What Social Science Does—and Doesn’t—Know: Our scientific ignorance of the human condition remains profound.
Here's the conclusion of the article:
Experiments are surely changing the way we conduct social science. The number of experiments reported in major social-science journals is growing rapidly across education, criminology, political science, economics, and other areas. In academic economics, several recent Nobel Prizes have been awarded to laboratory experimentalists, and leading indicators of future Nobelists are rife with researchers focused on RFTs.(HT: Hermonta Godwin)
It is tempting to argue that we are at the beginning of an experimental revolution in social science that will ultimately lead to unimaginable discoveries. But we should be skeptical of that argument. The experimental revolution is like a huge wave that has lost power as it has moved through topics of increasing complexity. Physics was entirely transformed. Therapeutic biology had higher causal density, but it could often rely on the assumption of uniform biological response to generalize findings reliably from randomized trials. The even higher causal densities in social sciences make generalization from even properly randomized experiments hazardous. It would likely require the reduction of social science to biology to accomplish a true revolution in our understanding of human society—and that remains, as yet, beyond the grasp of science.
At the moment, it is certain that we do not have anything remotely approaching a scientific understanding of human society. And the methods of experimental social science are not close to providing one within the foreseeable future. Science may someday allow us to predict human behavior comprehensively and reliably. Until then, we need to keep stumbling forward with trial-and-error learning as best we can.