Jul 22, 2013

The Insecurity and Conservatism of Social Scientists

"For the past century, people have looked to the physical and biological sciences to solve important problems. The social sciences offer equal promise for improving human welfare; our lives can be greatly improved through a deeper understanding of individual and collective behavior. But to realize this promise, the social sciences, like the natural sciences, need to match their institutional structures to today’s intellectual challenges". (Nicholas A. Christakis, a physician and sociologist at Yale University, is a co-director of the Yale Institute for Network Science). Read more... See also the Human Nature Lab at Yale University: "Our lab integrates biological and social approaches to human nature, in what we call biosocial science. In addition, we bring the power of our species’ newest adaptation to life on this planet – the internet – into our sphere of inquiry. We do this by exploiting the availability of data regarding the behaviors of millions of people online and also by deploying experiments online in order to study behaviors ranging from cooperation to health-seeking. Humans are at once social and biological animals, and our bodies have evolved so that our perceptions and experiences come to be reflected in the biological systems that regulate our bodily functions and behaviors – via changes in our hormonal, neurological, and other physiological systems, and even via changes in the expression of our genes".  And the book Connected. The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (here's the book webpage).