Social scientists run amok

From the first time Barack Obama summoned the country’s leading presidential historians to dinner, they saw that the type of discussion he wanted would be different from their talks with previous Oval Office occupants.

There was almost no small talk, for this was no idle exercise. …His goal, the historians realized, was more strategic. He wanted to apply the lessons of past presidential triumphs and failures to his own urgent project of setting the country on a new path.

…By the July 2011 dinner, as he was grappling with negotiations over the debt ceiling crisis and privately planning to attack Republicans as soon as it was over, the historians were suggesting a new role model. “We pushed Teddy Roosevelt like crazy on him,” said Douglas Brinkley of Rice University.

Why do I love social science, but am filled with terror whenever someone real starts to listen?

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