Wednesday, November 01, 2006
We in the "social" sciences are often looked upon as not real scientists. We're told that wat we do is play around with social settings, not cold, hard, "real" science. Now, obviously anybody with critical thinking skills (which would exclude most of those in the "hard" sciences) knows that this is simply not true. We can test social "reality" (if such a thing exists) just as well as physicists can test physical "reality" (again, if such a thing exists).
Think about it: design a test to prove gravity exists. I mean, we all know gravity exists, but can you prove it? No, you can't. You're probably thinking you can just pick something up and let it go a bunch of times and be done with it. But that doesn't prove gravity exists, it just suggests that for some reason that object is attracted to the ground. For the record, physicists still doesn't even know whay gravity works like it does (my personal favorite idea is string theory, and not just for its trippy, scientist-hippy implications).
The point is, you can no more criticise sociologists for saying that the effects of class are real even though we can't technically prove that classes exist or how they're reproduced (though we have some damn good ideas) any more than you can say gravity doesn't exists beause physicists can't technically prove it does or figure out why it works (though they too have some good ideas on the subject).
So, to recap: the "social" sciences are no less of a persuit than the "hard" sciences.
In fact, I'd like to suggest they're better. Take the case of vampires. You ask a sociologist about vampires, and we'll give you a great tale perhaps of the functions the notion of the existance of vampires might serve, or a reading of the cultural schemas that give birth to ideas of vampires, or possibly a meditation on the social forces that lead people to still give such power to the idea of vampires. That's just the tip of the iceberg. I'm sure other sociologists would give many other explanations and stories I can't even begin to think of.
But you ask a "hard" scientist about vampires, and you get some lame-ass description of how they'remathematically impossible.
Now where the hell is the fun in that?
Posted by Woz at 10:59 PM