Soft science

Soft science is a colloquial term, often used for academic research or scholarship which is purportedly "scientific" however it is not based on reproducible experimental data, and/or a mathematical explanation of that data. The term is usually used as a contrast to hard science. [cite book|url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=SjayHztX8mUC&pg=PA99&vq=%22Hard+science+and+Soft+science%22&sig=TDVtlJbVP_d1DakkD8QegCXvjjQ#PPA100,M1
accessdate=2008-04-24
date=2008-04-24
author=John Lemons
year=1996
publisher=Blackwell
isbn=0865424764
title=Scientific Uncertainty and Environmental Problem Solving
pages=99
]

Within the natural sciences, research which depends upon conjecture (sometimes called hypothesis), qualitative analysis of data (compared to quantitative analysis), or uncertain experimental results is sometimes derided as soft science. [For example, in cite journal|url=http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14719874.800-race-is-a-four-letter-word.html
accessdate=2008-04-24
title=Race is a four letter word
date=1995-07-22
quote=Gardner criticises the book's soft science and neglect of alternative explanations.
journal=New Scientist
author=Waqar Ahmad
issue=1987
pages=44
] Examples are evolutionary psychology [cite book|url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=a2TTPKFUXgkC&pg=PA171&dq=%22soft+science%22+%22evolutionary+psychology%22&ei=L2kQSLiJNqSSyQTq2tnHCQ&client=firefox-a&sig=eSRofjfv-E2ml9nbTWvRtYEIYUU
title=Evolution, Gender, and Rape
author=Cheryl Brown Travis
year=2003
publisher=MIT Press
pages=171
isbn=0262700905
quote=If evolutionary biology is a soft science, then evolutionary psychology is its flabby underbelly
] or meteorology [cite web|url=http://nzsm.webcentre.co.nz/article97.htm
accessdate=2008-04-24
date=2007-06-27
quote=Empirically, meteorology positioned itself alongside physics in the "hard sciences", yet theoretically it leans toward the "soft science" of geography.
title=Changeable Weather
publisher=New Zealand Science Monthly
] . When "soft science" refers to a natural science, it is usually used pejoratively, mainly due to the term's association with social science, implying that a particular natural science topic described as "soft" does not belong to the field of natural science.

Different approaches to the scientific method can be distinguished by the research they term "soft science" and what they consider "hard." The issue is important to the philosophy of science (which does not always support the possibility of drawing a distinction between "hard" and "soft") and to science studies and the sociology of science (which study scientists' implicit perceptions of research and methods).

Certain researcherswho have argued that soft science publications make less use of graphs than hard science. This view is known as the graphism thesis.

ee also

* Hard science
* Memetics
* The central science
* Objectivity (science)
* Subjectivity
* Human science
* Soft computing
* History of science
* Philosophy of science

References

* [http://www.panarchy.org/boulding/systems.1956.html General Systems Theory] , The Skeleton of Science, by Kenneth Boulding, 1956

External links

* [http://www.columbia.edu/cu/21stC/issue-1.1/soft.htm Soft science] : an analysis of news coverage of the social sciences, from Columbia University


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