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NSF funding of social and behavioral sciences.

  1. Jul 21, 2014 #1


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    So I was reading a science mag link today and wondered what you all thought about the NSF's role in funding the social and behavioral sciences?

    I don't really have a problem with it, but I'd rather see more research into actually refining the predictive power of these branches of science. It just seems like there's a lot of really poor quantitative research or loads of philosophical sounding qualitative research that doesn't really support any kind of prediction or model.

    So what do you all think? Should the NSF fund the social and behavioral sciences?
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2014
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  3. Jul 21, 2014 #2
    Considering how poorly our society can act sometimes I think it's good. It's not a good thing that technology innovation laps social innovation.
  4. Jul 22, 2014 #3


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    Is social science in its current state really social innovation though? With an inability to control or even know many of the variables exist that are inherent to studying people, are all the results currently published in journals all spurious? There is a real lack of predictive power currently in the social sciences, and the boundaries to overcome them might not be surmountable; such as ethical and feasibility boundaries.

    Social sciences have a much greater opportunity to shape policy making or cultural norms than the Natural sciences. They’re also, to the disdain of many a natural scientists ego, far more complex. It just seems like instead of improving predictive quality, designing experiments or process that can overcome known boundaries they’re for the most part ignored by social scientists. Instead we get papers like “Good teachers improve student outcomes.” What does that even mean? What is a good teacher? How are you able to account for the quality of students between “good teachers” and bad ones? How is a paper like this allowed to shape policy (Obama mentioned these results way back in 2009)? I just don’t understand.

    I don’t mind the funding by the NSF, I just think the quantities they’re using to measure it’s impact are flawed. It seems to me like the social sciences need to be spending grant money on improving the science aspect of their field. Are there any social scientists actually doing this?
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