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Making Social Sciences More ScientificThe Need for Predictive Models$
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Rein Taagepera

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199534661

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199534661.001.0001

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Can Social Science Approaches Find the Law of Gravitation?

Can Social Science Approaches Find the Law of Gravitation?

Chapter:
(p.14) 2 Can Social Science Approaches Find the Law of Gravitation?
Source:
Making Social Sciences More Scientific
Author(s):

Rein Taagepera (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199534661.003.0002

When a number of social scientists were given synthetic data that fitted the universal law of gravitation, they all missed the underlying pattern. Yet they found results satisfactory and complete by the current social science norms: high R 2, degree of significance of input factors, and the direction of their impact. The design of this experiment can be criticized, but it still should give us pause. If some social phenomena existed that were of the form most prevalent in physics, then the quantitative methods currently dominant in social sciences might not suffice to discover them.

Keywords:   degree of significance, law of gravitation, quantitative methods, R2, social science norms

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