Sociology of science (Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
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12-12-2013, 11:48 AM
Sociology of science (Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
(12-12-2013 05:34 AM)WitchSabrina Wrote:  
(10-12-2013 06:45 PM)Luminon Wrote:  Scientists are very rigid and conservative and that allows them to go in deep research. They don't change a paradigm unless under very unscientific circumstances of a revolution.

I disagree. I don't think scientists are "rigid" just because they aren't focused enough on what interests you. Also I'm not sure what you mean when you refer to "revolution"?
Sure, scientists have many good reasons for their rigidity. But rigid they are and that is not necessarily a bad thing, that allows some really thorough research. They don't pack up things, throw out their papers and sell cyclotrons for scrap metal just because someone says he found a hole in the theory of relativity. If they did, they'd never get anything done. Those who blame the instruments are likely incapable themselves. Yet sometimes our instruments limit us. How do we realize that, without disrupting the science itself? We don't. Scientific revolution is not a scientific process. During scientific revolution, there are equally good competing explanations with different views of the world. Only in retrospect we think there was a steady progress, but there wasn't.

A paradigm is a conceptual framework in science which defines which questions does it make sense to ask about the world. Scientists ask these questions and then construct hypotheses and machines to test them, forming theories and exploring the paradigm in depth.
The paradigm defines puzzles, which are coherent questions and answers. Much of the normal science is not discovering new answers, but testing new ways to get to the known answer, as a display of scientific expertise. Basically, everything that is not cutting edge science.
Normal science solves the puzzles. It never rocks the boat, it never makes discoveries that would puncture the paradigm. Because without paradigm, there is no science.

Scientific revolution is an abnormal event in history of science, when the observed events cease to make sense as the riddles in the context of paradigm. Such as when Newtonian mechanics was confronted with relativistic mechanics. And when both of these were confronted with mechanics on quantum level. One makes no sense in the context of the other.

What Kuhn observed is how scientists behave when confronted with the alien presence of extra-paradigmatic phenomena, or in competition with members of other paradigms. This is where social dynamics (such as politics) enter science and it is a very unscientific way of settling the differences. Many scientists are unable to change their mind and they sooner die of old age than to support the new paradigm.

My 5 cents to Kuhn's observation is, that the religious and secular conflict in United States has made scientists a lot more rigid than they otherwise would be, for political reasons. This is nothing new, Kuhn describes the same thing around the time of Copernicus, Church kept a tight lid on the old paradigm and rigidized the science from the outside. Now it does the same, only from the inside.

(12-12-2013 05:57 AM)Dark Light Wrote:  I find it rather odd that you'd cite Einstein as your example. You know what he did? Postulated something completely beyond the then current paradigm. Then the scientific community confirmed it. The scientific method works.
And you know what he did next? He got confronted with something beyond the current paradigm and called the quantum entanglement a spooky action at a distance, died an unbeliever in quantum mechanics.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Eins...tum_theory
Beaten at his own game, I call it. Or perhaps young people are less rigid. That's Clarke's first law, when a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

The problem here is NOT scientific method. The problem is what we understand as meaningful puzzles of science. What is a legitimate input for the scientific method? What is a legitimate answer and how do we construct the instruments to get the answer? What observations are meaningful to construct a hypothesis, what kind of pattern are we looking for?

I must say that Kuhn's book is the most believable and common sense thing about science anyone ever told me. It confirms some of my fears but it makes much more sense than any internet skeptic's description.
Hey, I'm not glad that science turned out to be just another kind of human work! As a proponent of TVP I rely on science heavily. But there are other ways to make science more reliable, such as making the society less idiotic, greedy and paranoid. I'm glad I took the course on sociology of science. Kuhn is a major point there, but we have dealt with other critics of science as well.
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12-12-2013, 11:55 AM
RE: Sociology of science (Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
(12-12-2013 11:48 AM)Luminon Wrote:  
(12-12-2013 05:34 AM)WitchSabrina Wrote:  I disagree. I don't think scientists are "rigid" just because they aren't focused enough on what interests you. Also I'm not sure what you mean when you refer to "revolution"?
Sure, scientists have many good reasons for their rigidity. But rigid they are and that is not necessarily a bad thing, that allows some really thorough research. They don't pack up things, throw out their papers and sell cyclotrons for scrap metal just because someone says he found a hole in the theory of relativity. If they did, they'd never get anything done. Those who blame the instruments are likely incapable themselves. Yet sometimes our instruments limit us. How do we realize that, without disrupting the science itself? We don't. Scientific revolution is not a scientific process. During scientific revolution, there are equally good competing explanations with different views of the world. Only in retrospect we think there was a steady progress, but there wasn't.

A paradigm is a conceptual framework in science which defines which questions does it make sense to ask about the world. Scientists ask these questions and then construct hypotheses and machines to test them, forming theories and exploring the paradigm in depth.
The paradigm defines puzzles, which are coherent questions and answers. Much of the normal science is not discovering new answers, but testing new ways to get to the known answer, as a display of scientific expertise. Basically, everything that is not cutting edge science.
Normal science solves the puzzles. It never rocks the boat, it never makes discoveries that would puncture the paradigm. Because without paradigm, there is no science.

Scientific revolution is an abnormal event in history of science, when the observed events cease to make sense as the riddles in the context of paradigm. Such as when Newtonian mechanics was confronted with relativistic mechanics. And when both of these were confronted with mechanics on quantum level. One makes no sense in the context of the other.

What Kuhn observed is how scientists behave when confronted with the alien presence of extra-paradigmatic phenomena, or in competition with members of other paradigms. This is where social dynamics (such as politics) enter science and it is a very unscientific way of settling the differences. Many scientists are unable to change their mind and they sooner die of old age than to support the new paradigm.

My 5 cents to Kuhn's observation is, that the religious and secular conflict in United States has made scientists a lot more rigid than they otherwise would be, for political reasons. This is nothing new, Kuhn describes the same thing around the time of Copernicus, Church kept a tight lid on the old paradigm and rigidized the science from the outside. Now it does the same, only from the inside.

