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[Xmca-l] Re: Social Science Is Busted. But the NIH Has a Plan that Could Fix It | WIRED



I've written something that speaks to the problem that scientists can agree on concepts, but social scientists can't. It originates in Vygotsky's tendency to illustrate complex social concepts with biological examples that oversimplify the process of the development of social concepts that have no "solid" form. 

Smagorinsky, P. (2013). The development of social and practical concepts in learning to teach: A synthesis and extension of Vygotsky's conception. Learning, Culture, and Social Interaction, 2(4), 238-248. Available at http://www.petersmagorinsky.net/About/PDF/LCSI/LCSI_2013.pdf

abstract
This conceptual paper interrogates, considers, and expands on Vygotsky's notion of concept
development. I first review Vygotsky's account of concept development, including his distinction
between scientific and spontaneous concepts. I next summarize his pattern of concept development
from complexes to pseudoconcepts to concepts, and in the process problematize his view
by shifting his discussion from biological examples to social examples. The following section
examines concepts as cultural constructions, with attention to the cultural nature of concepts, and
concepts and societal telos. The third section outlines processes that complement and enrich
concept development, including concept development's future orientation, the affective dimension
of concept development, and creativity's role in concept development as a higher mental function.
The fourth section takes Vygotsky's notion of concept development's “twisting path” and
complicates it by questioning the extent to which social concepts have a clear meaning toward
which any pathway may lead given their relativistic and ideological nature. This inquiry leads to
the proposal of practical concepts that serve as fragmented understandings that generally cohere
yet are inherently compromised by attention to contradictory means of mediation in socialcultural–historical
contexts.

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of mike cole
Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2016 7:36 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Social Science Is Busted. But the NIH Has a Plan that Could Fix It | WIRED

I just got to this message, Larry.
I agree, everyone on xmca should read the article, not only because it is relevant to Margaret and Carrie's paper vis a vis the trajectory of neoliberal exaggerations of trends visible from Bush onward and if Mill can be used as an authority, back to the origins of modern mass schooling. It is also directly relevant to the kinds of pressures that current and future generations of social science researchers will face in terms of grants and publications. For example:

* For one, the plan calls for scientists to nail down and agree on terminology for different concepts so researchers aren’t just talking past each other. “Often, in behavioral science, people talk about different phenomena but really mean the same thing,” says Riley. Or the opposite
happens: Chemists don’t squabble about what oxygen is, but if psychologists convene a conference on a fuzzier concept like “trust,” says Colin Camerer <http://people.hss.caltech.edu/~camerer/index.htm>, an economist at Caltech, they’ll spend the first two days disagreeing about what the word actually means.*

*That ambiguity gets tricky when researchers are trying to share and compare datasets, especially the massive ones scientists work with nowadays. (If you’re trying to compare variables in two datasets both named “resilience,” how do you know they’re really the same thing?) To fix these problems, the plan suggests, scientists should settle on rigorously defined terms. “We need to figure out what we mean when we say ‘depression,’ and how to define it—either by using the same measures, or by calibrating with the same framework,” Riley says.*

​The first paragraph rings true to me and ought to at least resonate with even the most legitimate peripheral participant on xmca. The theory ladeness of core terms is so very clearly laid out in this imaginary idea-cocktail party. And as the second paragraph makes clear, its all about coding, which David has introduced into the conversation.

Overall, I think its relevant to both the theory and practice that serves as the content of xmca.
To quote a Soviet favorite. What is to be done?.

With respect to the current article under discussion, that is the question I have been trying to push vis a vis those of us whose work is professionally tied up with education. Suppose the critique is correct and that the nature of the alternative is specified to the level present in the article.Here is a quote from the conclusion about which there has been some discussion.

* In other words, we as teachers, students, parents, and researchers must articulate new ways of​ making selves intelligible in the contexts of our lives, including producing “identities-with-standing”​ that encompass the qualities we want to promote, identities that index a way-of-being that brings​ special pride and a sense of self-worth with respect to qualities that matter. In the case of schools and*

*classrooms, these qualities might include intellectual curiosity, serious deliberation, citizen participation,* *​ * *social critique, and deep knowledge and understanding​.*


​Do we come up with "indexes of 'identities with standing'"? Or "social critique" (no problem with knowledge and understanding, we have test scores.  :-)  ).

How does this collection of legitimately peripheral participants in so many lifeworlds address this situation as relevant academic "experts"?
(my son often reminds me that an expert is just a drip under pressure).

Odd historical circumstances when Lenin's "what is to be done" question is posed in such an upside down confluence of historically antonymous ideologies and world systems.  ​

mike​

*​*


On Thu, Nov 24, 2016 at 2:16 PM, <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> This may be of interest on the topic of standardization and 
> replication and measurement phenomena as what seems to be driving the 
> desire for
> (exact) science and how it is colonizing social studies Social Science 
> Is Busted. But the NIH Has a Plan that Could Fix It The NIH's Office 
> of Behavioral and Social Science Research is responding to a 
> fundamental shift in social science research.
>
>
> https://www.wired.com/2016/11/social-science-busted-nih-plan-fix/
> Sent from my Windows 10 phone
>
>