Friday, February 17, 2006

Enemies of Larry Summers

More sniping at Harvard:
Over lunch not long after Summers took over the presidency in 2001, Ellison said, Summers suggested that some funds should be moved from a sociology program to the Kennedy School, home to many economists and political scientists. "President Summers asked me, didn't I agree that, in general, economists are smarter than political scientists, and political scientists are smarter than sociologists?" Ellison said. "To which I laughed nervously and didn't reply."
Ellison is an anthropologist who was trying to hold onto some power as a Harvard dean. The Czech physicist Motl says:
In a debate with the ex-dean Ellison, the president made a remark that seems absolutely obvious to The Reference Frame - namely that the economists are smarter, in average, than the political scientists who are smarter, in average, than the sociologists. In my opinion, there can't be any reasonable doubt about the first statement and the second statement is likely to be true.

The economists represent the only field in the list that tries to study the true mechanisms that are actually relevant for the society by scientific methods - methods that attempt to be as sharp and quantitative as possible. These methods should be based on actual research as opposed to philosophical preconceptions. And sometimes they even have scientific results. If you allow me to add an example, the Czech President is an economist and one of the brightest people in the nation.

The other fields are as non-quantitative as possible and they are satisfied with vague or even scientifically vacuous verbal proclamations. It's almost always the case that the scholars in these other fields become prominent because they say something that is politically convenient for sufficiently large groups of people. The selection in social sciences is political, not scientific, in nature.
Yes, and you'll find much smarter people in the hard sciences.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

Any science other than physics is just stamp collecting. -- Lord Rutherford