Edited by Kris Rutten, Stefaan Blancke, and Ronald Soetaert, Perspectives on Science and Culture explores the intersection between scientific understanding and cultural representation from an interdisciplinary perspective. Contributors to the volume analyze representations of science and scientific discourse from the perspectives of rhetorical criticism, comparative cultural studies, narratology, educational studies, discourse analysis, naturalized epistemology, and the cognitive sciences. The main objective of the volume is to explore how particular cognitive predispositions and cultural representations both shape and distort the public debate about scientific controversies, the teaching and learning of science, and the development of science itself. The theoretical background of the articles in the volume integrates C. P. Snow's concept of the two cultures (science and the humanities) and Jerome Bruner's confrontation between narrative and logico-scientific modes of thinking (i.e., the cognitive and the evolutionary approaches to human cognition).
Introduction: Perspectives on Science and Culture, by Kris Rutten, Stefaan Blancke, and Ronald Soetaert
Part 1: Narrative and Rhetorical Perspectives
Chapter 1: Experiencing Nature through Cable Television, by David J. Tietge
Chapter 2: Steven Pinker and the Scientific Sublime: How a New Category of Experience Transformed Popular Science, by Alan G. Gross
Chapter 3: Architectonic Discourses and Their Extremisms, by Barry Brummett
Chapter 4: Science and the Idea of Culture, by Richard van Oort
Chapter 5: A Rhetorical Analysis of the Two Cultures in Literary Fiction, by Ronald Soetaert and Kris Rutten
Chapter 6: The Missing Link and Human Origins: Understanding an Evolutionary Icon, by Peter C. Kjærgaard
Part 2: Cognitive Perspectives
Chapter 7: Suspicion toward Science and the Role of Automatic Intuitions about Origins, by Elisa Järnefelt
Chapter 8: Bridging the Gap: From Intuitive to Scientific Reasoning—The Case of Evolution, by E. Margaret Evans
Chapter 9: Missing Links: How Cladograms Reify Common Evolutionary Misconceptions, by Andrew Shtulman
Chapter 10: Representations of the Origin of Species in Secular (France) and Religious (Morocco) Contexts, by Dominique Guillo
Part 3: Epistemological Perspectives
Chapter 11: Updating Evolutionary Epistemology, by Christophe Heintz
Chapter 12: Intuitions in Science Education and the Public Understanding of Science, by Stefaan Blancke, Koen B. Tanghe, and Johan Braeckman
Chapter 13: Vindicating Science—By Bringing It Down, by Maarten Boudry and Massimo Pigliucci
Part 4: Thematic Bibliography
Thematic Bibliography of Publications on Different Perspectives on Science and Culture, by Kris Rutten, Stefaan Blancke, and Ronald Soetaert
Kris Rutten is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Studies of Ghent University and specifically within the research group Culture and Education. He teaches courses on cultural studies, culture and education, and qualitative research methods. Rutten's research interests are (new) rhetoric, cultural studies, literacy studies, educational theory, and the ethnographic turn in contemporary art.
Stefaan Blancke is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences of Ghent University, where he teaches philosophical anthropology. His research focuses on the diffusion of (pseudo-) scientific concepts in the history of science, science education, and the public understanding of science and on the philosophy of cultural evolution.
Ronald Soetaert is a professor emeritus in the Department of Educational Studies of Ghent University, where he taught courses on language and literature teaching, cultural studies, culture, media, and education. Soetaert's ongoing research focuses on education, culture, and media, with a special interest in the rhetorical and narrative turn.
“This is a fascinating interdisciplinary collection exploring the tensions between what C. P. Snow famously called the 'two cultures' of science and the humanities, at the same time very positively showing how themes and methods from philosophy, history, literature studies, and much more can lead to a deeper understanding both of science and of the culture that produced it. It is very well worth reading.” —Michael Ruse, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor and Director of HPS Program: Florida State University
“Public (mis)understanding of science plays an increasingly important role, with widespread misconceptions regarding vaccines, climate change, evolution, or GMOs leading to misguided political actions. In Perspectives on Science and Culture, the editors have assembled a rich set of chapters in order to better grasp the factors that shape public understanding of science. The book's strength lies in drawing on a very diverse set of traditions, from literary analysis to cognitive science. In doing so, the editors demonstrate that putting aside the culture war between science and the humanities, while often still difficult, is a worthwhile effort.” —Hugo Mercier, CNRS Researcher: Institut des Sciences Cognitives - Marc Jeannerod
"In these allegedly postfactual times, it is important to accentuate that the so-called facts have always been made by humans. Whatever science is, it is always also culture. Science does not only shape culture, but it is also shaped by culture.
"This multidisciplinary book with its multiple voices is useful reading for anyone interested in the relations of complicated scientific debates and their popular representations. Its case studies open up new perspectives on how scientific research struggles to find justification in these ages allegedly characterized by faltering trust in the so-called facts." —Mikko Lehtonen, Professor of Media Culture: University of Tampere
“Rutten, Blancke, and Soetaert's volume is a wonderful achievement. Drawing together scholars of rhetoric, culture, cognitive science, and epistemology, each chapter offers intriguing insights into the discourse structures, cultural representations, and psychological tendencies that can impede public understanding of science. In an age where ignorance about the science of anthropogenic climate change and evolution grows ever more costly, this important volume could not be more timely. Its clarion call for consilience between the sciences and humanities is profoundly welcome." —Deborah Kelemen, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences: Boston University
"The editors have selected a good range of articles and topics, with each section of the book devoted to the ways science is (1) represented and framed in public discourse (on TV, in fiction, by the media) from narrative and rhetorical perspectives; (2) how popular representations of scientific thinking shape popular understanding and reception of science (cognitive perspectives); and (3) an epistemology grounded in culture and history that evolves as new paradigms gain rhetorical power in shaping people's beliefs (philosophical perspectives).
"It is a tall order to peer through the many disguises science wears in public, but this volume does an excellent job of achieving this purpose in a relatively concise way. The book includes some of the leading voices in the rhetoric of science, with each taking the time to explain the basis for the assertion that popular science is rhetorical, which will give the collection a warm reception from those who teach it in upper-level college courses.
"This book will extend important conversations about public/popular representations of science, which these days can be highly politicized also, especially with respect to the subject of climate change." —David Blakesley, Campbell Chair in Technical Communication: Clemson University