Robert N. Proctor

American historian

1954   -  

country of citizenship: United States of America
educated at: Harvard University, Indiana University
occupation: historian
award received: John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship

Robert Neel Proctor (born 1954) is an American historian of science and Professor of the History of Science at Stanford University. While a professor of the history of science at Pennsylvania State University in 1999, he became the first historian to testify against the tobacco industry.Proctor graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 1976 with a B.S. in Biology. He then took up studies at Harvard University, earning master's and doctoral degrees in History of Science in 1977 and 1984, respectively.At Pennsylvania State University, he and his wife, Londa Schiebinger, co-directed the Science, Medicine and Technology in Culture Program for nine years.He coined the term "agnotology" to describe the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data.Proctor is writing a book, Agate Eyes: A Lapidary Journey, in which he writes about agnotology: "By contrast with diamonds or asbestos or granite or the minerals we burn for fuel, the lowly agate is the victim of scientific disinterest, the same kinds of structured apathy I have elsewhere called 'the social construction of ignorance.' Agates seem to fall outside the orbit of geological knowledge, and therefore tend to be regarded — if at all — as geological accidents or oddities not really deserving systematic study."
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