Confronting the Experts

Brian Martin, editor

Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996, 210 pages.

Available from State University of New York Press, at

Paperback: US$21.95, ISBN 0 7914 2914 8
Hardcover: US$22.50, ISBN 0 7914 2913 X

Confronting the Experts brings together six personal case histories of challenges to establishment experts. The authors tell why they questioned conventional wisdom, what methods they used, how they dealt with the experts' response, and what lessons they learned. Because the book shows how powerful groups can get their way by gaining the support of intellectual authorities and also how these authorities can be challenged, it provides insights into the issues of power, dissent, and social change

Included are Sharon Beder's research on sewage and how it helped to undermine the credibility of the Sydney Water Board; Mark Diesendorf's scientific and social critique of fluoridation; Edward Herman's exposition of the flaws in the establishment perspective on terrorism; Harold Hillman's questioning of the validity of standard methods used in biology, such as subcellular fractionation and electron microscopy; Michael Mallory and Gordon Moran's challenge to the orthodox interpretation of a famous painting in Siena, Italy; and Dhirendra Sharma's confrontation with India's nuclear establishment.


Download the book or individual chapters

Available here is the August 1995 typescript with minor changes in the text, a different format and page numbering (112 rather than 210 pages). The index is not available.


Confronting the experts

(entire book typescript, 112 pages, 2.6 MB)


Individual chapters

1. Introduction: experts and establishments by Brian Martin (7 pages)

2. Sewerage treatment and the engineering establishment by Sharon Beder (18 pages)

3. Fluoridation: breaking the silence barrier by Mark Diesendorf (19 pages)

4. Terrorism: the struggle against closure by Edward S. Herman (13 pages)

5. "What price intellectual honesty?" asks a neurobiologist by Harold Hillman (20 pages)

6. The Guido Riccio controversy in art history by Michael Mallory and Gordon Moran (15 pages)

7. Confronting the nuclear power structure in India by Dhirendra Sharma (12 pages)

8. Conclusion: learning from struggle by Brian Martin (5 pages)

Contributors (2 pages)



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