Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ceramic Technology - Hardness

As part of my interests in studying changes in ceramic technology I purchased a Wilson Rockwell Dual Hardness Tester off of ebay (see photo below). This instrument provides precise hardness measures and because it is a "superficial hardness" tester (as well as Rockwell B and C scales), it can be used to study ceramics. A reasonable discussion of the use of this instrument can be found in Simon and Coglhan 1998 article in American Antiquity: The Use of Indentation Testing to Obtain Precise Hardness Measurements from Prehistoric Pottery . This can also be used for lithics and it will interested to integrate this work with the work Tim and I have been doing on measurement of fracture surface.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dating ceramics via rehydroxylation kinetics

It's a poorly kept secret that the pre-publication paper "Wilson, M.A. Carter, M.A. Hall, C. Hoff. W.D. Ince, C. Savage, S.D. McKay, B. and Betts, I.M. 2009 ‘Dating fired-clay ceramics using long-term power law rehydroxylation kinetics’, Proceedings of the Royal Society A. doi:10.1098/rspa.2009.0117 is generating a lot of attention and interest among archaeologists everywhere. The ability to inexpensively date fired ceramics simply through measuring weight change caused by rehydroxylation is simply amazing. We need to replicate the results. Here at CSULB we can do that -- and we have many samples that we have dated via OSL and the basic instruments (a furnace and an ultra precision microbalance) are available. I'm thinking that the use of TGA might be a great way to evaluate this work since the TGA is basically a furnace with a ultra high precision balance. I think the combination of OSL dating (to determine rates) might make an robust solution that would vastly increase our ability to specify the depositional history of whole deposits. Very cool.

NSF Funded Archaeometry at CSULB

We received good news today that our NSF Archaeometry proposal was funded. This proposal, submitted by Hector Neff, Greg Holk (Geology) and myself provides funding for instrument upgrades, student support, and collaborative research support. We will soon have funds for:

  1. A Bruker Portable XRF spectrometer. This handheld device looks a lot like a proto-phaser from Star Trek but allows one to do nondestructive elemental characterization - in the lab and field. It is an amazing instrument that will be of tremendous use for student training as well as field research. We plan to use one of these on Easter Island this summer.
  2. A new CHN analyzer. This instrument, a Costech ECS 4010 CHNSO Analyzer, uses combustion to determine carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, and oxygen in organic samples, then sends the resulting gases on to our Finnegan MAT Delta-XP isotope-ratio mass spectrometer. This new instrument will enable us to improve our capacity to analyze isotopes in carbonaceous sediments and bone.
  3. Graduate student support in the laboratory. Though we continue to be prevented from taking archaeology graduate students, we will fund geography and geology students and will support students from other local universities.  
  4. Subsidized research. Much of our funding provides subsidizes analyses for collaborative archaeological research projects involving such relatively routine projects. For routine analytical work, we will identify or develop appropriate analytical procedures and direct student employees in sample preparation and data collection. We will also synthesize the analytical data and prepare reports outlining analytical procedures and results of the projects. NSF funding for instrument service and maintenance for the GBC Optimass will permit LA-TOF-ICP-MS to be deployed for routine archaeological applications at rates that should be affordable to a wide cross section of academic researchers. To be eligible for the subsidized rate, researchers will have to submit a CV and 3 – 5 page miniproposal describing the project and sampling design.
  5. Visiting research program. Like previous archaeometry grants, we will support researchers who want to come to CSULB to conduct research with us. The visiting researcher program is intended to support highly innovative applications of LA-TOF-ICP-MS and projects that innovatively use the isotope-rate mass spectrometer, the XRF or combine LA-TOF-ICP-MS with SEM/EDX/WDX. Proposals should outline how the work departs from previous analytical work in archaeology and should present a specific, compelling reason why the originating archaeologist should be involved directly in the analytical work. Projects judged not to meet these criteria will be undertaken as subsidized collaborative research projects. I believe that for projects judged eligible for support under the visiting researcher program, participant room and board will be covered for up to two weeks in Long Beach, and instrument time on both the TOF-ICP-MS and the ESEM/EDX/WDX will be fully subsidized. For projects that produce very encouraging results during the initial visit, continued remote on-line collaboration involving use of both the ESEM/EDX/WDX and the LA-TOF-ICP-MS will be possible via the PCI-Quartz interface. Instrument time will be fully subsidized for such on-line collaboration, but any additional sample preparation (e.g., preparation of ESEM polished sections) will be paid for by collaborating researchers.

