Pickering is quite a name in the philosophy of science, or science studies, sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK), or science and technology studies (STS).

He is especially interested in physics and writes about so called “old” versus “new” science.  He means and to this day insists on the difference being soft versus hard scattering in particle collider experiments, the latter being something that happened around the time he started to look into physics more than 30 years ago (oh coincidence).

I told him personally why his “mangle of practice” views on science are wrong in the light of modern physics. What was his defense?  Basically that quark physics led to many Nobel prices.
What kind of argument is that?  Here is the answer of why he claims that the unimportant issues in the 70s are so fundamentally relevant: because he wrote books about them and wants to sell them.  So, usual academia.

Here is one of my own paintings from the time when I still made time for such stuff.  I called it “The Diving Board”.  It is cheap color on crap cardboard 90cm x 90cm; is it somewhat Mondrian or what? Well, at least the board itself is a little.

Why did I include my "Mondrian" painting?  Pickering currently travels the world to push his new book proving that he does not understand evolution, like convergent evolution for example; for him all is just random and free and hug a tree.  He also makes clear that he does not understand emergence.

According to him, emergence is a “new ontology” and basically his idea!  And so he is now in China and I was urged to listen.  I endured the first lecture, thinking that maybe he would admit some mistakes.  He still pushes works like “The Hunting of the Quark” [Isis 72,(2) (1981) 216-236] where the very first sentence is already wrong (so much for peer review):

“The experimental status of quarks, hypothetical particles smaller than the electron, …”.

The quark is not smaller than the electron!  He did not imply Compton wavelength or charge.  I asked him about this very sentence.  He denied having ever written this statement.

He claims that everything is all kind of “mangled” and because he is mangled (=confused) about everything, so therefore it is “scale invariant” and thus a theory of everything (ToE).  He even used “ToE”!

I went to the second lecture to get some feel for Chinese academic culture: no critical questions, only smiles.  But after half of the second lecture, I left.  Somebody officially in philosophy of science getting all the science wrong is one thing, and I should witness it once.  But somebody supposedly concerned with science talking 15 minutes about how great his old rubbish is and than another 15 reading out loud his misunderstanding about how Piet Mondrian painted his pictures?