, a force of nature wrapped in a sari. She has thought especially hard--and written many articles and books--about the role of science and technology in a democracy. The time seems right to ask her a few questions. – John Horgan

不久前,我就读的史蒂文斯理工学院(Stevens Institute of Technology)开设了一个名为科学与技术研究(science and Technology studies, STS)的新专业。它看起来有点无定形,但我对它有一种亲近感。而且,我见过的每一位STS学者我都很喜欢。他们是一群性格和兴趣各异的人,但他们都在努力解决一些引人注目的问题,从过敏和药物到海洋生物学和核武器(这只是史蒂文斯的研究)。我见过的最令人印象深刻的STS学者之一是该领域的先驱西拉·贾萨诺夫。她在印度出生和长大(贾萨诺夫是她丈夫的名字),最后进入哈佛大学,获得数学学士、法律学士和语言学博士学位。在康奈尔大学创立STS项目后,她回到哈佛大学,创建了自己负责的STS项目。贾萨诺夫是一个威严的女人,裹着纱丽。她对科学和技术在民主中的作用进行了特别深入的思考,并撰写了许多文章和书籍。现在似乎是问她几个问题的时候了。——约翰·霍根

Horgan: I’m associated, sort of, with Science and Technology Studies, or STS, at Stevens, but I have a hard time telling students exactly what STS is. How do you, an STS pioneer, define it?

霍根:我和斯蒂文斯大学的科学与技术研究或STS有一定的联系,但我很难确切地告诉学生STS是什么。作为STS的先驱,您如何定义它?

Jasanoff: Quite simply, STS is the field that explores what it means to live in a world powerfully shaped by science and technology. STS brings together two broad currents of research. One looks at science and technology as social institutions. How do they work and what makes them special? That, in turn, opens up many more focused questions: how do scientists and technologists discover facts and apply them; how do they decide what counts as good work; what is creativity; how do technical disputes end; how do new ideas replace old ones; and how do new scientific fields come into being? The second stream of research looks outward at the relations between science, technology and society. STS tries to understand the relationships between practices within the sciences and the interaction of discovery and invention with other aspects of society. Here again there are many nested questions about politics and power: who regulates research and on what basis; who assesses risk; who is responsible for harms arising from technology; why do some scientific controversies persist; and why do societies disagree about the uses of science and technology?

贾萨诺夫:简而言之,STS就是探索生活在一个由科学和技术强有力塑造的世界里意味着什么。STS汇集了两大研究潮流。人们把科学和技术看作是社会制度。它们是如何工作的,又是什么让它们与众不同?这反过来又引出了许多更集中的问题:科学家和技术人员如何发现事实并加以应用;他们如何决定什么是好工作;什么是创造力;技术争议如何结束;新观念如何取代旧观念;新的科学领域是如何形成的?第二种研究方向着眼于科学、技术和社会之间的关系。STS试图理解科学实践之间的关系以及发现和发明与社会其他方面的相互作用。这里又有许多关于政治和权力的嵌套问题:谁来监管研究,基于什么进行监管;评估风险;谁应对技术带来的危害负责;为什么一些科学争议仍然存在;为什么社会对科学技术的使用意见不一?

Horgan: I think STS, like science journalism, should approach science critically, and skeptically. What’s your view?

霍根:我认为STS和科学新闻一样,应该以批判和怀疑的态度对待科学。你的观点是什么?

Jasanoff: Any social science should approach the things it studies critically and skeptically, that is, with an open mind. Otherwise our research would just end up reaffirming the status quo. STS is no different. The STS scholar’s job is to help us do better in searching for new worlds through science and technology. Francis Crick, borrowing from Keats, called science a “mad pursuit.” I think he meant to invoke a kind of ecstatic vision, not the figure of the mad scientist. But if we want science to stay sane enough for society’s good, we can’t afford to sweep mistakes, wrong turns, and inappropriate uses of expertise under the carpet. That said, being critical and skeptical doesn’t mean rejecting what is great about science and technology. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating creativity and ingenuity, nor ground-breaking discoveries, so long as research and its applications remain congruent with time-tested and widely accepted social values.

