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Making Social Sciences More ScientificThe Need for Predictive Models$
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Rein Taagepera

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199534661

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199534661.001.0001

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Physicists Multiply, Social Scientists Add—Even When It Does Not Add Up

Physicists Multiply, Social Scientists Add—Even When It Does Not Add Up

(p.52) 5 Physicists Multiply, Social Scientists Add—Even When It Does Not Add Up
Making Social Sciences More Scientific

Rein Taagepera (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Most physics equations include few variables and at most one freely adjustable constant, which multiply or divide. In contrast, regression equations favored in social sciences often have many variables in additive–subtractive strings, with plenty of freely adjustable constants/coefficients. Physics equations are reversible and transitive; standard regression equations are unidirectional and nontransitive. Physics rarely offers alternate equations for the same phenomenon, with a different set of input variables and constants; this is frequent in social science regression analysis. Physics equations are presented with prediction in mind, while tables of regression coefficients in social sciences reflect postdiction and often preclude even that.

Keywords:   freely adjustable constants, number of constants, number of coefficients, number of variables, physics equations, postdiction, prediction, regression equations, reversible equations, transitive equations

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