Narrative Form and Normative Force: Baconian Story-Telling in Popular Science Ron Curtis Social Studies of Science, Vol. 24, No. 3. (Aug., 1994), pp. 419-461. Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0306-3127%28199408%2924%3A3%3C419%3ANFANFB%3E2.0.CO%3B2-F Social Studies of Science is currently published by Sage Publications, Ltd.. Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/about/terms.html. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/journals/sageltd.html. Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. The JSTOR Archive is a trusted digital repository providing for long-term preservation and access to leading academic journals and scholarly literature from around the world. The Archive is supported by libraries, scholarly societies, publishers, and foundations. It is an initiative of JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to help the scholarly community take advantage of advances in technology. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact email@example.com. http://www.jstor.org Tue Mar 11 23:23:35 2008 ABSTRACT Why do science journalists cast their material in narrative form, using familiar fictional genres such as the detective story? Why do they avoid other genres, such as the dialogue? Popular science provides a cognitive space, and the scientific detective story an interpretative repertoire, in which only one theory of science is readily but tacitly expressed and endorsed, not only to a popular audience but also as part of a continuing debate among scientists themselves. There is a strong formal, structural analogy between popular scientific story-forms and the method of induction by elimination. Science is Baconian, these stories imply, and it can progress only through a cooperative effort among scientists to conquer nature by labour, not their adversaries in debate. To develop a new critical self-consciousness about theories of science, popular science needs to explore alternative literary forms, particularly the radically anti- Baconian, Socratic dialogue. Narrative Form and Normative Force: Baconian Story-Telling in Popular Science Ron Curtis But there is another sign . . . that these fables contain a hidden and involved meaning; which is that some of them are so absurd and stupid upon the face of the narrative taken by itself that they may be said to . . . cry out that there is a fable below. For a fable that is probable may be thought t o be composed merely for pleasure, in imitation of history. But when a story is told which could never have entered any man's head. . . on its own account, we must presume it had some further reach. (Francis Bacon)' The scientific paper, the printed communication to a learned journal, is a literary artefact, a form of discourse with a conventional style of exposition and a conventional rhetorical and narrative strategy. In a well-known lecture, broadcast thirty years ago, Peter Medawar argued that the typical scientific paper has a rigid empiricist o r inductive structure which, in his view, concealed and indeed 'totally misrepresented' the process which gave rise to the work presented therein.2 In an accompanying talk, J.W.N. Social Studies of Science (SAGE, London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi), Vol. 24 (1994). 419-61 420 Social Studies of Science Watkins identified a social function of this form: by giving the impression that the results presented were not mere opinion or hypothesis but were somehow instilled in the author by nature, the inductive style was intended to silence potential critics and prevent controver~y.~ Popular Science: Form and Function But what is the status of Medawar's paper itself? Obviously it is not in the inductive style, as Medawar himself points out, since it begins with a controversial hypothesis about the process of research, and it seems designed to promote debate. It was originally broadcast on the Third Programme of the BBC, as one of a series of eight popular science talks produced by David Edge under the title Experiment, and was subsequently published both in the Listener, and in a booklet of the series under the same title.4 Does this mean, as is usually assumed, that in doing popular science Medawar was addressing only the general public and not his fellow scientists, and that he was engaging in an activity essentially different from his scientific research? According to Shinn and Whitley, editors of an important recent collection, 'the prevailing view of . . . popularisation affirms that it . . . [is] unrelated to the tasks of cognitive development and that its pertinence is by and large restricted to the lay public'. On this view, popularization 'concerns only the periphery of scientific activity', and is 'irrevocably separated from the central core of scientific r e ~ e a r c h ' The central task of popular science is merely .~ one of translating the esoteric findings, produced entirely within a professional, specialist context, into language which is easily understood, and of transmitting this information to a mass audience, as part of the public relations effort of science. The paper, 'Communicating Specialized Science Information to a Lay Audience', is a perfect example of the preoccupations of this approach to science and the media.' A typical, central problem is: to what extent is translation, in general, ~ o s s i b l e ,and: are ~ particular examples a c ~ u r a t e ? ~ Clearly, however, Medawar's intended audience is not only the general public but also his scientific colleagues, including the editors of learned journals. In insisting that authors consider the significance of their evidence only in the discussion section at Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 42 1 the end of their papers, editors have accepted the inductive myth that theories somehow emerge out of a proper collection of facts. But, says Medawar, this myth was already refuted early in the nineteenth century by William Whewell, who was the 'first professional scientist . . . to present a fully reasoned account of the hypothetico-deductive method'. In line with this view, an author's theoretical problems should come at the beginning of his paper. Medawar's popular lecture is thus part of a continuing debate within the scientific community which goes back at least as far as the work of William Whewell and his Baconian opponents, such as Charles yell.^ We cannot, therefore, consign it to the realm of non-science where the traditional view would place it; we cannot say that since it is popular, it is irrevocably separated from the central core of scientific research.'() More generally, we must recognize, as Cloitre and Shinn suggest, that there is a continuum of genres for scientific communication, and that the popular genre is itself a fully-fledged part of scientific discourse." Like other genres, it is neither epistemologically nor professionally nor socially neutral." Medawar's paper could not, on his own account, have appeared in a professional scientific journal - not, at least, unless the reform he advocated had succeeded. For he was, as he says, 'practising what I preach', and beginning with a hypothesis (about discovery) instead of pretend- ing at the end that it had emerged from his collection of facts.13 Popular Genres In this paper I examine a popular genre which has been used in the same debate: the stories or fables or myths which are a typical part of popular science in the mass media. These are often detective- trail narratives. 'Students . . . have identified and producers themselves recognise the detective story as a major form in [popular science]', says Roger S i l v e r ~ t o n e . ' ~ Why is the detective story favoured? Silverstone answers only a more general question: 'why is science the subject of heroic tales and mythic fantasies?' (Because, he says, nothing is more likely to be so than that which is neither understood, nor accepted as benevolent.)" But why is the detective story, specifically, so frequently chosen? 422 Social Studies of Science To answer this, I shall consider in some detail several examples in Science 80-86, a mass-circulation magazine of popular science published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) from late in 1979 to 1986. Science 80 was intended by its sponsors to help 'bridge the distance between science and the citizen', and was expected to circulate 'to a large audience of a half-million to a million people',16 to be 'less technical than Scientific American, more rigorous than the Smith- sonian and more theoretical than Popular Mechanics'." Although, in 1983, it had a circulation of more than five hundred thousand copies, it ceased publication altogether in June 1986, because of readership problems. If we understand this magazine's narrative strategy we will be in a better position to understand why it, and others like it, have failed, and to consider alternatives. Narrative Form as Cognitive Space The message of the detective stories in Science 80-86 is, to an extent, 'hidden and involved', as Bacon might say. The scientific detective story provides, I shall argue, an 'interpretative repertoire', a 'cognitive space' in which a very specific view of scientific method is readily, but tacitly, expressed. Science is Baconian, these stories say, and it progresses through the method of induction by elimination. Onlv the scientist who follows this method will succeed. The scientific detective story is a modern version of a story Bacon himself told in De Sapientiae Veterum, translated as the Wisdom of the Ancients, where he interpreted the classical myth of the Sphinx as an allegory about science.I8 It was a warning against premature speculation, said Bacon, for the Sphinx (that is, Nature) was in the end subdued by a lame man with club feet, a slow-moving interpreter, not anticipator. The hard-working scientific 'gumshoe' is his modern counterpart. This message was directed not only at the non-scientific public, but also at scientists themselves:'"he stories in Science 80-86 are part of the con- tinuing debate about scientific practice. Responding to the 'Double Helix' My discussion of Science 86 continues some of the story told in Yoxen's discussion of the Double ~ e l i x . * "Yoxen argues that Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 423 Watson's book was not 'to any great degree about scientific ideas as creations with a significance of their own'.21 It was intended, rather, to counter the myth of studious amateurness and decorous cooperation among scientists motivated primarily by curiosity, to signal the appearance of 'competitive, individualistic, arrogant and aggressive' scientific behaviour and to argue for the superiority of that style. Science 80-86 represents, in the main, the opposing side of this debate. It reaffirms the Baconian myth that the scientist who labours with his colleagues in the proper spirit of cooperation is the one who will succeed in his endeavour to reveal Nature's secrets. Narrative Strategies Science as Critical Debate To begin, let us consider a story which was exceptional. In June 1984, Science 84 published 'The Importance of Being Ernst' by .~~ Fred H a p g o ~ d This scientific biography of Harvard biologist Ernst Mayr tells of the events he 'set in motion when', as Hapgood puts it, 'he sat down with the simple intention of blowing another scientist out of the water'. In December 1939, Richard Goldschmidt had delivered a series of lectures at Yale on the origin of species. Mayr, then working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, went to listen. Goldschmidt's theory of speciation through large-scale, abrupt changes - 'macromutationism' - seemed to him so entirely wrong, he told Hapgood, that he decided to 'eliminate' Goldschmidt's ideas from evolutionary biology. To do so, he himself proposed a new, gradualist theory of speciation - geographic speciation - which 'changed the course of evolutionary biology'. While 'setting out to discredit another scientist', says Hapgood, Mayr produced a flow of books, articles and speeches which 'contributed as much to our ability to think clearly about the origin of species as anyone since ~ a r w i n ' . ' ~ In the years leading up to the publication of Science 80-86, there had been a lot of discussion within the AAAS about the damage public controversy among scientists was doing to the image of science.24 The editorial in Science, the official journal of the AAAS, which launched Science 80, had advised members to read Social Studies of Science the new magazine 'carefully and to send brief reports with ~~ criticisms and suggestions to the ~ s s o c i a t i o n ' .One reader responded as follows to 'The Importance of Being Ernst': A new species of scientist is emerging on the fringe of what used to be a gentlemanly and co-operative endeavour. . . . Mayr emerges in his true light as a narcissistic jungle-fighter . . . whose lust for prestige does not scruple to destroy what he does not understand or agree with . . . . I have not read or heard of anything so vulgar since the Crick and Watson scandal.