Thursday, November 27, 2014

Math, sociology, and a unified theory by Dr Guillermina Jasso

Can social forces be quantified? According to NYU sociology professor Dr Guillermina Jasso, who discussed just such a question at this NYU Abu Dhabi public lecture, not only can they be quantified, they can even be figured into a mathematical "unified theory"of sociology and social psychology that can be used to make real-world predictions. I found this talk consistently fascinating, not in the least because modeling of social forces is of professional interest to me.

Dr Jasso's introduced the leanings and engines of societies, and their permutations, and went on to talk about her "New Unified Theory" in terms of its constituent social forces: justice, status, and power. I don't have nearly as deep a background in sociology, but her descriptions of how these forces could be measured and their dynamics fitted to familiar mathematical functions seemed quite plausible.

Things got even more interesting when it came down to applications. Dr Jossa's portfolio of validated predictions based on her models was impressive, listing several predictions per slide about how the theory could be applied to model outcomes in matters of war, crime, family, marriage, politics, etc. It might be worth keeping an eye on related developments.

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