My SciBling John Lynch recently published a very interesting paper, on a topic close to my heart:Does Science Education Need the History of Science? by Graeme Gooday, John M. Lynch, Kenneth G. Wilson, and Constance K. Barsky. Isis, 2008, 99:322-330
This is a part of a broader focus issue of Isis on the topic of History of Science. I got the paper two weeks ago, but only now found some time to sit down and read it. And I was not disappointed! Fortunately for all of us, the entire paper is available online for free (yeah!), so you can read it in its entirety.
While using the fight against Creationism (including Intelligent Design) in the USA as an example of how history of science education can help in the public arena may or may not appeal to everyone, the main thesis of the paper – that History Of Science classes to science students will make them better scientists – is what I always thought was an obvious truth.
Perhaps if scientists-in-training learned the history of the way science has been done, funded and communicated over the centuries (e.g., for communication: books, monographs, letters to societies, journals, peer-reviewed journals, conferences, the Web), they would be better prepared for the changes currently happening in the way science is done, funded and published. That is why I thought that placing current changes in the publishing world would be better understood in the context of history.