PM, over at The Duck, objects to Tom Coburn's desire stop the National Science Foundation from funding projects in the disciplines of "business administration, economics, geography, political science, sociology, international relations, and communication" on the grounds that they aren't, well, science. PM raises some good points, then acknowledges that Coburn's position is probably closer to the average Joe's.
FLG had a couple half-formed thoughts on this.
First, FLG's visceral hatred for Auguste Comte combined with a deep skepticism of empiricism makes it difficult for him to call anything other than physical science by the name science. Don't get FLG wrong. FLG majored in economics and took several PhD-level political science courses just for the hell of it, including a comparative one with all kinds of regressions, so don't think he doesn't understand empiricism. What he worries about is that we can't measure, at least very easily, what is meaningful to people. Instead, we measure what's easy, or at least relatively easier, to measure. And then since social scientists base there experiments and projects around these, non or less meaningful metrics, their research is concomitantly less meaningful.
Second, FLG generally generally objects to government funding of research anyway. He can get behind an argument that pure science, without any foreseeable near or medium run technological application, might benefit from some government funding. Medical research, a la NIH, is hard to argue with. But social science? Nah, not so much. Not that people shouldn't engage in it, but we don't necessarily need public funds to support it. Although, to be honest, we don't really need public funds to do any of it. The medical research, all things considered, FLG really can't argue to defund. (But that's primarily based upon a variety of normative assumptions that FLG thinks we all, or at least the vast, vast majority of us, hold; namely, that, in general, it is better to healthy than ill and be alive than dead.) But social science? It's a kind of science, insofar as it poses hypotheses and tests them, but it's nowhere near as objective as natural and physical sciences.