The golem at large : what you should know about technology


The golem at large : what you should know about technology

Harry Collins, Trevor Pinch

(Canto classics)

Cambridge University Press, 2014

  • : pbk

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"Canto classics edition 2014"--T.p. verso

Includes bibliographical references (p. 205-208) and index



In the very successful and widely discussed first volume in the Golem series, The Golem: What You Should Know about Science, Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch likened science to the Golem, a creature from Jewish mythology, a powerful creature which, while not evil, can be dangerous because it is clumsy. In this second volume, the authors now consider the Golem of technology. In a series of case studies they demonstrate that the imperfections in technology are related to the uncertainties in science described in the first volume. The case studies cover the role of the Patriot anti-missile missile in the Gulf War, the Challenger space shuttle explosion, tests of nuclear fuel flasks and of anti-misting kerosene as a fuel for airplanes, economic modeling, the question of the origins of oil, analysis of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and the contribution of lay expertise to the analysis of treatments for AIDS.


  • Preface and acknowledgements
  • Introduction: the technological Golem
  • 1. A clean kill?: The role of Patriot in the Gulf War
  • 2. The naked launch: assigning blame for the Challenger explosion
  • 3. Crash!: Nuclear fuel flasks and anti-misting kerosene on trial
  • 4. The world according to gold: disputes about the origins of oil
  • 5. Tidings of comfort and joy: seven wise men and the science of economics
  • 6. The science of the lambs: Chernobyl and the Cumbrian sheep farmers
  • 7. Acting up: AIDS cures and lay expertise
  • Conclusion: the Golem goes to world
  • References and further reading.

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