Todd Zywicki notes that Congress "has been on a binge diet of junk social science." Is there another kind of social science? Particularly in the media, I really think the main influence of social science has been to substantially lower the bar for scientific inquiry and skepticism thereof.
Update: On a related note, these really low academic standards in the social "sciences" are the reason I think firing Ward Churchill is bogus, as I wrote here. Academic standards for things like ethnic or gender studies are incredibly low, particularly for the "research" done in these departments. As I pointed out before, Cal State Long Beach, for example, hired a paranoid schizophrenic who had served prison time for beating and torturing two women as the head of their Black Studies department. It is almost impossible to imagine Ward Churchill fired for violating the academic standards of his discipline because his discipline tends to have none, and everyone knows it. The University of Colorado fully knew what it was getting with Ward Churchill, but they hired him to check a politically correct racial/gender/ethnic box. Everything UC supposedly fired him for were known to them or should have been known to them with the most minimal of due diligence when they tenured the guy. Nothing has changed, except that he is no longer a PR asset for the university. As I wrote previously:
I could go out tomorrow and find twenty tenured professors of
ethnic/racial/gender studies in state universities whose academic
credentials are at least as bad as Churchill's and whom no one would dare fire. This has nothing to do with Churchill's academic work or its quality. UC is getting exactly
what it expected when it tenured him. This is about an attempt to fire
a tenured professor for the content of his speech, speech that has
embarrassed and put pressure on the university, and I can't support
Even More: Background from KC Johnson:
Churchill was hired through a "special opportunity" position, designed
by the university to help "recruit and hire a more diverse faculty." He
had an M.A. from little-known Sangamon State University and no Ph.D at
all. As documents from the time noted, his qualifications included only two items: strong lobbying from Evelyn Hu-DeHart,
the chair of the Ethnic Studies program, and the now-disputed fact that
"Ward is a Native American," meaning his hire would contribute "to
increasing the cultural diversity on campus."...
How, then, could his fellow academics have originally found Churchill's
scholarship acceptable? The outcome, alas, suggests that in politicized
fields such as African-American Studies, Women's Studies, and Ethnic
Studies, the message too often trumps quality. In this case, it appears
that Churchill's extremist arguments that the U.S. government engaged
in genocide against Native Americans blinded his academic reviewers to
the poor quality of his scholarship. Indeed, some Churchill
sympathizers, led by Cornell professor Eric Cheyfitz,
have continued to maintain that the former professor's writings
constitute appropriate scholarship for the field of Ethnic Studies.
I contend that Churchill was and is still exactly what UC thought he was, and his scholarship was and still does exactly conform to the (miserably low) standards of his discipline.