Anatomy of a Controversy: The Question of a "Language" among Bees

Anatomy of a Controversy: The Question of a "Language" among Bees

Anatomy of a Controversy: The Question of a "Language" among Bees

Anatomy of a Controversy: The Question of a "Language" among Bees

Synopsis

We all know that bees dance to show their hive mates where the good flowers are. It turns out that the bees may not know that. Wenner (natural history, U. of California, Santa Barbara) and Wells (biology, Occidental College, Los Angeles) are no longer trying to gain recognition for their findings th

Excerpt

During the mid-1960s we became embroiled in what has become one of this century's most important controversies in biology, a controversy that ostensibly revolves around the question of a "language" among honey bees. However, the topic of a honey bee "language" hardly qualifies as an important issue in science; something far more profound must have been the central concern in this particular dispute.

After a period of introspection and debate, we withdrew from the fray and spent more than twenty years studying the elements of scientific controversy; the last five of those years were spent writing this book. That study and writing led us into the areas of the philosophy, sociology, psychology, and politics of science, topics normally avoided by scientists.

The expression "scientific controversy" is for the most part a contradiction in terms, because everyone has a vague impression that scientific evidence is largely indisputable. How, then, can there be controversy? The net result of this confusion is that scientific controversy seems to be somewhat taboo whenever it is located too close to . . .

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