贾萨诺夫:任何社会科学都应该以批判和怀疑的态度对待它所研究的事物,也就是说,以开放的心态。否则,我们的研究最终只会重申现状。STS也不例外。STS学者的工作是帮助我们通过科学技术更好地探索新世界。弗朗西斯克里克借用济慈的话,称科学是“疯狂的追求”。我认为他的意思是唤起一种狂喜的视觉,而不是那个疯狂科学家的形象。但是,如果我们想让科学保持足够的理智以造福社会,我们就不能把错误、错误的转折和专业知识的不当使用掩盖起来。也就是说,批判和怀疑并不意味着拒绝科学和技术的伟大之处。只要研究及其应用与经过时间考验、被广泛接受的社会价值观保持一致,颂扬创造力和独创性,或突破性的发现,都没有错。

Horgan: Should STS scholars try to make the world a better place? Is scholarship compatible with activism?

霍根:STS学者应该努力让世界变得更美好吗?学术与行动主义相容吗?

Jasanoff: Shouldn’t all of us try to make the world a better place? I’ve always thought good scholarship isa form of activism. A powerful one. By studying something thoroughly, we illuminate not only its fine craftsmanship but also its warts and weaknesses. The hope is that good exposés will help us to do better in the future. This is why STS methods have proved so valuable in studying things that went wrong: big technological disasters like the Fukushima nuclear meltdown or the chemical accident in Bhopal, and also ethical disasters like the Tuskegee syphilis study performed on unsuspecting subjects. STS analyses reveal deviations from the ideals of science that are often not obvious to those embedded inside the field. Similarly, STS work on the uses of science by lawyers, judges, politicians, and citizens has demonstrated how science and technology can further both legitimate and illegitimate uses of power.   

贾萨诺夫:难道我们不应该努力让世界变得更美好吗?我一直认为好的学术研究是一种行动主义。充满力量。通过对某件事物的深入研究,我们不仅阐明了它的精湛工艺,也揭示了它的缺点和弱点。希望好的曝光能帮助我们在未来做得更好。这就是STS方法被证明在研究出错的事情上如此有价值的原因:像福岛核泄漏或博帕尔化学事故这样的重大技术灾难,以及像塔斯基吉梅毒研究这样的伦理灾难,都是在毫无戒心的受试者身上进行的。STS分析揭示了对科学理想的偏离,而这些偏离往往对该领域内的人来说并不明显。类似地,STS研究律师、法官、政治家和公民对科学的使用,展示了科学和技术如何进一步合法和非法地使用权力。

Horgan: Have your gender and/or non-western heritage shaped your scholarship in any way?

霍根:你的性别和/或非西方传统对你的学术有什么影响吗?

Jasanoff: Yes, of course. Both make me take fewer things for granted, and hence to question things others wouldn’t find puzzling. I’m one of the few STS scholars who compares science and technology policy across Western societies. That work has opened up unexpected areas of research. One interesting issue is why very similar societies, such as Britain and the United States, imagine different risks and benefits and different future scenarios from the same developments in science and technology. My career is an example of why it’s important to have diversity in the research community. No one was asking about West-West differences in science policy before I did. Yet, when you look closely, you discover that even the most technologically advanced societies have different tolerances for risk and inequality and different ideas for how to allocate responsibility for harm. We need to reflect on these differences, and the reasons for them, as we confront the rapid, global advances of science and technology in this century.

贾萨诺夫:是的,当然。两者都使我把更少的事情视为理所当然,因此质疑别人不会感到困惑的事情。我是少数几个比较西方社会科学技术政策的STS学者之一。这项工作开辟了意想不到的研究领域。一个有趣的问题是,为什么非常相似的社会,如英国和美国,会从相同的科学和技术发展中想象不同的风险和利益以及不同的未来情景。我的职业生涯就是一个例子,说明为什么研究领域的多样性很重要。在我之前,没有人问过西方和西方在科学政策上的差异。然而,当你仔细观察时,你会发现,即使是技术最先进的社会,对风险和不平等也有不同的容忍度,对如何分配损害责任也有不同的想法。面对本世纪全球科学技术的迅速进步,我们需要反思这些差异及其原因。

Horgan: Do any emerging technologies, or scientific fields, freak you out?

