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The famous German philosopher Max Weber (1864-1920) drew the connection between the growth of social science in the mid-nineteenth century and rise of secularism—what he termed the systematic “disenchantment” of the everyday life. He could foresee how the growing ability to scientifically understand human behavior would make it possible to divorce public education, government programs, social service organizations, the justice system, and other important institutions from a spiritual outlook.
As Weber predicted, today social science plays an even greater role in running the world, but this is not to say that its influence is trusted. Psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, and political science may dominate the training and credentialing of today’s teachers, therapists, government and corporate administrators, social workers, criminologists, financial analysts, urban planners, environmentalists, and other professionals, but public faith in the competence of the organizations they run has been sinking for decades.
Polls - Americans - Government - Thing - Today
In 1964, polls showed that three of every four Americans trusted their government to do the right thing. Today only third of respondents feel the same way. The Edelman Trust Barometer, which for 18 years has been asking people around the globe about their confidence in various institutions, has recently recorded some of the steepest drops ever among those living in the United States.
Especially striking is the declining status of what decades ago was one of America’s most admired institutions, public education. In the latest annual poll by Harvard’s Education Next magazine, 77 percent of respondents graded the performance of the nation’s schools with a C or less.
Corporations - Bodies - Regard - Government - Non-profits
Corporations and other private economic bodies, while historically held in higher regard than either government or non-profits, are also struggling to retain the public’s confidence. They are being pressured by “a cumulative loss of trust on their part of [all] their constituencies,” says chief Allianz advisor Mohamed El-Erian.
Social scientists themselves have no...
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