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Science, soft science, and pseudo science

Torvald
Posts: 45
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11/9/2012 12:59:22 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
What are the general thoughts about the distinctions between a legitimate science, a science of less constitution, and superstition that wants to be science? Why do some people choose to treat them, sometimes, as equal? Why do some people choose to treat pseudo-science as more reliable than true science?
Enji
Posts: 1,022
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11/9/2012 1:38:29 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/9/2012 1:30:04 PM, tulle wrote:
I've never heard of a "science of less constitution". Example?

Psychology is a science, however it isn't generally considered to be as certain as Physics or Chemistry.

Torvald is probably referring to the natural sciences (physics and chemistry and maybe biology) as "legitimate science" and the other sciences (the human sciences) as "science of less constitution".

http://xkcd.com...
tulle
Posts: 4,445
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11/9/2012 1:42:38 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/9/2012 1:38:29 PM, Enji wrote:
At 11/9/2012 1:30:04 PM, tulle wrote:
I've never heard of a "science of less constitution". Example?

Psychology is a science, however it isn't generally considered to be as certain as Physics or Chemistry.

Torvald is probably referring to the natural sciences (physics and chemistry and maybe biology) as "legitimate science" and the other sciences (the human sciences) as "science of less constitution".

http://xkcd.com...

I still don't see how Psychology is a less legitimate science. It has proved time and time again that it can be measured and applied and is the reason we have marketing, media, treatments for mental illness, and a whole host of other things. Its research has changed the course of human history and allowed us to increase our potential, how is it not legitimate?
yang.
Torvald
Posts: 45
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11/9/2012 1:48:32 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/9/2012 1:38:29 PM, Enji wrote:
At 11/9/2012 1:30:04 PM, tulle wrote:
I've never heard of a "science of less constitution". Example?

Psychology is a science, however it isn't generally considered to be as certain as Physics or Chemistry.

Torvald is probably referring to the natural sciences (physics and chemistry and maybe biology) as "legitimate science" and the other sciences (the human sciences) as "science of less constitution".

http://xkcd.com...

I am indeed referring to solid science, like physics and chemistry, that are well-defined and established. Of course, they were once considered 'soft science,' and before that, pseudo-science. Sciences like psychology and sociology are soft science. They are subjective and imprecise. This is partly due to lack of information, and the fact that these fields are so relatively recent. A few hundred years from now, psychology may be as precise as physics.

As for pseudo-science, that includes things like conspiracy theories and "Creation science."
Torvald
Posts: 45
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11/9/2012 1:53:56 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I still don't see how Psychology is a less legitimate science. It has proved time and time again that it can be measured and applied and is the reason we have marketing, media, treatments for mental illness, and a whole host of other things. Its research has changed the course of human history and allowed us to increase our potential, how is it not legitimate?

It is not necessarily less legitimate than more mathematical sciences, just less precise. Psychology is highly complex, and based off of supposition and uncertainty (a different sort of uncertainty than in physics). There are no formulas or mathematical frameworks in psychology, just abstract guesswork. This makes it a 'soft science.'
tulle
Posts: 4,445
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11/9/2012 2:00:55 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/9/2012 1:53:56 PM, Torvald wrote:

It is not necessarily less legitimate than more mathematical sciences, just less precise. Psychology is highly complex, and based off of supposition and uncertainty (a different sort of uncertainty than in physics). There are no formulas or mathematical frameworks in psychology, just abstract guesswork. This makes it a 'soft science.'

That's actually false and was proven false about a hundred years ago.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

Learning theory (Conditioning) also has formulae. I'm sure there are others I just can't think of off the top of my head at the moment.

That something may not be expressed mathematically doesn't make it abstract guesswork. Unless you're saying abstract guesswork saves lives, helps the FBI, decides court cases, faciliates billion-dollar industries (eg. media, pharmaceutics), etc etc
yang.
Enji
Posts: 1,022
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11/9/2012 2:06:20 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/9/2012 1:42:38 PM, tulle wrote:
At 11/9/2012 1:38:29 PM, Enji wrote:
At 11/9/2012 1:30:04 PM, tulle wrote:
I've never heard of a "science of less constitution". Example?

Psychology is a science, however it isn't generally considered to be as certain as Physics or Chemistry.

Torvald is probably referring to the natural sciences (physics and chemistry and maybe biology) as "legitimate science" and the other sciences (the human sciences) as "science of less constitution".

http://xkcd.com...

I still don't see how Psychology is a less legitimate science. It has proved time and time again that it can be measured and applied and is the reason we have marketing, media, treatments for mental illness, and a whole host of other things. Its research has changed the course of human history and allowed us to increase our potential, how is it not legitimate?

Less legitimate probably isn't the best term; the softer sciences mainly describe the natural world using statistics whereas the harder sciences create mathematical models that describe the natural world quite precisely (for example, molecular orbital theory in chemistry).
Torvald
Posts: 45
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11/9/2012 2:13:03 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/9/2012 2:00:55 PM, tulle wrote:
At 11/9/2012 1:53:56 PM, Torvald wrote:

It is not necessarily less legitimate than more mathematical sciences, just less precise. Psychology is highly complex, and based off of supposition and uncertainty (a different sort of uncertainty than in physics). There are no formulas or mathematical frameworks in psychology, just abstract guesswork. This makes it a 'soft science.'