霍根:有没有什么新兴技术或科学领域让你感到害怕?

Jasanoff: I must confess the idea of constant surveillance terrifies me. It doesn’t matter whether it’s by Google or the NSA. I value my privacy, even a degree of anonymity. I don’t want anybody, humans or machines, to collect all my traces, to figure out where I am and what I’m likely to do next, let alone what I want for my pleasure or comfort. To lose the ability to move around the world unwatched—that is scary to me. It’s laughable to think that one might give up that freedom in exchange for targeted advertising. I want to be free to discover things for myself, to make up my own mind, even change it unexpectedly!

贾萨诺夫:我必须承认持续监视的想法让我感到恐惧。不管是谷歌还是国安局。我重视我的隐私,甚至是一定程度的匿名。我不想让任何人,不管是人类还是机器,去收集我所有的痕迹,去弄清楚我在哪里,我接下来可能会做什么,更不用说我想要什么来获得快乐或安慰了。失去在没有监视的情况下环游世界的能力,这对我来说很可怕。认为一个人可以放弃这种自由来换取定向广告是可笑的。我想要自由的去发现自己的东西,去做自己的决定,甚至是出乎意料的改变!

Horgan: The influence of militarism on science and technology freaks me out. What about you?

霍根:军国主义对科学技术的影响把我吓坏了。你呢?

Jasanoff: I’m as distrustful of militarism as you are, but—let’s face it—science and technology have profited from military sponsorship ever since Daedalus built the labyrinth to contain the Minotaur. The National Science Foundation, our chief funder of basic research, was formed because of the success of the Manhattan Project. President Eisenhower proclaimed the Atoms for Peace program to assure the world that America would not use atomic knowledge for global military conquest. Our defense establishment touts the civilian benefits of military R&D, like Velcro from the space program or, far more significantly, the internet. Sadly, too, we are not yet in a world where nations are willing to beat their swords into plowshares, and we likely never will be. We should fight with every ounce of strength against technologies that risk the human future. We should do our best to rein in the reckless proliferation of all sorts of weapons and hold militarism in check through democratic politics and demands for transparency. But it would be naïve to think we can entirely break free from the ancient alliance between science, technology, and war. 

贾萨诺夫:我和你一样不信任军国主义,但是,让我们面对现实吧,自从代达罗斯建造迷宫来控制牛头怪以来,科学和技术已经从军事赞助中获利。美国国家科学基金会,我们基础研究的主要资助者,是由于曼哈顿计划的成功而成立的。艾森豪威尔总统宣布了“原子促进和平”计划,以向世界保证美国不会将原子知识用于全球军事征服。我们的国防机构大力宣传军事研发的民用效益,比如太空计划中的尼龙搭扣,或者更重要的是互联网。同样令人遗憾的是,我们还没有进入一个各国都愿意化干戈为玉帛的世界,而我们很可能永远也不会这样做。我们应该竭尽全力与威胁人类未来的技术作斗争。我们应该通过民主政治和透明度要求,尽最大努力遏制各种武器的肆意扩散,遏制军国主义。但是,如果认为我们可以完全摆脱科学、技术和战争之间的古老联盟,那就太天真了。

Horgan: You’ve written a lot about science and the law. How are their views of “truth” alike, or unalike? Are you satisfied with how science is used in legal proceedings?

霍根:你写了很多关于科学和法律的文章。它们对“真理”的看法有何相似之处?你对科学在法律程序中的应用满意吗?

Jasanoff: It’s a mistake to think that law and science have different views of what truth is. It’s just that they go about finding facts in different ways to suit different purposes. Legal disputes need to end in real time while science can afford to wait forever. Lawsuits against companies often involve people who have been harmed through no fault of their own. Giving them justice may mean that we settle for a lower standard of proof than we would ask for publication in top peer-reviewed journals. In criminal justice we have the opposite problem. Bad science is accepted because prosecutors are looking for ways to get quick convictions. We need to guard against such abuse. Law, in my view, has often been altogether too deferential to scientific authority, to the point where judges tend to forget that truth and justice are not the same. Take a simple example. When kids with a piece of candy say, “I’ll divide, you choose,” it doesn’t matter if the two pieces are equal in fact. What counts is that both sides think it’s a fair division.