ANTH 499: The Anthropology of Zombies

ANTH 499: The Anthropology of Zombies


Dr. Carl Lipo, Associate Professor

Department of Anthropology

Office: PH1 Rm 202

Phone: 562-985-2393



Class Hours:            MW 3:30-4:45 PM

Room:                        PE1-059

Office Hours:            Tuesday 1:30-3:30

Required Textbooks:

Davis, Wade, 1985 The Serpent and the Rainbow. Simon and Schuster.

Brooks, Max 2003. The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. Three Rivers Press.

            Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith 2009. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance – Now With Ultraviolent Mayhem! Quirk Books.

            Brooks, Max 2007. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Three Rivers Press.

            Ewald, Paul 2002 Plague Time: The New Germ Theory of Disease. Anchor.

            Cronk, Lee. 1999. That Complex Whole: Culture And the Evolution of Human Behavior. Westview Press.



ANTH 499 is an exploration into the phenomenon of the plague of flesh-eating living dead (aka Zombies) that plague our society. This course investigates the history of zombies, the evolutionary processes that lead to the living dead, instances of zombie-ism in the natural world, philosophical issues of consciousness, and the role zombies have played in popular culture. Through readings, films and discussions we will attempt to frame the zombie scourge in historical and evolutionary context and provide insight on how one should deal with this clear and present threat to human life.

As everyone knows, zombies are a major social concern. With millions of infectious flesh-eating undead wandering our streets, it is essential that we construct an academic understanding of zombies. Many of society’s most pressing questions depends on our ability to ask and answer questions about WHY ZOMBIES. Why do they seek to eat living flesh? Why do we make things? What caused their evolution? Why do zombies depend on the flesh of living beings? Are zombies part of a larger unseen natural cycle? Does the insatiable desire for flesh constitute consciousness? What is the history of zombies? What is the role that zombies play in popular culture? Why zombies now? How do zombies impact the structure of our social and economic organization? Determining why zombies (and ourselves) are they way they, and learning about origins provides us a means to understand the nature of zombies and change as well as what we might expect in the future. Answering these questions requires having information about the evolutionary history of zombies – since that history is the ultimate reason WHY we are here. Put simply, we are here because zombies exist and have reproduced.

In the Anthropology of Zombies, we will examine how anthropology is able to address some of the key why questions linked to the nature of zombie existence: the origin of our species, origins of zombies, zombie society, zombie culture, zombie biology, zombie philosophy, etc.. We will also examine common approaches used by anthropologists to study zombies. In particular, we will explore how anthropology is a discipline that uses an evolutionary conceptual framework for explaining our zombie origins. This framework is the basis of the zombie sciences, a realm of the sciences dedicated to the study of the major why zombie questions. It is distinct from the non-zombie sciences such as physics and chemistry. The zombie sciences build explanations that account for patterns of zombies and culture change through time and across space. While subject matter may vary, zombie scientists share explanatory frameworks and make use of measurements of the empirical world – a framework in common with evolutionary biology, evolutionary philosophy and other evolutionary disciplines. In anthropology, this consists of the zombie horde – the undead, their behavior, their culture, their biology and their spatial relations. Measurements of zombies are recorded in the field and laboratory by instruments and analytical techniques developed in the physical sciences, yet explained within the zombie paradigm.

This course will include lectures and material that will permit you to:

·      Comprehend the difference between scientific and pseudo-scientific understanding of the zombies;

·      Know how physical-science techniques, such as molecular biology, have contributed to the development of a zombie science;

·      Be able to identify and illustrate the scientific tools that anthropology has developed on its own in order to produce knowledge about zombies that is falsifiable;

·      Be able to apply the basic principles of measurement and quantification used in zombie studies;

·      Comprehend the evolutionary processes that shaped zombie history and biology

·      Be able to summarize the major changes in zombie-ism that has occurred over the past 6 million years;

·      Understand why zombies occur in the natural world;

·      Be able to explain the role of zombies in popular culture;

·      Discuss the differences between consciousness and mindlessness;

·      Track notions such as zombies in popular culture through time and space.

