Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Simple and Complex Sciences

I would like to propose some new defintions:

Rather than "hard" and "soft" science, as we now use, how about "simple" and "complex" sciences?

Simple = physics and chemistry

Complex = biology, ecology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and economics

This would do a few things. One, it would identify right away what models and mathematics to use. That alone would be great, as we would stop using the wrong kinds of mathematics in fields like economics. Second, it would show how closely related biology actually is to the other complex sciences. Third, it would emphasize complexity rather than imprecise notions like "hard" and "soft," with their negative connotations. In fact, the "soft" sciences are in fact the hardest (most difficult) due to their complexity.

As for the humanities, increasingly philosophy is brought into the complex sciences. My dream is that one day literature will be as well. (Maybe then I will be able to get a job.)

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