<a href="http://www.ma.utexas.edu/howto/images/far-side_MidvaleSchoolForTheGifted.jpg">This</a> is the comic that used hang on the bookshelf in the gifted class I was in as a kid, pre-home school, as the teacher used to remind us, represented a valuable lesson in humility. I've tended to keep a copy of it around and visible in many an office or setting I worked in, every time someone suggests rule by the smart in any given situation, I think of that.
The biggest problems I see are that making sausages remains a messy business, and that, as a rule, the more familiar people are with books the less familiar they are with people. In many professions that is a trivial matter, but it is huge in government. Not only in serving the publics needs and desires (which often conflict,) but in getting the opportunity in the first place. I still think Stevenson and Gore would have been light years better presidents than Ike or Bush, but their relative ability is irrelevant since neither could get the job. Patton was a better general than Ike, too, but a grossly inferior politician, which is why he went from his superior to his subordinate (in the middle of the war that proved him our greatest general, no less.)
Oh, I cut them some slack, they routinely hang themselves with it. But that was fairly tongue in cheek anyway. A lot of these kinda studies are legit enough in of themselves they just get warped by the news the way so many science article do. I also like ragging on the soft scientists, because it allows me to remind myself how superior us physical scientists are, really though I just think anyone who produces research of this sort in the name of scientific purity should publish their own political affiliations and opinions to go with it. Of all people, psychologists should know about mental bias and how awareness of it does not automatically remove the effect of it.
As noted elsewhere, they also know best how to frame questions in a way that mitigates such biases. While I dislike how he expressed it, I agree with Cannoli that sounds like another allegation of "cultural bias." I never put much stock in that, and still do not. I recall that article I linked about eye witness accounts noting even neutral questions can induce people to believe they SAW things that never happened, a belief that grows with each retelling, but I have no reason to doubt the questions themselves in this study.
I was thinking more in terms of the gas than the container itself, but it was hard to think of a concise way to express it as such, since gases expand to fill their container. It was an imperfect analogy, as all such are, but I am sure you got the gist of it: Social scientists must measure dyanamic systems, often when even identifying, let alone calculating, all equally dynamic variables is impossible, and frequently with improvised tools and an observer effect that would give Heisenberg himself pause. Oh, and the vote/election/budget allocation is next week, so make it fast. At least when they are done they have the satisfaction of knowing they cannot claim even general certainty about ANY of it, but dozens of people with stated agendas prejudiced by the research will still be there with a list of errors.
Physicists have their own set of challenges, some unique, but need never deal with people insisting the "kinetic elites" "gravitational media bias" is denying hydrogen has 1.5 protons because they hate God and America. And if they did, they could point to cold hard indisputable and independently measurable data refuting that claim. The social scientist has no such luxury; his choice is who will attack him, and why.
Last First in wotmania Chat
Slightly better than chocolate.
Love still can't be coerced.
Please Don't Eat the Newbies!
LoL. Be well, RAFOlk.