Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Live from Philidelphia, it's the AAA witchhunt and self-flagalation show!

As I mentioned earlier, Alice Dreger at Northwestern University recently presented a paper at the American Anthropological Association meetings in Philedelphia on the ghastly behavior of the AAA organization in their "investigation" of Napoleon Chagnon. In her blog, she has provided an account of the session and some of the reactions she received after the talk. Quite in line with the general idiocy and blameless attitude of the AAA organization, she was called "demonic" and unscholarly by Tierney defender Terence Turner at Cornell.

You can find her full account here:

My “Demonic” Debut at theAmerican Anthropological Association

Friday, December 11, 2009

We (anthropologists) should all be embarassed. Many of us should be worried.

This report just came out yesterday in Science.

Chagnon Critics Overstepped Bounds, Historian Says. Science (2009) vol. 326 (5959) pp. 1466

This article describes shocking (yet not particularly surprising) account by historian Alice Dumurat Dreger (Northwestern U.) of the sleazy 2000 Patrick Tierney attack on Napoleon Chagnon and the corrupt way in which the AAA handled the accusations that were levied against Chagnon. Apparently, the AAA's commission as "task force" to look into claims posed by Tierney. As it turns out, the task forced cleared Chagnon, yet went on to state that the allegations had "merit" and had been damaging to the Yanamamö. The shocking part is that the AAA task force was quite aware that the claims were bogus in the first place yet chose to drag Chagnon through the "task force investigation" simply to make political statement to Latin American countries. This is the very definition of a witch hunt, done with the sickening dour earnestness that makes AAA meetings so horrific to attend. Shameful.

As Dreger pointed out in her paper presented at the recent AAA meetings, "I can't imagine how any scholar feels safe" as a member. Exactly: who is next? The witch hunt was sanctified by the AAA because many anthropologists simply have had a longstanding a beef with what Chagnon argued. Sloppy, reprehensible research done by many of the other ass-clowns in the AAA remains "acceptable" simply because it is "PC" enough. Woe be unto those who dare challenge the sacred cows of Anthropology.

Where are the investigations for research done that is never published? Or not published in Open Access formats to provide a product back to the people who handed over their intellectual property for nothing but a signature on a Human Subjects form? Or investigations into those that argue that "their people" don't need to read academic results? Or those who extract intellectual knowledge from their subjects, yet convert that into a "personal journey" of no utility to anyone anywhere.

Sad to be an Anthropologist today....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Practical Guide to Geostastical Mapping

Just saw this and thought I'd pass it on:


Tomislav Hengl has just released has new book, A Practical Guide to Geostatistical Mapping over at http://spatial-analyst.net/book/. The book is available for free browsing online and as a free PDF download, or you can order a printed copy. The book is made up of lecture material for a PHD course teaching spatial analysis using open source software. All the datasets used in the book are available at the homepage as well." Download the PDF here Interestingly, you can improve the book interactively by using an iPaper application that is part of the www.scribd.com browser. Cool idea.

From the webpage:

Geostatistical mapping can be defined as analytical production of maps by using field observations, auxiliary information and a computer program that generates predictions. The purpose of this guide is to assist you in producing quality maps by using fully-operational open source software packages: R+gstat/geoR and SAGA GIS. Materials presented in this book have been used for the five-day advanced training course "GEOSTAT: spatio-temporal data analysis with R+SAGA+Google Earth" that is periodically organized by the author and collaborators. This is an open access publication!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Research grants awarded to anthropology professors


CSULB is also considering eliminating 16 anthropology courses.

By Trishian Bucheli

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Although Hector Neff and Carl Lipo, two Cal State Long Beach anthropology professors, were recently awarded grants to further their research, a large number of anthropology classes are on the chopping block.

Neff, the principal investigator for the Institute for Integrated Research in Materials, Environments and Society at CSULB was awarded $295,226 from the National Science Foundation. Lipo will soon be awarded $310,000. Both grants will be in effect until 2012.

“Getting two grants in a row — it is pretty incredible,” Neff said.

Both professors had to write proposals to NSF and compete against other institutions and schools, such as Stanford University and California Institution of Technology.

“We are doing what we are supposed to be doing; we are bringing the funding and providing research possibilities to students,” Neff said.

IIRMES will be using some of the money to purchase new research equipment such as a laser fluorination system, which will be used to do research on rocks and bricks in order to get the mineral information.

“It will also provide enough money to pay for the expertise to keep the lab running,” said Gregory Holk, a geology associate professor at CSULB and IIRMES co-principal investigator.

Courses proposed to be dropped
  • 453/553: Archaeological Field Research Design
  • 472/572: Archaeology of the Desert West
  • 481/581: Faunal Analysis
  • 485/585: Physical Science Techniques in Archaeology
  • 464/564: Quantitative Methods in Anthropological Research
  • 488/588: Advanced Methods in Near Surface Remote Sensing
  • 551: Artifact Analysis
  • 571: Prehistory of Eastern North America
  • 573: Archaeology of California
  • 587: Cultural Resource Management

The IIRMES lab is used in collaboration by biology, anthropology and geology departments at CSULB.

“Grants allow support — anything that benefits the lab benefits the whole,” said Hayley Zemel, a biology graduate student.

Holk said the instrumentation about the research and lab work is utilized for archaeology findings. According to Holk, there is about $5.5 million in instruments at IIRMES. With the use of a scanning electron microscope, the research facility is able to view small images by using high magnification.

Holk is focusing on light isotope work at IIRMES. The research makes it possible to study the diets of ancient civilizations.

Holk said that by removing the plaque build-up from discovered skeletons, they can look at what the people ate. Each food has a different isotope level of carbon and by studying it, they are able to tell what the ancients ate, such as if it was grain or corn.

The lab has one of two time-of-flight mass spectrometers, which is sought by many researchers. The machine can tell the concentration of an element from archaeological findings such as pottery, Holk said.

“It is important to know the chemical composition of the pottery; it is their form of fingerprints,” Holk said.

However, many undergraduate and graduate students from the anthropology department at CSULB will not be able to work at the research facility.

“Last year, 16 classes were eliminated from the anthropology curriculum,” Neff said. “These classes were the ones that would educate and prepare students in order to work in the lab and prepare them to utilize the equipment, and for future employment.”

The classes were taken off the schedule but may still be offered in future semesters. The College of Liberal Arts and Academic Senate, however, may later decide to eliminate the courses entirely, according to Lipo.

“We are being restricted on the students we can teach,” Lipo said.

Neff said the instructors are told they cannot teach students certain subjects, which they need to learn for future employment.

“The main issues are people’s perception of the sciences. How do we co-habitat — there are many branches of study in the archaeology department,” Lipo said.

There are a lot of difficulties because the work Lipo and Neff are doing are based in science, while those in the liberal arts have a different perspective, Holk said.

Holk said this is the best place for master’s students to go, and that the department has as many instruments as well-funded research labs.

Many master’s students from CSULB are losing out on this opportunity, he said.

Neff mentioned that he has had to get students from other universities to work at IIRMES, such as Cal States Dominguez Hills and Fullerton.

“When the committee decided to eliminate the 16 classes they did not even know what they were eliminating — they only had class numbers in front of them,” Neff said.

Every January, Neff usually takes a group of graduate students to Guatemala to do field research. This coming January, he will not be able to go on the trip.

Neff said, “There are not enough students who know how to use the equipment properly, I need at least some students who know what they are doing.”