Saturday, April 16, 2011

Social science academics

The academic conference I'm attending is finishing up today. (My sell-out research paper was well-received). After three days of observing academics, it is clear to me that the social sciences attract precisely the wrong kind of people. They are I-want-to-help-and-thus-look-good people. In terms of personality, they are like sheep. Social science needs curmudgeons, but it gets womanly men and ideological women. I've never seen people so desperate to say the right thing. Cults have nothing on these folks.

13 comments:

IHTG said...

It seems to me that the "curmudgeon" personality type has the potential to make a comeback. Look at the popularity of "House, MD". People see the need for that kind of person.

The Cultural Wallflower said...

Yes. I also work in the social sciences, and I've found that people like this are more likely to engage in relational aggression, rather than have a straight out debate with you. That is, they're more happy attempting to destroy your position and relationships and isolate you, as opposed to hashing out differences directly, and putting up precious beliefs on the altar of empiricism. In essence, they fight like women as well. Obviously, no science can function effectively with people like this stuffing its ranks.

I think particularly with psychology, it's the draw of helping people through sensitivity to feelings that calls the milksops out. When someone says, "let's cover the world over with eggshells for walking on!", expect psychologists to say, "hmm, we can do that!" We're all like the mothers of handicapped children, apparently.

May I ask, what conference?

Jim Bowery said...

That's funny, I was going to say that House is exactly what the Social Sciences need to continue their theocratic behavior:

Justify treatment of unwilling human subjects with your direct link to God for and on their behalf.

Of course, unlike Social Scientists, not even House subjects his unwilling human subjects to experimental treatments. That's probably for the next season of House.

Even then, House won't have subjected entire populations of unwilling human subjects to experimental treatments.

OK, so maybe they'll need one more season of House to get there.

OneSTDV said...

My sell-out research paper was well-received

What do you mean by "sell-out"?

Ron Guhname said...

I'm doing mainstream research, which means crappy research. I plan to do serious stuff when I can afford to make a lot of enemies.

Xamuel said...

Christ, how right you are. Part of the problem is that a PhD by its very nature is about doing research (it could be called a research degree); but, being the top degree, it gets slapped on all sorts of non-research jobs as a requirement (lecturer, principal, etc). So all these people who really don't care at all about research get crammed into a program all about research, and since they make up the overwhelming majority of their program, of course they pass (no school is willing to fail the 90% of social science PhD candidates who ought to be failed).

SFG said...

"I think particularly with psychology, it's the draw of helping people through sensitivity to feelings that calls the milksops out. When someone says, "let's cover the world over with eggshells for walking on!", expect psychologists to say, "hmm, we can do that!" We're all like the mothers of handicapped children, apparently."

Yeah, one of the things I like about evolutionary psychology is that it (among other things) says that man (and woman) is a grasping, greedy, selfish monkey. Has a lot in common with the Christian idea of fallen man, IMHO.

Deckin said...

It could be worse, you academic social scientists. At least you have Jonathan Haidt, who appears to be open to reason--and there was the great Herrnstein and various others (non-coincidentally mostly emeriti before they were able to express themselves).

You could be an academic philosopher! Read Brian Leiter and weep that his site and his positions are accepted in toto by virtually all of the biggest names in the field. Ugh.

We sorely miss David Stove.

Anonymous said...

"Social science needs curmudgeons, but it gets womanly men and ideological women. I've never seen people so desperate to say the right thing. Cults have nothing on these folks."

Very well put. I think they need to get the ridicule treatment.

Oh, that there were a non-lib version of Saturday Night Live.

SFG said...

"Oh, that there were a non-lib version of Saturday Night Live."

Didn't they try that? Half-hour News Hour?

The problem is that PC prevents really ridiculing someone like Al Sharpton.

SFG said...

There probably is also some difference between conservative and liberal personality types. Respect for authority is not good for comedy.

Bill said...

At cocktail parties, academics spend 10% of their time talking and 90% of their time assessing what the socially approved thing to say is. The ones with tenure are almost as bad as the ones without. At best, you get the same tedious opinions from them, with a little saltier language and a little nastier condemnation of suspected deviationists.

Sam said...

You've never met a Chicago school economist? Hell even a ol' economic softie like MIT's Esther Duflo thinks that to solve poverty, we might sometimes just need to "leave people alone"...

Then again, this is probably the only Social Science that is packed by those whose alternative employment is Wall Street. (I know, I'm one of the economists in training)

But if you are talking about a Berkeley Sociologist or their ilk, you are spot on.