贾萨诺夫:认为法律和科学对真理有不同的看法是错误的。只是它们以不同的方式寻找事实,以满足不同的目的。法律纠纷需要实时结束,而科学可以永远等下去。对公司提起的诉讼往往涉及那些并非因自身过错而受到伤害的人。给予他们公正可能意味着我们接受的证据标准低于我们要求在顶级同行评议期刊上发表的标准。在刑事司法中,我们有相反的问题。糟糕的科学被接受,因为检察官正在寻找快速定罪的方法。我们需要防止这种虐待。在我看来,法律常常对科学权威过于恭顺,以至于法官们往往忘记了真理和正义是不一样的。举个简单的例子。当孩子们拿着一块糖说:“我来分,你来选。”其实两块糖是否相等并不重要。重要的是双方都认为这是一个公平的划分。

Horgan: Should scientists have more power in shaping policies on, say, climate change, or vaccines? Or would that be anti-democratic?

霍根:科学家应该在制定政策方面有更大的权力吗?比如气候变化,或者疫苗?或者这是反民主的?

Jasanoff: Scientists should not be in the business of dictating policy, not unless they have been elected or appointed through the democratic process. In that case, they are public servants, and it’s of less consequence that they are also scientists. Scientists should, of course, have a major voice in debating policy priorities and recommending solutions, including on climate change and vaccines. We just have to recognize that this is not simply a matter of “speaking truth to power.” On complex policy matters, truth is pretty elusive and what matters more is persuading people to act prudently, with concern for others. We should all crave well-reasoned policies, drawing on the most reliable evidence available. Scientists have a duty to provide that evidence, both as citizens and in their professional capacity. They should not act as hired guns, especially on highly consequential public health and environmental issues. But the power to make policy has to rest in hands that are accountable to public challenge. That is the essence of democracy.

贾萨诺夫:科学家不应该从事决定政策的工作,除非他们是通过民主程序选举或任命的。在这种情况下,他们是公务员,他们也是科学家也没什么大不了的。当然,科学家应该在辩论政策重点和建议解决方案方面拥有主要发言权,包括在气候变化和疫苗方面。我们必须认识到,这不仅仅是一个“对权力说真话”的问题。“在复杂的政策问题上,真相相当难以捉摸,更重要的是说服人们谨慎行事,关心他人。我们都应该利用现有最可靠的证据,渴望制定合理的政策。科学家有责任提供证据,无论是作为公民还是以他们的专业能力。他们不应该充当受雇的枪/手,尤其是在事关重大的公共卫生和环境问题上。但制定政策的权力必须掌握在应对公众挑战负责的人手中。这就是民主的本质。

Horgan: What’s your take on science’s replication crisis? Any ideas for resolving it?

霍根:你如何看待科学的复制危机?有什么解决办法吗?

Jasanoff: Well, those of us with long memories know that crises come in cycles, so the first thing to ask is why are we suddenly so conscious of this crisis? Controversies about statistics in the social and behavioral sciences have been around since at least the 1980s. So why the panic now? Is it because we’re demanding too much of science or is there too much money sloshing around in the system, leading to shoddy work? It’s too big a problem anyway for a silver bullet solution. STS scholars have shown that it is almost always possible to poke holes in someone else’s research design unless there is prior methodological agreement within the field. Such consensus seldom exists in the social sciences, especially on the frontiers. Some modest steps would help. Journals could issue more explicit guidelines for authors and reviewers, funders could ask for better statistical audits, young scientists could get more training in research ethics, we could stop outsourcing so much research to private entities and pay more up front for transparency. But a larger question for society is whether we’re outsourcing too much authority to science, to study things that are too fuzzy and indeterminate to fit into classical paradigms of experiment and replication. There are areas where more could be accomplished by trying to alleviate suffering than by pinning down its precise causes.