*' This reader would not see anything so 'vulgar' by Fred Hapgood in Science 80-86 again, as we shall see. But consider for the moment the intense moral indignation evident in this letter and felt, one may presume, by other readers. How, one might nai'vely ask, could an apparently factual account of a sequence of events in the life of a distinguished scientist provoke this moralizing response? And why did Fred Hapgood, an experienced science journalist and contributing editor, do so in a magazine intended by its sponsors to be a non-controversial instrument for 'enhancing public literacy [about] science and technology'? Narrative Form. Normative Force Hayden White has alerted us to the normative purposes of narratives which we may nai'vely read as merely factual. Since real events do not offer themselves to us as stories, what do we do, asks White, when we arrange the facts of history in narrative form? We select and order events from a particular point of view, of course. But White is more specific: our point of view is normative. Every historical narrative has as its latent or manifest purpose the desire to moralise the events of which it treats . . . . Narrativity is intimately related to. if not a function of the impulse to moralise reality." White uses his theory to explain the activities of historians of the nineteenth century. But it also helps us to understand the writings of science journalists of the late twentieth century, most of whom write in a narrative mode.28 They do so in accordance with the advice of, for example, M.W. Thistle, who thinks the short story 'offers the only way of talking to ordinary folk about extraordinary things1,'>nd of Hillier Curtis: iliarrative Form & Normative Force 425 Krieghbaum, who suggests, citing Thistle, that the science writer who does not present his material in a narrative form will simply not be read." These commentators portray narrative simply as a device for engaging the interest of their rather dull readers. But the narrative mode is pervasive in popular science because it has a further reach: it allows the journalist to moralize surreptitiously about events in science while purporting, in accordance with a positivist ethic and a nai've realism, merely to describe them. Baconian Values The values which most narratives in Science 80-86 promote and to which its sponsors would not object are those of Sir Francis Bacon. The values of the 'Importance of Being Ernst', by contrast, are anti-Baconian. We may, indeed, read the story as a criticism of the values which inform most popular science. It is thus worth studying in more detail. Let us consider the story first from the point of view of the indignant correspondent and of those who accept similar values and, further, let us read it in the light of a simple typology of narratives which, we may presume, is in some way part of the tacit knowledge any reader brings to the story. Aristotle recognized six types of plot involving differing moral evaluations and responses. Three of these (in the 'realm of the fortunate') are those in which: (1) a villainous protagonist succeeds. This causes us to feel disgust, he said, because it violates our sense of probability. (2) an unqualifiedly good hero succeeds. This causes us to feel moral satisfaction. (3) a noble hero miscalculates, but only temporarily and his ultimate vindication is satisfying." Baconians would read most of the stories in Science 80-86 as stories of type (2) or type (3), as we shall see. But they would read 'The Importance of Being Ernst' as a story of type (1). As such, it provokes the disgust and indignation so evident in the letter quoted. The good scientist for this Baconian correspondent is gentle- manly and cooperative, not critical. Science 80-86 was originally intended to convey this Baconian image of a cooperative scientific 426 Social Studies of Science community inspired simply by 'curiosity and a love of veracity'.32 Successful scientists, said Bacon, will seek not 'to overcome [their] adversaries in dispute, but nature by labour'.33 But Mayr is not motivated by simple curiosity. H e shows, rather, an arrogance which blocks scientific progress. Like the 'vain and arrogant . . . disputatious candidates for popular favour' described by J.F.W. Herschel in his very Baconian Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy, Mayr was, as Herschel would say, 'too busy in maintaining [his] ascendancy' over his fellow scientist^.^^ H e sought 'to acquire cheaply the reputation of superior knowledge' in a 'war of words . . . and altogether despised . . . the co- operative . . . humble and patient enquiry after facts' which alone can advance knowledge.35 Yet, in 'The Importance of Being Ernst', this 'villain' is remarkably successful.36 Inductivism and Conventionalism Fred Hapgood did not, however, intend, I presume, that his story should be read as one of type (1). If we are to comprehend it as one of this type, our ideas of 'good', 'bad' and 'success' must be absolutely clear.37They are so for the Baconian inductivist who, as Joseph Agassi has shown, is always too wise after the event and readily classifies all ideas in the history of science as either white or black, good or bad, scientific or unscientific, true or false, using the most up-to-date scientific textbook as his whiggish standard of value.38 But the values which inform anti-Baconian historiographies yield less definitive judgements. Pierre Duhem, the conventionalist historian, for example, attempted to show that the Baconian's allegedly white thinkers were indebted to their allegedly black opponents, since their ideas are simply modifications of those of their opponents. The conventionalist historian sees ideas in shades of grey.39 Mayr's Critical History There is some grey in 'The Importance of Being Ernst'. Mayr is to some extent indebted to Goldschmidt since, 'if you squint at it just right', you will see that 'there is a hint of resemblance between Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 427 [Mayr's] geographic speciation and . . . Goldschmidt's systemic mutations'. But the values which predominantly inform 'The Importance of Being Ernst' are those of the critical historiography of Karl Popper, and this renders any black-and-white demarcation of the ideas under discussion impossible. Mayr is indebted to Goldschmidt in a way not recognized by the Baconian inductivist or the conventionalist. Goldschmidt, by publishing a bold, criticiz- able theory, stimulated Mayr to do his work. Goldschmidt's theory, though perhaps false and for a time 'sunk five fathoms deep' was nevertheless i n ~ a l u a b l e . ~ ~ Hapgood seems to have absorbed his critical, anti-Baconian evaluations directly from an interview he had with Mayr himself, and from his reading of Mayr's history, The Growth of Biological This T h o ~ g h t . ~ ' book is, in turn, informed by Popper's critical historiography. For Mayr, disputatious scientists, and the cosmo- logical debates in which they are involved, are not necessarily barriers to progress: they are often engines of the growth of knowledge. The history of biology over the past two thousand years has been the history of one such debate, that between 'essentialism' and 'population thinking'. This debate, of which the clash between Goldschmidt, the essentialist, and Mayr the population-thinker is an instance, has coordinated and driven biological research. In his book, Mayr criticizes various whiggish 'forerunner' theories of the history of science by describing many cases in which opposition to the 'wrong solution led to the right solution', just as his own work was stimulated by his opposition to Goldschmidt. Hayden White argues that most historical sequences can be 'emplotted in a number of different ways, so as to provide different interpretations of the events and endow them with different meanings'.42 This depends on the normative stance from which we perceive them. The Baconian interprets the events in Mayr's biography in the light of Baconian values, and is indignant. But the partially hidden and challenging message of 'The Import- ance of Being Ernst' is that we should not apply these values to Mayr's work; and, further, that the clear notions of 'good', 'bad' and 'success' which we would need to write a story of type (I), (2) or (3) are not appropriate to the history of science, since many 'bad' ideas stimulate the production of 'good' ideas and cannot therefore be clearly bad. Hapgood, while under the influence of 428 Social Studies of Science Mayr's historiography, did not intend his story to be read as one of type (1) and was, no doubt, surprised by the result. Critical Historiography and the Narrative of Resolution But 'The Importance of Being Ernst' has a further reach. It challenges a fundamental presupposition of contemporary science journalism, the idea that the journalist should not only tell a story, but a 'perfect little story' at that, one with a well-marked beginning, middle and end - in other words, a traditional narrative of r e s ~ l u t i o n . ~ " From Hapgood's perspective, 'The Importance of Being Ernst' was not one of these. And if White is right, it could not be. For, when there is an 'ambiguity or ambivalence' regarding the normative status of events, he argues, 'the ground on which one might achieve closure . . . of a story . . . is lacking'. To achieve a proper 'narrativizing resolution', we need an unambiguous moral principle which can endow the sequence of events with a 'moraliz- ing' ending. Narrative closure can consist only in the 'passage from one moral order to another'.44 Such a passage would occur were we to tell a Baconian story of type (2) about Mayr and to claim, say, that when Mayr published Animal Species and Evolution in 1963, he proved that his theory of geographic speciation was undoubtedly true, and thus brought forth a new inductive epoch. But the critical philosophy implicit in 'The Importance of Being Ernst' does not issue such unambiguous judgements. Instead, it shows an ambivalence about Goldschmidt and Mayr which deprives Hapgood of any resolution. Although Goldschmidt 'went from being one of the most famous scientists of his day to an object of ridicule', his reputation is now 'slowly on the mend'. Today Eldredge and Gould argue for a model of evolution, 'punctuated equilibrium', which is an 'intellectual cousin of Goldschmidt's systemic mutations' and Goldschmidt's classic, The Material Basis of Evolution, has recently been re- printed by Yale University Press. So the debate continues, and Mayr now attacks Gould who is, he thinks, a new advocate of Goldschmidt's view^.^" Since we do not have an inductivist's theory of confirmation which will indicate when we have passed from one normative Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 429 order to another, from mere conjecture to proven truth, we do not have narrative closure, but only the 'ebb and flow' of ideas. Back to Bacon 'The Importance of Being Ernst' was Hapgood's only experiment in the critical historiography of science. His next story, 'Fruitfly Fandango', portrayed science as it ought to be, according to ~ the founders of Science 8 0 - 8 6 . ~The scientists in this story are engaged in a cooperative research project on the Hawaiian fruit- fly: they seek to conquer nature by labour, not their colleagues in dispute. Most agree about the truth of Mayr's theory of geographic speciation and seek merely to develop it further by discovering why only some groups isolated from the general population evolve into new species. One member of the team is Hampton Carson, 'a brooder in his game with nature' in which, it seems to him, that 'the rules change at every turn'. Carson has spent his career grappling 'with unforeseen complexities, failed expectations, ambiguous data, intransigent puzz~es'.~' Bacon says that nature does love to hide. And when she hides she may drop teasing clues as to her where about^.^^ No wonder Carson feels disoriented. But though she loves to hide, nature must eventually stand revealed to the scientist with the proper Baconian method; and though 'Fruitfly Fandango' is a story still in progress, we must believe that it will eventually be resolved. Indeed, the research team has already discovered 'exactly the kind of window into evolution which those who started the project hoped to find'.49 In writing this Baconian story of type (2), Hapgood has selected some facts to fit his chosen form - in particular, the fact that 'many biologists' agree with Mayr's theory - and he has neglected others - in particular, the fact that many biologists disagree with it. Indeed, Hapgood might have portrayed Carson himself as an opponent of Mayr since Carson has argued that while most theories of speciation are wedded to gradualism . . . I would nevertheless like t o propose . . . that speciational events may be set in motion and important genetic saltations towards species formation accomplished by a series of catastrophic, stochastic, genetic events."' Here Carson does seek to conquer his adversaries by dispute, and Social Studies of Science it is clear, as Bacon would say, what the fixed poles are about which this dispute is turning, since Carson advocates a saltational theory of the origin of species and a 'Goldschmidt break'.51 This information, which Hapgood might have included in 'The Import- ance of Being Ernst' as evidence of the continuing debate between macromutationists and gradualists, had to be omitted from the perfect little Baconian story in progress in 'Fruitfly Fandango', since the 'great dissension . . . prevalent among natural philoso- phers and the variety of schools . . . [would] show the way was not prepared that leads from sense to understanding',52 and that Carson himself was 'fit for controversy but unfit to close with nature'.53 Form and Content Was Hapgood aware of the conflicting evaluations which informed his two stories? Two commentators have complained recently that the normative presuppositions of science journalists are typically 'not verbalised and possibly not even c o n s ~ i o u s ' Journalists do .