(12-12-2013 05:57 AM)Dark Light Wrote:  I find it rather odd that you'd cite Einstein as your example. You know what he did? Postulated something completely beyond the then current paradigm. Then the scientific community confirmed it. The scientific method works.
And you know what he did next? He got confronted with something beyond the current paradigm and called the quantum entanglement a spooky action at a distance, died an unbeliever in quantum mechanics.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Eins...tum_theory
Beaten at his own game, I call it. Or perhaps young people are less rigid. That's Clarke's first law, when a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

The problem here is NOT scientific method. The problem is what we understand as meaningful puzzles of science. What is a legitimate input for the scientific method? What is a legitimate answer and how do we construct the instruments to get the answer? What observations are meaningful to construct a hypothesis, what kind of pattern are we looking for?

I must say that Kuhn's book is the most believable and common sense thing about science anyone ever told me. It confirms some of my fears but it makes much more sense than any internet skeptic's description.
Hey, I'm not glad that science turned out to be just another kind of human work! As a proponent of TVP I rely on science heavily. But there are other ways to make science more reliable, such as making the society less idiotic, greedy and paranoid. I'm glad I took the course on sociology of science. Kuhn is a major point there, but we have dealt with other critics of science as well.

We say that scientists aren't rigid, you say they are. We're not going to get anywhere here. Kuhn had some good insights, but his isn't the only way to view things.

Scientists are people. Some may be more rigid, others not. Stop generalizing.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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12-12-2013, 01:26 PM
RE: Sociology of science (Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
(12-12-2013 11:55 AM)Chas Wrote:  We say that scientists aren't rigid, you say they are. We're not going to get anywhere here. Kuhn had some good insights, but his isn't the only way to view things.

Scientists are people. Some may be more rigid, others not. Stop generalizing.
I don't see a reason why do you disagree. As I said, rigid scientists are not necessarily a bad thing. They are 150 years under pressure from Christians about evolution and they haven't budged a bit.

So what do you mean by rigidity? AFAIK, Kuhn meant a rigidity of paradigm, which is literally an instrument for thinking. Things outside of a paradigm are unthinkable, they're incoherent or fantasy. And another, competing paradigm is as incomprehensible as another language. This is why competition between paradigms is not a scientific competition. Language is a social thing and the competition is social. Of course, scientific arguments are used, but if the same phenomenon can be interpreted equally well in different ways, then all other arguments as well, such an appeal to popularity (our paradigm has more adherents)...

You know how non-rigidity looks like? Sociology has multiple paradigms, such as Marxist conflictualists, structuralists, functionalists... None of them dominant. Each has its journals, but there is a tacit agreement not to criticize other schools of thought too much and occasionally publish something from a different school. Natural sciences have one paradigm which is so dominant for 99,9 % of time, that they look like mono-paradigmatic sciences.
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12-12-2013, 02:06 PM (This post was last modified: 12-12-2013 02:59 PM by Vosur.)
RE: Sociology of science (Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
(12-12-2013 01:26 PM)Luminon Wrote:  You know how non-rigidity looks like? Sociology has multiple paradigms, such as Marxist conflictualists, structuralists, functionalists... None of them dominant.
No, it's not because sociology is 'non-rigid', it's because social scientists who are working in qualitative research don't follow the scientific method.

It's the reason why there are at least a dozen competing and at some points mutually exclusive sociological 'theories' even to this day.

I'm currently studying sociology at university and I despise it because it's a wishy-washy 'science' with vague and untestable 'theories'.

What exactly do you think the dominant paradigm in the natural sciences is and what are the things it allegedly prevents us from studying?

(12-12-2013 01:26 PM)Luminon Wrote:  Each has its journals, but there is a tacit agreement not to criticize other schools of thought too much and occasionally publish something from a different school.
Well, that explains why you like it so much.

By the way, has that Orgone 'scientist' of yours submitted his research to the peer-reviewed journal I referred you to about a year ago yet?

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12-12-2013, 03:23 PM (This post was last modified: 12-12-2013 03:27 PM by Luminon.)
RE: Sociology of science (Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
(12-12-2013 02:06 PM)Vosur Wrote:  Heck, I'm currently studying sociology at university and I absolutely hate it because it's a wishy-washy 'science' with vague and untestable 'theories'.
Why untestable? The world is testing sociological theories all the time.
We actually have to be wishy-washy, because psychological and social dynamics are wishy-washy. They are statistical and probabilistic. Sociology is important, because it makes the world tick. Surely it is important to know the dynamics of religious groups, so that you can understand how science is provoking a threatened religious response. As long as scientists make intellectual arguments, they will only make enemies and be swamped by sophistry of professional millionaire apologetics. Skeptics had to find the hard way that they are a social group and that social groups must use social instruments, such as storytelling, point of view (such as The Ledge film) and get together in groups (such as the "atheist churches").

The scientific community is still ignorant and irresponsible as for the way that its work is used in the society. A smart scientist is a mindless instrument to create weapons of mass destruction for dumb politicians with money. Specialists on natural sciences only are very dumb and dangerous people. In the classical science fiction, the greatest achievement for a new A.I. engine was to take into account the effect that its advice will have upon the world and modulate its advice accordingly. Scientists haven't reached this stage yet, the most they can do is turning a doomsday clock or hope that their beneficial and ecological applications will be profitable on market, even though market is not a scientific invention, neither is politics. (this is not Kuhn's argument, I think Beck, I'd have to look into my exercise book)
I think Ayn Rand was crazy, with her book of all businessmen going on strike. But all the scientists going on strike - at least those working on weapon applications, that would be something.

(12-12-2013 02:06 PM)Vosur Wrote:  What exactly do you think the dominant paradigm in the natural sciences is and what are things that it prevents us from studying? I don't mean to insult you, but this sounds like the usual pseudo-scientific hogwash you advocate.[/align]
Of course, I could tell you about the Standard Model, ToR and QT and how it came from Newtonian dynamics and Cartesian mechanics. But the dominant paradigm in natural sciences never has a name, only when it gets overthrown. Until then, everyone is doing their best to make it look like the paradigm is synonymous with science and everything in different paradigms is by default called pseudoscience, whether it is the case or not.

