1. Subscribersonhouse
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    07 May '10 14:15
    http://www.physorg.com/news192381642.html

    This puts moral development in a new light.
  2. Standard memberPalynka
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    07 May '10 14:34
    Is this science?
  3. Subscribersonhouse
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    07 May '10 14:50
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Is this science?
    I would say science in the making, news at 11.
  4. Standard memberPBE6
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    07 May '10 14:57
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Is this science?
    I'm not sure that's a fair criticism. Admittedly, sociology is always a bit sketchy when it comes to hard facts, but this computer simulation is just the first step in the study which will eventually involve 36 human test subjects. I think the simulation is enough to show that moral behaviour can be more highly influenced by a neighbourhood-like subset of a population than by the moral behaviour of population as a whole. Hopefully the actual live testing will shed some light on whether or not this actually is the case. I think once that stage is complete your question will be a valid and important one.
  5. Standard memberPalynka
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    07 May '10 15:10
    Originally posted by PBE6
    I'm not sure that's a fair criticism. Admittedly, sociology is always a bit sketchy when it comes to hard facts, but this computer simulation is just the first step in the study which will eventually involve 36 human test subjects. I think the simulation is enough to show that moral behaviour can be more highly influenced by a neighbourhood-like subset ...[text shortened]... he case. I think once that stage is complete your question will be a valid and important one.
    Why is it not valid now?

    Do you need results to judge the validity of research? If at the end you reject your hypothesis is it not also scientific what you did?
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    07 May '10 15:25
    I think it's perfectly valid science. Whether it turns out to be a useful model is a completely different question.
  7. Standard memberPalynka
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    07 May '10 15:331 edit
    Originally posted by mtthw
    I think it's perfectly valid science. Whether it turns out to be a useful model is a completely different question.
    Oh, I got a good one already.

    mtthw: "Side-stepping the question of whether economics is a science (and I don't think it is)"

    Well, mtthw, this thing here is a very, very standard economics procedure. Game theory is a basic tool of economics and is often used exactly in the same way.

    Do a theoretical model, simulate it and then compare it to the data (often including doing controlled small group experiments). Exactly the same as here.

    *holds breath*
  8. Standard memberPBE6
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    07 May '10 15:54
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Why is it not valid now?

    Do you need results to judge the validity of research? If at the end you reject your hypothesis is it not also scientific what you did?
    It's not valid now because you are criticizing a small part of the scientific process for not being scientific. Wait until the process is complete. The scientists haven't made any claim (at least no claims that were reported in the article) that this simulation is the experiment which validates or invalidates their hypothesis. It is merely a tool to discern whether or not the hypothesis is viable. As noted in the final paragraph of the article, the actual experiment is yet to come:

    "Now, with this game theory simulation showing that moral behavior evolves from individual interactions, Helbing and his team are building a lab that might be able to test how the theory might work with actual people. They want 36 test subjects who can interact, and help determine how cooperative and moral behaviors arise, and whether people behave as the statistical physics say they will."


    From a practical standpoint, how do expect the scientists to get funding for the real experiment without demonstrating that the hypothesis at least has merit?
  9. silicon valley
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    07 May '10 16:15
    next up: sociologists solve the Grand Unified Theory!
  10. Standard memberPalynka
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    07 May '10 16:21
    Originally posted by PBE6
    It's not valid now because you are criticizing a small part of the scientific process for not being scientific. Wait until the process is complete. The scientists haven't made any claim (at least no claims that were reported in the article) that this simulation is the experiment which validates or invalidates their hypothesis. It is merely a tool to discern ...[text shortened]... unding for the real experiment without demonstrating that the hypothesis at least has merit?
    I'm not criticizing anything, I just asked a question. Theoretical research is valid research and is part of science, in my opinion. If the empirical part requires theoretical research, how can we say that only the former is science? Doesn't make sense, it's all part of a process. How many PhDs are doing purely theoretical research on particle physics? Are they not part of "science" just because they don't have a particle accelerator in their backyard?

    To clarify, the point of my question was outing those who are so quick to say that economics is not a science and yet accept the same exact thing as science when the people doing it call themselves physicists.
  11. silicon valley
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    07 May '10 16:34
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operations_research
  12. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    07 May '10 16:37
    And we are one step closer to Harry Seldon's "Psychohistory"!
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    07 May '10 16:481 edit
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Oh, I got a good one already.

    mtthw: "Side-stepping the question of whether economics is a science ([b]and I don't think it is
    )"

    Well, mtthw, this thing here is a very, very standard economics procedure. Game theory is a basic tool of economics and is often used exactly in the same way.

    Do a theoretical model, simulate it and then compare it to ...[text shortened]... luding doing controlled small group experiments). Exactly the same as here.

    *holds breath*[/b]
    True, economics does have a scientific side to it. Maybe I've underestimated the prevalence of these small group experiments. Most of economics seems to me not to actually follow the scientific method though - not enough falsifiability and repeatability. "not a science" is too simplistic. "Not as much of a science as it thinks it is" is a lot closer to what I really think about it 🙂.

    In a similar manner, what they're doing here seems scientific to me, within the bounds of a fairly closed system. Whether they can apply it to a wider, more useful, problem in a scientific way is more debateable.
  14. Standard memberPalynka
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    07 May '10 16:551 edit
    Originally posted by mtthw
    True, economics does have a scientific side to it. Maybe I've underestimated the prevalence of these small group experiments. Most of economics seems to me not to actually follow the scientific method though - not enough falsifiability and repeatability. "not a science" is too simplistic. "Not as much of a science as it thinks it is" is a lot closer to wha they can apply it to a wider, more useful, problem in a scientific way is more debateable.
    Fair enough, nice answer. I agree that "economics" is used and abused in an unscientific manner (especially by politicians, journalists and the abominable "think-tanks" ), but the discipline is not at fault for that...
  15. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    07 May '10 17:101 edit
    Soft sciences are difficult sciences, but they're still science! All sciences work on statistical principles. Just look at the Ideal Gas Law or Quantum Mechanics.
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