~~ say over and over again that the public needs to be told more about the methods of science,55but they rarely, it is true, say what the methods are, beyond saying that science involves trial and error, something to which almost any methodologist from any school could agree. Nor do they say what structure of scientific institutions is most conducive to the scientific method as they see it - institutions promoting critical debate, say, as Mayr would have it, or those which foster only cooperation. Story and Method: A Formal Analogy I see things differently from the two commentators just quoted, however. Journalists' normative theories are verbalized, though not explicitly and certainly not in a critical spirit. By insisting that science must be a 'perfect little story', a traditional narrative of resolution, they d o say, in effect, that we must liken the path of science to this literary form. This is so because, as White points out, 'narratives are not only models of past events . . . but also metaphorical statements suggesting a relation of similitude between such processes and the story-types we . . . use'.56 In Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 43 1 practice, this has meant that by insisting that science should be a good story, journalists have been tacitly insisting that the path of science satisfies the normative presuppositions of the method of induction by elimination. For there is a close formal analogy between the narrative of resolution and this method. The traditional narrative (Maugham's Of Human Bondage, say) has, everyone agrees, a well-marked beginning, middle and end. In the beginning, moreover, 'anything is possible'. But in the middle 'things become more probable, and in the end, everything is necessary'." In other words, as the narrative unfolds, 'the choices become more and more limited and the final choice seems not a choice at all but an inevitability'." Commentators speak of the 'completeness of the form' of 'self-evident resolution^'.^^ This type of story should have a completeness, says Maugham himself, 'so that when it is finally unfolded, no more questions can be asked'.60 Induction by elimination, similarly, begins with an indefinitely large number of possibilities, hypotheses H , . . . H,,, and pro- ceeds, in accordance with the Baconian maxim that 'in establishing any true axiom the negative instance is the most powerful',61 to knock some of them out. Midway through this process, the possibilities are narrowed to a few, say H, . . . H9. In the end, only one remains, and it comes to be seen as a necessary or self-evident truth, the inevitable result of inquiry. We began with unanswered questions. We end with unquestioned answers. William U'hewell: The Moral of the Story The writings of William Whewell. the great nineteenth-century justificationist and the best-known historian of science in his day, show how well the norms of eliminative induction serve traditional narrative intentions. Whewell organized his History of the Inductive Sciences with a new narrative scheme, the division of history into 'inductive epochs', which he hoped would overcome the 'difficulty in writing for popular readers and win the[ir] sympathy . . . to the true history of the sciences'.62 Whewell tried to claim that his philosophy, which he called the 'moral to the story of the history of the sciences', had been 'preceded by and founded upon [his] comprehensive survey' of history, and 'directed by the light which history sheds'.'"ut if to narrate is to moralize, this 432 Social Studies of Science cannot be right. Whewell's historical narrative must have been preceded and informed by his developing normative philosophy. We know from Whewell's correspondence that he wrote his History and Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences at the same time.h4 And, in fact, Whewell himself had to accept, in the end, that his narrative task was, from the beginning, unavoidably normative. The 'judicial position is . . . inevitably involved in the functions of the historian . . . . H e must pass judgements on the characters and achievements of all the physical philosophers' in order to construct a n a r r a t i ~ e . ~ " Whewell uses a version of induction by elimination. Scientists must invent and test many conjectures until, eventually, one scientist hits upon the 'happy guess' which turns out to be true. Much of this work is done not by the eventual discoverer, but by his predecessors 'to whom he thus owes the service of exhausting the tempting forms of error', and who permit him to concentrate on a narrower range of possibilities. When the true hypothesis is detected, it is subsequently verified through a concentrated study of its implications. In perfect examples of induction, we may come to see that the hypothesis is not only consistent with the facts, but necessarily true." Whewell divided the history of each science into three parts: the prelude to the inductive epoch, in which many hypotheses are tried and in which anything is possible; the inductive epoch proper, in which only some things are possible as a 'sagacious hero' comes dimly to perceive the truth; and the sequel to the inductive epoch, in which 'any person with a mind properly disciplined may satisfy himself by a little study' that the hero's discovery is necessarily true.h7 In the prelude to the inductive epoch of Kepler, for example, many alternatives to the heliocentric theory were tried and eliminated. As a result, in the inductive epoch itself, Kepler had only to consider a narrow range of hypotheses, consistent with the heliocentric theory. H e eliminated many of these when he saw that 'there must be some numerical or geometrical relations among the times, distances and velocities' of the planets.h8 This conviction regulated all his conjectures, but he still had to test and reject nineteen hypotheses about the motion of Mars before he established the elliptical path.hy Whewell knew that his Baconian opponents, for whom theories, hypotheses and guesses in science were 'unconquerably ob- noxious',70 would be 'alarmed at the moral' readers might draw Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 433 from the 'tale of a Quest for knowledge in which the Hero, though fantastical and self-willed and violating in his conduct all right and sound philosophy . . . [with] fanciful and arbitrary conjectures . . . [was] nevertheless rewarded with significant triumphs'." Whewell knew, in other words, that his opponents would read his story, with disgust, as one of type (1). So he had to do some special pleading, in a section titled 'The Intellectual Character of Kepler', where he argued that discovery requires a mind quick and fertile in guesses - there is no way around this - but also one scrupulous in rejecting. And Kepler scrupulously rejected his own false hypotheses. Thus Whewell sought to portray him, in effect, as a hero of type (3). In the sequel to the inductive epoch, Kepler's discoveries were verified when extended to the motions of other planets. They were thus (in a subsequent book of the History, centring on the inductive epoch of Newton) not theories, but unquestioned truths which Newton was able to explain. With the triumph of Newtonian theory, moreover, an entire series of astronomical narratives was completed. Astronomy had reached T h e highest point of the inductive ascent; t h e catastrophe of the philosophic d r a m a t o which Plato had prologized, the point t o which men's minds had been journeying for two thousand years. [Tlhis long advance . . . was closed . . . by a truth which . . . includes all the preceding researches of Astronomy." Whewell's History thus likens the path of science to familiar literary forms. Part of his theme is that history is like a perfect story, so that in the completed sciences, no more questions can be asked. Even in the sciences whose stories are still unfolding, moreover, we can look forward to such complete resolutions. Whewell thus implicitly denies, on the other hand, that history is like some other quite different form -like a Socratic dialogue, say, which ends in an impasse and must remain an 'incomplete fi~tion'.'~ his Proofs and Refutations, Imre Lakatos recon- In structed an episode in the history of mathematics, in the form of a dialogue. He thereby conveyed a message about history directly opposed to Whewell's. At the end of Lakatos's dialogue, one of his characters protests: 'We can't stop now . . . Nothing is settled'. 'I sympathise', says his teacher, 'but scientific inquiry begins and ends with problems.' 'But I had no problems at the beginning', says the pupil, 'and now I have nothing but problem^."^ The form Whewell chose for his history is itself part of its Social Studies of Science content. It conveys information which Whewell might not have conveyed had he chosen a different form. T o say this is in fact to apply Whewell's epistemology to his own work, since Whewell himself insisted that the content of any scientific discourse cannot be clearly demarcated from its form.75 Stories as Ideas This is true also of the discourse in Science 80-86. There is, moreover, the following close analogy between the literary forms chosen by the writers in this magazine and the forms of thought, the Whewellian Ideas, which inform scientific perceptions. In every scientific observation (and, indeed, in every act of perception), says Whewell, we interpret events in the light of Ideas or conceptions supplied by the mind, as Kepler did when he used the conception of an ellipse to connect his observations of planetary motions. But in our scientific observations and in our ordinary perceptions, the acts of interpretation become so familiar, we interpret so readily, that our mental contribution 'soon slips out of notice', and we may come to believe that the interpretation which we supply is simply discovered in the facts. Our ideas, says Whewell, are 'applied so readily and familiarly and incorporated with the sensations so entirely that we d o not see them, we see through them'.7h Similarly, science journalists often affect to be unconscious of the mental act through which they organize and interpret events in science, using literary conceptions. They affect a na'ive realism, and pretend that their subject already exists in the form of a story of one sort or another which they simply stumble upon and report to the reader. In 'Outrageous Ardour', Roger Bingham speaks, typically, of the 'story that emerges from this welter of [scientific] material' and which 'sounds . . . like an epic Hollywood conc~ction'.~~ This practice has an important effect. Since the journalist's act of interpretation and emplotment slips out of notice, so also -if to narrate is to moralize - d o his normative judgements, which are therefore not readily open to criticism. Popular science, written in a narrative mode, is a powerful tool for promoting a particular normative view of science while, at the same time, rendering that view immune to criticism. It is a way to moralize while appearing Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 435 only to describe. This is why the narrative mode is almost universal in popular science. The Scientific Detective Story Scientific events are portrayed as elements of a detective story in a number of articles in Science 80-86, including: 'Outrageous Ardour', which the author calls the 'most intriguing medical detective-story of recent years';78 'The Cells that Would Not ~ i e ' 'Stolen ones';" 'The Lacrosse ~ i l e ' ; 'The Blue People ; ~ ~ ~' of Troublesome Creek';82 'Vaccine on rial';^^ and 'The Last Days The ~ of ~ m a l l ~ o x ' . ~last two were originally published in a book of medical detective stories, The Quest for the ~ i l l e r sThe~success- .