Thoughts, writing & snippets

Marguerite Koole, PhD

We must take a moment to laugh at our work

mkoole, · Categories: PhD Studies, Research, Uncategorized · Tags:

I was recently reading Derek Edwards’ (1997) book, Discourse and Cognition.  In Chapter 3, Discourse and Reality, he spends some time describing the work of LaTour and Woolgar on the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK). And, as you might know, this work led to Actor Network Theory (ANT). Along the way, Edwards also mentions Gilbert and Mulkay (1984). The part that I wish to share has to do with empiricist repertoires and contingent repertoires and the humour that arises when the two are compared. The following is quoted from Edwards (1997, p. 59) but originates from Gilbert and Mulkay (1984, p. 177).

What he wrote What he meant
It has long been known that . . . I haven’t bothered to look up the reference.
Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study . . . The results on the others didn’t make sense and were ignored.
Accidentally strained during mounting . . . Dropped on the floor.
Handled with extreme care throughout the experiment . . . Not dropped on the floor.
Typical results are shown . . . The best results are shown, i.e. those that fit the dogma.
Correct within an order of magnitude. Wrong.
It is suggested that . . .It is believed that . . .It appears that . . . I think.
It is generally believed that . . . A couple of other guys think so too.
Fascinating work . . . Work by a member of our group.
Of doubtful significance . . . Work by someone else.


It would be fun to come up with some of these for qualitative researchers. Thoughts?


Edwards, D. (1997). Discourse and Cognition (p. 368). London, UK: Sage Publications, Inc.

Gilbert, N., & Mulkay, M. (1984). Opening Pandora’s box: an analysis of scientists’ discourse (p. 212). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

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