In 1994, Dr. Bernard Fisher, eminent American surgical oncologist and celebrated “pioneer” of breast cancer research, tumbled from dazzling heights. The award-winning physician and former member of the President’s Cancer Advisory Panel came under intense scrutiny following allegations that one of his principal investigators had altered data used in the nation’s leading breast cancer research. The research in question was conducted under Fisher’s direction and had informed the treatment decisions of tens of thousands of North American women (Altman, 1996). Hailed as a major victory for women’s health care, the research had demonstrated that breast conservation and radiation were as effective as breast removal for early-stage cancers (Fisher et al., 1985, 1989). As news of the tainted data spread, Fisher was forced to resign from a position he had held for over 35 years, he was called to testify before Congress, and 150 of his scientific articles were summarily marked with the tag “scientific misconduct” in electronic medical journal databases (Pascal, 1996). However, when the controversy subsided, Fisher was cleared of all wrongdoing. Moreover, reanalysis of the data had reaffirmed the value of breast conservation. Yet, throughout this complex, politically laden controversy-a time in which character assassinations were lodged, defended, and shot down-Fisher’s character was defined, redefined, circulated, and contested by ensemble. As a result, ethos and episteme, character and knowledge were inextricably bound up in life and death decisions about biomedical knowledge. Trust, truth, hope, and healing-the pillars of scientific and medical knowledge and communicationwere, for a time, shaken to their cores. By exploring how rhetorical constructions of Fisher’s character made a difference to the contours, meanings, and progression of the controversy during its initial months, this chapter advances a novel qualitative approach to understanding the dynamics of science-based controversies, which occur at the nexus of technical and public concerns.1 More specifically, it employs three concepts from the rhetorical and literary lexicon-ethos, persona, and voice-as a method for tracking character construction. Although rhetoricians of science have often studied scientific ethos (see, e.g., Constantinides,

2001; Miller & Halloran, 1993; Prelli, 1989), the terms ethos, persona, and voice are often conflated (Brookey, 2001; Corder, 1989). Yet, each derives from a distinct intellectual tradition and accentuates a different dimension of character in science-based controversy. This chapter demonstrates how collective assumptions about normative behavior of scientists-the scientific ethos (Hyde, 2004; Merton, 1973)—coalesce into relatively stable and recurrent characterizations of individual types of scientists-scientific personae (Bordogna, 2005; Campbell, 1975)—which, in concert with the scientist’s voice, or personal language choices (Elbow, 1994), shade the appropriate policy responses to science-based controversy. In the case of Dr. Fisher specifically, this chapter argues that three personae-the scientific revolutionary, the beleaguered administrator, and the reluctant apologist-vied for acceptance and legitimacy in the initial months as the controversy unfolded. Considered together, these personae encouraged policy outcomes focused on purging science of individual transgressions, while obscuring systemic reforms that could have addressed patient and advocate concerns more directly. Further it is argued here that in public science-related controversies, credibility does not adhere to individuals. Rather, it affixes to constructed personae that are produced in interaction between cultural stereotypes and personal voice, and these personae shape what stakeholders to the controversy regard as acceptable outcomes and solutions. On a theoretical level, the chapter demonstrates how disentangling disparate parts of character can enrich our understanding of the dynamics of science-based controversies (Brante, 1993; Lyne & Howe, 1986). Thus, it turns our attention squarely to the rhetoric of science, that is, the language scientists and stakeholders use to persuade one another about scientific information and processes (for an introduction to the field, see Harris, 1997). On a methodological level, it offers students of scientific discourse a means of chronicling how competing characterizations of scientists can influence the contours and policy outcomes of science-based controversies. Practically, it demonstrates how language strategies potentially help or hinder the public and professional face of scientists. The chapter ultimately maintains that sustained reconsideration of the interrelatedness of character and knowledge, of trust and truth, can augment studies of sciencebased controversies wherein scientists and members of various publics deliberate together about consequential decisions. To that end, the chapter begins by outlining the importance of character to science-based controversy and posing a three-part framework for analyzing the characters of such controversies. It then reviews salient features of the Fisher controversy as an entrée into a discussion of how ethos, personae, and voice made a difference to its resolution. The chapter concludes by considering what this case and framework suggest about the role of rhetorically constituted characters in controversies that bridge technical and public concerns.