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Case Studies of Political Opinions Passed Off as Science and Mathematics
Serge Lang
AMS-MAA Joint Lecture Series
1991; 60 minutes; DVD
ISBN-10: 0-8218-4388-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8218-4388-8
List Price: US$25
Order Code: DVD/41
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In this fascinating presentation, Serge Lang discusses his nationally publicized battle against what he sees as quantitative verbiage used by some people in the social sciences to pass off political opinions as science. The central part of the lecture focuses on some works of Samuel Huntington, a well-known political scientist who was rejected by the National Academy of Sciences, partly as a result of Lang's campaign against him. Quoting from original sources, Lang documents how Huntington and other authors not only misused what some people call mathematics by assigning numerical values to various social phenomena (such as a "frustration index" for a society), but also misrepresented historical facts. Lang describes reactions in the social science community, in the press, and those of several students who used Huntington's textbooks in their classes. Never one to shy away from controversy over causes he believes in, Lang devoted a great deal of time and energy into what he sees as a crucial fight for standards and integrity in academia. His story raises challenging questions about the standards that scholars set for themselves, their institutions, and their colleagues. The lecture would be suitable for students and scholars in any academic discipline.

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