Mapping Academia

Even though individuals display strong correlations between their verbal/writing and quantitive GRE scores, Razib Khan observes that the average GRE scores by intended major show little correlation. Khan also notes:

Philosophers are the smartest humanists, physicists the smartest scientists, economists the smartest social scientists.

I wonder: why do these also happen to be three of my four favorite academic areas (the other being computer science)? Could some areas be better suited to high IQ folks?  If so, am I attracted to those because I think I’m smart? This conflicts with my impression that I like these subjects because they seem objectively more interesting, but that could just be my rationalization.

44 months ago I posted on an interesting “map of science,” and digging deeper today I find that in ’09 the folks who made that map merged twenty different maps of science/academia into this 2D consensus map:


It seems that academic fields naturally form something like a circle, with no fields being especially central. Especially interesting to me, the fields I prefer are all clustered together on one side; my history was to move from E to P to H to CS to an M-style SS.  These topic areas seem to roughly have higher GRE scores, to involve more general and abstract reasoning, and to discuss “far” things further in space, time, social distance, and hypothetically. Apparently academia is divided by near vs. far topics, with math and IQ more important for the far topics, even though math and other formal analysis invokes a near mental mode. The axis orthogonal to near vs far seems to be living vs. dead. Why does academia distribute itself as a circle in this two-dimensional space?

Added 9p: The MapOfScience website, where I got that ’07 graph I liked, now only offers this one:


If you don’t look carefully you won’t notice that the right and left sides actually connect.  Apparently the idea that social science is closely related computer science offends folks there, just as it seems to offend 3 of the 4 comments here so far. More hating on econ?

Many point out that this SS-CS connection seems one of the weakest links in the consensus ring, but that is in part due to the fact that the databases used to generate these maps usually only include data on “sciences”, from which the humanities and many social sciences are purposely excluded.  There has long been a campaign to marginalize these areas from the main body of academia.

GD Star Rating
Tagged as: , , ,
Trackback URL: