Academia:

Too much Social Science
Not Enough Social Technology

At this point I have to get into the intellectual history of the subject, and of course all the intellectual history I know comes from a very unreliable source by the name of Neville, so I'd suggest the use of large amounts of salt.

As the story was told to me, in the beginning the world was without form and void, and then God said "Let Newton Be" and there was light. (That formulation of the story obviously predates Mr. Neville, but the following doesn't.) After Newton, apple, gravity, and all that, the precursors of social science people (including the Adam Smith of Moral Sentiments and many others down to the present day) were insanely jealous of Professor Newton, because he had single handedly discovered a Force of Nature. Up until Einstein nobody ever considered gravity except as something utterly real, a piece of mathematical perfection, on which the toolmarks of the Deity could be clearly seen.

So inspired, the primitive social science types and psychologists started to look for Forces of Nature, the real truth (sorry, I mean the Real Truth) underlying the shabby exteriors of human beings.

And so, while we have a department of physics, clearly a science, and a department of electrical engineering, clearly a technology, only the poor cousin of a True Science -- we don't really have a department of psychological engineering or sociological engineering.

Psychologist and sociologists are utterly determined to be real scientists, and so place their gathering of "Knowledge", meaning scientific knowledge, which, following Newton, they all understand to be prior to and infinitely more important than any mere technology or applied science, (to which they a lot only an handful of courses -- the applied science must obviously wait for the pure science which is just around the corner, real soon now).

But for me the "how-to" knowledge, technology, is not inferior to or logically subsequent to the "what and why" knowledge which is science. In fact, I say, until that great day when psychology and sociology appear in their true glory as (sense the capital letters) true sciences, with a genuine body of scientific knowledge, i.e. real soon now, technology is actually more important and clearly "prior" to the what-and-why sciences.

Indeed, how do you know when psychological or sociological knowledge is correct? If you read the textbooks and look at what these people do, you see a lot of statistical "tests of significance" which purport to show when some correlation between two variables is really significant and when it is just some artifact of the experiment. But in fact the best way of finding out if some psych or sociological "truth" is real is just to look at what it helps you to DO. If psych. or sociological "facts" are facts, then there should be something that they will enable you to do, that you couldn't do before. Some "applied science" or technology.

(A gap in the argument here, perhaps? Please ignore it, all of this page is very much underconstruction, even if not marked by the over-familiar Black GIF.

There is some limited use of psychological testing, and at MDA large numbers of us were given Briggs-Myers tests and counselled about our personality factors. But at MDA, as at almost all other places, there was no real attempt to use this to actually do something. It seems obvious to me that groups of INTP types like ourselves should not be put together in teams, and even used as project managers, an obvious ESTJ or ESFJ role.

A large part of why this stuff is rarely used for something useful has to do with it's status as a supposed psychological theory, i.e. something to be proven in the laboratory, not something to be used in the field. There are lots of such theories, all based on some variant of factor analysis and to my way for thinking all more or less equivalent.

Part of the trouble is more profound -- elsewhere I noted that the computational power of a universe of computers could not solve the human combinatorial problems, "even if all the compatibility information had already been provided" (or some such words). But there is quite a lot that could be achieved with even rough approximate solutions.

My complaint is really that no one seems to be working on these problems -- we are all still left to make our own social connections as best we can, and to hell with compatibility or appropriateness.

I'd be much happier if universities and colleges could take these comments seriously and provide courses in social technology, based on material such as these web pages. I don't seriously imagine this will happen any time soon, but it is still something to wish for. For that matter, as long as I am indulging myself in fantasies, I've often wished I could have a hand in the creation of a new university or college, which I would organize very differently, using the optimization approach in which students could be matched to the most appropriate courses (or better yet, to individual lectures and seminars). But that is sheer fantasy, and I have indulged myself in it quite enough for one web page.

If you have not already done so, you might check out A Personal Narrative and the other pages it refers to.


Copyright © 1998 Douglas P. Wilson


Copyright © 2009   Douglas Pardoe Wilson

Other relevant content:

New: Social Technology through Diagrams

New: Social Techs novel online

New: Social Technology Blog

New: Social Technology Wiki

Please see these web pages:

The main Social Technology page.

Find Compatibles , the key page, with the real solution to all other problems explained

Technological Fantasies , a page about future technology

Social Tech a page about Social Technology, technology for social purposes.  I think I was the first person to use this phrase on the Internet, quite a long time ago.


Roughly corresponding to these web pages are the following blogs :

Social Technology the main blog, hosted on this site, with posts imported from the following blogger.com blogs, which still exist and are useable.

Find Compatibles devoted to matching people with friends, lovers, jobs, places to live and so on, but doing so in ways that will actually work, using good math, good algorithms, good analysis.

Technological Fantasies devoted to future stuff, new ideas, things that might be invented or might happen, such as what is listed above and below.

Sex-Politics-Religion is a blog about these important topics, which I have been told should never be mentioned in polite conversation.  Alright that advice does seem a bit dated, but many people are still told not to bring up these subjects around the dinner table.

I believe I was the first person on the Internet to use the phrase Social Technology -- years before the Web existed.

Those were the good old days, when the number of people using the net exceeed the amount of content on it, so that it was easy to start a discussion about such an upopular topic.  Now things are different.  There are so many web pages that the chances of anyone finding this page are low, even with good search engines like Google.   Oh, well.

By Social Technology I mean the technology for organizing and maintaining human society.  The example I had most firmly in mind is the subject of  Find Compatibles , what I consider to be the key page, the one with the real solution to all other problems explained.

As I explained on my early mailing lists and later webpages, I find that social technology has hardly improved at all over the years.   We still use representative democracy, exactly the same as it was used in the 18th century.  By contrast, horse and buggy transporation has been replaced by automobiles and airplanes, enormous changes.

In the picture below you will see some 18th century technology, such as the ox-plow in the middle of the picture.  How things have changed since then in agricultural technology.  But we still use chance encounters, engagements and marriages to organize our home life and the raising of children.  

I claim that great advances in social technology are not only possible but inevitable.  I have written three novels about this, one preposterously long, 5000 pages, another merely very very long, 1500 pages.  The third is short enough at 340 pages to be published some day.  Maybe.  The topic is still not interesting to most people.   I will excerpt small parts of these novels on the web sometime, maybe even post the raw text for the larger two.


This site includes many pages dating from 1997 to 2008 which are quite out of date.  They are included here partly to show the development of these ideas and partly to cover things the newer pages do not.  There will be broken links where these pages referenced external sites.  I've tried to fix up or maiintain all internal links, but some will probably have been missed.   One may wish to look at an earlier version of this page , rather longer, and at an overview of most parts of what can be called a bigger project.

Type in this address to e-mail me.  The image is interesting.  See Status of Social Technology

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009, Douglas Pardoe Wilson

I have used a series of e-mail address over the years, each of which eventually became out of date because of a change of Internet services or became almost useless because of spam.  Eventually I stuck with a Yahoo address, but my inbox still fills up with spam and their spam filter still removes messages I wanted to see.  So I have switched to a new e-mail service.  Web spiders should not be able to find it, since it is hidden in a jpeg picture.   I have also made it difficult to reach me.  The picture is not a clickable link.  To send me e-mail you must want to do so badly enough to type this address in.  That is a nuisance, for which I do apologize, but I just don't want a lot of mail from people who do not care about what I have to say.


Cross-References:

Work-In-Progress


Copyright © 2009   Douglas Pardoe Wilson