Article ID: CBB510363901

Transparency and secrecy in citizen science: Lessons from herping (2021)


In this paper I will outline a worry that citizen science can promote a kind of transparency that is harmful. I argue for the value of secrecy in citizen science. My argument will consist of analysis of a particular community (herpers), a particular citizen science platform (iNaturalist, drawing contrasts with other platforms), and my own travels in citizen science. I aim to avoid a simple distinction between science versus non-science, and instead analyze herping as a rich practice [MacIntyre, 2007]. Herping exemplifies citizen science as functioning simultaneously within and outside the sphere of science. I show that herpers have developed communal systems of transmitting and protecting knowledge. Ethical concerns about secrecy are inherently linked to these systems of knowledge. My over-arching aim is to urge caution in the drive to transparency, as the concepts of transparency and secrecy merit close scrutiny. The concerns I raise are complementary to those suggested by previous philosophical work, and (I argue) resist straightforward solutions.

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Authors & Contributors
Thompson, Allen
Önnerfors, Andreas
Cooper, Caren B.
Allen, Barbara L.
Denisa Kera
Baudry, Jerome
Social Studies of Science
East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal
Ethics, Place and Environment
Science, Technology and Human Values
Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society
MIT Press
The Overlook Press
Yale University Press
University of Pittsburgh Press
Citizen science; community science
Citizen participation
Science and ethics
Philosophy of science
Technoscience; science and technology studies
Digital technologies
Nicole, Pierre
Arnauld, Antoine
Time Periods
21st century
20th century
20th century, late
18th century
19th century
17th century
United States
Western states (U.S.)
University History Museum of the University of Pavia (Italy)

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