- Apr 2018
- Upland, Sweden
History has no value. The return-on-investment is practically nill compared to the other social sciences. The social sciences fit in because they are tools. They have relavence in today's world. The social sciences explain what was. That's the "history" part, i.e. the investigation of past data. Then the social sciences lay out what currently is, e.g. in politics, economics, society, culture, religion, etc. Then they try to project what will be. History is only one third of the equation. The social sciences are more value-added especially when it's packaged with science, technology, engineering, math and language/grammar.
The social "sciences" (meaning Economics, Sociology, Psychology, Political "science" etc.) are often very good at explaining things that someone with common sense and experience can understand on their own, using jargon and arbitrary theoretical constructs. When it comes to more complex systems I think the natural sciences and the (provided they are rigorously and honestly executed) humanities are much superior. The very idea of social "sciences" is somewhat arrogant and conceited in my view - they are all instrumental, useful for creating particular systems, for particular reasons - they are pretty bad and autistic when it comes to understanding. There are obvious exceptions to this rule, but I think it generally holds.
One such exception seems to be "Statistics" - they are a pretty useful tool, as trying to map human behaviours quantitatively is obviously something that seems to work, even often on the individual level (unfortunately) - but to be honest you don't need to be an economist to do any of this. You'd probably do better to hire a professional statistician, or a physicist even - just give them a survey course in "General humanities" and they'd be set to go (or don't, and watch them be just as efficient at manipulating large groups of people with the added benefit of less ethical blowback...). Another exeption is probably some of the more empirically grounded realms of psychology. Classical conditioning works - even though it has quite a lot of side effects. The Stanford Prison Experiment was also pretty useful. Still, what many of these more empirically grounded facets of the social sciences have in common though, is that they more often than not put the scientist in a position to manipulate vast amounts of human beings, often for very inhuman ends - while leaving little room for the scientist to actually question or redefine said ends; at least not without taking in knowledge from outside of the field (like History, Philosophy, Theology, Biology, etc.).
When these subjects are not even useful (which is often the case) they tend to put the practicioner into a reductionistic as well as often quite epistemologically and/ or ethically dubious starting position, forcing him or her to make all sorts of assumptions of human nature - "making reality it the theory", so to speak. Usually whichever social "scientist" we are speaking of is the hostage of some earlier, much more humanistically inclined "meta-theoretician" (Karl Marx was one such man, very popular in the 20th century...) who created the entire theoretical framework that he is operating in. History is in this case much more useful - provided it is done right - because 1) it actually puts you right next to *real* evidence of the *real* world - garbled as it often is. 2) It doesn't kill your soul. I can't emphasize this enough.
The humanities actually provide an alternative way to knowledge, and to different kinds of knowledge and experience that the natural sciences cannot by definition give you. The social sciences are just a much less empirically grounded, much less rigorous and much less useful version of the natural sciences. Provided you more or less buy the secular worldview (and there is no reason for you not to do so, according to most social "scientists") then there is literally, by definition nothing that the social sciences can do which the natural sciences cannot, theoretically speaking, do better. The fact that social "scientists" often have much more haughty views of their own claims than people from the "professions" (accountants, lawyers, engineers, doctors etc.) while simultaneously also having much less contact with reality just makes me generally doubt that their existence in society as disciplines from the humanities actually has a point. In fact, they often seem to be as dependent upon their power to spin the narrative and control people's perceptions of reality for them even to be "useful" in the first place.
In short: Economics is called "the dismal science" for a reason, and only half of all psychological studies are even replicatable - for a reason. Don't even get me started on sociology. The themes of these disciplines is something that History touches upon anyway. Specializing in them alone though is great if you want to turn yourself into a "bugman" - if you want to become a proper human being then not so much.
Likes: Spartakus X