Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Social Science Methodology

Hal Pepinsky,,
October 6, 2010
I feel safer calculating two steps at a time than one. For instance:
US politicians press the Chinese government to sell off enough of the US dollars they control to make US labor cheaper. If this move works, the Chinese will be “disincentivized” (how do we dream newspeak like this?) to invest in US government bonds. So then the Chinese government literally loses interest in buying US bonds and so the value of the US dollar goes down globally, by definition that the US becomes globally inflated. Our trade deficits decline because imports become more expensive. With continuing high, deunionized employment, US exports become more saleable. US residents join the so-called third world.
Or if Republicans triumph this election, what about blowback in 2012?
Or when a president resigned and the United States lost its first overt foreign in Vietnam, popular will to punish enemies swung upward, and out of Hollywood, an actor adept at delivering corporate messages and turning FBI Cold War informant became the “Teflon” president who was overwhelmingly re-elected during double-digit unemployment in 1984. There is a white-black contrast not so much in economic circumstances as in the color of our current national father.
How quickly we forget. Beyond that how much our news and social science findings go deterministically one objective or result at a time—in methodological terms deterministically—rather than stochastically—at least two interations at a time.
In daily life as in global affairs, I’ve found thinking two steps ahead to be a more socially secure investment than winning the next political contest. Shamelessly, I have decided not to register to vote in my new home town. Mostly, I don’t want to be summoned to jury duty, when I know that even if I by some miracle got to serve, I would in the context of the current legal system be asked to pass judgment about people I scarcely knew.
Early in life I was an enthused if undisciplined chess player. I was good enough to beat my child when she thought one move at a time and I thought through at least two before responding. In politics, in journalism, in social science, I’m frustrated by focus on which side wins next. Love and peace--hal

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