Paradigm is a language of describing reality. As such, it allows some kinds of research but at the same time it prevents other kinds. Its grammar makes some pursuits sound sensible and other a sheer nonsense. Like language, it prevents us from understanding those who have a different paradigm, a different combination of assumptions about reality under different concepts. Two paradigms rarely have an exact equivalent.

When we meet someone with a different paradigm, we think that person is wrong, stupid, deluded, illogical and arrogant on top of that - because he uses English, but in a wrong way, in a seemingly arbitrary logic with some weird made-up words on top of that. We are not aware that this is a different way of thinking, a different network of concepts, with different meaning each. Such a person sounds like Deepak Chopra, but not by his fault, the process of coining new terms of jargon and their spreading between different sciences is very social and not scientific. So two people talking with a different paradigm without realizing, that's a great deal of trouble. Last time I saw that, it was in economy and the discussion was just tragical and ironically hilarious on so many levels.
But if we realize that we speak a different "language", we can stop ourselves, but what motivates us to learn to think in another paradigm? That's a social process.

Ultimately, Kuhn argues, paradigms are incomparable. It would almost mean that there is no guarantee of progress of knowledge, if it wasn't for the fact, that some paradigms get us to the Moon and some don't.

(12-12-2013 02:06 PM)Vosur Wrote:  By the way, has that Orgone 'scientist' of yours submitted his research to the peer-review journal I referred you to about a year ago yet?
You mean the one journal from which I did not get a reply yet?
As far as he's concerned, he's all peer-reviewed. This is what he wrote to me.

"There are plenty of peer-reviewed papers. Most all of the orgonomic journals, including Reich's original ones, were peer-reviewed. See the on-line Bibliography on Orgonomy, and my own publications list for details:"
http://www.orgonelab.org/bibliog.htm
http://www.orgonelab.org/demeopubs.htm

I think JDM is too old, disillusioned and demotivated to go through all the trouble with journals. I think he's tired, old and bitter and with fried nerves, after decades of taking shit from skeptics. He didn't even permit me to publish his whole e-mail. Meanwhile, the peer-review process that you have like something of a fetish seems more and more problematic.
Firstly, journals are of the dominant paradigm, so there are no peers in such a journal. They will probably not understand some of the experiments and concepts. They will think it's pseudo-science. So that's why I did my best to learn about communication, language, paradigms and guess what, it's a can of worms. Both languages and paradigms can literally modify our thinking and filter our perception, what we consciously register and what we don't. (Kuhn says that) So if JDM has a different paradigm, then he's pretty much screwed. His time will come in the future during the revolution wars for a new dominant paradigm, or someone younger of his colleagues.

Secondly, peer review is not without bias. It is reviewed anonymously, but a journal committee decides which reviewers get which paper to review and that decision is not anonymous yet. Thus the committee is inclined to give papers with certain topics to someone who is known to tear these topics apart, if the author's name is not famous. And vice versa, famous authors are often given to people who are known to be lenient to particular topics. It's not a 100% influence, but it did make a scandal in the time.

Thirdly, JDM's experiments are independent replications of Reich's experiments. How many replications of replications are necessary to say that something is established?
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12-12-2013, 05:25 PM (This post was last modified: 12-12-2013 05:33 PM by Luminon.)
RE: Sociology of science (Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
(12-12-2013 02:06 PM)Vosur Wrote:  No, it's not because sociology is 'non-rigid', it's because social scientists who are working in qualitative research don't follow the scientific method.

It's the reason why there are at least a dozen competing and at some points mutually exclusive sociological 'theories' even to this day.
As for the edited post...
Please, explain me how the qualitative research does not follow scientific method. Society is real, mass behavior is real, do you know of any better method to understand it? Elections, wars, advertising, they're as real as things get. But they are rather phenomena of information, not physical. Brain is a computer and we are dealing with informatics and different kinds of logic, namely subjective analog instead of objective boolean digital. So what do you want, the qualitative info needs qualitative method.

The sociological theories are not necessarily contradictory, they focus on opposite aspects of reality and so on. For example, Max Weber observed the society from the point of view of individuals. Emile Durkheim saw society as a whole system. Then came Norbert Elias with his "figurations" approach, which describes the network of relationships between groups, he's about halfway between them in "resolution". All are various ways to look at the same thing and they're not contradictory.
If some sociologists are too extreme or partially wrong, then they get criticized. For example, surely you have heard about the downfall of Talcott Parsons.

Anyway, let's wait till I'm done with sociology, maybe I'll fix it Big Grin I've got an idea how to... operationalize it, let's say.
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12-12-2013, 07:46 PM
RE: Sociology of science (Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
(12-12-2013 03:23 PM)Luminon Wrote:  Why untestable? The world is testing sociological theories all the time.
Because they do not and, so it seems, cannot make testable predictions. Not only that, but all of the theories I've read about so far are too encompassing to have any practical relevance because they propose a mechanism that drives social progress over a span of centuries. Quantitative research, the field that I'm interested in, does not have any use for the theories of Marx, Durkheim, Adorno, Elias or any other sociologist I know about.

(12-12-2013 03:23 PM)Luminon Wrote:  We actually have to be wishy-washy, because psychological and social dynamics are wishy-washy. They are statistical and probabilistic. Sociology is important, because it makes the world tick. Surely it is important to know the dynamics of religious groups, so that you can understand how science is provoking a threatened religious response. As long as scientists make intellectual arguments, they will only make enemies and be swamped by sophistry of professional millionaire apologetics. Skeptics had to find the hard way that they are a social group and that social groups must use social instruments, such as storytelling, point of view (such as The Ledge film) and get together in groups (such as the "atheist churches").
I never said sociology isn't important; I'm asserting that qualitative research is not based on the scientific method. It is the scientists working in the field of quantitative research who do the opinion and market research that actually benefits us as a society.

