Top 10 Issues in Social Science

Harvard Top 10 Social Science Issues

  1. How can we induce people to look after their health?
  2. How do societies create effective and resilient institutions, such as governments?
  3. How can humanity increase its collective wisdom?
  4. How do we reduce the ‘skill gap’ between black and white people in America?
  5. How can we aggregate information possessed by individuals to make the best decisions?
  6. How can we understand the human capacity to create and articulate knowledge?
  7. Why do so many female workers still earn less than male workers?
  8. How and why does the ‘social’ become ‘biological’?
  9. How can we be robust against ‘black swans’ — rare events that have extreme consequences?
  10. Why do social processes, in particular civil violence, either persist over time or suddenly change?

What are your top 10 issues we need to be researching in social science?

What are the assumptions of this list?

  • Should it be the task of social science to coerce people to be healthier?
    • We already know how to coerce people: reward and punishment. Is that the answer? Is that legitimate? Who says?
  • Is this begging two questions:
    • Are healthier people so because of their choices?
    • Why don't some people choose to be healthier?
  • Does it ignore a basic conflict?
    • The predictor of possible health behaviors is SES: i.e., income.
    • The answer to the question would therefore be to give everyone higher wages than other people.