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Friday, September 27, 2013

Links - 27th September 2013

"Anthropology Without Science - "In the past, archaeologists and practicing and professional anthropologists have argued that the discipline as a whole has become dominated by cultural anthropologists, and has grown indifferent to their interests. More fundamentally, the dispute has brought to light how little common ground is shared by anthropologists who span a wide array of sub-specialties... "It’s become so dominated by, not so much humanistic scholars, but by scholars who are actively hostile" to science, said Raymond Hames, chair of anthropology at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and a cultural anthropologist who favors a scientific approach... Culturally centered interpretations must be subjected to empirical evaluation, even if doing so exposes anthropologists to charges of disrespecting local customs in favor of the "hegemonic" scientific method, he said. He described a hypothetical field study in which children being studied in a community were found to be dying of dysentery or cholera. "Are we to accept the local explanation that children are dying ... because someone is breaking a taboo and the gods are angry," he said, "or do we look to see how fecal matter is being introduced to the water supply?""
The colonizing, privileging, superior positionality of anthropology that continues to plague the discipline: saving children's lives from Cholera since 1885
And people get upset when Pinker asks the humanities to embrace science

No Science, Please. We're Anthropologists. - "Presumably, in the AAA's tradition, the promotion of the "public understanding of humankind" will include anything that is politically unoffensive to the AAA leadership, and nothing offensive. It's safe to assume the AAA will not be promoting the public understanding of how human behaviors evolved, especially if those human behaviors are anything that might make some or all humans look violent, greedy, harmful to the environment, or (worst of all) sexually dimorphic... 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... "If we purge science from our mission statement we lose our credibility, the ability to advocate for effective change, and hence our power to do good. We become just another special interest group." Hames brought up a useful example, namely the recent ruling in Florida allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children. In that case, the judge considered the scientific evidence showing that same-sex couples can be just as good parents as opposite-sex couples. Wrote Hames to me, "Evidence-based advocacy trumps special interest group advocacy." So, even if most of what the AAA wants to do is advocacy rather than data-driven scholarship, why ditch science in that pursuit?... "The willingness of some anthropologists to relinquish any claim to doing science is symptomatic of the low self-esteem among many colleagues. They are happy not to be held to a high standard of rigor in their research and writing and pleased to be judged by the more open-ended and subjective standards of humanistic research""

Science's Humanities Gap - - "In his recent sermon to humanists, “Science Is Not Your Enemy,” the psychologist Steven Pinker makes an impressive plea for humanists to pay more attention to science and urges them to an interdisciplinary approach that he thinks has been sadly lacking. His general point is surely right: specialists in any area are likely to benefit from acquaintance with relevant work beyond their disciplinary boundaries. But it seems to me that Pinker mistakes his audience. On this issue, it’s humanists who are the choir and scientists who need a call to grace... philosophers of mind — David Chalmers is a striking example — who work in cognitive science are typically highly trained in that discipline. Few cognitive scientists and neuroscientists have comparably strong backgrounds in philosophy of mind"
Comments: "I have been studying and performing research in physics since high school. During this time I have never stopped studying the humanities. Most scientists I know live the same way... I took several upper level humanities courses as an undergrad, but never saw linguistics students nor historians in my probability and statistics courses, which I consider to be a huge mistake."
"At my little liberal arts college, most of us non-Humanists encourage our students to take courses in English, History, Philosophy, etc. And the faculty in those areas do not reciprocate. When we're in meetings and social events, and a lit professor starts talking about books and writing, we all understand the discussion; but when the topic is Economics, or Physics, or Mathematics, the Humanists are clueless."
"When someone doesn't know who William Shakespeare is, it is perfectly natural, almost instinctual for a lot of people to then judge that person as stupid, uncultured, uneducated... idiotic. But it is perfectly acceptable in our society for people to have no idea why the sky is blue, a most basic of scientific questions."
"I do not know a single working neuroscientist who takes Chalmers seriously"
"As a history major many years ago I was constantly bombarded by attitudes of resentment and blame towards the science depts. Resentment for their bloated budgets, blame for their birthing of "Social Darwinism" (class/racism), high explosives, nuclear weapons, and all other manner of evil"

