----- Original Message -----
From: "Chris Gehlker" <gehlker / fastq.com>
To: "ruby-talk ML" <ruby-talk / ruby-lang.org>
Sent: Monday, May 13, 2002 11:10 PM
Subject: Re: OT:is software eng an art?

Now we're WOT (Way Off Topic)...  :)

But I'll make a few comments.

> I'm always interested when I read something like this because the scale
> seems so arbitrary. I admit to having a very pedestrian notion of science,
> that it's about generating falsifiable hypotheses and then actually
testing
> them with repeatable experiments. I'll go farther and assert that if best
if
> the hypothesis are embodied in a quantitative model if only because such
> models tend to be very easy to validate/falsify empirically.
>
> My problem is that Hal's hierarchy tends to fit this model at the ends -
> physics and library science/voodoo - but totally falls apart in the
middle.

First of all, I've misled you. I was naming those in more or less random
order.

> Several philosophers of science have attempted to rank the sciences by the
> simple expedient of looking through journals in the field and measuring
the
> percent of articles that follow the classic pattern of stating a
hypothesis,
> describing the experiment that was conducted to test it, and stating
whether
> the experiment falsified the hypothesis.
>
> The ranking seems pretty stable no matter what journals are chosen or who
is
> doing the tallying.
>
> Physics wins, which probably surprises no one. Economics universally comes
> in second. Psychology comes in about the middle. Geology ranks down with

[snippage]

That's an interesting tally, but it doesn't address the issue of whether the
actual experiements are valid. I'd suggest that even though you try to
follow
the scientific method, the more variables you ignore, the softer science you
are. In some fields, there is an infinity (well, not literally) of
circumstances and
data that are ignored or are unmeasurable/uncollectable.

Constructing an experiment and performing measurements become harder
and harder as the science gets softer; and the results become less and less
meaningful.

Of course, as the psychologist pointed out in Robinson's _Green Mars_, all
sciences were softer at one time. We do what we can. Come back in three
hundred years and let's talk...

Cheers,
Hal