post by Bill Gardner
I criticized a recent blog post by Gary Gutting on the supposed over-valuing of social science in policy decision-making. Andrew Gelman is also skeptical that social science is over-valued ("Responding to a bizarre anti-social-science screed"):
In no area are scientific conclusions “the primary guides to setting policy.” Political and business leaders rule policy; the rest of us can just supply advice. It’s not like physicists are in charge of energy policy (if so, I expect we’d have a big fat carbon tax), nor are biologists in charge of the teaching of evolution in many states. So I’m not quite sure what Gutting is talking about.
The only place where I see social scientists controlling policy is (some) economists’ influence over economic policy... But this can’t be Gutting’s point: if it were, he’d talk about economists, not social science in general. But in that case I just don’t get it. It’s not like there are a bunch of number-crunching sociologists running around telling the government what to do!