Barnes, Barry and Shapin, Steven, editors. Natural Order: Historical Studies of Scientific

 

Barnes, Barry and Shapin, Steven, editors. Natural Order: Historical Studies of Scientific
Culture. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1979.

This is a collection of 10 papers dealing with the sociology of science from a Marxist inspired,
macrosociological (anthropological) interest in science. It is heady stuff for the contributors and
the editors are convinced that their approach is the only one. These are three important papers:
Donald MacKenzie and Barry Barnes, "Scientific Judgment: The Biometry-Mendelism
Controversy," (pp. 191-210) which deals with the social origins of the split between
Biometricians and the Mendelians. John Dean,"Controversy over Classification: A Case Study
From the History of Botany," (pp. 210-230), which details some of the social origins of
experimental taxonomy as opposed to the Linnean system. And Jonathan Harwood, "Heredity,
Environment, and the Legitimation of Social Policy," (pp. 231-252). This last one is the most
important for the purposes of this bibliography.

In Harwood's piece, the principal question is this: what is the argument about environmentalism
and heredity all about? What are the critics of Jensenism really saying? Why did Jensen write
that piece in the late 1960s and why did it elicit so much of a reaction? There is no necessary link
between the hereditarian views of Jensen and the explanation of the IQ of Blacks. One could be a
hereditarian and explain observed research results of inferiority without recourse to a high "H."
Just so, one could accept the environmentalist position without necessarily rejecting the
observations. So what is all the fuss? Barnes explains: the environmentalist policies of the 1960s
(War on Poverty, Mobilization for Youth, government intervention in job training, etc.) were all
based on environmentalism. Then, they failed. These failures needed justification. They had to be
rationalized. The controversy is not, then, over the components of IQ but a statement about
policy, a statement of the strategy with which we must address the problems of community. The
scientific argument reflects the personal-social-political positions of the individual in an age of
grantsmanship: how many political scientists were involved in the War on Poverty and similar
programs of the 1960s?

Hereditarianism and environmentalism have been around as polar types of ideologies for several
generations. As one fails, the other claims success and advances a new program based on its
assumptions.