What's wrong with social simulations?
It is in my opinion not least because of the abundance of simulations
with low empirical impact that “social simulation is not yet recognized
in the social science mainstream” (Squazzoni/Casnici 2013, abstract).
Why should a mainstream social scientist take simulation studies seriously,
if he or she cannot be sure about the reliability of the results, because
the simulations have never been validated? If modelers started to take
the requirement of empirical validation more seriously, I expect two
changes to occur – both of them beneficial: 1) Social simulations will
become more focused in scope. Scientists will not attempt to cast anything
into the form of a computer simulation from classical social contract
philosophy (Skyrms 1996, Skyrms 2004)
to, well, the whole world (Futureict 2013, Livingearth 2013),
but they will develop a better feeling for when simulations can be
empirically validated and when not, and they will mostly leave out
those problems where computer simulations cannot be applied with some
hope of producing empirically applicable results. 2) Yet, while the
simulation method will become more focused in scope, it will at the
same time become much more useful in practice, because simulations
will more frequently yield results that other scientists can rely on
without needing to worry about their speculative character and potential
lack of reliability.