Science Under Fire: Challenges to Scientific Authority in Modern America. By Andrew Jewett (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2020). Pp. 369. Cloth, $39.95
Keith M. McNamara
University of Wisconsin-Madison, US
I am an American historian whose work lies at the intersection of the history of education, legal history, and the history of the social sciences. Broadly, I want to understand how educational disparities based on racial and socioeconomic classifications and assumptions about ability shape and are shaped by legal, policy, and cultural discourses about inclusion, fairness, merit, and equal educational opportunity.
My dissertation aims to trace the psychological, political, and legal debates that have surrounded testing bias, specifically the idea of “cultural bias” in psychometric testing, from early critiques in the 1920s through the emergence of federal legislation and court decisions in the late 1970s and 1980s. The project is organized around three substantive case studies: the early debates over intelligence testing in the 1920s and 1930s, efforts in the 1940s and 1950s by social scientists and psychologists to develop culturally unbiased tests, and the legal and political debates from the late 1960s through the 1980s that led to federal legislation and court rulings constricting or forbidding their use in employment and education.
Andrew Jewett’s Science Under Fire: Challenges to Scientific Authority in Modern America canvasses the century long tradition of skepticism toward scientific authority in American thought. Drawing on a staggering range of primary and secondary sources, the book illustrates how widely disparate religious, ideological and cultural groups shared a common critical framework that viewed science’s growing cultural influence as the root of social and moral pathologies. Deeply researched and thoroughly documented, Jewett paints a compelling portrait of the variant ways opposition to science characterized a wide range of cultural conflicts and political cleavages throughout the twentieth century.
How to Cite:
McNamara, Keith M.. 2022. “Science Under Fire: Challenges to Scientific Authority in Modern America. By Andrew Jewett (cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2020). Pp. 369. Cloth, $39.95”. Essays in History 55 (1): 1–3. DOI: http://doi.org/10.25894/eih.181
09 Apr 2022.