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Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/09/2007 6:07 AM

I thought political science was a true facet of scientific study that integrated into the other sciences .

Am I misinformed ,as some of the reactions of cr4 have suggested ,or are there clear separations .

I think it is a valid question and I would value the opinion of others on this topic.

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#1

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 6:33 AM

No.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 7:14 AM

Thank You for your input.

I would beg to differ

I think we integrate P.S.all the time .

Take cost , and risk analysis these are often human factors that must be considered.

for example should sprinklers be installed in nursing homes ( cost benefit ) vs. need .

Maintenance programs save losses .

Missiles in Cuba =bad public relations

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 7:22 AM

I don't think any of what you say makes it a 'science'

Science explains why the sprinklers work...the decision where you put them is something entirely different...dunno what you call it but it's not science.

Even if you do a 'cost benefit analysis' or use 'scentific' tools (CBA) this idoesn't make it science, merely a tool to help someone's bank balance.

You can use statistical analysis on the horse racing results...this doesn't make betting on the horses a 'science'.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 7:52 AM

Del

Maybe in terms your familiar ,I see you have interest in ancient weaponry

Your storming a castle

Frontal attacks prove futile ,heavy losses

Back to the drawing board (science)

we'll

1. tunnel under (civil engineering )

2.Build a catapult (mechanical engineering )

3. Launch dead bodies ie. bio warfare(chemical engineering )

4. more frontal attacks, maybe my soldiers won't like that ,(political science )

final decision let's try tunneling

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 8:36 AM

D'uh?

By that analogy football (soccer) tactics are a science.

It's this wooly thinkung that gives rise to people thinking an MBA or a degree in 'Media Studies' is a science...

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#14
In reply to #6

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 11:32 AM

Sure why not

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#29
In reply to #6

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/10/2007 8:50 AM

Bravo Del!!!

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#40
In reply to #6

Re: Is Political science "real science"

03/08/2008 7:25 PM

Del, everything is a science. Just because you don't know the parameters...

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#34
In reply to #3

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/10/2007 12:34 PM

Are you calling my Uncle Ronnie a liar? He says another 10 large and he'll have that track down to a science!

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#32
In reply to #2

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/10/2007 12:21 PM

is political science a real science=NO

It is just a name that is used to give some sense of validity to political scientists when they want to prognosticate the future events. I believe they voted the more accurate political psychics down for being to accurate and having an improper spin.

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#9
In reply to #1

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 9:16 AM

So PS is BS?

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#41
In reply to #9

Re: Is Political science "real science"

03/08/2008 7:32 PM

Yes, PW, Political science is akin to adolescents talking about who has the biggest dick while still fully clothed. Lies and power plays. Hence political science is nothing more that an excercise in mind control. "How can you tell if a politician is lying? His lips are moving." (this excludes ventriliquist politicians..they are tougher to judge).

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#23
In reply to #1

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 11:40 PM

I agree 100% Ploitical science is the scientific way of creating illusions in the minds of masses and make them belive that there is a pot of gold at the end of rainbow and make them run to collect the pot of gold.

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#42
In reply to #23

Re: Is Political science "real science"

03/08/2008 7:39 PM

Almost right. It's the science of mind control that makes them believe that by giving to you, you alone can lead them to the pot of gold...and when they get there, fool them into believing that gold is worthless, but there is a pot of something else to be chased...

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#5

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 8:29 AM

Scientific inquiry is possible, in part, because of the existence of universal laws such as the conservation of energy. But are there immutable laws of political behavior? If so, politics can be approached in a "scientific" way. If not, then the term "political science" is a contradiction.

Experimentation is another central element of scientific inquiry. Can political behavior be tested in a laboratory setting, and then re-tested for repeatability? Psychologists stage human experiments all the time, but do so-called "focus groups" count as political science experiments?

Ultimately, to answer your question, we need to define the word "science".

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#7
In reply to #5

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 8:41 AM

Nice one Moose ...

Your explanation is probably more lucid than mine which operates at a more visceral level....

