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Title: Towards an anatomy of protracted scientific controversy : perpetuated negotiation in the 'directed mutation' debate
Author: Jarvis, L. H. M.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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In 1988 an article from the Harvard School of Public Health sparked the 'directed mutation' debate. Its authors claimed that bacteria starved of their accustomed food were able to specifically control their genetic mutations and so adapt directly to use alternative food sources. Apparently, they were not at the mercy of random mutation to achieve adaptation as Neo-Darwinian theory demands. Rather, the authors claimed the bacteria chose their mutations and participated in their evolution as Lamarckian theorists had previously supposed. The controversy that followed was comprised of two sub-debates. The first concerned negotiation of this molecular genetic anomaly in bacteria. The second concerned the broader debate between Lamarckians and Darwinians, and contributed a new episode to a considerable historical legacy of similar dissent. The directed mutation debate has been protracted. I argue that it has been prolonged by active factors, which I refer to as 'perpetuating forces'. These include: the historical and cultural context of the controversy, the influence of scientific dogma on the evaluation of the anomalies, the role of defamation by association in Lamarckian resurrections, the interdisciplinary contest for authority and participants' styles of advocacy. I also analyse the role of the Internet in the protraction of this debate and provide quantitative analysis of the scale change caused by uptake of the debate in what I term 'the Internet forum'. To enable this analysis I apply boundary theory and the cartographic metaphor. I extend that theory in line with its architects recommendations addressing the concept of 'old maps', and identifying boundary work at the interdisciplinary boundaries within the territory 'science'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available