Marxism as science -Reply -Reply

Mon Apr 24 11:24:38 MDT 1995

Hi Bernie,
you're not alone.  "Surprises" in the data are very informative
indeed in my field, and they occur all the time.  In fact they are
expected when one knows going in, that a tractably simple model does
not account for everything, and even the most complex one would still
fall short of reality.  Basic assumptions, bodies of theory and
testable hypotheses guide research.  But the point is to learn about
reality (assuming that there is such a thing), and if we already knew
it all, we wouldn't need to do research.

Unfortunately, surprises are sometimes interpreted as "failures" -
some critics will say that one was obviously wrong, so the whole
paradigm, theory or approach should be trashed.  I've seen people
slammed for taking those surprises and using them to improve the
model, as if this were a bad thing!  It is a good thing, and far from
"making up a hypothesis to fit the facts".

Later, Lisa Rogers

>>> Bernard J. Goitein <bjg at>  4/18/95, 11:00am
I, too, welcome the "scientific" attitude of the list ....
Personally I have found such research to be at its most rewarding not
 when my faith (hypothesis) is confirmed, but rather when it's not,
or at least  doesn't work out exactly as I had originally thought- I
learn most from the  surprises in the data!  (Does this happen to
anyone else, or is it  just me?)

On Mon, 17 Apr 1995, Rahul Mahajan wrote:
> Lisa, thanks for the kind words. I'm really gratified to find some
> discussion of science on this list, since most of the leftists I
meet are> the violently anti-science types....Science is also one of
the ways> (other than connection with actual movements) for Marxism
to be rescued> from the dry rot of academia.
> Rahul

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