The publication of The Bell Curve (1994) by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray rekindled the current science wars. Having been heavily criticized by sociologist and criminologists on their IQ test, a series of lavish, well-funded and highly publicized conferences had mobilized a broad coalition of scientists, social scientist and other scholars in defense of science (Sardar, 2000). The most publicized and effective of these was ‘The Flight from Science and Reason’ conference, sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences, and held in New York during the summer of 1995. The conference declared that there was a real threat to science from sociologists, historians, philosophers and feminists who work in the field of ‘science and technology’ (STS). It attacked the social theories of science, declared feminist epistemology (theory of knowledge) a ‘dead horse’ and the criticism of science a ‘common nonsense.’
In a rejoinder, the Critical historians of science argue that the mythological belief in the purity of science died long after the end First World War- when experimental physical scientists become involved with industry and the military, for more scaled down, user-friendly science directed towards meeting human ends (Sardar, 2000 p.10). The WW1 exposed the technological weaknesses of the British Empire and led to direct government intervention in the management of science. The monopoly of universities as research institutions was broken as new institutions were established with public and private funding. To many intellectuals and scholars, particularly of Marxist persuasion, a relationship between science and economics become plainly evident. It led to the formation, in 1918, of the National Union of Scientific Workers (later Association of Scientific Workers) with a categorically socialist a gender for science.
The connection between science and ideology was made explicit in 1931 when a conference on the history of science in London played host to a delegation from (then) Soviet Union. According to Sardar (2000), the key event at the conference was a paper by Boris Hessen on ‘The Social and Economic Roots of Newton’s -Principia- principals. Hessen argued that Newton’s major work was not so much a product of scientific genius or a result of the internal logic of science, but rather a consequence of social and economic forces in the seventeenth-century Britain – the findings fulfilled the needs of the British bourgeoisie. J.D. Bernal’s The Social Function of Science in 1939 saw science as a natural ally of socialism: its function was to serve the people and liberate them from capitalism. Bernal combined his Marxist humanitarianism with technocratic and reductionist motives. Despite all its problems, Bernal held on to his faith in science as an objective, natural mode of inquiry that could produce peace and plenty for all, were it not for the corruption of science under capitalism. It was in this Cold war atmosphere that Thomas Khun produced his seminal work The Structure of Scientific Revolution (1962).
Dismayed by somewhat simplistic accounts philosophers gave of the history of science, Kuhn observed different periods of scientific investigations (knowledge acquisition). Period of ‘normal science’ tests hypothesis derived from theories shaped by the contents of the paradigm (dominant thought) in which they exist. The period is characterized by adherence to agreed assumptions and expected outcomes. During period of normal science anomalous or unexpected findings