You will have succeeded in this course when you are able to:

1.     Contribute to the class discussion of assigned topics, current zombie events, zombie literature, and classroom exercises.

2.     Distinguish zombie science from stories and demonstrate an understanding of how science works in the study of the zombies.

3.     Demonstrate knowledge of zombie methods, theories, science, analytic techniques, zombie management, and zombie stewardship on the midterm exam.

4.     Incorporate an understanding of zombies in the context of disease and the evolution of coevolutionary relationships.

5.     Analyze details of important features of zombies worldwide, describing major transitions in zombies and how this knowledge is important for modern humans.

6.     Demonstrate writing skills on assignments that indicate good preparation and organization.

7.     Discuss the value of zombies to your own life and to modern society.


The course meets two times a week: Mondays and Wednesdays @3:30-4:45. Class announcements, additional reading, and assignments will be posted on BeachBoard ( All class assignments must be turned in on time. Late assignments, without a valid reason for absence (see below) will be accepted, but count for no more than 50% of the full value.


A traditional grading scheme will be used (>90%=A, 80-89%=B, 70-79%=C, 60-69%=D, <60%=F). Your grade will be based on four separate components:

Attendance and In-Class Activities (15%)

Attendance is required for this class. Attendance will be evaluated through discussions, attendance roll, in-class exercises, assignments and quizzes. The standard University criteria for absences will be used. Valid excuses consist of (1) Illness or injury to the student, (2) death, injury or a serious illness of an immediate family member or the like due to zombies, (3) religious reasons (4) jury duty or government obligations in zombie defense, (5) university sanctioned or approved activities (examples include: artistic performances, forensics presentations, participation in research conferences, intercollegiate athletic activities, zombie hunting, student government, required class field trips, etc.), (6) zombie attacks. When any of these reasons directly conflict with class meeting times, students are responsible for informing faculty members of the reason for the absence and for arranging to make up missed assignments, tests, quizzes, and class work insofar as this is possible. Evidence of zombie attacks may be requested. Note per University policy, faculty members are not obligated to consider other non-zombie related absences as excused.

Film Discussion (25%)

There will be five film exercises during the semester. These films will be made available at the library for you to watch in advance. You must watch the films in advance. On the lecture days corresponding to the films we will view key scenes and discuss the major points made in each. Film discussion write ups are due the Monday following the filmsand are worth 5% each for a total of 25% of your grade.

3/15            Dawn of the Dead

3/22            Day of the Dead

3/29            Shaun of the Dead

4/5                        28 Days Later

4/19            28 Weeks Later

Evening Lectures (10%)

During the course of the semester there will be three evening lectures given by internationally-known zombie specialists. The lectures will be held off-campus – at the Aquarium of the Pacific in downtown Long Beach. Each of these individuals is an engaging speaker who will be discussing a zombie topic that we will also cover in class. The talks begin @7:00PM and will be followed by a reception at the aquarium so that you can talk with the speakers. The schedule of the talks is:

  • Wed., Feb. 1: Dr. Paul Ewald, Evolutionary Studies of Disease
  • Wed., March 8: Dr. Lawrence Gilbert, Zombie Ants
  • Mon., March 27: Max Brooks, The Zombie Plague and What You Can Do About It.

You are required to attend at least one of these lectures. For this lecture (your choice) you must provide a type-written, brief summary and critique of the talk. This critique should examine whether the author is able to say something about the past in a scientific manner – what evidence and theory are they using to make their zombie points? This paper is due 24 April. The paper must be 2-3 pages, double-spaced, typed, and in a professional format. LATE PAPERS WILL NOT ACCEPTED. E-mailed papers are not accepted.

Mid-Term Exam (25%)

There will be a mid-term exam on Monday, March 1st. This exam will include essay-type questions on zombie issues as well as so-called objective questions, and will cover assigned readings for that time period as well as lectures and other class materials. There will be NO makeup exams except in fully documented serious circumstances.

