Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Looking for a needle in a needle stack

One of the problems with the social sciences which leads me to the conclusion that they are, on the whole, the modern day equivalent of alchemy practiced by the modern day equivalent of snake oil salesmen is that they always find what they are looking for.

This is why I have no confidence in the sort of inquiry which are useless Home Secretary has initiated.

Jacqui Smith said that Vernon Coaker, the Police Minister, will carry out a two-week appraisal of recruitment and promotion practices in forces across England and Wales.

Miss Smith is quoted as saying "[t]he police service is determined to offer fair and equal opportunities to all its members, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or background" even though that is far from the case. If you are a white heterosexual male you have far less chance of having your application into the police accepted than a black female lesbian applicant. And ethnic minority police officers are promoted five times faster than their white colleagues.

I don't want to prejudge Mr Coaker's methodology, but I suspect he will be getting the points of view from a lot of ethnic minority people and their race-hustling support groups. I doubt whether he'll bother to solicit the views of many white policemen or applicants. As a result, I believe Mr Coaker's report will say something like "things are improving, but we have to do more to root out racism ...." and so on.

So as a worthwhile study it is the equivalent of trying to find out if kids are overweight by only measuring overweight kids and completely ignoring the vast majority who are not overweight.

In other words, it will find what it is supposed to find and nothing else.

1 comment:

Nick von Mises said...

On your first paragraph. Read Stanislav Andreski's 1971 book "Social Science as Sorcery". I think you'd like it.