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Is There a Physics of Society? January 10-12, 2008, Santa Fe NM

Organizers: Michelle Girvan (University of Maryland) and Aaron Clauset (Santa Fe Institute)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

1:30 - 2:10 Cosma Shalizi (homepage)

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Econophysics?

In principle, physicists could really help advance the quantitative study of social and especially economic phenomena, because the problems the social sciences face --- in large measure those of understanding the macroscopic consequences of large numbers of strong microscopic interactions --- are mathematically closely akin to central problems of statistical mechanics. The actual scientific contributions of econophysics and kindred movements, however, are limited and disappointing, whether compared to this potential or to the publicity surrounding their efforts. I will attempt to suggest some causes for this state of affairs, in the hope that they can be changed and that we will, in fact, have a worthwhile econophysics at some point in the future.