Del

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 9:07 AM

I've been thinking about the subject and may have an interesting observation.

Maybe P.S. never was considered a component of science but it may now be .

Think about the implications of construction permitting for example.

How many factors must now be considered wetlands issues ,disruption of wildlife ,human impact .

Maybe it's a new day and the realisation P.S. as a part of science has come .

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 9:41 AM

Environmental studies...or biology....

Test, observe, verify.

NO NO NO NO NO... PS is NOT a science..

The 'science' content in everything you mention exists in isolation from the politics.

Maybe I'm arguing a point of semanitics...

A scientist or engineer makes the seige engine digs the tunnel etc. Maybe a politican demands it is done or funds it ..same as that sprinkler system you mentioned... but that doesn't make it anything to do with the science.

Your logic is like saying my car writes the software that I produced today...just because I drove to work in it.

I think I shall give up here, 'cos if you don't see my point yet...I don't s'pose you will.

Cheers

Del

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#15
In reply to #10

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 11:43 AM

As I see it, your point is that PS is the study of how (i.e. the immutable laws behind their process) politicians do their thing, and that although the factors they take into account may have been derived from their own branch of science is immaterial the "scientificity" of those factors doesn't lend its science to the political process itself.

Here is a trivial example of a putative political process:

  • What are the factors that Phillippe, a Politician, takes into account to decide that sieging Johann's castle is a good idea?
  • Will losing Miguel's approval be too high a cost?
  • How much suffering on the part of "the people" will they tolerate before they rebel (a.k.a. mutiny)?
  • How much damage can I afford to do to the 'prize' before it's not worth having?
  • etc.

Ultimately (IMO) PS, as a science, should be able ultimately to deliver a comprehensive and reliable model of how any given politician will behave, given certain "input conditions" (the circumstances of the debate / decision at hand, plus the individual's previous life experience). ... ultimately, the model should be extendable beyond a single polition to a group of politicians.

This is much the same as meteorologists creating atmospheric models. There once was a time when a good meteorologist was someone who could recognise cloud formations, wind direction changes, etc. and predict weather changes. Now, however, meteorologists have sophisticated models that take into account vast amounts of data, over enormous distances, and are consequentially able to predict the weather for huge areas up to several days in advance. Sometimes with some accuracy, too.

Chris

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#33
In reply to #15

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/10/2007 12:27 PM

Umm meteorology for the most part is not a science either it is a study of weather that in some cases utilizes scientific methods. Actually the only place that scientific methods are at the core and solely applicable are in physics and chemistry. Beyond those fields it is a study of something utilizing some scientific methods sometimes.

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#35
In reply to #10

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/10/2007 12:46 PM

The error is that science , real science is the process of developing a rational and logical theory for some natural process that can be repeatably observed and tested. The observation and testing are not the science, these support the science. this means that the experimentation should support the theory, not the theory fits the experimental data. This is what differentiates the theory of general relativity from any political theory. Also the only real logical method of arguing a theory is through mathematics. This is the language of science, the interpretation of concepts into the languages we use to communicate interpersonally is just the explanation. Environmental Studies definitely are not sciences, but rather may utilize some science in the course of studies conducted. Just because you apply some scientific methods once in a while to justify your finding that does not mean your field is a science. This on-going attempt to validate the opinions of all these people by claiming to be a science just reduces the validity real science in the general public view.

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#12
In reply to #5

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 11:26 AM

Can we not use history as our experimentation. Earth can be the laboratory. What we are studying is mans interaction with each other in an enclosed environment. We have all heard the term history repeats it self. So we would have many references for any change in human nature. If we use scientific methods to study these change we can come to some knowledge political behavior.

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#16
In reply to #12

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 11:48 AM

Good point! And it raises the question of "where does social science end and political science begin?"

I've not studied either, but when I read your post, the idea of studying the history of human interactions over an extended period of time (say, the last 2000 years, but even, perhaps, the last 200 years) yields information about a variety of topics: how groups of people with roughly the same 'condition' (level of wealth, knowledge, power, freedom, etc.) behave ... social science, and how "inter-group" decisions are made ... political science, perhaps?

