Math came easily to me; not only did I not have anxieties, I enjoyed learning and doing math. In school, I routinely did the classwork way ahead of the rest and then used up the remaining time to finish the assigned homework. (Which explains why my mother claims, and rightfully so, that she has never ever seen me do homework or study.) I understood the abstraction when in engineering too, though by then I knew for certain that my heart was not in math.
When I switched out of engineering to study the subjects that I wanted to know more about, it was clear that most faculty expected me to put my math and engineering background to use. The social sciences were getting heavily into math and statistics and those who could play with numbers had an easier time publishing papers, which was all that mattered.
But, I couldn't care. Because, I could not be convinced that mathematical and statistical modeling would explain the human and social dynamics that I was interested in and, I was even more confident that those models could never predict anything into the future. Instead, I chose to transition into the methods that have been used for centuries--thinking and writing. It was a difficult struggle because the years of schooling in India had screwed up my thinking abilities and had not given me any sense of how to write.
I even made fun of the articles in journals. They were all gobbledygook. Plenty of data but minutiae. Greek symbols expressing statistical modeling of social issues. And sentences that rarely made sense.
The net result of all that? I was a loser out of graduate school! A loser I continue to be. At least, I am my own loser, eh! ;)
Thus, I chuckled when reading this goofy and satirical proposal to abolish the social sciences.
Social science was — it is best to speak in the past tense — a mistake. The dream of a comprehensive science of society, which would elucidate “laws of history” or “social laws” comparable to the physical determinants or “laws” of nature, was one of the great delusions of the 19th century.
It is one crazy physics-envy. Physics--my high school intellectual love affair that I have written about--was the giant among the sciences in the 19th and early 20th centuries, has a bunch of laws that explain quite a few things. Those laws are applicable to processes here in the US as they are to anywhere else on the planet, and even beyond earth. So, the crazies who wanted to study the problems that humans and societies face decided to develop models to explain the problems. And to develop laws and theories. Madness, I say, madness!
While “physics envy” has been most pronounced and destructive in economics, pseudoscience has infected other disciplines that study human behavior as well. The very term “political science” betrays an ambition to create a study of politics and government and world politics that will be a genuine science like physics, chemistry or biology.
There is only one reason why economics has become so influential--it is a reflection of how much we humans have made money to be the most important aspect of our lives. As individuals and as societies, we apparently care more for money than for anything else. Hence, anybody who claims to divine trends in that moneymaking becomes the modern day high priest at the holy altar. Economists, therefore, have been placed on the highest pedestals--never mind the fact that economists have successfully predicted ten of the last five recessions ;)
But, all this is for naught. I am even more of a loser than what I was back in graduate school. A loser I might be, but I am confident that all it will take is one look around the world in order to understand that developing mathematical and statistical models will do nothing to help us with the problems all around. Oh well. Losers don't get to write history! ;)