Monday, November 29, 2010

Fluff-heads and Anthropology

Alice Dreger made quite a bit of news last year by exposing the American Anthropological Association Executive Committee witch hunt against Napolean Chagnon.   This year, while attending the AAA meetings (to go to the Evolutionary Anthropology Society section meetings), she got wind of the "ditch science" move the Executive Committee is now undertaking. Not one to back away from saying it like it is, Dreger describes the issue as this one:

In the messages flying back and forth, I was reminded why anthropologists refer to the annual conference as "the meetings," plural: it's because they go and meet with their own actual disciplinary types, in separate groups, so that the real scientists don't have to deal too much with the fluff-head cultural anthropological types who think science is just another way of knowing.

Not all cultural anthropologists are fluff-heads, of course. You can usually tell the ones who are fluff-heads by their constant need to look like superheroes for oppressed peoples, and you can tell the non-fluff-heads by their attention to data. But the non-fluff-head cultural anthropologists are feeling utterly beleaguered in this environment that actively denigrates science and consistently promotes activism over data collection and scientific theorizing.

You can read more about Dreger's take on the debacle in her blog on Psychology Today: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fetishes-i-dont-get/201011/no-science-please-were-anthropologists

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