~ ful scientist is portrayed not as a speculative metaphysician, like Whewell's Kepler, but as a much more pedestrian 'gumshoe' whose method conforms to a Baconian ideal embodied in the conventions of the genre.8h Successful science, according to this ideal, (1) avoids preconceptions, premature speculation and begins with massive fact-gathering; (2) uses the method of induction by elimination; and thus presupposes that (3) all possibly true hypotheses can be tested and all but the true one eliminated; and thus that (4) 'eliminative induction . . . makes possible the discovery of laws that are ~ e r t a i n ' . ~ ' i How to W n a Nobel Prize Dr Carleton Gadjusek, the detective-hero of 'Outrageous Ar- dour', shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1976 for his work on kuru, a degenerative disease of the human central nervous system. Like a 'real' private detective, his method was Baconian. At the beginning of any investigation, said J.F.W. Herschel, 'we ought . . . to suspend as premature any precon- ceived notion of what might be . . . the order of nature . . . and observe as a plain matter of fact what is'.88 Since we are thus deprived of a principle of selection, we must observe practically everything: 'we ought not to omit any circumstance capable of being noted'.89 In keeping with this advice, the fictional detective follows every clue, many of which lead nowhere. As Agassi says, it is his 436 Social Studies of Science thoroughness which proves his seriousness." Only a hero who, like Gadjusek, is meticulous and committed to the work ethic, who has 'drive, courage and a capacity for the hard work' and is 'manically energetic'," can accumulate the mass of information required. Gadjusek began his pursuit of kuru in Papua and New Guinea in 1957. And he had a technological advantage over Baconians of the nineteenth century, for not only did he fill '30 Patrol Journals' with vast amounts of information which was 'part travelogue, clinical diary, field notes and confessional', but he also amassed an archive of '25 miles of film . . . to document both the progress of the disease and the cultural setting'.92The task looks daunting but the alternative, Bacon would assure us, is even worse: do not 'be alarmed at the multitude of particulars', he would say, for they 'are in reality but as a handful when compared with the fictions of the i m a g i n a t i ~ n ' . ~ ~ In scientific research it sometimes happens, Bacon accepts, that the mind leaps to the correct theory at the beginning of research. But the good scientist will not pursue this premature, speculative idea or clue, says Bacon, until he has done all the proper preliminaries and established all the facts. The counterpart to this in the detective story is the detective who has an important clue before him from the start of his research but fails to appreciate its significance and thus neglects it.94 Gadjusek hit on what subse- quently turned out to be the right answer at the very beginning of his research when he suspected that kuru was 'infectious, perhaps a virus'. However, since he could find 'no fever, no inflammatory changes in the cerebrospinal fluid, none of the usual signs of infection' and since, further, his laboratory could discover 'no transmissible agent', he did not pursue this hypothesis.y5 There were 'other clues, other leads to follow', and during ten months in the field, Gadjusek collected a mass of facts which he used to reject four other hypotheses: possible genetic mechanisms; some lethal kuru trait; dietary factors; and trace minerals. Both Bacon and the detective-novelist see the collection of facts, following up every possible clue, as 'ritual . . . preparatory to the mystic insight'." 'Sooner or later', Bacon says, 'Mother Nature must reveal her secrets if we . . . [do] not offend her by putting her in the chains of our preconceived ideas but flatter her by taking serious account of her smallest move'." And when discovery does come, it will appear to be almost accid~ntal.'~ Gadjusek's fact- Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 437 gathering is just such a flattering Baconian ritual, and his discovery almost accidental. A year after he left Papua and New Guinea, he just happened to notice an article in The Lancet pointing out strong similarities between kuru and scrapie, a disease of sheep and goats, assumed to be caused by a 'slow virus'. Returning to his initial hypothesis, he began to search again for a 'transmissible agent' and, doing what the critical reader would have expected him to do much earlier, he and a colleague injected brain tissue infected by kuru into experimental animals. Like the fictional detective, Gadjusek has given ample proof, by his hard work, of his methodological virtue. The story, which we now see is one of type (2), can therefore move to a quick resolution. Gadjusek's 'patience was rewarded', as Bacon promises, 'when the first animals came down with the disease in 1965'." He subsequently transmitted kuru to other animals, including primates, and had similar success with injections of another disease (Creutzfeldt- Jakob Disease) believed to be similar to kuru. At last, says Bingham: 'The evidence was incontrovertible: the infectious disease hypothesis had been right after all'.'" Bingham had earlier said that he had found a paradigmatic detective story and thus, to live up to his contract with the reader, he must deliver this resolution. As a good Baconian, Gadjusek began, properly, with doubts and must therefore appear to end with certainties. But what, exactly, has been established with certainty, assuming that the evidence of transmission is incontrovertible? Gadjusek has simply eliminated four of the five conjectured hypotheses (genetic factors, some lethal kuru trait, dietary factors, trace minerals) and in transmitting kuru has found no reason to eliminate the fifth hypothesis of an infectious virus. We might accept that this hypothesis was incontrovertible were we to accept that Gadjusek had worked with a complete list of possible causes. The tacit presuppositions of the detective story, in the light of which Bingham intends us to read 'Outrageous Ardour', might incline us to accept this. Bingham nudges us further in this direction in the next paragraph, when he adds that with the enforced end of cannibalism in Papua and New Guinea around 1960 (and hence with the end, it is assumed, of self-inoculation with the virus) kuru has been disappearing. 'Knru is gone', says Bingham's hero. 'All you have to do to avoid kuru is to be born after '."' 438 Social Studies of Science When the medical detective story ends with a cure, as many do, who but an idle sceptic would deny that the research results are proven? Ironically, a sceptic might make this case using information provided in the same issue of Science 81, in a story titled 'Viroids Among us'.'02 Here, the author (Epps) is not under the same pressures as Bingham to resolve the story of kuru, since his subject is different. It is 'the quest for the mystery agent' which has been killing many important agricultural crops in the United States. H e resolves his story when his heroes produce 'strong evidence' that the agricultural killer is a viroid, and he discusses kuru only to elaborate on his heroes' theoretical musings about viroids.lo3 'Gadjusek . . . transmitted kuru to animals', he says, '[and] shared a 1976 Nobel Prize for showing' - tautologically enough - that 'diseases . . . such as kuru are caused by transmissible agents'. But he and his colleagues 'have never been able to find the [agent, the] microbe itself'. A colleague in fact suggested it is a viroid. These are 'eerily different from viruses'. But the hypothesis of a viroid has given 'mostly negative results [and] . . . slow virus-viroid research has waned'.'04 Bingham and Epps do not disagree about the facts. Bingham does not deny that Gadjusek was unable actually to find a mi- crobe. But they do select their facts under different narrative, and hence, normative compulsions. T o achieve a resolution, Bingham must evaluate Gadjusek's hypothesis as proven. To do so, we now see, he has employed the stratagem of 'concept-stretching'. The term 'virus' ordinarily has a narrower meaning than 'microbe', and narrower still than 'transmissible agent'. A transmissible agent might be a viroid, not a virus. But Bingham has stretched the meaning of 'virus', which is, for him, synonymous with 'transmiss- ible agent'. By doing this he limits the number of possible alternative hypotheses, so that eliminative induction can appear to work. ' K u r u is a virus' now means 'kuru is a virus, or a bacteria or a viroid', and so on, indefinitely. If it is true that Gadjusek transmitted kuru, it is certain that kuru is a virus in Bingham's stretched sense. But now it becomes clear that in presenting Gadjusek's results as certain, Bingham also makes them almost trivial. T o say Gadjusek proved kuru is a virus, in Bingham's sense of 'virus', is equivalent to saying that he transmitted kuru and thus proved it is transmissible. Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 439 True to Form I have discussed 'Outrageous Ardour' in detail because it is a perfect example of its type. There are many stories like it. In 'The Blue People of Troublesome Creek', we again see a hard-working scientist-detective, Dr Madison Cawein, 'trudging up and down the hollows of eastern Kentucky', looking for the cause of a blue pigmentation of the skin in many people around Troublesome and Ball creek^.''^ Again, the story begins with massive fact-collecting - a frustrating, almost endless search of addresses looking for 'blue' people. Again, the hero hits instinctively on the right answer early on - that the blue skin is caused by methemoglobinemia, a hereditary blood disorder - but again he refuses to anticipate nature, and does not pursue this conjecture. He goes through the proper fact-gathering ritual and eliminates several possibilities: that the cause is heart and lung disease, abnormal haemoglobin formation, excessive levels of vitamin K or drug abuse. When he has thereby shown his virtue, the breakthrough comes, again, almost by chance. He happens to read a report about hereditary methemoglobinemia in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, and the story then proceeds swiftly to a resolution. Cawein tests a quickly collected batch of fresh blood, with positive results. He now has the 'defect defined', and can offer a cure. In 'The Lacrosse File', a team of hard-working scientists spends endless hours 'traipsing through the suburbs of Lacrosse, Wiscon- sin' in search of the winter-time carrier of a form of viral encephalitis which has just killed a young girl. We read of the initial, 'thankless' phase of the investigation - 'the search for the virus was tedious' - and then of the elimination of alternative hypotheses - for example, that the virus hibernated on vertebrate hosts such as chipmunks. Again, when their virtue is proven by their hard work, nature decides to reveal herself to the scientists. Their discovery, again, is almost accidental: 'almost as an after- thought' one scientist injected a solution of mosquito larvae into the laboratory animals. The resolution is swift; the animals die ('Panhewantana walked into the lab several days later . . . announcing, I think we've got dead mice in some of the cages').''" Thus they demonstrated the truth of a hypothesis they had suspected much earlier but, virtuously, had not seriously pursued: that female mosquitoes lay eggs carrying the virus, and that these over-winter to produce infected mosquitoes the next spring. Social Studies of Science The first page of 'The Cells that Would not Die' is a full-colour drawing of the medical scientist, Nelson-Rees, sitting at his desk in front of test tubes, petrie dishes and a microscope, dressed as a private detective. On his office door is drawn a large eye sur- rounded by the words 'Nelson-Rees, Cell Detective'. Though his polite, precise manner is unlike that of the 'rough and abrasive fictional sleuth, Phillip Marlow', this real sleuth is 'one of science's toughest detective^'.'^' He is at the moment 'tracking down' a particularly vigorous group of tumour cells which have con- taminated tissue cultures in laboratories around the world. Nelson-Rees is 'meticulous' about collecting facts, a 'perfectionist devoted to careful checking'. No one has 'filled so many drawers and thick black notebooks with details of the cells' habits'.lo8 From this signposting, the reader already knows that Nature must reveal herself. She does so when Nelson-Rees just happens to stumble on the cells which have contaminated five different laboratories in different parts of the world. Narrative Contracts In Science 80-86, the form of the detective story is, as Whewell might say, applied so readily and familiarly and incorporated with the events described so entirely that the reader does not so much see it as see through it. A title alone produces very specific expec- tations. We expect to read in 'The Case of the Woolly Mammoth' of a mystery which has been solved - after much hard work.loY Responding to verbal and pictorial cues, the reader understands that the author (West) has promised to provide a story conforming to the rules implicit in the form which is signalled.'10 But not all the stories in Science 80-86 are as perfect examples of their type as those just discussed. Often, having signalled a particular type of story, the author cannot live up to her promise. 