Final Exam (25%)

There will be a final exams scheduled during the final period, April 24 @2:45 – 4:45PM. This exam will include essay-type questions as well as so-called objective questions, and each will cover assigned readings for that time period as well as lectures and other class materials. The final will be cumulative to a small degree in that you will need to know the basic concepts of zombies to explain the natural world.


·      15 Feb: Exercise 1 Due

·      1 March: Midterm Exam

·      24 April: Zombie Lecture Paper Due

·      18 May: Final exam

Throughout entire class: Class participation, in class quizzes, discussion and knowledge of readings, laboratories, etc.


25% = Midterm exam

10% = Lecture Report

25% = Laboratories

25% = Final exam

15% = Class Participation, exercises, quizzes, including class discussion


100% (+10% extra credit possible)






Week 1: 1/25           



Zombie: Introduction and overview

Week 2: 1/30 & 2/1



What are Zombies?

Origins, science and zombies: How can we get answers to the past?

  • Science
  • Scientific methods
  • Falsification

Brook 2002: 1-43



Science and Pseudo-science: How can we distinguish zombie pseudo-science from science?

Cronk: 1-90


Week 3: 2/6 & 2/8



Hoaxes and Zombies

Zombies and the scientific method.

Cronk: 91-200



MOVIE: Dawn of the Dead

Exercise 1 due in class

Week 4: 2/13 & 2/15




·      Biology

·      Behavior

·      Explanations of the zombies

·    Functional

·    Historical

Brooks 2007: 1-99



Zombies, Evolution and Science

Week 5: 2/20 (Presidents’ Day) & 2/22



NO CLASS – Presidents’ Day – Campus Closed



MOVIE: Day of the Dead

Brooks 2002-50-199

Week 6: 2/27 & 3/1



Zombie origins: Where do zombies come from?

·      Evolution

·      Coevolution

·      Historical evidence

·      The First zombies and culture

Cronk 1999: 101-187



Midterm Exam

Week 7: 3/6 & 3/8



Evolution of Infectious Diseases

Ewald: 1-204



Zombies in the Natural World

Zombie Ants


Ewald: 205-324

Week 8: 3/13 & 3/15



How did zombies get to the New World?

Brooks 2007:190-321



FILM: Shaun of the Dead

Week 9: 3/20 & 3/22



Zombies in Literature

  • Who where first Zombies?
  • Traditional Zombies
  • Neo-traditional Zombies
  • Post Modern Zombies

Austen and Grahame-Smith: 1-204



MOVIE: 28 Days Later

Week 10: 3/27 & 3/29



The Rise of “Zombie Culture”

  • Popular culture

Austen and Grahame Smith: 205-328

Cronk 200-397

Davis (all)



Traditional Zombies in Haiti

Week 11: 4/3 & 4/5



Philosophy of Consciousness

Are Zombies Conscious?

Cronk: 144-165



LAB: Left 4 Dead

SPRING BREAK 4/10 to 4/14

Week 12: 4/17 & 4/19



The future: Preparing for Zombies

Defense and Offense

Brooks 2007: 211-391



LAB: Left 4 Dead Playoffs


Final Exam is scheduled 2:45 – 4:45 Wednesday, April 24.

Cheating and Plagiarism: Plagiarism is using the words and/or the ideas of another person without giving them credit. This is academic zombie-ism. Plagiarism and cheating are serious academic offenses. Read the section on cheating and plagiarism in the CSULB catalog, and note that faculty are free to take a wide range of actions in cases of cheating and plagiarism. If you are caught cheating or plagiarizing in this course, you will experience severe consequences with the undead.

Withdrawal Policy: Please keep in mind that you are held responsible for completion of every course for which you register or for withdrawing during the first two weeks of classes from courses that you do not intend to complete. You may pick up a copy of the CSULB withdrawal policy, as well as withdrawal forms, in the Anthropology Department office.

