JP Barlow, Ph.D, Social Engineering

Robin Hanson (
Wed, 18 Sep 96 11:36:43 PDT

Ira Brodsky writes:
>>> Likewise, most "social sciences" have little to do with science. Their
>>Agree absolutely. I suggest introduce the "science(tm)". Everybody
>>claiming to be a scientist (Christian science, domestic science, etc.)
>>but failing to meet criteria for a scientific enterprise oughta be sued.
>Furthermore, I don't claim that what the social sciences study are
>illegitimate topics. (This is my way of apologizing to anyone on this list
>who works in the "social sciences" and may have been offended by my
>remarks.) We just need to remember that political philosophy backed by
>statistics is still, at bottom, political philosophy.

Conversely, statistical inference packaged as political philosophy is
still at bottom statistical inference. I really do think that most
people really believe whatever political philosophies they do because
of inferences they have made from what they see about how the world works.

I am a professional social scientist, and I will defend the social
sciences, *if* any of you have a concrete argument to offer against them.
So far these are just empty claims.

Consider an analogy with "computer science". The vast majority of
"computer experts" most people meet or see have an agenda - they are
people selling you hardware, software, programming services, systems
with computer components, etc. These people will usually say
whatever it takes to make a sale. But that doesn't mean there isn't a
community of people elsewhere doing careful computer research.

Similarly, most "social experts" most people see or meet are
representatives of some group with an agenda, pushing some political
position, selling some management consulting, etc. But that doesn't
mean there isn't a community of people doing careful social research.

Robin D. Hanson