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Max Weber in the News: Stephanie Grace edition

April 30, 2010

In conclusion, I think it is bad science to disagree with a conclusion in your heart, and then try (unsuccessfully, so far at least) to find data that will confirm what you want to be true.

I fully agree with Stephanie Grace on the above point, as does the eminent German sociologist Max Weber. However, in a famous essay on the problem of objectivity in the social sciences, Weber discusses why science and values can never be entirely separated. The scientific method, after all, only tells us how to arrive at conclusions objectively. But the choice of which questions are worth asking will always be subjective – to be determined by funding agencies, by society, by the individual researcher.

So for all you brave seekers of objective truth, you stubborn crusaders against the blinkered bien pensants, here is a question worth wrestling with: Why do so many Americans think it important that scientists finally, once and for all, establish whether or not blacks are genetically inferior to whites?

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