Miscellaneous: Please notify me in advance if you require accommodation for a disability (it is your responsibility to do so). The information provided in this syllabus is subject to change.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Something smelly has washed up on

Reader Matt Bandy has kindly provided some background about source of the infromation from the new blog that has taken over my domain (
It looks like your former domain is now hosting a bunch of articles by Adnan Okta, aka Harun Yahya, a wealthy Turkish campaigner against evolution, noted anti-semite, convicted criminal, and head of "a secretive Islamic sect." He made a splash among paleontologists last year by mailing out tens of thousands of copies of his Atlas of Creation, an incredibly lavish and basically insane 800-page volume, to scholars worldwide. It also has some articles by Josh Greengerger, another prolific creationist, as well as some pieces that appear to be plagiarized in a semi-literate fashion from various other sources. What a mess.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Superbad: What lives in my old domain

I wonder if there is some scheme out there to take over evolution minded domains and populate them with creationist drivel and ranting. That idea seems to be supported by what has risen in place of this blog over at The set of crap that now lives there consists of pointless anti-evolution raps by an anonymous poster that prohibits comments. Gack. Any ideas as to what to do?

The Benefits of Zombies

Over the past couple weeks, I have had to deal with a couple of crappy events in my life. On aspect of these events is that it has made me realize the genuine value of hordes of flesh-eating undead. Whenever things look bleak, just compare that situation to one which there were also zombies. Have a death in the family? Horrible. Compare that to a situation where you've had a death in the family and gory undead were moaning and pounding at your windows trying to satiate their hunger for living flesh. WAAAY worse. Everything is bleaker with zombies. They make any event relatively brighter! In comparison, every terrible thing to deal with in life is a joy! Zombies: better living through scenarios of undead carnage.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Blog URL

Sadly, due to credit card snafus and my own inherent laziness, I lost the domain "" to some holding company (that happens to be in Hawai'i.... MTP?). Right now they are delivering a copy of the blog that dates to sometime in April -- they must have copied the existing material onto the front page when they took the domain. Of course, this content isn't updated on a regular basis. The current LIVE url for this blog is: Frustratingly, the folks (if any) looking at won't get this message and will see the old content. Dang.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Archaeology Curriculum: Wherein the "Two Cultures" Are Shown as Real Real Hits the Road Hits the Road

For those interested, there is a boneheaded proposal at the College of Liberal Arts to drop a set of archaeology courses from the Anthropology curriculum. The proposed set of courses to drop include:

ANTH 453, 472, 481, 485, 464, 488, 553, 551, 571, 572, 573, 581, 564, 585, 587, and 588.

Where these numbers are equivalent to:
453/453: Archaeological Field Research Design
472/572: Archaeology of the Desert West
481/581: Archaeology of California
485/585: Physical Science Techniques in Archaeology
464/564: Quantitative Method sin Anthropological Research
488/588: Geoarchaeology
551: Artifact Analysis
571: Prehistory of Eastern North America
587: Cultural Resource Management
588: Advanced Methods in Near Surface Remote Sensing

These classes consist of the majority of all upper division archaeology and all graduate courses. The "majority rule" of the department has approved this motion with no clear rationale other than a eagerness to eliminate science based archaeology from the Anthropology BA and MA.

A hearing at the College Educational Policies and Curriculum committee will be held on May 19 (tuesday) at 3:30 p.m. at in the Macintosh Building Room 315 ( MHB-315 ).
The key folks in this upcoming hearing are:

Dean Gerry Riposa     <>
EPCC Committee Chair Brett Mizelle <>
President Academic Senate Praveen Soni <>
President CLA Faculty Council Nele Hempel-Lamer <>

If anyone is interested in obtaining more info, let me know.

Friday, May 8, 2009

50 Years of Two Cultures and a Question

As reported in the The Telegraph and other places today, it has been 50 years since C.P. Snow stood up in the Senate House in Cambridge to present a lecture on the divergence of academia between scientists and "literary intellectuals." Much of his argument stemmed from problems he saw in the British educational system which tended to divert the best students towards studies in "classics" while the less equipped were steered towards science. This practice, he argued led to a culture in which the brightest intellectuals were entirely ignorant of the conceptual basis that underlies our ability to manipulate the world in which we live -- i.e., the basis that created the economy in which pursuits such as literary analysis were made possible. In this way, Snow perceived that society was developing "two cultures" - two separate groups of people shared different priorities: science vs. humanities.