As one of my professors said, if you want to do qualitative research, one of the only ways to do that is to stay at the university you got your degree from or work at a different one.

(12-12-2013 03:23 PM)Luminon Wrote:  The scientific community is still ignorant and irresponsible as for the way that its work is used in the society. A smart scientist is a mindless instrument to create weapons of mass destruction for dumb politicians with money. Specialists on natural sciences only are very dumb and dangerous people. In the classical science fiction, the greatest achievement for a new A.I. engine was to take into account the effect that its advice will have upon the world and modulate its advice accordingly. Scientists haven't reached this stage yet, the most they can do is turning a doomsday clock or hope that their beneficial and ecological applications will be profitable on market, even though market is not a scientific invention, neither is politics. (this is not Kuhn's argument, I think Beck, I'd have to look into my exercise book)
I think Ayn Rand was crazy, with her book of all businessmen going on strike. But all the scientists going on strike - at least those working on weapon applications, that would be something.
You certainly never cease to amaze me with these arrogant, simplistic and above all unsubstantiated claims. Why aren't you being honest and admit that there is no way for you to know whether the scientific community as a whole is unaware of the consequences of their actions? I mean, the mere suggestion that those who work for military organizations don't fully well know what impact their inventions are going to have on the world is not only ridiculous, it's downright absurd. How stupid do you think scientists are?

(12-12-2013 03:23 PM)Luminon Wrote:  Of course, I could tell you about the Standard Model, ToR and QT and how it came from Newtonian dynamics and Cartesian mechanics. But the dominant paradigm in natural sciences never has a name, only when it gets overthrown. Until then, everyone is doing their best to make it look like the paradigm is synonymous with science and everything in different paradigms is by default called pseudoscience, whether it is the case or not.
I almost care enough to go over all this with you again. Almost.

(12-12-2013 03:23 PM)Luminon Wrote:  Paradigm is a language of describing reality. As such, it allows some kinds of research but at the same time it prevents other kinds. Its grammar makes some pursuits sound sensible and other a sheer nonsense. Like language, it prevents us from understanding those who have a different paradigm, a different combination of assumptions about reality under different concepts. Two paradigms rarely have an exact equivalent.

When we meet someone with a different paradigm, we think that person is wrong, stupid, deluded, illogical and arrogant on top of that - because he uses English, but in a wrong way, in a seemingly arbitrary logic with some weird made-up words on top of that. We are not aware that this is a different way of thinking, a different network of concepts, with different meaning each. Such a person sounds like Deepak Chopra, but not by his fault, the process of coining new terms of jargon and their spreading between different sciences is very social and not scientific. So two people talking with a different paradigm without realizing, that's a great deal of trouble. Last time I saw that, it was in economy and the discussion was just tragical and ironically hilarious on so many levels.
But if we realize that we speak a different "language", we can stop ourselves, but what motivates us to learn to think in another paradigm? That's a social process.

Ultimately, Kuhn argues, paradigms are incomparable.
And despite all of this you say that there are different paradigms in sociology and that different journals occasionally write about things from another paradigm. Something doesn't add up here. Consider

Also, you still haven't told me what exactly it is that we can't study with the scientific method used by scientists in the natural sciences (though I can already guess what it is).

(12-12-2013 03:23 PM)Luminon Wrote:  It would almost mean that there is no guarantee of progress of knowledge, if it wasn't for the fact, that some paradigms get us to the Moon and some don't.
In that regard, the asserted paradigms of the natural sciences are clearly superior to those of the pseudo-sciences, wouldn't you agree?

(12-12-2013 03:23 PM)Luminon Wrote:  You mean the one journal from which I did not get a reply yet?
I can't say why they allegedly didn't respond to you because I don't know what you sent them.

(12-12-2013 03:23 PM)Luminon Wrote:  As far as he's concerned, he's all peer-reviewed. This is what he wrote to me.

"There are plenty of peer-reviewed papers. Most all of the orgonomic journals, including Reich's original ones, were peer-reviewed. See the on-line Bibliography on Orgonomy, and my own publications list for details:"
http://www.orgonelab.org/bibliog.htm
http://www.orgonelab.org/demeopubs.htm
And yet you yourself point out that they aren't actually peer-reviewed because "journals are of the dominant paradigm, so there are no peers in such a journal".

(12-12-2013 03:23 PM)Luminon Wrote:  I think JDM is too old, disillusioned and demotivated to go through all the trouble with journals. I think he's tired, old and bitter and with fried nerves, after decades of taking shit from skeptics. He didn't even permit me to publish his whole e-mail. Meanwhile, the peer-review process that you have like something of a fetish seems more and more problematic.
Firstly, journals are of the dominant paradigm, so there are no peers in such a journal. They will probably not understand some of the experiments and concepts. They will think it's pseudo-science. So that's why I did my best to learn about communication, language, paradigms and guess what, it's a can of worms. Both languages and paradigms can literally modify our thinking and filter our perception, what we consciously register and what we don't. (Kuhn says that) So if JDM has a different paradigm, then he's pretty much screwed. His time will come in the future during the revolution wars for a new dominant paradigm, or someone younger of his colleagues.

Secondly, peer review is not without bias. It is reviewed anonymously, but a journal committee decides which reviewers get which paper to review and that decision is not anonymous yet. Thus the committee is inclined to give papers with certain topics to someone who is known to tear these topics apart, if the author's name is not famous. And vice versa, famous authors are often given to people who are known to be lenient to particular topics. It's not a 100% influence, but it did make a scandal in the time.

Thirdly, JDM's experiments are independent replications of Reich's experiments. How many replications of replications are necessary to say that something is established?
I won't bother explaining this to you again. We've talked about your persecution complex and your issue with the peer-review process over and over again in the past and I'm tired of it. If you haven't understood it by now, you likely never will.