Ex-editor of NEJM tells how Big Pharma has corrupted academic institutions

Arts sector can boost Singapore's competitive edge: Yaacob - "The government recognises the importance of the arts sector in providing an edge to our competitiveness. As such we are committed to growing the opportunities in this sector, by providing both funding and infrastructure support”

Chinese turtle 'addicted to smoking' - "The turtle allegedly picked up the unhealthy habit last month when Tang tried to remove a chicken bone stuck in its belly. The painful process agitated the creature and it tried to bite Tang. He put a cigarette in its mouth instead. The pet immediately started puffing away at the cigarette and has been hooked on nicotine ever since. Tang claims that the turtle keeps following
him whenever he smokes, Global Times reported. He now hopes to find a way to help his pet kick the habit since he can’t afford buying cigarettes for both himself and the turtle"

Shanghai restaurants made 'addictive soup' by using poppy

Chinese gaming addict poisons family to be 'free' - "A week before the poisoning, the boy’s mother scared him by threatening that if he visited these cafés again, she would cut his hamstring. "I think he really bought it and carried a grudge""

Where To Find The Smartest Commenters On The Internet - "Internet comments get a lot of flak, but some may be more intellectually challenging than others. BuzzFeed gathered comments from 15 news websites and ran them through’s readability
15. Huffington Post
14. TMZ
13. Gawker
12. The Daily Caller
11. Politico
10. Chicago Tribune
9. CNN
8. Los Angeles Times
7. Mother Jones
6. Breitbart
5. Slate
4. Washington Post
3. Fox News
2. New York Times
1. The Atlantic"
Contrary to stereotypes, Fox News has some of the best educated commenters

Inspirational Instagram Cards - "Finally, inspirational Instagrams that won't make you throw up in your mouth...
"love, means never having to clear your browser history."
"pain is just weakness leaving your body in much worse shape than it was before."
"a simile is the prettiest thing you can wear on your ugly FACE.""

Cops: Professor Filmed Student "Upskirt" Videos - "A college professor who used a camera pen to secretly film under the clothing of two students explained to police that he was attempting to gather evidence that one of the women “was not wearing undergarments,” which he thought was “inappropriate”... When asked about the occasions during which he “directed the camera pen at students’ breasts,” Samuelson “acknowledged that this activity was ‘inappropriate’”"

Danish scholar analyzes religious texts, Islam most ‘violence and aggression towards other faiths’ - "A Danish linguist has spent over three years analyzing ten religions basic texts and concludes that the texts of Islam stands out by encouraging terror and violence to a greater extent than in other religion. Danish linguist Tina Magaard, an analysit that questions Islam’s relation to terrorism, violence and holy war worked on the three-year research project... Imams Ahmed Abu Laban and Abdul Wahid Petersen, both of Copenhagen, is strongly resentful of language researcher’s analysis. Abu Laban, “I will not be captured in a single stupid, biased and dishonest research. Why waste time on someone who will create a delusional about Islam?” Petersen calls the analysis “something researcher hogwash ‘"

Unveiling the Truth: Why 32 Muslim Women Wear the Full-Face Veil in France - "Contrary to the usual stereotype of Muslim women who wear the face veil, the majority of women whose voices are heard are like any other French woman with active social lives: working, attending classes, seeing friends, eating out, playing sports, and actively engaging in local activities... The report reveals that since the debate on the face veil began, a large number of the women have experienced verbal and sometimes physical abuse, and as a direct result have preferred to limit their time spent outside the home."

Shoebox » CHUCK & BEANS (comic) - ""Here's to geeky girls!"
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