Opinion (Nicholas A. Christakis, physician and sociologist at Yale University, co-director of the Yale Institute for Network Science): “The natural sciences are evolving with the times. The perfection of cloning techniques gave rise to stem-cell biology; advances in computer science contributed to systems biology.
“In contrast, the social sciences have stagnated. They offer essentially the same set of academic departments and disciplines that they have for nearly 100 years: sociology, economics, anthropology, psychology and political science. This is not only boring but also counterproductive, constraining engagement with the scientific cutting edge and stifling the creation of new and useful knowledge. Such inertia reflects an unnecessary insecurity and conservatism, and helps explain why the social sciences don’t enjoy the same prestige as the natural sciences.
“One reason citizens, politicians and university donors sometimes lack confidence in the social sciences is that social scientists too often miss the chance to declare victory and move on to new frontiers. … So social scientists should devote a small palace guard to settled subjects and redeploy most of their forces to new fields like social neuroscience, behavioral economics, evolutionary psychology and social epigenetics, most of which, not coincidentally, lie at the intersection of the natural and social sciences. Behavioral economics, for example, has used psychology to radically reshape classical economics.
“New social science departments could also help to better train students by engaging in new types of pedagogy. For example, in the natural sciences, even college freshmen do laboratory experiments. Why is this rare in the social sciences? When students learn about social phenomena, why don’t they go to the lab to examine them — how markets reach equilibrium, how people cooperate, how social ties are formed? Newly invented tools make this feasible. It is now possible to use the Internet to enlist thousands of people to participate in randomized experiments.”
My Comment: Further development of the social sciences is related to changes in society, to society acquiring a new property of bestowal and love. Scientists, who study social processes, do not have this property yet, and therefore, they cannot examine them.
First, they need to acquire new properties themselves and then study how they will be born and manifest in society. So, precisely the scientists have to learn themselves, then explore the manifestation of these forces in our world and explain them to wide circles of society, up to the point of creating new disciplines.