(12-12-2013 05:25 PM)Luminon Wrote:  As for the edited post...
Please, explain me how the qualitative research does not follow scientific method. Society is real, mass behavior is real, do you know of any better method to understand it? Elections, wars, advertising, they're as real as things get. But they are rather phenomena of information, not physical. Brain is a computer and we are dealing with informatics and different kinds of logic, namely subjective analog instead of objective boolean digital. So what do you want, the qualitative info needs qualitative method.
No, I don't have a better method to understand our society, but that is irrelevant to my argument. Social scientists don't make testable predictions that could falsify their theories, which is one one of the most essential steps of the scientific method. As I said, it's the reason why none of the sociological theories have ever been falsified and why all of them are taught simultaneously. Even one of my professors conceded that point when I asked him about it during a lecture.

(12-12-2013 05:25 PM)Luminon Wrote:  The sociological theories are not necessarily contradictory, they focus on opposite aspects of reality and so on. For example, Max Weber observed the society from the point of view of individuals. Emile Durkheim saw society as a whole system. Then came Norbert Elias with his "figurations" approach, which describes the network of relationships between groups, he's about halfway between them in "resolution". All are various ways to look at the same thing and they're not contradictory.
Yes, there are four different angles from which sociologists try to analyze societies (namely domestication, rationalization, differentiation and individualization) and theories from different angles don't necessarily contradict each other. However, you are forgetting that there are a multitude of different theories for each angle and they necessarily contradict each other. Weber and Durkheim don't contradict each other because the former is an advocate of rationalization while Durkheim is a proponent of differentiation. In contrast, Marx and Adorno or Marx and Latour certainly contradict each other because they propose radically different mechanisms for social change even though they're examining societies from the same angle.

(12-12-2013 05:25 PM)Luminon Wrote:  If some sociologists are too extreme or partially wrong, then they get criticized. For example, surely you have heard about the downfall of Talcott Parsons.

Anyway, let's wait till I'm done with sociology, maybe I'll fix it Big Grin I've got an idea how to... operationalize it, let's say.
His theory is still being taught in sociology textbooks today, so there's that.

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12-12-2013, 09:07 PM
RE: Sociology of science (Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
(12-12-2013 07:46 PM)Vosur Wrote:  
Because they do not and, so it seems, cannot make testable predictions. Not only that, but all of the theories I've read about so far are too encompassing to have any practical relevance because they propose a mechanism that drives social progress over a span of centuries. Quantitative research, the field that I'm interested in, does not have any use for the theories of Marx, Durkheim, Adorno, Elias or any other sociologist I know about.
Looks like you're interested in instrumental rationality. All you care about is the goal, not if the goal is the right thing to do. If people were paid for running in hamster wheels, your job would be to find out how to make them better runners.

(12-12-2013 07:46 PM)Vosur Wrote:  I never said sociology isn't important; I'm asserting that qualitative research is not based on the scientific method. It is the scientists working in the field of quantitative research who do the opinion and market research that actually benefits us as a society.

As one of my professors said, if you want to do qualitative research, one of the only ways to do that is to stay at the university you got your degree from or work at a different one.
Well, are you using the argument from economy? The market doesn't pay money for it, so it's not useful? Don't equate capitalistic market with society, that's so post-modern Dodgy And unscientific (unless you mean economy). When talking about society, you should use your sociological sense! Tongue Sociologists know that the post-modern society is not even benefiting itself right now, so the thought of benefiting society at all is questionable. Sociologists and philosophers (and some better economists) are not here to run in the hamster wheels of society, they're here to change the society. Our studies are not something we gain, but something that we owe to the society and have to pay back as in form of societal transformation.

And by the way, I already heavily invested into a degree from public administration, so I consider the practical part of my education finished Big Grin

(12-12-2013 07:46 PM)Vosur Wrote:  
You certainly never cease to amaze me with these arrogant, simplistic and above all unsubstantiated claims. Why aren't you being honest and admit that there is no way for you to know whether the scientific community as a whole is unaware of the consequences of their actions? I mean, the mere suggestion that those who work for military organizations don't fully well know what impact their inventions are going to have on the world is not only ridiculous, it's downright absurd. How stupid do you think scientists are?
Like a regular guy, which is a great deal of stupidity. I only have to remember myself when I was younger and I was smarter than most, but if we grow up in a white men in middle class household, we grow up brainwashed. No matter what you think of ethnography, demography and gender studies, they're good to put some global white man's guilt into you. We are the rare demographic on Earth which has the resources to study at a university, but we grow up in magical happy fantasy land of western civilization and we know nothing of global problems, unless we look beyond the hypnotizing bullshit propaganda from market and politics.

These specialist scientists don't think generally or globally, they only have a specialized knowledge in making guns and bombs for monthly paycheck. I've got a lot of respect to Jacque Fresco, who refused to design weapons.

Scientists may do the work in order to earn a living, which means that capitalism makes them heuristically stupid - maybe smart on the inside, but doesn't make a difference on the input and output.

(12-12-2013 07:46 PM)Vosur Wrote:  And despite all of this you say that there are different paradigms in sociology and that different journals occasionally write about things from another paradigm. Something doesn't add up here. Consider

Also, you still haven't told me what exactly it is that we can't study with the scientific method used by scientists in the natural sciences (though I can already guess what it is).
Firstly, Kuhn speaks about natural sciences. These are incomparable and there is always one overwhelmingly dominating paradigm, at least within one scientific field. But in sociology it's different, there are multiple paradigms coexisting at once and so they should be comparable. In sociology we have a symbiosis, in natural sciences there's always an apex predator, get it?

Secondly, you shouldn't ask about scientific method. There is no general scientific method in science, it comes from philosophy. Each science has its own specialized methods of measuring spectra, voltage, temperatures, etc... Science is an extension of philosophy, because philosophy defines the very basic assumptions about reality, such as knowability, testability, logic and so on, which make science possible. So what you say is a false equivocation of philosophy and science. Scientific method is ever only as good as its input, namely theories, instruments, samples, test arrangements, etc. And I've never seen anyone ask about the input.

(12-12-2013 07:46 PM)Vosur Wrote:  In that regard, the asserted paradigms of the natural sciences are clearly superior to those of the pseudo-sciences, wouldn't you agree?
Given equal funding and man-hours, then sure.

