Are we truly innovating in social science research, or are we just building better rope?

When I think of innovation in survey research, I think of innovation in our "sister" field of land surveying.  (A field I think of too often as I correct confused extended relatives about the type of surveys that I'm involved in.)

In 2600 B.C. Egypt, "rope stretchers" were some of the first land surveyors.  They stretched rope to measure land distances.  But rope had its flaws - it was often weak, stretched, expensive, and in large amounts could be very heavy.  Small innovations took place...

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