July 11, 2008

· Misc · Sociology

I am all in favor of further work at the intersection of sociology and emerging work in biology, cognitive science and neuroscience. There is surely much to be learned. But, let’s face it, this seems needlessly limiting. Particle physics has been in the doldrums a bit lately, so they could do with some interdisciplinary reinvigoration. Also, their research budgets remain quite large.

Below we see a picture of the emerging Standard Model of sociophysics, with which you will no doubt be quite familiar.

image

I’m looking forward to spending a bit of time at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences this fall. Think of the CASBS as the CERN of social science: even as we speak, hard-working technicians are putting the final touches to the Stanford Superconducting Supersocializer, which will come online once the relevant IRB gods committees have been placated with a sufficient amount of cargo detailed forms. The SSS will propel local college sophomores at tremendous speeds into unfamiliar groups of people in an effort to plumb the structure of the elementary particles of social interaction. Despite the success of the standard model, there is much to be learned. The organization of the Quirks is of course well known, with some of the early triumphs of post-war research focused on the internal dynamics of the quirk-matrix (Up, Downer, Charm, Strange, Top Bloke, Asshole). The complex of interactions centered on W and Z remains wholly mysterious, however. The Liketons, too, pose difficult questions, though the recent discovery of observer-dependent YouTube effects has gone some way toward clarifying their role. Finally, the famous Biggs Hangeron also remains problematic, as it is not only notoriously easy to observe but in fact also impossible to ditch at parties.

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