(12-12-2013 07:46 PM)Vosur Wrote:  I can't say why they allegedly didn't respond to you because I don't know what you sent them.
So you didn't see the original thread. Or do you want some screenshots?

(12-12-2013 07:46 PM)Vosur Wrote:  And yet you yourself point out that they aren't actually peer-reviewed because "journals are of the dominant paradigm, so there are no peers in such a journal".
Other journals have a paradigm too, just a different one, of course. People need paradigm to get any work done at all.

(12-12-2013 07:46 PM)Vosur Wrote:  
I won't bother explaining this to you again. We've talked about your persecution complex and your issue with the peer-review process over and over again in the past and I'm tired of it. If you haven't understood it by now, you likely never will.
So you're not addressing my objections, or of my teacher. Nevermind, I am learning a lot about how the science really works. These fairy tales of scientific method existing just by itself in vacuum are what actually held me back.

(12-12-2013 07:46 PM)Vosur Wrote:  
No, I don't have a better method to understand our society, but that is irrelevant to my argument. Social scientists don't make testable predictions that could falsify their theories, which is one one of the most essential steps of the scientific method. As I said, it's the reason why none of the sociological theories have ever been falsified and why all of them are taught simultaneously. Even one of my professors conceded that point when I asked him about it during a lecture.
You know that statistics is testable, if done right. And you should know that scientific method is only as good as its inputs. In case of sociology, the input is data from all the other sciences, but none of their instruments or powers of market or political application or control over the tested phenomena. That is all right, I guarantee you would not want to live in a society in which sociology is testable, because people can be controlled to such a degree.

(12-12-2013 07:46 PM)Vosur Wrote:  
Yes, there are four different angles from which sociologists try to analyze societies (namely domestication, rationalization, differentiation and individualization) and theories from different angles don't necessarily contradict each other. However, you are forgetting that there are a multitude of different theories for each angle and they necessarily contradict each other. Weber and Durkheim don't contradict each other because the former is an advocate of rationalization while Durkheim is a proponent of differentiation. In contrast, Marx and Adorno or Marx and Latour certainly contradict each other because they propose radically different mechanisms for social change even though they're examining societies from the same angle.
I haven't yet studied Latour and Adorno. But Marx was clearly disproven, he predicted masses will rebel due to worsening work conditions, but in Britain the employers managed to negotiate almost reasonable working hours, it just took longer - and in Austria it was regulated by state right from the beginning. Then the consumer society kicked in, dumbing down the masses even more.
However, I think Marx might get another chance due to technological unemployment, which is practically impossible to stop, it is driven by the market.

The point is, even if the theories fail, we may know why they failed. That's pretty good, considering every macro-sociological experiment takes a couple of generations to finish. So sociology might actually be a science, only on such a great and slow planetary scale, that its rate of success is comparable to natural sciences. Remember, Edison made about a 1000 attempts at a light bulb...

(12-12-2013 07:46 PM)Vosur Wrote:  His theory is still being taught in sociology textbooks today, so there's that.
C'mon, textbooks aren't big enough for Parsons' theory Tongue Yeah, he was on entrance exams too, but then he was taught with many caveats.
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13-12-2013, 01:23 AM
RE: Sociology of science (Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
(12-12-2013 09:07 PM)Luminon Wrote:  Looks like you're interested in instrumental rationality. All you care about is the goal, not if the goal is the right thing to do. If people were paid for running in hamster wheels, your job would be to find out how to make them better runners.
You got that right; I'm a very pragmatic person.

(12-12-2013 09:07 PM)Luminon Wrote:  Well, are you using the argument from economy? The market doesn't pay money for it, so it's not useful? Don't equate capitalistic market with society, that's so post-modern Dodgy And unscientific (unless you mean economy). When talking about society, you should use your sociological sense! Tongue Sociologists know that the post-modern society is not even benefiting itself right now, so the thought of benefiting society at all is questionable. Sociologists and philosophers (and some better economists) are not here to run in the hamster wheels of society, they're here to change the society. Our studies are not something we gain, but something that we owe to the society and have to pay back as in form of societal transformation.

And by the way, I already heavily invested into a degree from public administration, so I consider the practical part of my education finished Big Grin
Yes, I'm looking at it from an economic perspective. As implied above, I place a high value on practical application. I don't see how the theoretical aspect of sociology benefits us in any significant way.

By 'societal transformation', I assume you're talking about something like the pipe dream that goes by the name of "Venus Project"?

(12-12-2013 09:07 PM)Luminon Wrote:  Like a regular guy, which is a great deal of stupidity. I only have to remember myself when I was younger and I was smarter than most, but if we grow up in a white men in middle class household, we grow up brainwashed. No matter what you think of ethnography, demography and gender studies, they're good to put some global white man's guilt into you. We are the rare demographic on Earth which has the resources to study at a university, but we grow up in magical happy fantasy land of western civilization and we know nothing of global problems, unless we look beyond the hypnotizing bullshit propaganda from market and politics.

These specialist scientists don't think generally or globally, they only have a specialized knowledge in making guns and bombs for monthly paycheck. I've got a lot of respect to Jacque Fresco, who refused to design weapons.

Scientists may do the work in order to earn a living, which means that capitalism makes them heuristically stupid - maybe smart on the inside, but doesn't make a difference on the input and output.
I have no reason to think that any of these assertions are true because you haven't provided a shred of evidence in their support (not that I think you'd be able to).

You still claim to possess knowledge of things that you can't possibly know anything about. If you can't be honest about this, then please keep the presumptuous ramblings to yourself.

(12-12-2013 09:07 PM)Luminon Wrote:  Firstly, Kuhn speaks about natural sciences. These are incomparable and there is always one overwhelmingly dominating paradigm, at least within one scientific field. But in sociology it's different, there are multiple paradigms coexisting at once and so they should be comparable. In sociology we have a symbiosis, in natural sciences there's always an apex predator, get it?
How can there be a symbiosis between the different paradigms in sociology when they are by their very nature mutually exclusive and at times contradictory?

