Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Social Sciences Isn't Really A Science Lah, Right?

I don't know about most other people but to me it is amazing how people can still try and criticize psychology (and to quite an extent also political science) as not being a science. It is even more amazing when the skeptic is a social scientist.

To launch such a criticism, it simply implies that the person has a poor understanding on what constitutes science. Taking away all the unnecessary (and relevantly unimportant) facades to 'science', science is essentially a systematic way of trying to determine causality. To me, a person is engaged in science insofar as he is trying to peer into the black box of event A leading to event B. Just because something requires some form of human intuition does not devalue my attempt at scientifically studying it. In fact, many biology theories about why the body is the way it is required scientific imagination in order to begin to see patterns in life.

It often appears though that as long as things aren't grounded in law, statistics and numbers, people are still going to be hard-pressed to look at such theories as worthy science. That close-mindedness to me is the very antagonist of good science, isn't it?

Here's another solid rebuttal offered by a classmate, after someone pointed out that it appears shaky that we are building theories upon something that cannot be seen, felt or proven (he's right on that one, hypotheses are only confirmed, but never proven). In chemistry, the entire science is based on the theory of the atom. Because chemistry is so conventionally accepted as 'hard' science, everyone overlooks the fact that the atom is a theorized concept - no one has ever really seen an atom and said, "yeah, I really see those electrons spinning elegantly around a neutron core." I don't even think I need to get started on physics.

Sew angsty.

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