Scientific Knowledge in Controversy

The Social Dynamics of the Fluoridation Debate

By Brian Martin

Subjects: Health Care
Series: SUNY series in Science, Technology, and Society
Paperback : 9780791405390, 266 pages, July 1991
Hardcover : 9780791405383, 266 pages, July 1991

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


1. Introduction

2. Arguments

3. Coherent Viewpoints

4. The Struggle over Credibility

5. Professional Attack

6. A Corporate Connection?

7. Making a Decision

8. Studying the Controversy

The Fluoridation Controversy: Which Side Is Science On? by Edward Groth III

Appendix: Fluoridation around the World




Scientific Knowledge in Controversy: The Social Dynamics of the Fluoridation Debate is a study of today's most heated and long-lived health controversy as well as a study of the role of power in science. It uses the tools of sociology of knowledge and political economy to analyze battles over scientific evidence and the struggle for scientific credibility, the exercise of professional power to suppress opponents, and the role of corporate interests in the debate. The evidence from a variety of countries offers a new perspective on the fluoridation issue and also shows how to link the analysis of rhetoric in scientific disputes with the wider analysis of power in society.

Brian Martin is a lecturer in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Wollongong, Australia.


"This book brings together perspectives from the study of the professions, risk related policy making, public involvement in controversies and the sociology of science. It is a useful case study in any of these areas and should help people in each field discover the importance and usefulness of the others. " — Julia Loughlin, Syracuse University