From: rmiller <rmiller.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2005 00:14:42 -0500

Re the hypotheses---Social scientists, astronomers and CSI agents are the
only ones I'm aware of who routinely evaluate events after the fact. The
best, IMHO, such as the historian Toynbee, fit facts to a model. At it's
worst, the model becomes the event and before long we're deep in
reification (the Achilles heel of Structural Functionalism) or that
favorite of lazy reporters, *abduction* (this is our favorite explanation,
so that must be what happened.) Mathematicians, philosophers and those
with a good math and logic background prefer their battles timeless and
relatively absent of worldly references. Great theater, but as Scott
Berkun noted in his excellent
article<<http://www.scottberkun.com/essays/essay40.htm>> just because the
logic holds together, doesn't mean it's true. Or correct. Or
anything--other than consistent.

But logic is an inestimable tool if used to evaluate models such as those
proposed, developed and ridden into the dirt by many prominent social
scientists. It is always refreshing to see a lumbering behemoth like
structural functionalism (a sociological model) dismantled by a skilled
logician who knows reification when he sees it (saw a little of that with
Lee Corbins' excellent rant.) But it would be even better to see these
tools applied to truly strange events that take place in the real
world---things that Sheldrake writes about, for example. Things that
*happen* to us all.

Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen. It's the knee-jerk reaction of
most mathematicians and logicians to deride real world events as
"coincidence," when in fact, they are comparing the event to mathematical
certainty, and logical clarity. They might say, "Why evaluate Sheldrake's
"precognitive" dogs in terms of a physics model, because Sheldrake's dogs
are not really precognitive." That protocol (if you can call it that)
doesn't even rise to the level of *bad* abduction. It's a protocol that
closes doors rather than opens them, is not designed to divine new
information, and is neither analytic *nor* synthetic. Worst of all, it
claims to be science when it fact, it is preordained belief. In other
words, it's okay to bend the rules and prejudge a variable as long as you
first call it "rubbish."

Slip-ups aside, I would like to see a rigorous application of the powerful
tools of philosophy, logic and mathematics applied to the study areas of
social science, i.e. the real world. Physicists are great at telling us
why the rings of Saturn have braids, but terrible (or worse than that,
dismissive) of events that occur involving consciousness. (Social
scientists are no better---they fall back on things like structural
functionalism). I suggest its time for the social scientists to let the
logicians and mathematicians have a look at the data, and it's time for the
logicians and mathematicians to enter the real world and make an honest
attempt at trying to explain some strange phenomena.

That asking too much?

Received on Mon Jun 06 2005 - 01:34:57 PDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:10 PST