As an academic in a university in which departments are divided into two colleges --the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Natural Science -- it is impossible not to see Snow description's realized. We literally have two entirely separate sets of degrees, departments and faculty who do either science or humanities type of teaching and research. For the most part, students are forced to choose degrees that fall almost entirely in one or the other college. Faculty are treated separately too: those in Liberal Arts are expected to make do with enough space for a keyboard and a chair that may be shared with another while in the Natural Sciences it is standard for faculty to have labs, instruments in addition to their own separate office. We are two cultures.

This is a major issue and source of contention, of course. The Liberal Arts faculty want what Natural Science has to offer. They do not, however, require quite the same kinds of resources so the question about equality is complicated.

The real question, however, is much deeper than issues of square footage, lab resources and other trappings. How can one integrate these two cultures in a conceptual way: teaching students and conducting research that cross boundaries and integrates different approaches into a coherent and productive whole? This is a tougher issue that requires individuals to forget petty rivalries and power issues and to honestly evaluate their intellectual products. We have to ask ourselves about the basis that permits one to make claims about the world at the level of the social and economic substructure that allows all non-subsistence based effort possible as well as what conceptual frameworks make even the most basic knowledge possible. We can't pretend to work in a vacuum with necessary attachment to the work of others - that is simply dishonest, disrepectful and contrary to intellectual tradition of acknowledging the sources of information.

In some ways, artists are best equipped to see how the bridge between humanities and science is bridged. While some may attempt to build art via endless trial and error, the most successful artists are deeply aware of the physics and chemistry basis of whatever media they use. Pushing the envelope in the construction of a massive bronze sculpture requires more than just "common sense" - but an understanding of thermodynamics and structural properties. The greater the knowledge about the boundaries of materials, the larger the potential for doing new kinds of things. Art and science often (but not always) function hand in hand. The other way is also true: scientists seek to explain why artistic works have the properties they do -- from the decoding the imposing effect provided by the geometry of the Partheon to explaining particular combinations of color and texture are perceived in different ways through cognition.

In the seemingly never-ending set of issues that plague my particular department, the issue of science and humanities and their relation is never discussed directly. Predominately the issue that has fractured the faculty is one of power and control: who "owns" anthropology and the content of the education the degrees that the department offers. Ownership in this sense provides individuals control: preference in scheduling, acquisition of square footage, interaction with the best students, removal of critics, control of committees, access to financial resources (perceived and otherwise). However, the consequence of these squabbles and power plays is more than just individual faculty rewards: it is a matter of the degree to which we perpetuate the two cultures.

In my own case, the two cultures comes down to "archaeology" vs. "anthropology" (where the latter term is generally asserted as being the "real" anthropology as opposed to whatever form we are characterized as teaching.). Generally, the latter culture is composed of cultural anthropologists in one form or another (other than the medium and subject matter, it is hard to really distinguish linguistic anthropology from visual anthropology from cultural anthropology from applied anthropology).

Oddly, on the "anthropology" side of the house includes our physical anthropologists (one retiring, the other still active to some degree). On the one hand, I believe that these physical anthropology faculty side on the "anthropology" culture due to their particular personalities: i.e., strict adherence to the status quo, antiquated notions of "sociobiology", etc. On the other hand, there is something more disturbing driving their alignment in the anthropology culture: a sense of eliteness provided them by being "real" scientists as their speciality includes somewhat straightforward biology. In this way, they can align them selves in the culture anthropology and yet remain "above" the fray. They can look down at us as the untouchable high priests of science.

What this means, however, is that the real battle lines are being non-explicitly drawn in a different area and its not about science per se. And this is what I really see the issue of CP Snow's Two Culture as being today: the degree to which science can provide explanations about non-biological selves. This issue points to the core of what anthropology is and has been the source of debate since the late 19th century. Squier and Davis (1848) and Squier (1851) were probably the first Americanists to explicitly espouse making anthropology science as a goal. While the introduction of "exact" measurement of field monuments seemed to be enough to qualify a discipline as scientific to Squier and Davis, other contemporary scientists did not share the view and rained criticism on the Smithsonian Institution and its secretary for wasting the first volume of the Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge on such frivolous stuff as archaeology {vol 1, no. 1, Scientific American}. Although what was and wasn't science could cause debate, early archaeological scholars were unclear on what science meant to them precisely.

