Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter
This chapter examines how members of the protein crystallography community adjudicate the truth status of protein models. This chapter takes a close look at two recent events involving the retraction of major scientific publications: one set of retractions came in response to the discovery of errors in a computer program; the other was over claims that data was fabricated. This chapter takes a close look at how the community responded to these events to learn more about the role of trained judgment and moral economy in their practice of objectivity. The chapter then examines a third event in which two distinct models of the same molecule were published side by side, an event that gave modelers the opportunity to explore the indeterminate nature of molecular life. This chapter argues that in response to these ontological and epistemological challenges, protein crystallographers cultivate a form of objectivity akin to situated knowledge practices.