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Main Books by H. M. Collins

Collins, Harry and Pinch, Trevor, (2005 ), Dr Golem: How to think about medicine, Chicago: University of Chicago Press

A non-technical book on the nature of medical knowledge. Since the way we understand medicine can have an immediate impact on life or death the book is orientated around the difference between medicine as succor and medicine as science and a discussion of the nature of medical expertise. Key chapters are on the placebo effect and randomised control trials and on vaccination. There are also chapters on bogus doctors and vitamin-c.


Collins, Harry, (2004) Gravity's Shadow: The Search for Gravitational Waves , Chicago : University of Chicago Press

This very long (900 page) book is a sociological history of the search for gravitational waves from the earliest days to 2004. All being well a second (short) volume will be published when it is confirmed that ground-based detectors have seen the waves.You can also read the Table of Contents for this book.


Labinger, Jay, and Collins, Harry, (eds) (2001) The One Culture?: A Conversation about Science, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

A book of debates between scientists and social scientists which attempts to move science wars-type discussion onto a less antagonistic and more considered level. Scientist contributors include Alan Sokal, Steven Weinberg, David Mermin and Peter Saulson.


Collins, H. M., & Kusch, M., (1998) The Shape of Actions: What Humans and Machines Can Do, Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

A rather technical treatise on the relationship between human action and machine behaviour Collins, H. M., & Pinch, T. J., (1998)


The Golem at Large: What You Should Know About Technology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

A non-technical book on the way technology should be understood by the citizen. Includes chapters on Patriot vs Scud, Challenger explosions, etc.


Collins, H. M., & Pinch, T. J., (1993) The Golem: What You Should Know About Science, Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press. [Second Edition, with new afterword, Cambridge and New York: Canto, 1998]

The least technical of the books on science; has one chapter on gravitational wave detection and a controversial chapter on the foundation of relativity - 11 foreign editions so far


Collins, H. M., (1990) Artificial Experts: Social Knowledge and Intelligent Machines, Cambridge, Mass: MIT press.

Explains the nature and limits of intelligent machines, especially expert systems


Collins, H. M., (1985) Changing Order: Replication and Induction in Scientific Practice, Beverley Hills & London: Sage. [Second Edition, with a new Afterword, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992]

Develops philosophical and social theories of replication. Includes a chapter on gravitational wave detection. The best source for the analysis of gravitational wave detection associated with first period of fieldwork


Collins, H. M., & Pinch, T. J., (1982) Frames of Meaning: The Social Construction of Extraordinary Science, Henley-on-Thames: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Now out of print, this book looked at scientists trying to understanding Uri Geller-type spoon-bending etc. The theme of all these books is the social nature of knowledge. Working upward in the list, the theme of the 1982 book was the way the same experiments and observations seemed to give rise to different conclusions among different groups of scientists. The theme of the 1985/92 book was that even scientific procedures such as replication and calibration of experiments are set in a nexus of social agreement about meanings. The theme of the 1990 book was that unsocialised entities, such as computers, cannot have the same kind of knowledge as socialised entities such as human beings. The theme of The Golem series is that scientific and technological knowledge, being social accomplishments, are fallible (though none the less valuable for that). The theme of the 1998 book is that human abilities can be subdivided into two types - those that can be described by formula and mimicked by machines, and those that can only be mastered within a social group. The 2001 edited book debates the meaning of the social nature of knowledge and the way it should be researched.