Saturday, June 06, 2015

"Inelegant Mathematics and Worse Social Science?"

A 1974 article by Hayward R. Alker called "Computer Simulations: Inelegant Mathematics and Worse Social Science?" seems very apt in these days of complex systems, agent-based models, and so on.

It seems that, back in the day, some people that computer simulations would soon reproduce the nuanced behavior of social systems, and Alker pointed out that it wasn't so easy. Quoting Alker: Moral, political, philosophical and pedagogical issues derive from the empirically provisional nature of all simulation versions of frequently controversial social theories, the frequent mystification of mathematical/computerized 'results', and the uneven practical utility and accessibility of social simulations.

At least people don't still make those kinds of mistakes. Oh wait...

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