Which Sciences Are the Most Useful?

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Which Sciences Are the Most Useful?

Post by Red » Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:09 pm

This video gave me the idea for this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk8q500rYo4

Given the vast amount of academic disciplines within the sciences, and disciplines within those disciplines, all interrelated in some way or another, there comes a time when we have to figure out which sciences would be the most beneficial.

Of course, all sciences can have their uses, but it's really all a matter of which are more useful, and how many people do we need in each field. If there were some sort of hierarchy, I'd say things like Engineering and Medicine would be at the top, while something like Paleontology would be near the bottom (not that I'm against paleontology).

Now, I don't think sciences should just be studied on the basis of being useful, since curiosity and learning should definitely be a part of it, but just studying things on the basis of the latter alone is potentially wasteful in both resources and intellect (eg, sending rovers to Mars that costs billions of dollars, one of which is stuck in the ground (which is a waste of funding on NASA's part if you ask me)).

But anyway what say you?
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Tue Dec 11, 2018 6:51 pm

Biochemistry is probably the most useful due to applications to medicine and agriculture.
Psychology might be more useful if we could be more rigorous about it. Right now there's so much bad science in psychology, unfortunately, and even outright fraud. Too important a field to be off track like that.

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Post by Red » Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:05 pm

brimstoneSalad wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 6:51 pm
Psychology might be more useful if we could be more rigorous about it. Right now there's so much bad science in psychology, unfortunately, and even outright fraud. Too important a field to be off track like that.
Is that why it's considered a soft or 'social' science? Or the other way around?
It's unfortunate to see how a lot of studies that turn out to be pseudoscientific are rooted in Psychology (from what I've seen), like the powerposing nonsense.
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:54 am

Red wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:05 pm
Is that why it's considered a soft or 'social' science? Or the other way around?
No, that's just fraud, it's something different.
Even with good experimental design some fields are softer than others because it's harder to control for variables and establish very clear and uncontroversial laws.

Physics is the hardest, then chemistry which is based on that, then biochem and so on.

Now, a science being soft may make it easier for fraud to pass undetected for longer.

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Post by Red » Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:18 pm

brimstoneSalad wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:54 am
No, that's just fraud, it's something different.
Even with good experimental design some fields are softer than others because it's harder to control for variables and establish very clear and uncontroversial laws.
I tried to convince of that @Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz but he disagreed with me.
I know that the natural sciences are considered the hardest and most objective, but isn't something like Psychology natural in a way? Or since is it not overtly natural like Astronomy or Physics? Also, Biology is generally considered to be in the middle, between hard and soft despite being natural.

How can we try to harden these softer sciences, if possible?
brimstoneSalad wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:54 am
Now, a science being soft may make it easier for fraud to pass undetected for longer.
That makes sense. And is unfortunate. Is there any real way to combat such a thing? Or will it be as pervasive like pseudoscience?
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:57 pm

@Red everything except the supernatural (god and such?) are natural.
The question is not whether it is natural, but to what degree variables can be controlled for.

You harden them by controlling for more variables. And that's an entire career... so I can't really say how for any given field. If you figure out how to do that, you might get a Nobel Prize.

There has been speculation that robotics could help in psychology, controlling for the therapist/actor variable in experiments.

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Post by Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz » Mon Dec 17, 2018 2:28 pm

brimstoneSalad wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:54 am
Red wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:05 pm
Is that why it's considered a soft or 'social' science? Or the other way around?
No, that's just fraud, it's something different.
Even with good experimental design some fields are softer than others because it's harder to control for variables and establish very clear and uncontroversial laws.
What makes you say that?
Red wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:18 pm
I tried to convince of that @Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz but he disagreed with me.
No, you tried to tell me that social sciences are more prone to bias than "hard" sciences.
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Post by carnap » Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:10 pm

The sciences aren't really useful in themselves, its how you apply the knowledge that results in "useful" technologies or theories from the point of view of humans.

But I'd argue at this point the social sciences and humanities are the most important. Technology doesn't matter if we just end up hanging ourselves with it and that is the current trajectory.
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Post by Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz » Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:28 pm

carnap wrote:
Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:10 pm
The sciences aren't really useful in themselves, its how you apply the knowledge that results in "useful" technologies or theories from the point of view of humans.

But I'd argue at this point the social sciences and humanities are the most important. Technology doesn't matter if we just end up hanging ourselves with it and that is the current trajectory.
An interesting point of view. I'd say I tend to agree with this.
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Post by Red » Sun Dec 23, 2018 10:13 pm

brimstoneSalad wrote:
Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:57 pm
You harden them by controlling for more variables. And that's an entire career... so I can't really say how for any given field. If you figure out how to do that, you might get a Nobel Prize.
Yes, but am I willing to dedicate my life to it? Would be nice to get a Nobel prize, but I'm not sure if I have the intellect for such a task.

I'm considering majoring in a few sciences, an engineering field, and a social science. I'm considering either economics or psychology. But let's take it all one at a time now.
brimstoneSalad wrote:
Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:57 pm
There has been speculation that robotics could help in psychology, controlling for the therapist/actor variable in experiments.
Oh, so see, people are already hardening it. Not sure if this can apply to something like anthropology though.

I think that the social sciences can have their purposes in terms of utility and shouldn't automatically be thrown out the window. Of course, we need a few of everyone; the scientists, engineers, doctors, etc. and the musicians, directors, authors, etc. and everyone in between. All have their purpose in society, but it's all a matter of finding out how many of each profession we need to maximize overall quality of life.
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