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FlatAssembler

"Linguistics is not a real science!"

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What do you guys think, where do people get that idea that linguistics is not a real science from? I got into that annoying discussion twice on two different Internet forums by now.
http://linguistforum.com/outside-of-the-box/croatian-toponyms/msg27816/#msg27816
https://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4518&start=50 (My nickname there is Teo123.)
So, what do you think, where does that idea come from, and how to fight it? I don't know how about you, but that idea sounds insane to me.

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1 hour ago, FlatAssembler said:

What do you guys think, where do people get that idea that linguistics is not a real science from?

Originally, there are  two major divisions of science - Natural sciences and Social sciences;

Natural sciences are disciplines designed to predict and explain events that occur in our natural environment (Physics, Biology, Chemistry...), while Social sciences  are usually fields of academic scholarship which explore aspects of human society (law, history, sociology...).

From this, it is clear enough to state that natural sciences study the psychical world, and social sciences study human behavior. This being said, we can easily decide in which category does Linguistics fall;

Linguistics is known as the scientific study of language and its form, meaning and structure, including the study of grammar, syntax and phonetics. However, Linguistics is a rather vast field of study and it can be divided in specific branches, such as psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, computational linguistics, etc.

According to this official and standard definition, Linguistics seems to fall under the category of Social sciences - since it studies a certain aspect of human behavior. However, linguistics tends to have different aspects of which some of those aspects belong to natural sciences, while others belong to social sciences. For instance, the aspects of linguistics that are related to natural sciences are neurolinguistics or biolinguistics.

I think that this mix does not make linguistics and entirely social science, nor an entirely natural science, making it an interdisciplinary subject. But the fact that linguistics not being an entirely social science is not the problem here. The problem is the attitude that people have towards the two main divisions of science;

Namely, the majority of people don't really value social sciences as much as natural sciences. And since most people put linguistics under the category of social sciences, they tend to automatically doubts its scientific credibility.

But, i don't completely blame them, as they might have a good reason for their opinion. Another important argument as to why some sciences or disciplines of study may not be considered as "real sciences", and that has nothing to do with the fact that one particular science is considered as social or natural;

A scientific study must have a valid approach and methodology, based on strong evidence, and not some claims or theories that cannot be subjected to an observational state. And only when these standards are met and achieved, the field of study that is in question can be considered as a real science that has some sort of validity in the overall scientific community. 

Edited by Space Babe

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On 2/18/2019 at 8:10 PM, Space Babe said:

A scientific study must have a valid approach and methodology, based on strong evidence, and not some claims or theories that cannot be subjected to an observational state. And only when these standards are met and achieved, the field of study that is in question can be considered as a real science that has some sort of validity in the overall scientific community. 

And linguistics (in pretty much all branches) meets these requirements. There can be a certain about of subjectivity and judgment in some areas (eg. in reconstructing proton-languages) but the methodology is generally rigorous.

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10 hours ago, Strange said:

And linguistics (in pretty much all branches) meets these requirements. There can be a certain about of subjectivity and judgment in some areas (eg. in reconstructing proton-languages) but the methodology is generally rigorous.

I completely agree with your opinion. Linguistics represents the application of a scientific method in order to question the function and nature of language.

It's fascinating how linguistics tend to overlap not only with social sciences, but with natural sciences as well, with the purpose of discovering how language exactly is reserved in the humans brain, and how language is relevant in human behavior, which actually makes us special compared to the other living creatures on this planet.  

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Real science has a very specific metaphysics.  Scientific knowledge must derive from observation and experiment.  While there may be some latitude on how you define "experiment" it certainly does not encompass the assumptions necessary to linguistics.  Indeed, most of the soft sciences where statistics are not firmly rooted in definitions and void of assumptions are likely not to even return results reflective of reality.  Much of what is considered "science" is not and probably not real.   "Linguistics" has attributes of real science but there are far too many assumptions to make some of the results of any value at all. 

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Posted (edited)
On 2/18/2019 at 1:10 PM, Space Babe said:

 

Namely, the majority of people don't really value social sciences as much as natural sciences. And since most people put linguistics under the category of social sciences, they tend to automatically doubts its scientific credibility.

 

What people think is irrelevant.   People are looking more at technology than at theory and these are very different.  Good theory often gives rise to new technology but technology also springs from many forces that have little to do with new knowledge or new understanding of nature.   They value  science because they conflate it with technology which provides us wealth and new creature comforts.  Meanwhile we see most social things degrading and disintegrating so we tend to discount the value of new "theory" in the social sciences.   

We live in a time that most of our fundamental beliefs are probably wrong but they still derive from fields that are believed to be "science"  and are often founded on assumptions that have never been subjected to any sort of science, much less rigorous testing.  This especially applies to linguistics.  In many cases this testing is impossible with the current state of human knowledge.   

If we can ever unjump the shark then people will begin accepting soft sciences as being true science but it still won't necessarily be true.

Edited by cladking

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1 hour ago, cladking said:

What people think is irrelevant.   People are looking more at technology than at theory and these are very different.  Good theory often gives rise to new technology but technology also springs from many forces that have little to do with new knowledge or new understanding of nature.   They value  science because they conflate it with technology which provides us wealth and new creature comforts.  Meanwhile we see most social things degrading and disintegrating so we tend to discount the value of new "theory" in the social sciences.   

We live in a time that most of our fundamental beliefs are probably wrong but they still derive from fields that are believed to be "science"  and are often founded on assumptions that have never been subjected to any sort of science, much less rigorous testing.  This especially applies to linguistics.  In many cases this testing is impossible with the current state of human knowledge.   

If we can ever unjump the shark then people will begin accepting soft sciences as being true science but it still won't necessarily be true.

!

Moderator Note

Your personal views on various stripes of science and their utility is not the topic of this thread.

 

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