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Sunday, 13 November 2016

Condemning electrons

Quillette has an article about the problems many social scientists have in adapting to Donald Trump and the social behaviour he seems to represent.

Donald Trump’s victory in the recent US presidential election was a shock to many people. Polls, media pundits, even political insiders almost universally predicted that Hillary Clinton would win comfortably. In the aftermath, there will surely be questions about why they misjudged the situation so badly. I would argue, though, that the problem runs much deeper.

The occurrence of a very similar situation in the United Kingdom a few months earlier suggests that this is not just a polling flaw, nor is it just a group of pundits misreading a single event. The underlying problem, I propose, is in the social sciences. These are the institutions expected to study human behaviour scientifically, and whose theories are spread to the rest of society.

Yet many social scientists have quite openly voiced surprise and perplexity at both the Trump and Brexit events, often supporting their statements with proclamations of immorality directed at the voters. There’s something disturbingly unscientific about this, in my opinion. Imagine a group of physicists responding to an event they are unable to explain by morally condemning electrons?


An interesting piece, but electrons exert no social pressures and social scientists have to make a living within their existing social environment. A common problem - the BBC is a good example.

6 comments:

Sam Vega said...

"electrons exert no social pressures and social scientists have to make a living within their existing social environment"

The same applies to climate science, though, doesn't it? Everyone is potentially subject to those social pressures.

In my opinion, it's all due to those electrons being a basket of deplorables.

A K Haart said...

Sam - I would say it has been applied to climate scientists by energy policy bureaucrats in the UN - the real deplorables. As you say, everyone is potentially subject to those social pressures.

Andrew Zalotocky said...

If we assume that "social science" really means "socialist pseudoscience" then everything becomes clear.

Demetrius said...

I demand equality for molecules.

Michael said...

I don't really give a flying - er f - thing - about what pundits say.

I decided years ago what way I was going, and for better or worse (worse under labour), I can now live in retirement in a manner of mine and Mrs Scroblene's choosing.

If someone really wants to do a spreadsheet, then go for it; I couldn't be arsed!

A K Haart said...

Andrew - it seems to be a problem with universities, although how significant it may be is difficult to judge from the outside. The media may pick crazy professors simply because of they are willing to say crazy things and all publicity is good in their crazy world.

Demetrius - some molecules are more equal than others though.

Scrobs - isn't retirement delightful?