Saturday, 26 July 2003

More on the Berkeley research

Virginia Postrel points out the real problem with the god-awful Psychological Bulletin piece:

As someone who believes social science can and does discover new truths about how people live and think, I find this sort of idiotic research particularly appalling. It teaches the general public that social science is bullshit. (It also demonstrates that university press offices can be really stupid about what they choose to publicize.)

That hits on the head why I find the research so egregious. It frankly makes me embarrassed to be a social scientist. It gives more ammunition to the people who want to dismiss good social scientific research, not to mention those who allegedly study politics who have neither respect for, nor understanding of, empiricism.* The only good news surrounding this study is that at least nobody thinks these professors were political scientists.

Meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg makes the point that dogmatism and simplicity are hardly the province of conservatives alone.

* Previous discussion of the PB piece is here. Note that the response (linked from that post) does evicerate the authors’ argument rather profoundly. Note that most people who study politics, even those who aren’t empirical (and hence aren’t political scientists, by definition), don’t fall into this category; however, I have had the acquiantence of a number of alleged scholars who had nothing but contempt for the scientific study of politics, and frankly I could do without them.