RE: Selection of scientific theories - metascientific experiment

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Thu May 03 2001 - 15:26:53 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Selection of scientific theories - metascientific experiment
    Date: Thu, 3 May 2001 15:26:53 +0100 
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    I think you raise interesting questions here, but I'm not so sure of the
    ethics of your proposed tests of your hypotheses, particularly trying to
    trick publishers into either publishing joke articles, or into not
    publishing "good" articles. What would that really show apart from the
    gullibility of particular journal staff?

    Doing some kind of bibliometric research on what is already out there, on
    the other hand, is a different matter. Still, you'd need to have very clear
    definitions of how you define non-falsifiable and falsifiable research, and
    I think you presume too much in this regard.
    How, for example, would you charaterise the content of articles in a journal
    like 'Media, Culture & Society'? There are a number of different research
    paradigms that operate in fields like sociology, cultural studies, and media
    studies, and a journal like MCS, covers many of them. Some of these bear
    the hallmarks of the concerns you're talking about, some categorically

    If you stick to easy targets like Social Text, then you may demonstrate your
    hypotheses, but what about those journals on the margins? Where would the
    Journal of Memetics fit, for example?

    BTW, holistic doesn't mean necessarily mean anything goes, it means that
    social phenomena may often be produced by a number of contributory factors
    that to all be taken into account to understand causal relationships-
    nothing inherently problematic in that. There are those that reject
    reductive approaches in the social sciences, but that's a slightly different
    point. The two aren't automatically exclusive. Also, arguably-

            <psychological appeal, politics, ideology, funding, tradition,
    > prestige, and sophisticated terminology>
    all of this can apply to the hard sciences also. To try and argue that
    they're ok, and everyone else is problematic, and demonstrably so, seems
    rather specious in fact.

    If you want to get a sense of concerns within the social sciences about the
    directions and validity of research agendas, then take a look at David
    Miller & Greg Philo's book 'Market Killing' (2000). It's a book which
    generally slates all that's wrong with social science/media studies
    research, by social science/media researchers. See what you think- it may
    fuel your research idea, and give you a clearer focus. (Incidentally, it
    doesn't pull any punches, e.g. Film Studies in particular gets a hammering).

    Of course, the fundamentally interesting point here, is that the methods you
    are proposing are inherently social scientific ones (e.g. surveys and
    interviews), and thus in a way will be subject to the same kinds of problems
    that you want to interrogate.


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