'Stolen Bones' begins with a full-page poster which says: 'Missing. Yuha Man alias Catalog No 1971-79-1. $1000 Reward. Report any Information to your Local FBI'."' In this story, scientists attempt to determine the age of a skeleton found buried in the Yuha desert of Southern California. This would 'settle one of the major questions of American anthropology: when humans first showed up in North America'. The story begins when Morton Childers, who is convinced that humans first lived in North Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 44 1 America twenty thousand years ago, discovers the skeleton and, 'following his hunch about it7, sends samples to a laboratory for radio-carbon dating. He concludes it is as old as he thought and publishes his result. A colleague, who used uranium-series dating, agrees with Childers and publishes his results in Nature. Bacon warned that if you begin with certainties and follow your hunches, you will end with doubt^."^ From here on things do become less certain. Another scientist reads the report in Nature and criticizes the results of the two dating techniques, and the geological presuppositions of Childers's group. New tests suggest the skeleton may be only 5000 years old. So Childers's group applies a new test to the skeleton (amino-acid racemization) and again concludes that it is around twenty thousand years old. Their opponents then criticize several assumptions which Childers's group made in using the new test - for example, their conjectures about the history of the temperature of the sample. As the story proceeds, we see, contrary to our initial expec- tations, not a narrowing but a widening of possibilities. The positive affirmation with which we began has given way to uncertainties. 'To me . . . the age of Yuha man is wide open' says a scientist toward the end of the piece.""^, too, is the question of when humans first lived in North America; so, too, is the accuracy of three different dating techniques. Since she has not given the promised resolution, West must try to renegotiate her contract with the reader, by offering a conditional assurance that one is forthcoming. There is a new 'method now being perfected that . . . uses a particle accelerator to count individual carbon-14 atoms', she says. This is 'the only hope of settling Yuha man's age'. In fact, 'a little piece of Yuha man is waiting its turn in the accelerator . . . just opened . . . at the University of Arizona', and 'the answer may come any time'."" Excuses But there is now a complication which means that it may not come. And if it does not, West has an alibi. Most of the skeleton of Yuha man was stolen just before the definitive answer could be given, and scientists now have only a few small bones to work with. These may not be large enough for the new technique to work. Thus, whoever stole the bones also stole West's assurance of a resolu- 442 Social Studies of Science tion. We see, then, that her title contains more information than we had at first suspected. It promises a narrative of resolution, by sign-posting this type of story; but it also contains a warning in code and an excuse. West may not be able to keep her promise, not because the scientific method cannot in fact give unquestioned answers, but rather because some villain has stolen the bones, and thus perhaps the answer, and thus perhaps her ending. Promises, Promises West's strategy is a sophisticated version of one which has been used in popular science at least since Whewell. Several authors in Science 80-86 signal narratives of resolution and then proceed to treat their pieces as the first part of a story whose final chapters will, we are assured without qualification, soon be written. The biologists in 'The Case of the Woolly Mammoth' have not yet succeeded in reconstructing a synthetic DNA mammoth molecule but they will, we can be sure, since 'as scientific interest in this ~ field builds, more digs and better methods are i n e ~ i t a b l e ' . " The astronomers in the 'Beast at the Centre of the Galaxy' have been trying since the 1930s to see and understand the behaviour of the 'beast' which radiates enormous amounts of energy from the centre of the Milky ~ a y . " " h e ~ have caught glimpses of it through patient observation, and have recently seen X-rays believed to emanate from it. The story so far could be conveyed by borrowing from Kepler's account of his pursuit of Mars. Coy yet inviting Galatea loves T o sport in sight then plunge into the groves The challenge given she darts along the green Will not be caught yet would not run unseen."' As one astronomer puts it: 'We don't know for sure what she is . . . The data aren't in yet'."8 But Nature must eventually reveal herself to these virtuous astronomers: we are to assume, with the author and the scientists themselves, that their patient observation will be rewarded and the story soon resolved. So, 'Let's look at [the] centre and settle the question for once and for all', says one astronomer at the end of the piece."y Whewell himself used this tactic freely. Three of the sciences in Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 443 his History were complete, and their stories 'closed in a worthy and consistent manner'. But Whewell hoped that, with this in mind, his readers would be able to see the 'land of promise as well as the wilderness through which we have passed', and look forward to the day when the other scientific stories would be closed too.120 More Excuses Occasionally, an author signals a narrative of resolution but subsequently, with apologies, abandons his contract completely. In 'Heavenly Fire', Greenstein, an astronomer and winner of the Science Writing Award of the American Institute of Physics, describes recent studies of what was once believed to be the site of the fall of a giant meteor in Siberia. The meteor hypothesis was rejected after closer study in 1965, and a team of physicists suggested that a chunk of anti-matter was the cause. But 'the data was not good enough' for this hypothesis. In 1973, another team suggested a small black hole, but Greenstein himself raised fatal objections to this. Now the hypothesis of a comet is under study, but this too has its problems. Near the end of his piece, Greenstein summarizes the plot so far: 'So the game goes on, idea after suggestion after refutation. I have every confidence that coming years will see . . . ever more brilliant proposals'. At this point we expect him to look forward to a resolution, promising that the final chapter will soon be published and to hint, perhaps, at its content. But instead, he recognizes instinctively that he cannot live up to the heavy demands placed on him by his narrative contract and the Baconian theory of science which goes with it, and he offers his apologies: Everyone loves a mystery. But n o one loves a mystery that refuses to yield. least of all we scientists who are supposed to solve it . . . . How can we bring it all to a conclusion and solve the puzzle once and for all. I am sorry to say I don't think we can.]'] He does not deny, however, that the literary metaphor is usually appropriate: he pleads only that this is a special case. Normally science studies repetitive processes allowing repeated tests and thus conclusive results, he says, but 'this is exactly what we are denied here'.'22 444 Social Studies of Science Failures More typically, however, scientific failure simply reinforces Baconian values. T h e astronomers in 'On the Faint Trail of the Christmas Comet' have become impatient with studying comets only when they happen to appear, and have decided to build one of their own. 'They'd put up with nature's whims long enough. This time they would study nature at their c ~ n v e n i e n c e . " ~ ~ Bacon warns that those who become impatient and 'catch and grasp at Nature' will 'never seize or detain her'. The myth of Ericthonius warns that we must 'woo . . . . Nature . . . with due observance and attention . . . . Art . . . when it endeavours . . . to force Nature to its will . . . rarely attains . . . the end it aims at'.12" So, while the comet builders thought they had a 'fine plan, Nature unfortunately did not go along with it'.12"heir experiment was a dismal failure. The physicists in 'Will the Universe Die by Fire or Ice?', by Thomas O'Toole, are debating how the world will end. Although the evidence seems to suggest that the universe will die by expanding and cooling off, 'many astronomers . . . and poets . . . oppose th[is] idea for purely philosophical reasons'.lZ6 As Bacon would say, they have flown too quickly to high-level metaphysical positions, which are the fixed poles about which dispute always turns. W e know from the story of the Sphinx that when scientists worry their minds with such disputations, the Sphinx's riddles 'begin to be painful and cruel . . . . They torment the mind . . . and fairly tear it to pieces'.127O r , as O'Toole puts it: 'What was G o d doing before he created Heaven and earth? H e was preparing a Hell for those who inquire into such matters'.128 In summary, then, the general, thoroughly Baconian message of Science 8 0 4 6 was this: it is not the vain, arrogant, disputatious cosmologist who succeeds in science, but rather the humble, plodding scientific 'gumshoe'. New Literary Forms: Critical Alternatives Are there alternatives to the Baconian story? I ask this with one eye on Mulkay's exploration of new literary forms in The Word Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 445 and the World. Mulkay suggests that while sociological research literature has been dominated by a kind of empiricist monologue, other textual forms, such as the dialogue, may be less constricting and more suitable, and may allow the analyst to convey other conceptions of scientific rati0na1ity.l~~ I suggest, analogously, that since popular science has been dominated by Baconian narratives, it has spoken only for one view of scientific practice. Moreover, the Baconian strategy of Science 80-86, in particular, was a commercial failure, as I shall discuss later. Thus it is important to ask whether other fictional forms might invigorate popular science and allow, even encourage, it to reflect more accurately and critically alternative interpretations of scientific practice. The Anti-Story 'Waiting for Decay', with its allusions to Beckett's play, does seem to be an implicit attack on the conventionai narrative of resolu- tion. It tells of scientists who are conducting experiments 'to find out if protons and neutrons, the primary constituents of matter. degenerate spontaneously into lighter particles'.'" The settings resemble those of Waiting for Godot. The laboratory, a garage beneath the Swiss Alps, is 'a tiny, uncomfortable . . . bare concrete cell, once a way-stop for broken vehicles'. Scientists enter this through a 'filthy tunnel'. There is no toilet; instead they must walk to a bar ten minutes away. Like Beckett's characters, they are vagrants. In 'Waiting for Decay', almost nothing happens. It is a story of the terrible ennui of drab, normal science. 'There are two ways to find out whether proton decay is true', says the physicist, Sulak. 'One is to get one proton and watch it for a billion trillion trillion years to see what it does. The other is to get a billion trillion trillion protons and watch them for one year to see if one decays.' But decay may not come. and their equipment may not detect the signs. They have now been looking for four years and it has been like spending four years 'listening for a tiny squeak in the middle of an airport'. It has been a scene of maddening delay as the scientist 'sits patiently, the glow of a computer screen illuminating his face . . . with no new candidates, nothing interesting, no advance of science'.13' 446 Social Studies of Science James Trefil chose a traditional form in 'Matter vs Anti-Matter', and concluded that 'we should know in a couple of years whether the proton decays or not'.'32 But 'Waiting for Decay' ends as it began, with all the avenues open. We 'don't . . . have any real evidence yet', says one scientist. '[Tlhe years of work . . . may never produce a credible answer."33 Though clearly a reaction against the optimistic epistemology of the traditional narrative, 'Waiting for Decay' is not the far- reaching criticism of Baconian values which we saw in 'The Importance Of Being Ernst'. 'Waiting for Decay' does not deny that science can proceed only by careful observation of Nature's every move. It accepts, moreover, that Nature loves to hide. But unlike the Baconian, it goes on to say she may never reveal herself. The Socratic Dialogue T o explore critical alternatives, we must go outside Science 8 0 4 6 . The writings of Tom Bethell, a journalist who has studied the work of Bacon's well-known contemporary opponent, Karl Popper, are a sophisticated attack on the typical Baconian story. 