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At the risk of overposting to a busy list...just for the record, I am
arguing against the value of jingoistic rhetoric--if I take it that by that
term you mean inflammatory positioning of one group against the threat of
another in the study of social networks.  If it sounds otherwise I either
miscommunicated or am misinterpreted.

The very point I am trying to make is that social network traits are at work
in the study of social networks.  Identities like "physicist" or
"sociologist" are part of that.   Groups may exclude by (or fear) titles,
institutions, etc.  They will undoubtedly offer rewards to ingoup members by
their structure and values.

I benefit as do most others whenever someone says something new, better, and
important.  Technology resultant from better methods of analysis, better
models, better means to uncover order in complexity, etc. are all excellent
goals that perhaps have best possible solutions which I hope people compete
to reach.  I see clear progress when Pajek adds a new version with better
algorithms, etc.  I concur on all your hopes for much empirically grounded
work that is more rigorous, better tested, etc.  Deborah Mayo's Error and
the Growth of Experimental Knowledge is an excellent recent summation of a
hope for this sort of science.

There are other areas of social network analysis in addition to those that
press for persistent, optimal approaches.  A network analysis intensive
history by Peter Bearman is an example.  Physicists seem to prefer problems
and solutions that have optimal or straightforward means to assess improving
approaches.  Many other fields contribute to the sort of work that does not
seem to have persistent, optimal solutions for any number of reasons.  Much
work of this sort goes on in the social sciences.   I suppose those are
criteria for network formation and linkages.

Ryan Lanham

> Is there really some purpose to this sort of jingoistic rhetoric, other
> than collective ego-stroking?  The empirical fact of the matter is that
> various scientists from outside the social sciences have taken an
> interest in social networks.

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