There are both similarities and differences between all sciences. In academia, especially, there has historically been a trend to lump the physical sciences into a more “solid” category. Social and psychological sciences were said to be “soft.” This is mostly due to the accuracy of measurements, and the empirical data available for proof. A mathematical equation is easier to prove than say, the theory that people are getting fat due to bad agricultural practice.
However, in the twenty first century, new models have emerged. People, even in physics and chemistry, are operating at unexplored depths and heights that require more hypothesis than is measurable, even with considerable aids to the senses, such as microscopes and telescopes. An age is arrived at wherein people must make more informed guesses, and have less access through enhanced, human senses alone.
Dr. E.O. Wilson in his book Consilience encourages the unity of knowledge. He knows that so long as people make judgments about hard science and soft science, there will be misunderstanding. Lost opportunities to share valuable lessons of nature are not tolerable anymore, because the state of the world requires using every tool in the kit to help understand society, the environment, life and the human impact on earth.
For example, a chemist can predict something about levels of toxins where a social worker might find high levels of societal unease and dysfunction in an area polluted, or degraded, by industry. They must work together to find accurate answers.
The field of Ecopsychology depends upon all science to help educate human populations. Humans need to have a through understanding of what role, if any, they have in affecting the quality of their own lives and life on earth. Ecopsychology looks at the entirety of the organism. Mental, physical, emotional and even spiritual health depend upon both physical reality, and social trends.
Trends for addictions for example, or toward violence, are greatly impacted by what cultural belief systems drive, as well as what physical reality allows. Human dependency upon dirty fuels, and the hope for clean energy and sustainable agriculture, as well as new societal values are all very inter-related. Human hope for innovation and clean technology also require united science.
The process of science is to reveal nature’s laws. Nature, in the social science aspect, however, became something that is to be used, not something to which people belong, revere, and celebrate as source of life. The understanding of the necessity of biodiversity unites both sciences. It unites all organisms, in fact.
In post-industrial times, social science shows how humanity has drifted into being consumed by consumption. Geology, chemistry, climatology, and biology teach us what is thus affected by that consumption.
Societal ethics of control, ownership and possessions, especially of much conflicted resources, produce data for everyone. In a non-cohesive group there is on-going conflict over who is rich or poor, black or white, member or non member and who controls all systems and resources. An Us versus them, although destructive, is familiar, and assumed to be the norm. Consilience is a cooperative sensibility that allows all science to return, as it were, to their senses.