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Masking Disagreement among Experts

  • John Beatty


There are many reasons why scientific experts may mask disagreement and endorse a position publicly as “jointly accepted.” In this paper I consider the inner workings of a group of scientists charged with deciding not only a technically difficult issue, but also a matter of social and political importance: the maximum acceptable dose of radiation. I focus on how, in this real world situation, concerns with credibility, authority, and expertise shaped the process by which this group negotiated the competing virtues of reaching consensus versus reporting accurately the nature and degree of disagreement among them.



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