'Agnostic Evolutionists', first published in Harper's Magazine in 1985 and widely reprinted since, describes the author's own voyage of discovery into the 'citadel of science'.135 Scientists like to keep the public in the dark about 'in-house' arguments, says Bethell, particularly 'when they see themselves as beleaguered by opponents outside the citadel . . . [and] they unite to defeat the heathen'.'" But by listening carefully, Bethell had heard murmurs of a biological debate within the walls and he gained admission when the guard was down. At first, he spent some time in the company of 'transformed cladists', learning their criticisms of evolutionary biologists. Then, armed with these, he made a bold journey to Boston to confront Richard Lewontin, Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard, in his own office. Lewontin had written: 'Evolution is fact not theory . . . . Birds evolve from non-birds, humans evolve from non-humans'. But Bethell leads him by careful questioning to admit: 'Those are very weak statements, I agree . . . . You can't make the direct empirical statement that mammals arose from non-mammals'. But, he says, his original statement does follow from two obvious facts: that all living organisms have had living organisms as Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 447 parents, and that there was a time when there were no mammals on earth. The claim that mammals arose from non-mammals is then simply a deduction from these two empirical claims. But, Bethell ripostes, is not the statement you portray as a simple deduction from unproblematic premises a materialist's deduction? 'Yes', admits Lewontin, 'there are certain metaphysical pre- suppositions in my arguments.'137 As the dialogue continues, Bethel1 draws Lewontin out and everything is subjected to systematic, Socratic doubt. Bethel1 shows that Lewontin's argument in fact presupposes what Lewontin was trying to prove: that evolutionary theory is true. Bethell, the persistent questioner, is the Socratic agent of development in Lewontin, and the reader and Lewontin himself are led to see, by Lewontin's own answers, the shortcomings of his views. As the dialogue ends, we are all in a state of doubt, knowing how little we know. The theory of evolution has never been falsified, and though it may be true the 'positive evidence is much weaker than most . . . imagine . . . . [And while] only a few evolutionary agnostics seem willing to live with doubt, that, surely, is the only truly scientific outlook'.138 Bethell's chosen form is a type of dialogue. This is also his theme: science is a Socratic dialogue. Rationality and Unanimity Why d o science writers avoid this form? Merrill points out that while other literary forms came to represent the 'conflict of a soul with the forces of life . . . the dialogue came to represent the conflict of thought with thought'.'" In avoiding the dialogue, science writers thus show that Baconian ideas predominate in popular science. Bacon said that his new logic, in which Nature is conquered by works, not adversaries by dispute, would put an end to the 'innumerable questions and controversies in natural science'. Greek science had been 'disputatious . . . reduc[ing] every subject to controversy . . . [and was] thus most adverse to the investigation of truth'. But his method would produce that 'true unanimity which proceeds from a free judgement arriving at the same conclusion after an investigation of fact'.14' T o portray scientists as typically engaged in debate is to suggest they do not follow Bacon's method. 448 Social Studies of Science Polanyi and Popular Science But there is another reason why the dialogue is rarely used in popular science. Merrill adds, quoting a colleague, that the dialogue is 'une espece de combat dont le lecteur est le spectateur et le juge'.I4' To the extent that this is true, a popular scientific dialogue threatens the fundamental presuppositions of much of the contemporary institutionally-sponsored popular science effort, which is inspired to a great extent by the writings of Michael ~ ~ o l a n y i . "The Polanyian popularizer, whose task it is to speak to the public about an alleged scientific consensus, sees popular science as a public relations effort alone. The public may hear faint echoes of the scientist's passion for his subject, as Polanyi puts it, but true scientific understanding is available only to the scientists themselves and those who apprentice to the scientific Clite. The Polanyian does try to promote 'public understanding of science', but means by this only 'public enthusiasm and support for science '~~ and the scientific c o n s e n ~ u s ' . The public is to be a spectator in all this, but must never be a judge. The War of Words: Popper vs Bacon Unlike Bacon and the Polanyians, Popper regards the absence of scientific controversy as the absence of learning. His new logic seeks to promote controversy by, for example, banning various strategies which render scientific theories invulnerable to criticism, and by supporting institutions which foster debate.'44 And while he accepts with Bacon that the war of ideas is a Greek invention, he thinks, by contrast, that 'it is one of the most important inventions ever made', for it is the engine of the growth of k n o ~ 1 e d ~ eObservations and experiments are valuable, only .l~~ when they contribute to such a war. This is, of course, not to say that all controversy and disputatious- ness is valuable for Popper. His disagreement with Bacon could be put in literary terminology as follows. While science at its best is for Popper a dialogue, this dialogue is Socratic rather than Ciceronian. Bacon condemned Cicero who, he said, roundly asserts that a diligent . . . orator should have such things as come into dispute ready laboured and prepared so as that in pleading there should be no Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 449 necessity of introducing anything new or occasional except new names and some particular circumstances.146 Popper would agree that we learn nothing from such a dispute.14' But Popper noticed another kind of dialogue in science which Bacon and our contemporary Baconians do not recognize, but from which we learn a great deal. These are dialogues which, though they are usually inconclusive, lead the participants to produce 'new and interesting arguments, to ask new and difficult questions and to think of new, though problematic answers'.'48 Science and the Citizen Can the Baconian narrative 'bridge the gap between science and the citizen'? William Carey (in an editorial in Science, commenting on its decision to cease publication in mid-1986 because of financial problems) described this as the central aim of Science 80-86. Science 80-86 and the television programme Nova were, he said, the 'two outstanding initiatives' of the AAAS in the past forty years dedicated to enhancing 'public literacy' about science.'" This is also a stated aim of many other scientific institutions which pro- mote public awareness of science.lSO we take this at face value,'51 If we must ask: is a Baconian strategy in fact appropriate for 'bridg- ing the gap', and: can it succeed in a contemporary mass market? McCartney, in a recent study of newsmagazines and news- papers, has found that successful contemporary journalists typi- cally write stories of 'conflict between people', or of 'conflict with the customs or mores of society'. About 80% of the stories he studied were of this type, and only about 5% were about humans in conflict with nature.lS2Thus Bethell's 'Agnostic Evolutionists' follows the predominant, successful strategy, as does 'The Import- ance of Being Ernst' and The Double Helix. But the general Baconian theme of Science 8 0 4 6 , which was, simply put, 'Man vs. ~ a t u r e ' , ' " goes against it. Surveys showed that Science 8 0 4 6 failed to appeal to readers with the 'right demographics' - that is, to readers under the age of forty-nine, whom potential advertisers regarded as more likely to buy their products.'" We might reasonably assume that this was, in part, because of its contrary, Baconian theme. Moreover, the explicit Baconian language of many stories -scientists in pursuit of Social Studies of Science the goddess, Nature - seems too archaic to appeal to the target audience. How Baconians Succeed On the other hand, if we consider Bacon's teaching as a whole, we might expect it to be eminently suited, in many ways, to bridging the distance between science and the citizen, for Bacon reserves an important place in science for the participant-amateur. Bacon had said that his method was 'such as to leave little to the acuteness and strength of wit and indeed rather to level wit and i n t e 1 l e ~ t j . l ~ ~ This meant that, as Herschel put it, 'there is scarcely any well- informed person who . . . has . . . not the power to add something essential to the stock of knowledge if he will only observe regularly and methodically some particular class of facts'.'56 The very Baconian mass-circulation magazine, Astronomy, continues to be very successful today because it operates on this premise. Astronomy and Science 80-86 are alike in their Baconian myth-making. In 'Mercury's Heart of Iron', which appeared in Astronomy in November 1988, the planet is 'continually running away from us, trying to hide its secrets'. Mercury's 'elusiveness has long presented astronomers with great difficulties . . . [and] fooled them into thinking . . . [she] kept one face toward the Sun'. But lately, using 'space age techniques', scientists have been trying to 'rip away the shimmering veils of misunderstanding that shroud the innermost planet'.'57 This story might well have been pub- lished in Science 80-86.'~' But while the heroes of such stories in Science 80-86 are unusual, unusually meticulous or energetic or intelligent, Astronomy promises, as did Bacon, that ordinary readers can be heroes too. Thus its Baconian philosophy is complete: it includes an invitation to the reader to participate. Jacqueline Mitton, who holds a doctorate in astronomy from Cambridge University and who is Editor of the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, flatters the readers of Astronomy with this message: '[Tlhe separation between the professional and the amateur is . . . unnatural and unproductive', for anyone with a 'good telescope on a clear night can contribute to the co-operative advancement of knowledge'. For this new era of cooperation we simply need more efficient means of pooling and sharing the data Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 45 1 collected by amateurs with scientists around the w~rld.'~"he reader will find 'confirmation' of Mitton's thesis in a story about Sir William Herschel and the discovery of Uranus in the same issue,lM' and in the monthly column, 'Amateur News', which re- ports that those who attended the annual amateurs' convention 'got a special treat when Clyde Tombaugh, the amateur who made good . . . told how he discovered P1uto'.l6' Mitton's reference to 'good telescopes' is one clue to the financial success of Astronomy. The magazine is rich with advertisements for good, expensive telescopes and accessories, and for books and journals of interest to the amateur astronomer. Of the seventy advertisers in Astronomy in November 1988, for example, only one was offering something else. These were reproductions of emblems actually worn by American astronauts on their voyages of discovery. Science 80-86 did not offer this sort of bridge to the ordinary reader, nor did it have, consequently, a similar source of revenue. Rather, it combined its Baconian philosophy with an anti- Baconian, Polanyian elitism. Only a few can be as successful as the 'meticulous perfectionist', Nelson-Rees, or the brilliant, 'manically energetic' Carleton Gadjusek. There 'just wasn't any- thing human about him'.lh2 Such stories alienate the general reader who needs some sense or promise of vicarious participa- tion, however remote, and who may be presumed to understand that those who wrote for Science 8 0 4 6 in fact took the gap between science and the citizen for granted, and thought that, since 'their doctrines transcend the vulgar opinion', as Bacon put it, they 'must of necessity have recourse to . . . parables'.''" Critical Alternatives Is there an alternative to the formula of Astronomy with which those of us who reject the Baconian philosophy might promote some sense of participation? Hayden White suggests that a critical, historical self-consciousness emerges only when historians realize that a particular set of historical events may be emplotted in more than one way: as a tragedy, perhaps, or as a far~e.'~"y an analogous test, science journalism, which continues, in the main, to offer only Baconian narratives of resolution, remains uncritical. 452 Social Studies of Science This will change only if there is a systematic effort to represent science with a variety of forms. The Socratic dialogue is one important alternative. And it has an advantage over the typical Baconian narrative in Science 80-86. It does, to some extent, bridge the gap between science and the citizen, as we saw in Merrill's description of it as a form of combat which the reader may attempt to judge - that is, to ponder (and perhaps weigh) the new and interesting, though usually inconclusive, arguments which emerge hors de combat. NOTES I am grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for financial support received while writing this paper, 1 thank the Editor and an anonymous referee for helpful suggestions concerning an earlier version 1 . F. Bacon. O f the Wisdom of the Ancients, in T . Spedding et al. (eds). The W o r k s of Francis Bacon. Vol. 6 (London: Longmans. 