Sunday, December 12, 2010

Science and Anthropology

Science is what makes the world safe for cultural anthropology. Really. It is only because we can sort out ideas that have empirical performance versus those that are opinions, beliefs, culture, linguistic stylings, fancy, flair, speculations, musings, diatribes, claims and proclamations that we provides something for cultural anthropologists to study. The sorting maybe messy and fraught with human confusion, but it works over the long run. Lacking performance values, these ideas must be free to vary as well as the people who have them. Science sorts out ideas, for example, that claim disease is caused by 'vapors' versus those ideas in which disease is caused by infectious agents. It also demonstrates that same-sex parenting produces children no worse off than multiple sex parents or that gay soldiers are no worse off doing their job than heterosexuals. Science makes it possible to tell misanthropes to shut the hell up.

Ruth Benedict has said "the purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences." Not quite. Science does this by allowing us to evaluate claims that human differences are somehow "wrong." Anthropologists get the safer world as a freebee.

And the AAA wants to get rid of science as part of its mission?

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