Reflecting on the recently-published 50th anniversary issue of Daedalus, editor James Miller notes that the journal has evolved from simply reprinting scholarly monographs into a lively forum for intelligent discussion of issues of the day. In areas from education to arms control, Daedalus, the official journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has played a leading role in provoking national debate. Miller hopes he can meet or exceed the standards set by former editors Gerald Holton and Stephen Graubard. "With each passing decade," says Miller, "It becomes harder and harder to address, let alone reach, a general audience of intelligent people, all of whom are busier than ever, and with more information to digest than ever."
Daedalus goes a long way towards filling that gap. The journal continues to publish in areas of broad interest—showcasing six to ten original essays on a current interest theme, like professions and professionals, aging, and sex. Miller has added fiction and poetry articles, as well as a notes section written by distinguished members of the American Academy.
The 50th anniversary issue showcases articles that captured the attention of audiences over the past decade, representing the full range of topics the journal has covered. Over the next few days, we'll be featuring brief excerpts from some of the articles in this landmark issue. The first is from Lorraine Daston's "Fear and Loathing of the Imagination in Science" which first appeared in Daedalus in 1998:
Recently a reader responded with dismay to a New Yorker article by historian Daniel J. Kevles about the charge of scientific fraud brought by Margot O'Toole against Thereza Imanishi-Kari. What distressed this reader was not so much the issue of fraud itself as Kevles's argument that the exercise of judgment and imagination in science was essential and should not be conflated with fraud: . . . I am troubled by Kevles's acceptance of a need for scientists to be imaginative in analyzing research results. What might the public's realization that this practice exists do to its confidence in the hard sciences? Will we next be expected to believe that accountants require imagination in their work? (1) Such expressions of uneasiness about the role of the imagination in science are not new. When the physicist John Tyndall delivered a "Discourse on the Scientific Use of the Imagination" to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1870, he too drew shocked reactions from the press.
Daston's entire article can be read here.