1878). 692-763, at 697. 2. P.B. Medawar. 'Is the Scientific Paper a Fraud?', in D. Edge (ed.). Experiment (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1964). 7-12. originally published in The Listener (London). Vol. 70 (12 September 1963). 377-78. 3. J . W . N . Watkins, 'Confession is Good for Ideas', in Edge (ed.), op. cit. note 2. 64-70; an earlier version can be found in The Listener, Vol. 69 (18 April 1963). 6 6 7 4 8 . Watkins contrasts the picture given in formal, inductive discourse with what emerges in informal conversation. This is more subjective and auto- biographical; scientists allude to their initial problems, competing solutions and, perhaps, controversies within the scientific community. In G.N. Gilbert and M . hlulkay, Opening Pandora's Box (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1984). Chapter 3 , there is a similar contrast between two 'interpretative repertoires' - the empiricist repertoire of the experimental paper and the contingent repertoire, which is used in less formal conversation. The two give rise. they say, to slstematic differences in scientists' accounts of their actions. 4. Edge (ed.). op. cit, note 2. 5. T. Shinn and R. Whitley (eds). Expository Science: Forrns and Functions o f Popularisation (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1985). vii. 6. G.R. Funkhauser and N. Maccoby. 'Communicating Specialized Science Information to a Lay Audience'. Journal of Communication, Vol. 21. NO. 1 (Winter 1971). 35-47. 7. M . Polanyi, for one, says: not at all. Scientific knowledge is ineffable and can only be acquired by those who are admitted, as apprentices, to the scientific elite: see M . Polanyi. Personal Knowledge (Chicago. IL: University of Chicago Press, 1958). passim. Tobey and Trachtman follow Polanyi: see R.C. Tobey. The American Ideology of National Science, 19/9-1930 (Pittsburgh. PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1971). Chapter 4; and L . E . Trachtman. 'The Public Understand- Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 453 ing of Science Effort: A Critique', Science, Technology. & Human Values. Vol. 6, No. 3 (Summer 1981). 10-15. For a criticism of these Polanyians see my 'Popularizing Science: Polanyi or Popper?', Minerva. Vol. 29, No. 1 (Spring 199I), 116-30. 8. An example is: P.J. Tichenor, C.N. Olicn, A . Harrison and A . Donohue, 'Mass Communication Systems and Communication Accuracy in Science News Reporting', Journalism Quarterly. Vol. 37 (1970), 673-83. For a critical survey of traditional preoccupations. see C. Dornan, 'Some Problems in Conceptualizing the Issue of "Science and the Media" ', Critical Studies in Mass Communications, Vol. 7 (1990), 38-71. Dornan argues that since the traditional goal is undistorted communication of esoteric knowledge. 'success is measured agalnst how well the final product matches the intentions of the scientist-source'. Thus 'it is the scientific community that is privileged as the ultimate arbiter of the adequacy of scientific coverage' (at 51). 9. On Lyell's Baconian programme, see R. Laudan, 'The Role of Methodology in Lyell's Science'. Studies irt History and Philosophy of Science, Vol. 13 (1982). 21539. 10. Were we to place Medawar's and Whewell's contributions to the debate about scientific practice in the realm of non-science, we would have to do the same with the contributions of their Baconian opponents, with Lyell's Principles of Geology (London: John Murray. 1830-33). for example. Its fundamental Baconian premise, to which Whewell objected, is that geological phenomena must be explained by reference only to known. observable causes and not to mere hypotheses. For this debate, see my 'Baden Powell and the Whewell Legend', Annals of Science. Vol. 47 (1990). 301-12. 11. M. Cloitre and T. Shinn. 'Expository Practice: Social, Cognitive and Epistemological Linkage'. in Shinn & Whitley (eds), op. cit. note 5. 31-60, 12. '[Elxpository practices play an active role in the knowledge production process', say Cloitre and Shinn. ibid., 32. For an example, see E.S. Clemens, 'Of Asteroids and Dinosaurs: The Role of the Press in the Shaping of Scientific Debate', Social Studies of Science. Vol. 16 (1986), 421-56. 13. Thus we see, as Cioitre and Shinn argue, that 'popularizing offers a cognitive space where . . . fragile . . . projects can be reflected on free from epistemological constraints that characterize other expository modes': op. cit. note 11, 58. 1 have argued that the great nineteenth-century reviews provided such a space for the debate over the Origin of Species. This book was barely mentioned in the largely Baconian, specialist scientific journals in the 1860s. It was considered too speculative. But it was widely debated in the more popular press. See my 'Does Science Belong to its Elite?', Philosophy of the Social Sciences. Vol. 23 (1993). 77- 83. 14. R. Silverstone, Framing Science: The Makiizg of a R B C Documentary (London: British Film Institute, 1985). 171. According to David Edge (personal communication), during his time as a BBC science talks producer. 'the idea that the pieces we put on were mainly cast in a detective-trail form was a matter of daily coffee-room chat'. 15. Silverstone, op. cit. note 14. In his 'Narrative Strategies in Television Science: A Case Study', Media, Culture & Society, Vol. 6 (1984), 377-410, Roger Silverstone gives a detailed analysis of 'The Death of the Dinosaurs' (BBC Television, I 6 November 1981), arguing that it conforms to the model of the 454 Social Studies of Science folktale developed by Propp and Grosse. 'The presentation of factual material within a frame entirely identified with fiction and fantasy has . . . profound implications for the popular understanding of science', he says (at 391). 16. W . Carey, ' A Mission in Transition'. Science, Vol. 233 (12 September 1986), 1133. 17. K. Boulding, 'New Magazine: Opportunity for the Membership', Science, Vol. 203 (9 November 1979), 202. 18. Bacon, op. cit. note 1, 763. 19. Shinn and Whitley point out that professional scientists read such publica- tions more frequently and attentively than has often been appreciated: Shinn & Whitley (eds), op. cit. note 5, ix. 20. E. Yoxen, 'Speaking Out About Competition: An Essay on the "Double Helix" as Popularization', in Shinn & Whitley (eds), op. cit. note 5 , 163-81. 21. Ibid., 165. 'The expositior. of complex ideas in simple terms is not an obvious concern' in Watson's book, says Yoxen. For example, 'the mastery of helical differentiation by Watson and Crick was crucial to their success, but Watson does virtually nothing to explain what it is' (164). Cloitre and Shinn report (op. cit. note 11, 48) that in popular articles 'the phenomenon itself often remains shrouded in complete mystery'. 22. Science 84, Vol. 5, No. 5 (June 1984), 4 W 6 . 23. Ibid., 40. 24. See, for example, T . Maugh, 'The Media: The Image of Science is Bad', Science, Vol. 200 (7 April 1978), 37; and earlier, A . M . Weinberg, 'Science in the Public Forum: Keeping It Honest', ibid., Vol. 191 (30 January 1976), 341. Similarly, Yoxen reports that in 1968, there were fears that the Double Helix would damage the public image of science: op. cit. note 20, 165. 25. Boulding, op. cit. note 17, 202. 26. E. Babun, 'No Gentleman, Ernst', Science 84, Vol. 5, No. 7 (September 1984), 18. 27. H . White, 'The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality', in W.J. Mitchell (ed.), O n Narrative (Chicago, TL: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 1-24, at 13-14. White has summarized his position with a Kantian aphorism: 'Historical narratives without [normative] analyses are empty; historical analyses without narrative are blind'. Tmre Lakatos argued, similarly, 'History of science without [normative] philosophy of science is blind; philosophy of science without history of science is empty': I. Lakatos, 'History of Science and its Rational Reconstructions', in J . Worrall and G . Currie (eds), Philosophical Papers (Cam- bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976), Vol. 1, 102-38, at 102. The idea that the historian interprets the facts of history from a normative point of view is perfectly compatible with realism, though not with the na'ive realism of those who, as Popper puts it, deceive themselves in looking on history as a play, not realizing that the play was written by the historians who give history its meaning: see K.R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968), 269, 364n. 28. For an analysis of daily news as narrative, see J.S. Ettema and T.L. Glasser, 'Narrative Form and Moral Force: The Realization of Innocence and Guilt Through Investigative Journalism', Journal of Communication, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Summer 1988), 8-27. Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 455 29. M.W. Thistle, 'Popularizing Science', Science, Vol. 127 (25 April 1958), 957. 30. H. Krieghbaum, Science and the Mass Media (New York: New York University Press, 1967), 180-81. Krieghbaum was an influential teacher of science journalists. On Krieghbaum, see Dornan, op. cit. note 8, 49. 31. This version is from S. Chatman, Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1978), 85. 32. Boulding, op. cit. note 17, 202. 33. F. Bacon, Novum Organum (New York: Colonial Press, 1900 ), 314. 34. J.F.W. Herschel, Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy (London: Longman, Rees, Orms, Brown & Green, 1830), 106. 35. Ibid., 108. 36. Public scientific debate was always frowned upon in the AAAS. In an editorial in 1976, Weinberg warned that 'extrascientific debate tends to be irresponsible scientifically': Weinberg, op. cit. note 24. Earlier, Commoner advised that public debate will appear to 'violate science's . . . devotion to objectively ascertainable truth': B. Commoner, 'The Fallout Problem', Science, Vol. 127 (2 May 1958), 1024-25. Much earlier, in 1907, Baird said that the work of a scientist who had engaged in public debate with his colleagues 'belonged to the class o f . . . non-scientific literature': J.W. Baird, 'Popular Science', ibid., NS Vol. 26 (19 July 1907), 75-76. This attitude is pervasive in television science. Gardner and Young point out that, even when scientists do disagree on television, 'one talking head is followed by another and they are almost never in direct conflict, much less debate'. Thus, television science 'does not convey direct conflict, but rather the solving of a mystery, fitting together pieces of a puzzle': C. Gardner and R. Young, 'Science on TV:A Critique', in T. Bennett et al. (eds), Popular Television and Film (London: British Film Institute, 1981), 171-93, at 177. 37. Cf. Chatman, op. cit. note 31, 85. 38. J. Agassi, Towards an Historiography of Science (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1967), Section 1. 39. Ibid. 40. Hapgood, op. cit. note 22, 44. 41. E. Mayr, The Growth of Biological Thought (Cambridge, MA: Haward University Press, 1982). 42. H. White, 'The Historical Text as Literary Artefact', Clio, Vol. 3, No. 3 (June 1974), 277-303, at 281. 43. See, for example, D. Burkett, Writing Science News for the Mass Media (Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing, 1973), Chapter 9; A. Fontaine and W. Glavin, The Art of Writing Nonfiction (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1987), Chapter 15; Krieghbaum, op. cit. note 30, Chapter 11; Thistle, op. cit. note 29, 951. 44. White, op. cit. note 27, 13, 20. 45. Hapgood, op. cit. note 22, 44. 46. F. Hapgood, 'Fruitfly Fandango', Science 84, Vol. 5, No. 7 (September 1984). 68-74, 47. Ibid., 70. 48. See J. Agassi, Science in Flux (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1975), 421. 49. Hapgood, op. cit. note 46, 74. Social Studies of Science 50. H. Carson, 'The Genetics of Speciation at the Diploid Level', American Naturalist, Vol. 109 (1975), 83-92, at 88. 51. See S.J. Gould, 'Is a New and General Theory of Evolution Emerging?', in J. Maynard Smith (ed.), Evolution Now (London: Macmillan, 1982), 129-45. 52. Bacon, op. cit. note 33, 336. 53. F. Bacon, The Advancement o f Learning (New York: American Home Library, 1902 ), 336. 54. M. Cronholm and R . Sandell, 'Scientific Information: a Review of Research', Journal o f Communication, Vol. 31, No. 2 (Spring 1981), 84-96, at 87. 55. See, for example, D . Perlman, 'Science and the Mass Media', Daedulus, Vol. 103, No. 3 (Summer 1974), 207-19, at 219; M.C. La Follette, Making Science Our Own (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 110; W. Bennett, 'The Medium is Large but How Good is the Message', in S. Friedman et al. (eds), Scientists and Journalists (New York: Free Press, 1986), 120-28, at 127; J. Goldstein (ed.), Reporting Science: The Case of Aggression (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1986), 112. 56. White, op. cit. note 42, 286-87. 57. See P. Goodman, The Structure of Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1954), 14. 58. Chatman, op. cit. note 31, 85. 59. E.A. Bloom, The Order of Fiction (New York: Odyssey Press, 1964), 58. 60. Quoted in ibid., 59. 61. Bacon, op. cit. note 33, 321. 