A generation later, William Henry Holmes, the real intellectual giant among American archaeologists in the 19th century and well into the 20th, likewise was explicitly driven by a desire to make archaeology scientific. This is particularly striking in view of the fact that Holmes was an artist by training and retained this interest throughout his career, being the director of the National Art Gallery at the time of his retirement. Obviously he viewed Squier and Davis' proclamation of archaeology as science as premature. A different view of what constitutes science seems indicated. Holmes was the first archaeologist of which I am aware to give "science" a specific interpretation; for Holmes, science was distinguished by laws, was nomothetic, a position that has strong advocates in the modern era. In his " Evolution of the Aesthetic " (Holmes 1892:240) Holmes makes this point abundantly clear in even the most humanistic of topics:"The science of the beautiful must deal with the actual phenomena, with facts as hard, with principles as fixed, and laws as inflexible as do the sciences of  biology and physics." And like Squier and Davis he abhorred those who entered archaeology as a way of escaping from the rigors of real science.

Fast forward to 2009 and the issue about science in anthropology (vis a vis archaeology in this particular case) remains. But as archaeologists we are no longer in the driver seat of our own discipline. For reasons I won't go into here (but see Archaeology as a Process), anthropology as the umbrella discipline has become dominated by individuals who don't see science as having much role in explaining our non-biological selves. To make matters worse, archaeologists have put themselves into a subordinate position to the "real" (i.e., non-science based anthropology) in that archaeology is the data-poor step child. We are in a position where we are the ones who lack credentials in anthropology as we do not attend to the issues deemed central.

This situation is certainly played out in my own department: as anthropologists interested in science, we have been characterized as doing "interdisciplinary work" and thus not real anthropologists. This has lead to a whole series of initiatives that are resulting the purging of science based content in the discipline (though not physical anthropology) -- any course that smacks of a science of ourselves. What is left is basic introductory courses that serve basically as "required reading" for students who are allowed to specialize in any area as long as it is not related to the Culture of Science (in both senses).

Here's the rub. Insidiously the debate about Two Cultures ends up being focused on how physicists can get along with literary types. How can a poet, for example, speak to a chemist? Or how does the biology of the eyeball provide links to a historian studying antebellum art? These sorts of things are what commentators usually spend time discussing.
But when one when it comes down to it that is not the problem -- or really a serious issue. The serious issue is where the two areas -- humanities and science-- collide. And this collision, oddly enough, seems to be occurring most actively in anthropology (though echoes can be found in many of the social sciences). Usually, however, this is a covert event -- done under the cover of curriculum committees who lack any training in what is currently being done with evolutionary approaches in the explanation of human behavior and culture. The basis of our curriculum is being driven by the horde of individuals who learned to reject sociobiology based on early works by Chagnon and E.O. Wilson. Or assumes that cranks like Kevin MacDonald represent evolutionary approaches - or still link social darwinism with evolution. Or a hundred other poorly informed assertions. Yet, (and I'll be assertive here) the advances made in explaining our non-biological selves represent some of the most important areas of research that we can possible do: why are we the way we are?
As a result, while the majority of folks who constitute the Anthropology Culture can smugly remark that they "respect science" and understand its role in society, they simultaneously make it nearly impossible to develop a science in the area we need it the most.
And this is where I am. I work in a department that is the poster child of the quiet battle between cultures. Certainly, it is played out through a cast of kooky characters and deep historical rifts that long predate me. The issues, though, are common: what kind of anthropology should be presented in our curriculum and supported in research? what is a four-field anthropology? Should we be training students to be scientists or humanists? If both, then how do we fit this into a finite set of courses with finite resources. What if the material taught in classes is entirely contradictory? If one is science or humanities focused, must one do the other as well or should specialization be allowed?
These central questions, one might think, would be the topic of faculty meetings, curriculum committees and brown bags. But they aren't -- the war is waged by the majority voting any dissension out of existence.
Herein lies my question. I've written a lot of fairly honest stuff about the crazy antics of this department. Truth is a double edged sword, though and it doesn't always pay to be openly and proactively honest. Marketing is what makes many careers. However, the issues are substantial and speak directly to my perception of the value of the job that I do. So, is it worth it to continue these accounts with the idea of revealing the tricks that are played? Or are honest behind-the-scenes blogs like this just politically, socially and economically a bad idea?
I really dunno.