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#36
In reply to #16

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/10/2007 12:47 PM

I've not studied either, but when I read your post, the idea of studying the history of human interactions over an extended period of time (say, the last 2000 years, but even, perhaps, the last 200 years) yields information about a variety of topics: how groups of people with roughly the same 'condition' (level of wealth, knowledge, power, freedom, etc.) behave ... social science, and how "inter-group" decisions are made ... political science, perhaps?

it's called cultural anthropology.

The following is an established point made prior, but to reiterate with a bit of twist.

Sociology, psychology and anthropology, biology all these and more have something in common, -ology. The study of. To suggest that biology is not a science could be done. Now how much merit depends upon the criteria by which the 'study of' was performed to.

Poli Sci is misnomer given to 'social experimentation' in hopes of predicting an outcome or response to a stimulus as measured by a social metre. (my paraphrase)

CR3

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#13
In reply to #5

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 11:30 AM

Moose is getting at the (IMO) core issue - what constitutes science, and therefore does politics have the necessary elements to allow for a scientific study?

Many (myself, to a degree, and Moose, apparently, included) consider only "hard science" to be "true" science - i.e. it's only science if you can conduct experiments to explore a hypothesis.

Others, however, consider the "soft sciences" to be science, too. This can include topics such as psychology, social science and, perhaps, political science.

I like what Moose has to say that scientific enquiry is possible because of the existence of universal laws. This begs the question (for all soft sciences) "what is/are the universal laws underlying the field of study?"

For social science, I suppose one possible universal law is something like "when a sufficient number of people operate in a group their behavior becomes determined by the group, not by any individual preference." I'm sure there are others.

Political science, social science, and any other "scientific" study involving human behavior have as their core that humans all share a common "model" (likely responses to similar situations, etc.). Even though it is morally and ethically wrong to do experiments on people, so the science can only be conducted by observation of events as they happen (hmm - meteorology and astronomy largely share that constraint, too), having a solid underpinning of a (set of) laws would seem to make them valid sciences.

Of course, just because politicians are people and therefore share common human behavior, sharing human behavior doesn't make political science a valid science. A "higher level" universal law, specific to the political arena, needs to be present for political science to be distinct from any other study of human behavior.

On the topic of whether the people who say they are studying or conducting political science are, in fact, doing so - the question becomes "is the topic of their study designed to reveal the nature of the laws governing the behavior of political interactions?" In particular, is it designed to test a hypothesis about the nature of one or more political-arena-specific immutable laws?

Chris

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#11

Re: Is Political science "real science"

08/09/2007 10:43 AM

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=define%3A+political+science

Organizations that conduct research in the area of social science that involves the systematic study of political institutions and behavior.
nccs2.urban.org/ntee-cc/v.htm

Political science is an academic and research discipline that deals with the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behavior.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_science

Political science is the academic subject centering on the relations between governments and other governments, and between governments and peoples. http://economics.about.com/od/economicsglossary/g/political.htm

Im gonna go with more impact sociologist than scientist

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#17

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/09/2007 1:34 PM

Many of us are incensed when 'fitters' call themselves 'Engineers'.

I consider it the same ...'Political Studies' ok...but 'science'? no.

Someone said consider the historical record...

If we do this we find little correlation between Political cause and effect...

Politics often has the opposite to the desired effect and is certainly not reproduceable measureble or provable...it can be studied but it is not a science.

In fact I would go so far as to say 'Political Science' is an Oxymoron.

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/09/2007 3:18 PM

I think my point is not to denigrate pure science but to cause people to think about the ramifications of their actions.

This is not solely the responsibility of politicians but a question for the common man.

As an American citizen I believe it's important to speak out when I see things going wrong.

I think we should calculate well when we enter any endeavor whatever it may be war,infrastructure,or the environment to name a few ,so I would hope to rely on science to guide the way.

