“There are no sciences like sociology!” Bill the Blizzard

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What? No. Sigh. This is a poor take.

Critiques of social science are as common as mud. I have made many. If you want to make a good one, try these rules:

• don’t say “social scientists concocted laws”without quoting any. In fact, very few social science articles use the idea of a law. Those that do exist, like the Law of Demand, are pretty good, and the exceptions to them are well understood.

• don’t say running social science experiments is “almost always impossible” when there is a massive industry, in both psychology and economics, doing just that. This would’ve been a fair take in the 1980s (if you ignored psychology). Now it’s absurd. They’ve got like, eight Nobels!

• “invoked... teleology”. What? What does this even mean? No one does that.

• don’t say “economists can’t predict anything” until at least you’ve opened an issue of the AER and found the many empirical articles testing and validating theory; or checked out economics’ quite OK performance in replication studies. I’m not saying there are no criticisms, but this is just overblown.

• don’t blame economists for monopolies, trade barriers and price-fixing, when large majorities of economists are persistently against monopolies, trade, barriers and price-fixing.

• don’t say psychology substitutes correlation for causation when almost all academic psychology uses randomised experiments to learn about causation.

There is indeed lots of bad social science, and many valid criticisms of social science. These are not them. And they’re not even funny! Boo.

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Rock on, Castor! Get it said.

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I have thought for years that these people are reading chicken entrails.

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I have thought this sort of thing for years but never had the appropriate mental band width to but voice to these. This essay says a lot...

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Fantastic post. Feynman captured the same sentiment comparing social science to pseudoscience.


I love how he humbly concludes his thoughts too "I don't know the world very well, but that's what I think".

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I upvote your upvote. And don’t miss Michael’s link to Feynman.

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