Re the hypotheses---Social scientists, astronomers and CSI agents are the only ones I'm aware of who routinely evaluate events after the fact. The best, IMHO, such as the historian Toynbee, fit facts to a model. At it's worst, the model becomes the event and before long we're deep in reification (the Achilles heel of Structural Functionalism) or that favorite of lazy reporters, *abduction* (this is our favorite explanation, so that must be what happened.) Mathematicians, philosophers and those with a good math and logic background prefer their battles timeless and relatively absent of worldly references. Great theater, but as Scott Berkun noted in his excellent article<<>> just because the logic holds together, doesn't mean it's true. Or correct. Or anything--other than consistent.

But logic is an inestimable tool if used to evaluate models such as those proposed, developed and ridden into the dirt by many prominent social scientists. It is always refreshing to see a lumbering behemoth like structural functionalism (a sociological model) dismantled by a skilled logician who knows reification when he sees it (saw a little of that with Lee Corbins' excellent rant.) But it would be even better to see these tools applied to truly strange events that take place in the real world---things that Sheldrake writes about, for example. Things that *happen* to us all.

Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen. It's the knee-jerk reaction of most mathematicians and logicians to deride real world events as "coincidence," when in fact, they are comparing the event to mathematical certainty, and logical clarity. They might say, "Why evaluate Sheldrake's "precognitive" dogs in terms of a physics model, because Sheldrake's dogs are not really precognitive." That protocol (if you can call it that) doesn't even rise to the level of *bad* abduction. It's a protocol that closes doors rather than opens them, is not designed to divine new information, and is neither analytic *nor* synthetic. Worst of all, it claims to be science when it fact, it is preordained belief. In other words, it's okay to bend the rules and prejudge a variable as long as you first call it "rubbish."

Slip-ups aside, I would like to see a rigorous application of the powerful tools of philosophy, logic and mathematics applied to the study areas of social science, i.e. the real world. Physicists are great at telling us why the rings of Saturn have braids, but terrible (or worse than that, dismissive) of events that occur involving consciousness. (Social scientists are no better---they fall back on things like structural functionalism). I suggest its time for the social scientists to let the logicians and mathematicians have a look at the data, and it's time for the logicians and mathematicians to enter the real world and make an honest attempt at trying to explain some strange phenomena.

That asking too much?


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