Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the rhetorical construction of "bad" scientific work

2014-06-26T10:57:49Z (GMT) by Fred Attenborough
How are secondary accounts of “bad” scientific practice constructed? How do they engage with the primary data produced by “bad” scientists? And what happens to those primary data as generations of secondary accounts purporting to describe them accumulate? This paper addresses such questions via a case study of Dr. Hong, a microbiologist accused of “bad” scientific practice by numerous secondary accounts of the 2003 SARS outbreak. Bringing Hong’s own account of his own actions into dialogue with one of the most influential secondary accounts of his actions, the paper highlights the gross disparity between the two. Having argued that the rhetorical structuring of the secondary account is, ultimately, responsible for Hong’s characterisation as a “bad” scientist, it then moves to explore how subsequent accounts developed their own characterisations. What becomes clear is that as secondary accounts began feeding off one another, references to Hong’s account disappeared. Aided by the concepts of the “vanishing” and the “phantasm,” the paper concludes with a consideration of how this process left Hong’s work with a very peculiar form of existence.