Sociology as a Science

Often both the sciences and the so called “social sciences” use identical terms such as hypothesis, theory, experiment, empirical evidence and so on. This can leave the layman and even most people trained in the social sciences very confused, because what science means by these terms is not at all what the social sciences understand them to mean.

In science a Theory is a hypothesis that has a broad range of experimental support and which, critically, has not been falsified. In the social sciences a theory is an idea, no matter how absurd and no matter how much evidence exists to the contrary. In the social sciences it is a theory that the world is flat. In science it is a falsified notion and not a Theory at all.

Falsifiability is the critical factor here. In science whatever idea you have has to be falsifiable, it has to be possible to disprove it if the evidence contradicts the assertion, or it is not science. In the social sciences, especially those like Sociology which are deeply infected with “post-modernism,” every belief is equally valid, there is no such thing as truth, and the constant quest is to find patterns of human behavior while denying the reasons such patterns exist.

It is critical for Sociology, for example, to avoid knowledge of science because the truth is that the very foundational assumptions of the discipline have been disproven already. In fact to believe pretty much any part of Sociology, much of Geography, Political Science, large portions of Psychology and Anthropology and any part of Women’s Studies you have to start by rejecting the Theory of Evolution. Which to my mind is a pretty big problem.

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It is a given that all of these social sciences make claims to using scientific methods and so on. But they seem never to have understood them at all. My sister got her Masters in Education and showed me the central textbook used in the program. Just a few pages in the authors attempt to claim scientific rigor and to describe basic scientific terms. Unfortunately their example of a good “hypothesis” was a classic circular argument and not a hypothesis at all. If you do not know what a hypothesis is, how am I to believe you are doing any sort of science?

I know this article title is meant to bring a bunch of articles that make social science people feel good. But until you accept E.O. Wilson’s ideas about consilience, that the social sciences need to have beliefs that are not at odds with what is known from science, just as chemistry must be conscilient to other branches of science, then there will be no real similarities.