A significant theoretical shift in the research community examining a class of terminal, infectious neurological disorders that includes Mad Cow Disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and Kuru was assisted by rhetorical production. The local rhetoric of one laboratory, that of Professor Stanley B. Prusiner, involved first situating an heretical hypothesis within the framework of the orthodox narrative and then audaciously promoting that heresy. Another aspect of rhetorical production in this case involved situating a new language associated with the heretical hypothesis. To promote their new lexicon, the Prusiner team evoked orthodox values of consistency, efficiency, and collective ratification. Eventually, what was once heresy became dogma; what was once a lexicon employed by a minority in the field was adopted by the majority.
This article was archived with permission from Sage, all rights reserved. Document also available from Science Communication.
Reeves, Carol, "An Orthodox Heresy: Scientific Rhetoric and the Science of Prions." Science Communication / (2002): 98-122.
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