Posted by: James P Burke | August 28, 2009

Feynman on Pseudo-Science

Feynman had a low opinion of the social sciences. He says it may be because he doesn’t know enough about it, but his belief is likely based on research he saw at that time which failed to impress him.

We don’t know what he would think of social science today, but we do know what he is criticizing: a veneer of science without the hard work.

Being too cavalier with declaring we know something can make us wrong. But the other consequences can be bad as well…. Read More

I’m in a field which overlaps and includes social sciences, so I’m sensitive to this criticism. I admire Feynman; I find him an inspiration as both a scientist and an educator. I want to keep this in mind.

Also, if I choose to study how people use technology to learn and communicate, I don’t want to face prejudice that other people earned but may affect whether I get to research my own ideas.



  1. The “social science” we see is semi-born out of older model of psychology: behaviorism & introspection.

    It took a long time for those to go away and we’re at the point now where we’ve accepted that they provided something for us – but it wasn’t exactly enough or even correct.

    Very quickly here I’ve learned that psychology, as it is commonly thought of (EVERYONE HAS DEPRESSION AND I”M GOING TO USE REVERSE TO GET YOU TO DO WHAT I WANT) is largely dead.

    Give it 10 years – social science will have a new definition, either properly used in cognitive realms, or inappropriately stolen for “social media”.

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