The Ecology of Fringe Science and its Bearing on Policy

HM Collins, A Bartlett, LI Reyes-Galindo

Research output: Working paper


In this paper we illustrate the tension between mainstream 'normal', 'unorthodox' and 'fringe' science that is the focus of two ongoing projects that are analysing the full ecology of physics knowledge. The first project concentrates on empirically understanding the notion of consensus in physics by investigating the policing of boundaries that is carried out at the arXiv preprint server, a fundamental element of the contemporary physics publishing landscape. The second project looks at physics outside the mainstream and focuses on the set of organisations and publishing outlets that have mushroomed outside of mainstream physics to cover the needs of 'alternative', 'independent' and 'unorthodox' scientists. Consolidating both projects into the different images of science that characterise the mainstream (based on consensus) and the fringe (based on dissent), we draw out an explanation of why today's social scientists ought to make the case that, for policy-making purposes, the mainstream's consensus should be our main source of technical knowledge.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

27 pages, 2 tables, 2 figures


  • physics.soc-ph

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