Re: Chaos in Anthro.

Stephanie Wilson (swilson@BIGCAT.MISSOURI.EDU)
Wed, 13 Apr 1994 09:46:37 -0500

On Mon, 11 Apr 1994, Brad M Biglow wrote:

> Now, following from my own work in educational research, it appears
that there
> must be other applications of chaos theory to our work as anthropologists.
> Development appears to be one area. In fact, the whole arena of Applied and
> Practicing Anthropology where the desired outcome is often known, though the
> steps taken methodologically to reach that goal vary from situation to
> situation and researcher to researcher sheds some light on this theory. The
> starting point is always the same-->"some problem we wish to solve." The
> results, as we all know, almost NEVER fit the "ideal" we are striving for,
> hence, different outcomes. THe system itself, however, still expresses
> "order." It follows a logical progression toward its conclusion, no matter
> how "disordered" that pattern may seem to the researcher at the time of
> his/her research.

I don't know that ins and outs of Chaos Theory, but doesn't the fact
that Development Anthropology has a specific goal in mind for a given
project take it further away from actual chaos? The decisions that would
be made on the way would hopefully be attempts to keep the project on
track towards its goal. Although the outcome is not always what is
desired, it should, theoretically, be closer to the goal than if chaos
or nature had taken its course, right? In other words, it wouldn't
simply be evolution through natural selection, because the changes would
be directed to the desired outcome.

On a second line of thought...Would the outcome of your simulation be
somewhat like the different discussion threads that come over ANTHRO-L?
In that case, the conversations would get further and further away from
answering the original question (but hopefully your simulation would not
break down into the flame wars that seem to occur here towards the end of
a discussion!). Any thoughts?

Stephanie Wilson