That's actually false and was proven false about a hundred years ago.

http://en.wikipedia.org...


I was making a generalization. I think you'll find that most of that sort of formula are a lot less accurate than ones like F=ma, or P1V1/N1T1 = P2V2/N2T2. (Of course, I'm still making generalizations.)

Learning theory (Conditioning) also has formulae. I'm sure there are others I just can't think of off the top of my head at the moment.

That something may not be expressed mathematically doesn't make it abstract guesswork. Unless you're saying abstract guesswork saves lives, helps the FBI, decides court cases, faciliates billion-dollar industries (eg. media, pharmaceutics), etc etc

I am not trying to bash psychology. I have nothing against it. I'm just realistically saying that it is more abstract than some other scientific fields.
tulle
Posts: 4,445
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11/9/2012 3:59:58 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/9/2012 2:13:03 PM, Torvald wrote:

I am not trying to bash psychology. I have nothing against it. I'm just realistically saying that it is more abstract than some other scientific fields.

I understand that but I'm trying to make you aware of the language you are using. Hard science =/= legitimate. You're either saying that Psychology is a soft science, or an illegitimate science, or both.

Making the dichotomy between "legitimate science" and "soft science" means you believe "soft sciences" to be illegitimate which is simply untrue.
yang.
tulle
Posts: 4,445
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11/9/2012 4:11:18 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/9/2012 2:13:03 PM, Torvald wrote:

I was making a generalization. I think you'll find that most of that sort of formula are a lot less accurate than ones like F=ma, or P1V1/N1T1 = P2V2/N2T2. (Of course, I'm still making generalizations.)


Additionally

"Sciences have been commonly compared with each other as being described as "harder" or "softer". For example, physics is viewed as harder than, say, psychology since the former but not the latter can make numerically precise predictions about experimental data. A contrary example would be economics, which is theoretically well developed, and often relies heavily on mathematical models, yet often cannot make basic predictions."

http://en.wikipedia.org...
yang.
Torvald
Posts: 45
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11/9/2012 4:11:41 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/9/2012 3:59:58 PM, tulle wrote:
At 11/9/2012 2:13:03 PM, Torvald wrote:

I am not trying to bash psychology. I have nothing against it. I'm just realistically saying that it is more abstract than some other scientific fields.

I understand that but I'm trying to make you aware of the language you are using. Hard science =/= legitimate. You're either saying that Psychology is a soft science, or an illegitimate science, or both.

Making the dichotomy between "legitimate science" and "soft science" means you believe "soft sciences" to be illegitimate which is simply untrue.

My intent was to list soft sciences as a subcategory of legitimate science, and to make a dichotomy between legitimate science and pseudo-science. I apologize if that was not clear.
tulle
Posts: 4,445
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11/9/2012 4:14:52 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/9/2012 4:11:41 PM, Torvald wrote:

My intent was to list soft sciences as a subcategory of legitimate science, and to make a dichotomy between legitimate science and pseudo-science. I apologize if that was not clear.

Oh I see. Then to answer your question, I think the reason people find pseudo-science appealing is that it is easy to understand and gives people answers (whether they're right or wrong is irrelevant, people will see what they want to see).
yang.
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,733
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11/9/2012 4:31:55 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Natural and social sciences are both based on the same "legitimate" methodology - the scientific method. The interpretations, statistics, formulas, etc. generated by this process are where subjectivity comes into play. Psuedo-science/superstition does not utilize the scientific method and is powerless to make any predictions better than random chance would allow.

While economics is a legitimate social science, it is often interpreted too literally, as it's equations contain formidable externalities that are never considered. For instance, we praise "growth" for its ability to create jobs, but cannot measure externalities such as environmental damage and the social effects this may have - which ultimately come back to bear on the economic equation used without our consideration!
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,733
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11/9/2012 4:33:52 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/9/2012 1:30:04 PM, tulle wrote:
I've never heard of a "science of less constitution". Example?

Agreed, this is not a valid distinction at all. It either is science or it is not. The only "constitution" introduced is human error... quality.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
tulle
Posts: 4,445
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11/9/2012 4:40:55 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/9/2012 4:31:55 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Natural and social sciences are both based on the same "legitimate" methodology - the scientific method. The interpretations, statistics, formulas, etc. generated by this process are where subjectivity comes into play. Psuedo-science/superstition does not utilize the scientific method and is powerless to make any predictions better than random chance would allow.


Well put.

While economics is a legitimate social science, it is often interpreted too literally, as it's equations contain formidable externalities that are never considered. For instance, we praise "growth" for its ability to create jobs, but cannot measure externalities such as environmental damage and the social effects this may have - which ultimately come back to bear on the economic equation used without our consideration!
yang.
Darvin788
Posts: 1
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11/29/2012 1:58:25 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
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