Stories of Research to Reality: Bruce Bueno de Mesquita

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita

In early May SAGE gathered seven social scientists on Capitol Hill to tell stories, stories of their discipline’s impact on society and the economy, and stories of their own academic journey. The underlying goal of “Stories of Research to Reality: How the Social Sciences Change the World” was both to mark SAGE’s 50th birthday as an independent publisher and to demonstrate the value and impact of social science itself, increasingly under attack as either a waste or a luxury by some legislators.

The entire event, moderated by prominent blogger and George Washington University political scientist John Sides and held at the Hart Senate Office Building, was recorded; the seven individual videos are being published here over the next seven weeks. Each tale presents one facet of the real-world value of actual social and behavioral science research, with the implicit message that this is scholarship we should be encouraging.

The second speaker in this series is Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, the Julius Silver Professor of Politics at New York University, who uses game theory to model complex decision making – “by the way, that is the hard science,” he says – which in turn demonstrates how social science really can matter in real life.

In this talk, he describes how, using his own work of more than three decades, social science can bring critical information to policy-making. “A job of the social scientist,” he suggests, “is to help the policymaker how best to achieve the goals, not based on ideology, not based on partisan preference, based on logic and evidence.” There is a price, of course – the social scientist is “daring to be embarrassed by predicting or identifying, where appropriate, policy outcomes.”

Some of the examples he offers here include his work on keeping Taiwan in the Asian Development Bank when China asked for admission, edging Ferdinand Marcos out from leadership of the Philippines, and – most compellingly — determining the status of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Bueno de Mesquita is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Council on Foreign Relations, a former Guggenheim Fellow, and, among other honors, received South Korea’s DMZ Peace Prize in 2007. The author of 18 books, his recent include The Dictator’s Handbook (with Alastair Smith), and The Strategy of Campaigning (with Kiron Skinner, Serhiy Kudelia and Condoleezza Rice).

The first speaker in this series was Deborah Rupp | William C. Byham Chair in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University. To see her talk, click HERE.

Upcoming speakers in this series include:

Claire M. Renzetti | professor of sociology, University of Kentucky. (Click HERE to view)

John W. Creswell | professor of educational psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Click HERE to view)

Michael Reisch | Daniel Thursz Distinguished Professor of Social Justice, University of Maryland (Click HERE to view)

Jim Knight |research associate, University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning, and director of the Kansas Coaching Project (Click HERE to view)

Kerric Harvey | associate professor of media and public affairs, and associate director of the Center for Innovative Media, George Washington University (Click HERE to view)

SAGE is the parent of Social Science Space.

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