62. W. Whewell, History of the Inductive Sciences, 3rd edition (London: Parker, 1857), Vol. 3, 339. 63. W. Whewell, History of the Inductive Sciences (London: Parker, 1837), Vol. 1, viii-ix. 64. I. Todhunter, William WheweN, DD (London: Macmillan, 1876), Vol. 2, 193. 65. Whewell, op. cit. note 63, xii. 66. W. Whewell, Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (London: Parker, 1840), Vol. I , 41-42, 246; Vol. 2, 54-56. 67. Ibid., Vol. 2, 80. 68. Whewell, op. cit. note 63, 41 1. 69. Whewell, op. cit. note 66, 2, 42. 70. See W. Whewell, 'Address to the British Association', Report of the Third Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1833 (London, 1834), xi-xxvii. 71. Whewell, op. cit. note 63, 410. 72. Whewell, op. cit. note 62, Vol. 2, 139; op. cit. note 66, Vol. 2, 71. 73. Cf. K. Wilson, Incomplete Fichons: The Formation of the English Renaissance Dialogue (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1985). 74. I. Lakatos, Proofs and Refutations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976), 178-79. 75. This is argued at length in 'Matter and Form', op. cit. note 66, 33-37. Hayden White has a similar argument: '[Tlhe content of a discourse consists as much of its form as it does of whatever information might be extracted from a reading of it. [S]o to change the form . . . [would be] to change the meaning produced by it': H . White, 'The Question of Narrative in Contemporary Historical Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 457 Theory', History and Theory, Vol. 23 (1984), 1-33, at 19. This is also a message of Silverstone's op. cit. note 15, 385. 76. Whewell. op. cit. note 66, Vol. 1, 40. 77. R . Bingham, 'Outrageous Ardour', Science 81. Vol. 2, No. 7 (September 1981), 5 5 4 1 , at 56. 78. Ibid., 55. 79. M. Gold, 'The Cells that Would Not Die', Science 81, Vol. 2, No. 3 (April 1981). 29-35. 80. S. West, 'Stolen Bones', Science 83, Vol. 4, No. 1 (January-February 1983), 28-35. 81. S. Hall, 'The Lacrosse File', Science 84, Vol. 5, No. 6 (July-August 1984), 5542. 82. C. Trost, 'The Blue People of Troublesome Creek'. Science 82, Vol. 3, No. 9 (November 1982), 34-39, 83. J . Goodfield, 'Vaccine on Trial', Science 84, Vol. 5, No. 2 (March 1984), 79-84. 84. J. Goodfield, 'The Last Days of Smallpox', Science 85, Vol. 6 , No. 8 (October 1985). 5 8 4 6 . 85. J . Goodfield. The Quest for the Killers (Boston, MA: Birkhauser, 1985). 86. For a stimulating analysis, see J. Agassi, 'Scientific Method and the Detective Novel'. Poetics T o d a y , Vol. 3, No. 1 (Winter 1982), 99-108. 87. This last point is Bacon under the standard nineteenth-century interpre- tation of A . Quinton, Franci.7 Bacon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), 58. 88. Herschel, op. cit. note 34, 79-80. 89. Ibid., 120. Herschel meant this literally. In the guide for ships' meteorologists he did for the Royal Navy, he gave a long, but of course incomplete, list of things to observe before any storm: the flight of birds, abundance of fish, uneasiness of animals . . .: J.F.W. Herschel 'Meteorology', in Herschel (ed.), A Manual of Scientific Enquiry (London: John Murray, 1859), 147-56. 90. Agassi, op. cit. note 86, 104. 91. Bingham, op. cit. note 77, 59-60. 92. Ibid., 56. 93. Bacon, op. cit. note 33, 356. 94. Agassi, op. cit. note 86, 100. 95. Bingham, op. cit. note 77, 57. 96. Agassi, op. cit. note 86, 105. 97. See Agassi, op. cit. note 48, 72. 98. On Bacon's theory of accidental discovery, see Agassi, op. cit. note 38, passim. 99. Bingham, op. cit. note 77, 58. 100. Ibid. 101. Ibid. 102. G. Epps. 'Viroids Among Us', Science 81. Vol. 2, No. 7 (September 1981), 7G-75. 103. Ibid., 74-75. 104. Ibid. 105. Trost, op. cit. note 82, 37. 106. Hall. op. cit. note 81, 58. 107. Gold, op. cit. note 79, 30. 108. Ibid. Social Studies of Science 109. R . Rappoport, 'The Case of the Woolly Mammoth', Science 80, Vol. 1, No. 2 (January-February 1980), 68-73. 110. Cf. M. Mclean. The Narrative as Performance (London: Routledge, 1988), Chapter 3. 111. West, op. cit. note 80, 27. 112. 'Men generally proceed too fast . . . to the solution of the Sphinx's riddles', says Bacon, 'whence it follows that the Sphinx has the better of them and instead of having sovereignty by works . . . they only distract and worry their minds with disputations': Bacon, op. cit. note 1, 758. 113. West, op. cit. note 80, 33. 114. Ibid., 35. 115. Rappoport, op. cit. note 109, 73. 116. D. Mulholland, 'The Beast at the Centre of the Galaxy', Science 85, Vol. 6, No. 7 (September 1985), 50-57. 117. Quoted in Whewell, op. cit. note 62, Vol. 1, 319. 118. Mulholland, op. cit. note 116, 55. 119. Ibid. Similarly, Nobel prize-winner S.E. Luria pursues 'the goddess, biology . . . in the unexplained sanctuary of her physical secrets'. Like the lame man in the myth of the Sphinx, he is a 'clumsy intruder', but he flatters Nature by observing her patiently, and she 'responds by rewarding his attentions' with scientific success: S. Luria, 'Everything in its Place', Science 84. Vol. 5, No. 2 (March 1984), 72-77, at 72. 120. Whewell, op. cit. note 62, Vol. 1, 8. 121. G. Greenstein, 'Heavenly Fire', Science 85, Vol. 6, No. 6 (July-August 1985), 70-77, at 77. 122. Ibid. 123. J. Tierney, 'On the Faint Trail of the Christmas Comet', Science 85, Vol. 6, No. 2 (March 1985), 16. 124. Bacon, op. cit, note 18, 736. 125. Tierney, op. cit. note 123, 16. 126. T . O'Toole, 'Will the Universe Die by Fire or Ice?', Science 81, Vol. 2, No. 3 (April 1981), 68-73. 127. Bacon, op. cit. note 1, 756-57. 128. O'Toole, op. cit. note 126, 70. These stories of failure are thus in the Aristotelian realm of the fatal. Here, when a villainous protagonist fails, 'we feel smug satisfaction about his downfall, since justice has been served': see Chatman, op. cit. note 31, 85. 129. M. Mulkay, The Word and the World (London: Allen & Unwin, 1985), passim. 130. C. Mann and R . Crease, 'Waiting for Decay', Science 86, Vol. 7, No. 2 (March 1986), 2C-31, at 21. 131. Ibid., 23-25, 28. 132. J . Trefil, 'Matter vs. Anti-Matter', Science 81. Vol. 2, No. 7 (September 1981), 66-69, at 69. 133. Mann & Crease, op. cit. note 130, 31. 134. Bethell says that 'in my undergraduate days, Popper was regarded as one of the top philosophers': T. Bethell, 'Darwin's Mistake', Harper's Magazine, Vol. 252, No. 1509 (February 1976). 70-75, at 71. Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 459 135. T . Bethcll, 'Agnostic Evolutionists', Harper's Magazine, Vol. 270, No. 1617 (February 1985), 49-61. 136. Ibid., 51. 137. Ibid., 60-61. 138. Ibid. 139. E. Merrill, The Dialogue in English Literature (New York: Franklin, 1911), 2. 140. Bacon, op. cit. note 33, 333, 336. O n endless disputes, see also Herschel, op. cit. note 34, section 98. 141. Merrill, op. cit. note 139, 3 (my italics). 142. On Polanyian popular science, see my op. cit. note 7 and op. cit. note 13. 143. A committee of the A A A S admitted that debate may regrettably surface from time to time within the scientific community, but advised that it is best kept out of the press, since debate can only 'confuse the public': 'Communication among Scientists and Communication of Scientific Ideas', Report of Section 3, The Parliament of Science, Science, Vol. 127 (18 April 1958), 857. This is repeated by Krieghbaum, op. cit. note 30, 227, and by Trachtman, op. cit. note 7, 12. 144. K. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (London: Hutchinson, 1959), Chapter 4. 145. K. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963), 373. 146. Bacon, op. cit. note 53, 148. 147. The recent evolutionist~reationistdebate could be described as the sort of Ciceronian dialogue Bacon speaks of, and we have learned nothing from it: see my 'Institutional Individualism and the Emergence of Scientific Rationality', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Vol. 20 (1989), 77-113, at 109-12. 148. K. Popper, 'The Myth of the Framework', in M. Freeman (ed.), Philosophy and the Public G o o d (LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1976), 2 3 4 8 , at 25. In a stimulating paper, responding to Mulkay and others, Greg Myers has recently questioned whether alternatives t o conventional forms, the dialogue in particular, can open up new interpretative possibilities and convey a different conception of scientific knowledge. From his study of several scientific dialogues, including Galilee's, Myers concludes that this form does not embody any more critical view of the authority of knowledge than, say, a traditional empiricist monologue. But this is because none of the examples he studies are Socratic, in Popper's sense. As he himself says, none of them 'enacts an open debate before an impartial judge, nor is an attempt at persuasion between equals'. Rather, they are about authority and resistance in pedagogical instruction. See G. Myers, 'Fictions for Facts: The Form and Authority of the Scientific Dialogue', History of Science, Vol. 30 (1992), 221-47. 149. Carey, op. cit. note 16, 1133. 150. See for example, 'Public Understanding of Science: The Royal Society Reports', Science, Technology, & Human Values, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Summer 1986), 53-60. This reproduces the Working Group's summary, 'Science is for Everybody', of The Public Understanding of Science (London: Royal Society, 1985). 151. I have conjectured that, in fact, a latent function of much institutionally- sponsored popular science is to convince the general public that public understand- ing is not, strictly speaking, possible; that is, its function is to confirm Polanyi's thesis and thus leave it to the scientists alone to decide how research money should be spent: see my op. cit. note 13. Social Studies of Science 152. H. McCartney, 'Applying Fiction Conflict Situations to Analysis of News Stories'. Journalism Quarterly. Vol. 64 (1 987). 163-70. 153. This is how the editors themselves described it: A . Hammond, 'Editorial', Science 80, Vol. I , No. 6 (September-October 1980), 4. 154. By 1986, Science 86 was losing over $1 million a year. Ironically, Science, which was also published by the AAAS, and most of whose subscribers were scientists. was doing very well, with an annual profit of $3 million: see 'Ad Revenues Plummet: AAAS' Science 86 Gushing Red Ink', Science & Government Report, Vol. 16, No. 7 (15 April 1986), 5, and 'Science 86: Did This Magazine Have to Die?', ibid., No. 13 (1 August 1986), 1-5. This could only underline the great distance between science and the citizen. 155. Bacon, op. cit. note 33, 326. 156. Herschel, op. cit. note 34, 133. 157. C. Chapman, 'Mercury's Heart of Iron', Astronomy, Vol. 16, No. 11 (November 1988), 22-35, at 24. 158. Almost the same story, but this time about Saturn, was in Science 80: while other planets 'have yielded some secrets to the expanding curiosity of our species . . . Saturn has long been an enigma'. But now 'Saturn has yielded too . . . to our robot space craft . . .': T. Bell, 'Saturn', Science 80, Vol. 1, No. 1 (November- December 1979), 24. For a contrast between popular French and specialist accounts of Saturn discoveries, see F. Bastide, 'A Night with Saturn'. Science, Technology, & Human Values, Vol. 17, No. 3 (Summer 1992), 259-81. 159. J . Mitton, 'Amateurs as Professionals', Astronomy, Vol. 16, No. 11 (November 1988), 8 . 160. B. Jones, 'William Herschel: Pioneer of the Stars', Astronomy, Vol. 16, No. 1l (November 1988), 40-53. Mitton says that Sir William was an amateur when he discovered Uranus since he was a professional musician at the time. 161. 'Amateur News', Astronomy, Vol. 16, No. 11 (November 1988), 18. 162. Bingham, op. cit. note 77, 59. 163. Bacon, op. cit. note 53, 174-75. More generally, it seems that any attempt t o promote public interest by enhancing the prestige of scientists is unlikely to succeed. In a survey of popular science over the last century, Burnham has noticed that when 'the prestige of science is high . . . [and] the professional scientist [is] held up as a model for emulation . . . public interest declines'. Burnham, who is a Polanyian, confesses he is baffled by this: J.C. Burnham, How Superstition W o n and Science Lost: Popularizing Science and Health in the United States (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987), 173. 164. White, op. cit. note 42, 294. Ron Curtis, w h o holds an MSc i n Logic and Scientific Method from the London School of Economics and a PhD from York University, Toronto, is interested in problems in the history, philosophy and sociology of science, and has published in this area i n the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Annals of Science, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Minerva and Philosophy of the Social Sciences. His interest i n popular science was Curtis: Narrative Form & Normative Force 461 fostered by three separate research grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, under their strategic theme, 'The Human Context of Science and Technology'. He is currently putting the finishing touches to a study of organic distribution within the Galapagos Islands as an anomaly for evolutionary theory. Author's address: RRI, Sydenham, Ontario, Canada KOH 2T0.