(12-12-2013 09:07 PM)Luminon Wrote:  Secondly, you shouldn't ask about scientific method. There is no general scientific method in science, it comes from philosophy. Each science has its own specialized methods of measuring spectra, voltage, temperatures, etc... Science is an extension of philosophy, because philosophy defines the very basic assumptions about reality, such as knowability, testability, logic and so on, which make science possible. So what you say is a false equivocation of philosophy and science. Scientific method is ever only as good as its input, namely theories, instruments, samples, test arrangements, etc. And I've never seen anyone ask about the input.
That merely goes to demonstrate that you don't know what you're talking about. As a matter of fact, there is a general scientific method which applies to all of the natural sciences.

(12-12-2013 09:07 PM)Luminon Wrote:  So you didn't see the original thread. Or do you want some screenshots?
No, I don't really care, to be honest.

(12-12-2013 09:07 PM)Luminon Wrote:  So you're not addressing my objections, or of my teacher. Nevermind, I am learning a lot about how the science really works. These fairy tales of scientific method existing just by itself in vacuum are what actually held me back.
We've discussed your criticism of the peer-review process before; I'm not in the habit of repeating myself unnecessarily. With that said, it seems to me that after all this time you've still learned little about actual science and a lot about pseudoscience.

(12-12-2013 09:07 PM)Luminon Wrote:  You know that statistics is testable, if done right. And you should know that scientific method is only as good as its inputs. In case of sociology, the input is data from all the other sciences, but none of their instruments or powers of market or political application or control over the tested phenomena. That is all right, I guarantee you would not want to live in a society in which sociology is testable, because people can be controlled to such a degree.
Of course statistics is testable, I never disputed that. The point I made is that neither Marx, nor Durkheim, nor Weber have formulated hypotheses which could be tested and falsified with statistics or any other scientific tool at our disposal.

(12-12-2013 09:07 PM)Luminon Wrote:  I haven't yet studied Latour and Adorno. But Marx was clearly disproven, he predicted masses will rebel due to worsening work conditions, but in Britain the employers managed to negotiate almost reasonable working hours, it just took longer - and in Austria it was regulated by state right from the beginning. Then the consumer society kicked in, dumbing down the masses even more.
However, I think Marx might get another chance due to technological unemployment, which is practically impossible to stop, it is driven by the market.
How does that have anything to do with the fact that these theories contradict each other? Also, why do you think it is that Marx is still being taught in spite of your dubious claim that he's been disproven? Have you ever heard about a modern biology textbook which teaches that Lamarck's view of evolution is correct?

(12-12-2013 09:07 PM)Luminon Wrote:  The point is, even if the theories fail, we may know why they failed. That's pretty good, considering every macro-sociological experiment takes a couple of generations to finish. So sociology might actually be a science, only on such a great and slow planetary scale, that its rate of success is comparable to natural sciences. Remember, Edison made about a 1000 attempts at a light bulb..
And this is why I can't take you seriously sometimes most of the time. I don't buy that you're this ignorant of the actual rate of success we've been experiencing in modern science (ex. medicine, electrical engineering, micro-biology).

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13-12-2013, 10:12 AM (This post was last modified: 13-12-2013 01:16 PM by Luminon.)
RE: Sociology of science (Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
(13-12-2013 01:23 AM)Vosur Wrote:  You got that right; I'm a very pragmatic person.

Yes, I'm looking at it from an economic perspective. As implied above, I place a high value on practical application. I don't see how the theoretical aspect of sociology benefits us in any significant way.
That is a virtue which makes life easier. However, I think the global society is now in state of crisis and what was pragmatic before changes very quickly. Old notions of practicality become outdated. If you learn anything from the qualitative sociology, learn this at least. You surely know that an economy can not run on financial speculation alone. You know that what we think of as money is an invention of the Federal Reserve Bank 40 years ago and it's a catastrophe for the very near future. You know that human workforce is technologically obsolete and most human jobs are not productive.
Sociology has the unenviable role of Gandalf the grey, an unwelcome messenger of bad news.

(13-12-2013 01:23 AM)Vosur Wrote:  By 'societal transformation', I assume you're talking about something like the pipe dream that goes by the name of "Venus Project"?
If you say it's pipe dream, then you don't really know much about the current developments. We are moving towards The Venus Project by a huge rate of automating jobs away. The problem is, as long as we use money, this is going to cause catastrophe. The ironical thing is, the well-known institutions like corporations, families and military all have an internal organization that is resource-based and not price-based. Monetary market is a very inefficient arrangement and no stand-alone institution uses it internally, except perhaps stock exchanges.

(13-12-2013 01:23 AM)Vosur Wrote:  I have no reason to think that any of these assertions are true because you haven't provided a shred of evidence in their support (not that I think you'd be able to).

You still claim to possess knowledge of things that you can't possibly know anything about. If you can't be honest about this, then please keep the presumptuous ramblings to yourself.
That depends, what do you consider as evidence? The longest discussion I've ever had was with an anarcho-capitalist. He had a paradigm in which he only accepted rational evidence, such as mathematical proofs. He did not understand empiricism.
This is not your case of course, but the paradigm you have may only allow you to make certain kinds of observations and not others. If you shared mine, these observations would be self-evident basic premises. So we really have to find out what do you mean by evidence.

(13-12-2013 01:23 AM)Vosur Wrote:  How can there be a symbiosis between the different paradigms in sociology when they are by their very nature mutually exclusive and at times contradictory?
Because they all refer to the same thing, society. And if you really want to know how something looks like, you look at it from multiple angles of view. Technical professions use a front view, side view and top-down view to get down a basic scheme for production. Sociologists use different paradigms. The thing may look entirely different from these views, but it's still the same thing. And you need a synthetic thinking to realize that.
Also, multiple paradigms are an opportunity for students to make works of comparison, searching for middle ground, unification and so on.

