Carl Bialik’s column and blog post this week describe a study by Kimmo Eriksson, who used to work in combinatorics and co-authored a little book on integer partitions with George Andrews and is now mostly working in quantitative social science.
The basic conclusion is that if you slip some math into the abstract of a paper, people with Master’s or doctoral degrees in social sciences or humanities training will be more impressed than by the same abstract without the math, but people with the same level of scientific training won’t.
Here’s the paper: Kimmo Eriksson, The nonsense math effect, Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 7, No. 6., November 2012, pp. 746-749.