Call it what you will ,we should learn from our mistakes and bring together all the "arts"

rather than this perpetual bickering ,

In an effort to set things right.

p.s. spare me , labeling me a Democrat,fruit loop ,hand holder

call me what I am a concerned citizen

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/09/2007 3:53 PM

I agree with all you say...but see no need to hang the label 'PS' on it...

If this is aimed at political discussion ...fine.

I just feel it does denigrate science...

If Political involvement had been formulated by use of historical precedent to the level of a science don't you think it would have been able to predict the current situation in Iraq ?

I can find no precedent for political prediction and action producing an accurate outcome as one would expect from a science.

You say 'This is not solely the responsibility of politicians but a question for the common man.'

Again I concur, but surely wrapping it up as a pseudo science makes it Less accessible to the common man, who should be discussing these things with his peers over a coffee rather than thinking such ideas belong to a 'scientific' elite.

It appears that maybe we have a similar world view but maybe just express and label it in different ways....?

I shall once again try and be quiet and let someone else voice an opinion!

regards

Del

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#21
In reply to #19

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/09/2007 4:19 PM

Thanks for your comments Del

Concerning the situation in Iraq I think it would have been prudent to spend some time reviewing the History of that country .

This would have revealed a long troubled history full of ruthless abuses that would have made the supposition that we would be welcomed with open arms a long shot.

This is not a prediction or pseudo science but something anyone in power would be a dope to not pay attention to.

Even to a group that considers itself "Scientific "elite.

The history channel did a great show on the subject that I purchased in my quest for knowledge called "The kings from Babylon to Baghdad"

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out or mission there may have been misguided ie. no weapons of mass destruction,most terrorist were actually not Iraq's .

Kind of like when we went to Somalia ,big mistake ,go home.

But I like the idea we may have a similar world view and look forward to cordial discussions with you in the future

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#20
In reply to #17

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/09/2007 4:17 PM

There have been many scientist dub wackos due to politics of the scientific community. Darwin was one. We would find that the cause if studied was ego. Not willing to admit that there are other possibilities. Holding firm to their age old beliefs. Not willing to let some one it to their hierarchy of thinkers. Could not the study of these actions with in mankind be a science.

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#22
In reply to #20

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/09/2007 4:36 PM

yes ego does stand in the way of discovering other possibilities .

Sometimes staying the course is not always the smartest thing to do.

A smart man incorporates all ideas ,while maintaining his beliefs

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#25
In reply to #20

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/10/2007 1:16 AM

There are undoubtedly many wacko scientists, the're just human after all.

But it doesn't matter, since it's only the quality of the theory they propose that matters. If the theory has predictive power, i.e. is a good model of reality, it gets used, if not it's dumped. Just look at the young outsider Albert E, his theory replaced the theories of the revered Newton within a generation. Darwin's was the same, one generation everyone believed in divine creation, within a generation everyone (in the business) believed in evolution because it explained things better.

The whole point of the "Scientific method" is to have a dispassionate respect for the truth, if your theory's wrong or something better comes along, dump it and try again. It's difficult, but has brought us great rewards. Jeff

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#31
In reply to #25

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/10/2007 11:23 AM

Thankyou Jeff for such a clear line of thought. I'm rapidly coming to the POV that PS is (should be) Political Studies, not Political Science - for the simple reason that science produces theories that can predict specifically, precisely and accurately the future results that will be produced from present day actions.

And politics is too "messy" for that to be possible. My earlier remark about studies of humans comes to mind - making me think that where human behavior, especially at the individual level, is concerned science is impossible: we cannot measure the "inputs" to a process so we cannot produce a theory of cause and effect. After all - the whole life of a person should truly be considered the input to any decision a person makes - and how can that be measured such that results can be predicted from inputs?

There is, however, one prediction about politics I think we can rely on: "Wherever a politician is involved someone is not going to like the outcome." Or, more cynically, "Wherever a politician is involved, the sensible outcome is guaranteed not to happen."

