Random Thoughts on Week 12

Was there a gender divide in who was identified for treatment by the Friendship Centre?  Were men more likely to be picked than women because women were/are socially educated not to speak up or share their thoughts, and so would be less likely to participate in discussion groups?

When Treichler lists all the competing (mis)conceptions of HIV/AIDS in the mid-80s — particularly the published scientific shift from viewing AIDS as a homosexual disease in ’85 (illustrated by the “rugged vagina” quote!) to a possibly heterosexual disease in ’86 — I was struck by what we in philosophy of science refer to as “underdetermination.”  This is when the same set of facts can be used to advance/support two or more entirely different theories, and this happens quite frequently in science.  Thus, science is heavily influenced by shared social values which people use to choose between two underdetermined theories.  As Treichler observes, the science (facts) of HIV/AIDS hadn’t changed at all from ’85-’86, but prevailing public opinion was beginning to, thus the resulting change in theory.


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