An article yesterday in Slate discusses Sociologist Harry Collins’s recent experiment with credibility and authority: “The Amateur’s Revenge: Posing as a physicist–and getting away with it.”
He did this:
In a recent experiment of his design, British sociologist Harry Collins asked a scientist who specializes in gravitational waves to answer seven questions about the physics of these waves. Collins, who has made an amateur study of this field for more than 30 years but has never actually practiced it, also answered the questions himself. Then he submitted both sets of answers to a panel of judges who are themselves gravitational-wave researchers. The judges couldn’t tell the impostor from one of their own.
“Collins’ feat startled the scientific community.”
But so what?
Wouldn’t it be a much better story to find Collins posing as a Runway Model or Vogue covergirl? That sounds a lot more difficult. Physics, shmysics.
A sociologist posing as a physicist (Harry Collins)
A physicist posing as a physicist (this one’s Jack Tuszynski — oh come on, cut me some slack, I googled it)
A runway model posing as a runway model.
So what’s so difficult? Let’s see Collins pose as the model instead. Then we have a story.