Reality and politics in the war on infectious diseases

“Inventing AIDS.” “Constructing cancers.” Relax; no bioterrorist mischief is implied. Like “Construction of nature,” “Social construction of illness,” “Social construction of scientific facts,” and many others, these are titles of scholarly books and projects in science, technology, and medicine studies. They express a fashion shared by doctrines loosely known under the rubric of postmodernism. It is recognizable by the frequent scare quotation marks around words such as truth, reality, scientific, and objectivity. The scare quotes convey the message that scientific knowledge is so permeated by politics and cultural biases that it cannot be true and any claim to objectivity is illusory.
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