Social Question

LostInParadise's avatar

What have we learned from the studies of psychology, sociology, anthropology and education?

Asked by LostInParadise (25680points) April 14th, 2010

I was going to include social sciences in general, but I checked the Wikipedia article on the social sciences and it included several fields that I personally do not consider social sciences, like archaeology and geography. They also included some that I would agree are social sciences and which I would have to concede have made important contributions, like linguistics and economics.

So sticking to the ones that are in the question, what have they done for us? Is there even general agreement on basic principles?

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16 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

It’s hard to answer this question in an effective way. What you are asking is something that people are going to college for lol…...You can’t summarize centuries of work on a internet forum.

tranquilsea's avatar

We would each need to take one of those disciplines and assign at least a couple of people to it in order to give each a fair shake. Personally, I think they have all given us a lot.

ragingloli's avatar

Well, for example, psychology vanquished the absurd field of excorcism, and instead created methods to effectively combat mental issues. It helps reintegrate criminals back into society by helping them to overcome their criminal inclinations, it improves the quality of life for many people, it helps devising more effective techniques in education (though admittedly, they are slow to adopt them), it creates knowledge about societal interactions and thus helps people to better interact with society, reducing conflict and increasing quality of life, etc.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

(Archaeology is a branch of anthropology.)

nikipedia's avatar

Is this a serious question?

Here is a list of topics in psychology. By my very rough estimation, there are about 3,000 topics here.

Here is a list of topics in sociology. I counted about 200 topics in letters A through D, so I am estimating there are about 1,200 topics listed there.

Here is a list of topics in anthropology. (333 pages)

Here is a list of topics in education. (79 pages).

I hope the number counts make it clear why I am linking you rather than attempting to provide even a cursory summary of the answer to your question.

Even though I am a “hard” scientist, this question strikes me as reeeeally immature and offensive. I am not really clear on your beef with the social sciences but evidenced by the above >4,000 topics, they obviously have taught us something about something. Whether you personally deem those things important is up to you.

LostInParadise's avatar

I stand by my question. I am sorry if you are offended. I do not consider a bunch of polysyllabic terms to be an answer. Name a general principle in any of these fields that is not transparently obvious. I took a course in psychology back when behaviorism was all the rage. We learned about a whole bunch of experiments with rats that were of no significance whatsoever.

@ragingloli , As far as I can tell, treating people with mental disorders is much more art than science. A cleric with no training in psychology can be just as effective as a trained therapist.

nikipedia's avatar

@LostInParadise: I just named 4,000 terms in these fields. If they’re obvious to you, congratulations.

What would it take to convince you that these fields have worth?

plethora's avatar

@Blackberry I was going to answer this, but your post said it all.

LostInParadise's avatar

@nikipedia A word is not a principle. Give me a scientific law in any of those fields. For example, the law of supply and demand is a principle of economics, which may seem obvious now, but took some time to arrive at. It says that as price increases, the amount that people are willing to produce increases and the amount people are willing to buy decreases. In perfect competition, the intersection of the supply and demand curves determines the price of the item. In a monopoly, the amount produced is restricted so as to maximize profit. I consider the discovery of this to be significant. Now give me a comparable law in the study of education, where people are still fighting over the comparative advantages of teaching phonics or whole word.

Hexr's avatar

I think they’ve basically helped us intelligently co-exist. They help us understand the human race individually, in groups and in culture, and therefore helped us understand each other and ourselves. These fields have improved acceptance and empathy and brought logic and reason into our lives. Very valuable if you ask me.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@LostInParadise Clerics can help people and helping people might be defined as an art in some instances. But… to say that a cleric can help someone just as much as a psychologist simply isn’t true – especially if we’re talking about helping someone that has a real mental disorder. Psychologists know more about the brain in general than a cleric ever will. Unless, of course, that cleric is also a psychologist. I also don’t think it’s worth it to argue art over science and vice versa. Art and science are far more related that a lot of people realize.

What these fields have done for human beings is innumerable. Although each of them have a specialized area, they are also intricately interconnected. What one person learns in one field in turn helps another person learn in another field. The question, in my opinion, shouldn’t be “What have they done for us?”, but instead should be, “What haven’t they done for us?”

thriftymaid's avatar

Know who funded studies before you buy into them.

nikipedia's avatar

@LostInParadise: You’re setting these fields up to fail. You’re asking this question: can you find a scientific law in something that by definition is not scientific?

And if you see no worth in anything other than science, you have my pity.

LostInParadise's avatar

I am not saying that they are not worthwhile. I am just questioning whether they should be called science as in “social sciences” and whether they have made scientific contributions. I have nothing against art, but art is not science.

mattbrowne's avatar

There are no silver bullet taxonomies classifying knowledge and fields of study.

s321scba's avatar

first of all this doesn’t need to be controversial if you uphold the social sciences mentioned then it seems you could be happy to share and develop your opinions of it

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