Chris

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#30
In reply to #17

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/10/2007 10:41 AM

Politics often has the opposite to the desired effect and is certainly not reproduceable measureble or provable...it can be studied but it is not a science.

Furthermore, giving political studies too much legitimacy by referring to it as "science" endangers us. If we accept it as science, then questioning the motives of politicians and governments becomes more difficult. The Soviet government insisted that marxist principles were scientific. Political studies really belong in the realm of religion, where people routinely make unsupported assumptions about issues beyond the scope of systematic empirical observation.

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#39
In reply to #17

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/10/2007 4:49 PM

Political science is an Oxymoron. That's for sure.

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#24

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/10/2007 1:01 AM

I don't understand what most of the respondents to this question are saying. Science is a method of arriving at a better description of reality, it's not about whether we like pollies or not, but rather whether political scientists actually use the "Scientific method".

That's the one where you think up a theory to describe reality (ie the relationship between wages and unemployment), then do experiments to disprove the theory (ie drop wages and see what happens to unemployment), then use the results (and perhaps historical data) to make a better theory, then test again.

It seems to me that most pollies (and people in general) don't do this, rather they attempt to fit all the data into a preconcieved model. Coincidently, it's usually the world view that will benefit them the most.

Don't get me started on "Judicial" science. Jeff

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#37
In reply to #24

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/10/2007 1:04 PM

Again it is not about arriving at better description of reality. It is about developing a rational theory based on the immutable nature of something that is purely logically argued, this mean math, and supported repeatably through experimentation. True science should not be flexible to the perception or opinions of people (the observers) at any given time. However, this does not extend to the interpretation of science.

A broad definition like a better description of reality would make most anything fall within scientific method. It could make religion a science because many times in the past religion has offered what most people perceived as a better description of their own reality at that time.

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#26

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/10/2007 1:56 AM

NO! Politics is not a science.

Politics must not be confused with governance which may be based on good scientific facts if it is not cluttered with political aspirations etc.

Politics is a quest for power.

The power can be achieved by manipulating the perceptions of the voters because of or in spite of SCIENCE, economics, or whatever. The power is mostly attained by direct or indirect bribery (Promises of a better future) or by warping realities.

STRATEGY is the correct term to use with politics. Strategy will comprise of a lot of issues and attempts to have issues marginalized.

Del has the right idea - every policy document should contain the signature "this policy may include traces of nut"

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#27

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/10/2007 5:04 AM

Scientists do often wonder what makes political artistes tick.

Blame the unis for dressing up arts subjects as hard science.

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#28

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/10/2007 5:13 AM

'Science' as a noun, 'scientific' as an adjective etc., have become synonymous with 'a good, successful, positive' way of doing things.

The reason for this linguistic misconception is obvious: much of our modern existence depends on products of successful scientific research and engineering know-how.

Therefore we tend to say 'political science' instead of 'historical extrapolation' + 'political sociology' + 'electoral behaviour' + 'luck'. If an advertising agency wants to convince potential customers that a soap is good, the best and most usual method is to say that 'scientific cosmetics' produced it.

This goes also for many more serious academic efforts: methodologies which look scientific are applied to problems which obviously are not suitable for them. 'Hypothesis' -> 'Data' -> 'Analysis' -> 'Better hypothesis' -> 'More data' -> 'Deeper analysis' -> .... ad infinitum, is 'science'. Other procedures may be good, practical, successful but they are not scientific.

Being of peaceful nature, I'm too scared to produce relevant specific examples...

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#44
In reply to #28

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

03/11/2008 5:13 AM

Being of a Peaceful Nature with a predilection to quick, high velocity peace techniques (tried, tested and true, you produce, I'll take responsibility to determine relevance and let them see if they learned how to play catch...at 900 mps)

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#38

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

08/10/2007 3:44 PM

Didn't we just discuss a thread about whether engineers are scientists?

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#43
In reply to #38

Re: Is Political Science a Real Science?

03/10/2008 2:27 AM

see what has P.S.done to US economy in particular and world economy in general still you call it a science!!!!!

crm

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