(13-12-2013 01:23 AM)Vosur Wrote:  That merely goes to demonstrate that you don't know what you're talking about. As a matter of fact, there is a general scientific method which applies to all of the natural sciences.
There is no single "general science" which uses a "general scientific method". This method is a philosophical concept, like "logic" or "truth", which are of course used in sciences as well. Sciences are based on technically specific inputs of these concepts.
No single science can provide a general definition of science or scientific method. This was a big problem during one recent trial against creationists in 2005 or 2006, because no particular science could provide a definition of science as such. What you really mean are basics of philosophy, such as noetics and logic.
Physics, chemistry or mathematics use their own methods and they are incomparable, each use a different paradigm. Even if they agree, they may agree for entirely different reasons.
"For a chemist the atom of helium is a molecule, because it behaves as a molecule from the point of view of a kinetic theory of gases. For a physicist it is not a molecule, because it does not show a molecular spectrum." (Kuhn, 1952, p. 50)

(13-12-2013 01:23 AM)Vosur Wrote:  We've discussed your criticism of the peer-review process before; I'm not in the habit of repeating myself unnecessarily. With that said, it seems to me that after all this time you've still learned little about actual science and a lot about pseudoscience.
Before, nobody told me how peer review works from a sociological or institutional point of view. Things like that the review is done anonymously, but the committee that assigns reviews still works with applicant names and that this has a measurable effect on the result of review, such as if the name is famous or is not.
Why didn't anyone tell me that? Was it a professional scientific blindness, or what?

(13-12-2013 01:23 AM)Vosur Wrote:  Of course statistics is testable, I never disputed that. The point I made is that neither Marx, nor Durkheim, nor Weber have formulated hypotheses which could be tested and falsified with statistics or any other scientific tool at our disposal.
If you realize that different sciences may have different paradigms and different instruments, then you can not apply them from one science (natural) to social sciences. You do that because you equate the philosophical concept of science with all natural sciences, which is not permissible.
You have to accept that sociology studies social world and that world has its specifics, such as epistemic uncertainty. We live within a social world, we are parts of it and the observer, instrument and observed are sometimes one and the same. These are not circumstances in the natural sciences, where we are able to simulate a controlled environment - or in case of astronomy - at least observe separated phenomena. A phenomenon such as a star is isolated, thus deterministic. Social world is not isolated, not in itself and not from us, the observers. However, we still have philosophically-scientific mental instruments to make sense of it. Some are deductive and quantitative, though of course many are qualitative and inductive. But not to use them would be missing the whole point of the study.

We have to accept that sociology is a science sui generis, just as mathematics is a science sui generis. (for example nobody ever saw a number two, just as nobody ever saw Weber's ideal type of a city) Sociology is science, because it is used as science. To resign on social science would be to endorse irrational traditions like mythologies or positivistic naturalistic interpretations of social world, such as social darwinism. Which is actually happening today, to our detriment.

So what is the test in sociology? Provided that the observer, instrument and observed are interconnected, then sociology is being tested by sociologists or social thinkers all the time, when formulating a social theory. If multiple sociologists are able to formulate a theory at all, that in itself is a positive sign. More positive signs can be derived from comparisons of these theories and extrapolation of long-term social principles or formations. Differences are of course expected, sociology is not an exact science, it is probabilistic, just as society is probabilistic. A major benefit of it is understanding of the social phenomena and society as a whole, instead of just being along for the ride. The next logical step is intervention, but for that we unfortunately have only blunt instruments right now. Internet activism is the subtlest instrument we have today...

Of course, a major source of testing are historical events themselves. Marx was disproven by historical success of capitalism and fall of Soviet Union, both of which have known and logical causes. And if you remember the economist John Maynard Keynes, in 1920 he made a great sociological prediction on Versailles conference, that the draconic penalties for Germany imposed by France will not be paid and that there will be another war. Hell, Jacque Fresco predicted, that the U.S. economy after WW2 will either fall or go into war, because the problems that caused the crisis in 1929 were not resolved. And U.S. history has been a history of wars.

You may think these are economical observations, but a war or politics is not really an economical subject, is it? This is the specific of social sciences. They are multi-paradigmatic and they are often interconnected with other sciences, just like society is. For example, nobody can be a good economist by knowing just economy. It is good to know the legal science and politology, and if god would be so merciful, also sociology. And similarly, if one wants to be a great sociologist, one has to be a philosopher also. A philosopher should at least be able to examine a specific mix of meanings underlying concepts, that is, to look under the hood of his own and people's thinking, instead of just being along for the ride.


(13-12-2013 01:23 AM)Vosur Wrote:  How does that have anything to do with the fact that these theories contradict each other? Also, why do you think it is that Marx is still being taught in spite of your dubious claim that he's been disproven? Have you ever heard about a modern biology textbook which teaches that Lamarck's view of evolution is correct?
Again, you are comparing the incomparable paradigms. Marx was not entirely wrong, he was largely correct in his premises and observations and so Marx is valuable to study, he developed a lot of useful concepts. He just applied them wrongly or narrowly, but that is not our problem, as long as we acknowledge that, we can avoid his mistakes.
Similarly, you learn about Lamarck what he was wrong about and that is a valuable information as well. Although scientists who turn out to be wrong might be very well right within the current paradigm back then.
Such lessons are important, because nowadays we may encounter epigenetic phenomena which superficially resemble Lamarckism. We must not be so rigid as to reject them superficially. We may even come to rehabilitate Lamarck partially, maybe he stumbled upon the same thing back then. Studying history of our science helps us to keep open mind, that is a research instrument as well.

(13-12-2013 01:23 AM)Vosur Wrote:  And this is why I can't take you seriously sometimes most of the time. I don't buy that you're this ignorant of the actual rate of success we've been experiencing in modern science (ex. medicine, electrical engineering, micro-biology).
If you take in the research rate of laboratory experiments and engineering development of prototypes, then the success rates might be well comparable. Of course. Medicine, electrical engineering and micro-biology are the things we found retrospectively valid and working and we do not mention all the failed experiments or preliminary phases - all of these are locked away out of sight. The natural science only publishes finished work in journals, while sociology is based on the preliminary steps also, because other paradigms might benefit from them as well. Thus progress of sociology must be very slow, it is tied to historical science.
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