贾萨诺夫:我们这些有长期记忆的人都知道危机是循环发生的,所以首先要问的是,为什么我们突然意识到这场危机?至少从20世纪80年代起,社会和行为科学领域就一直存在着关于统计学的争议。那么,为什么现在出现恐慌呢?是因为我们对科学的要求太高了,还是因为太多的钱在这个系统里四处流动,导致工作很糟?无论如何,这是一个太大的问题,不是什么灵丹妙药。STS学者已经证明,除非事先在研究领域内达成方法论上的一致,否则几乎总是有可能在别人的研究设计上戳洞。这样的共识在社会科学中很少存在,尤其是在前沿领域。一些温和的措施会有所帮助。期刊可以为作者和审稿人发布更明确的指导方针,资助者可以要求更好的统计审计,年轻科学家可以得到更多的研究伦理方面的培训,我们可以停止将这么多研究外包给私人实体,并为透明度支付更多的预付款。但对社会而言,一个更大的问题是,我们是否把太多的权威外包给了科学,去研究那些太模糊、太不确定、无法纳入经典实验和复制范式的东西。在某些领域,试图减轻痛苦比查明其确切原因能取得更多的成就。

Horgan: How are you feeling about humanity’s future these days?

霍根:你对人类的未来有什么看法?

Jasanoff: Isn’t the question which humanity? The human species is so prolific and resilient that I don’t worry especially much about its catastrophic extinction. I do worry about humanity in the moral sense—our capacity for empathy and fellow-feeling, our respect for human dignity, our hospitality to different forms of truth-seeking, our wonder at the sheer diversity of culture and creativity. In the rush to design everything, from crops and babies to the Earth’s atmosphere, I fear we are in danger of becoming just another cog in the vast machine of planetary history, a species that engineered away its freedom to seek, to explore, to suffer, and to dream. 

贾萨诺夫:这不是人性的问题吗?人类物种是如此多产和富有弹性,我并不特别担心它的灾难性灭绝。我确实担心道德意义上的人性——我们的同理心和同族情感的能力,我们对人类尊严的尊重,我们对各种寻求真理的热情,我们对文化和创造力的多样性的惊叹。在匆忙设计一切事物的过程中,从农作物、婴儿到地球大气层,我担心我们有可能成为行星历史这台巨大机器上的又一个齿轮,一个剥夺了探索、探索、受苦和梦想自由的物种。

Horgan: What’s your utopia?

霍根:你的乌托邦是什么?

Jasanoff: Ah, that’s a hard question for a congenital skeptic! The really big things, like world peace and planetary sustainability, seem hopelessly out of reach, so one imagines more modest alternatives. Some days I think it would be good enough to get back to a time when constitutional values seemed to matter in our democracy. Other days I think my cup would be full if my university recognized that every undergraduate needs serious STS training – based, of course, on a definition of STS that I find satisfying. And then I think, hang on, wouldn’t it get boring if we actually got to live in the best of possible worlds? A perpetual hope, a dream of perfection, the means to follow it – maybe that is my real utopia.

贾萨诺夫:啊,对一个天生的怀疑论者来说,这是一个很难回答的问题!真正重要的事情,比如世界和平和地球的可持续发展,似乎遥不可及,因此人们可以想象出更温和的替代方案。有些时候,我认为回到宪法价值观在我们的民主中似乎很重要的时代就足够好了。还有一些日子,我认为如果我的大学认识到每个本科生都需要认真的STS培训,那么我的杯子就满了——当然,这是基于我认为令人满意的STS定义。然后我想,等等,如果我们真的生活在最好的世界里会不会很无聊?永远的希望,完美的梦想,追求完美的方法——也许这才是我真正的乌托邦。

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

关于作者(们)

John Horgan

约翰·霍根

John Horgan directs the Center for Science Writings at the Stevens Institute of Technology. His books include The End of Science, The End of War and Mind-Body Problems, available for free at mindbodyproblems.com.

约翰·霍根是史蒂文斯理工学院科学写作中心的主任。他的著作包括《科学的终结》、《战争的终结》和《身心问题》,可在mindbodyproblems.com网站免费获得。

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