Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Data Point: Sociologists Smarter than Physicist...

Cosma Shalizi, sociologist, has a truly remarkable intellectual encounter with a... with an I'm-not-sure:

2006 08: On the Superiority of Sociology to String Theory: One of my friends in graduate school had an adviser with a gift for memorable expressions, at least for a theoretical physicist, especially when dismayed by some stupidity. Two of his put-downs which stuck with me were "I could go crazy tomorrow and find an appointment in the sociology department", and "I don't want to criticize you, but this is the way superstring people think".

I was never sure which was supposed to be worse, but now I know. Sociologists have many faults, but they do know better than to try explaining a variable with a constant, while string theorists evidently do not. (Via CapitalistImperialistPig, who has better things to write about.)

The fact that Prof. Motl reasons so badly here that he'd fail my freshman stats class is, of course, infinitely less offensive than fact that he's a bigot (of the "we must squarely face the harsh light of my pseudo-scientific prejudices" variety). But I can't help feeling -- hoping, even -- that the two sorts of idiocy are linked.


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