John Zimans Ideas About the Nature of Science Being a Social Activity Paper

Length: 3 pages (about 900-1200 words)

Prompt: John Ziman argues that to “understand the nature of science, we must look at the way in which scientists behave toward one another, how they are organized, and how information passes between them” (page 5). He continues, “science stands in the region where the intellectual, the psychological, and sociological coordinate axes intersect. It is knowledge, therefore intellectual, conceptual, and abstract. It is inevitably created by individual men and women, and therefore has a strong psychological aspect. It is public, and therefore molded and determined by the social relations between the individuals” (page 6).

Considering the movie Particle Fever, analyze how the psychological aspects of the search for the Higgs Boson differ between the experimentalists and theorists. What are the psychological aspects? Give specific examples from the movie, making sure to identify the theorists or experimentalists by name. How do the differences in the psychological aspects of the search affect the social relations among the scientists? Finally, how does looking at the search for the Higgs Boson in this way — in terms of Ziman’s ideas — enrich our understanding of science? That is, what does it help us see that we might otherwise overlook?

Purpose of the assignment: To analyze a concrete example of science in terms of Ziman’s ideas about the nature of science being a social activity.

Citations: Particle Fever can be found on YouTube. When quoting or paraphrasing, please give an approximate time-stamp, e.g., At minute 32, Nima claims that the multiverse hypothesis…

Grading criteria:

  1. The individual sentences of your paper must be grammatical.
  2. Your train of thought should be clear; that is, the reader should be able to follow the flow of your ideas.
  3. You should support your ideas with reasons.

What to avoid:

  1. No fluff, filler, or wasted words, e.g., don’t start the paper with: “From the dawn of humanity philosophers have debated the nature of science…” Make your words count.
  2. Don’t make unsupported assertions, e.g., “Physics is the best science.”
  3. Watch our for repetitive writing as it is often a sign of disorganized thinking.

Writing advice: Do more than one draft of the paper. Revise your work to improve clarity.