chapter  4
5 Pages

Jack, David, and Judith looking at me looking at them

ByDEIRDRE MCCLOSKEY

I understand what all three are saying through an image popular in sociology, and brought into economics by Arjo Klamer and Stephen Gudeman. Sociologists speak of the street floor (called in phenomenology the “life-world”) and the eighth floor (the view of the positivist scientist). Some understandings, to speak of practical rhetoric, are best made scientifically persuasive at the level of the street, some others from the eighth floor. If you want to understand what it is like to be a member of a crowd you had better be down in the crowd. But if you want to make generalizations about the behavior of the crowd as a whole you had better be looking from the eighth floor. What irritates Jack and David and Judith is the positivist scientist sitting in his or her office drinking tea and calculating significance tests, occasionally glancing down at the street, and claiming loudly that the only way to do real Science is to get an office on the eighth floor.