Re: Is this anthropological?

Danny Yee (danny@STAFF.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Tue, 24 Jan 1995 18:56:59 +1000

> In frustration I posted the following to the sci.anthropology newsgroup.
> Why is it that this group appears to be continually concerned with
> questions pertaining to sociobiology and genetic notions of race? There is
> nothing that this group discusses that I would seriously connect with
> anthropology as a professional discipline as it is today.

> Is this because the popular perception of anthropology still revolves
> around theories of biological determinism and scientific reduction? Is the
> number of computer scientists in this group robbing it of the ability to
> address questions of cultural meaning (or anything meaningfully for that
> matter)?

Because USENET is so broad, popular topics (eg Aquatic Ape Hypothesis,
political/sociobiological arguments) tend to swamp anything else. Perhaps
we need sci.anthropology.{research,moderated}. The situation is even
worse with sci.physics and sci.math, which are full of cranks. I certainly
don't think the problem is with the computer scientists -- those CS types
who are interested in anthropology (like myself) tend to be reasonably
knowledgeable. The problem is the people with political axes to grind
(commonly anti-feminists and libertarians).

I have mooted starting the creation process for a
talk.nature-nurture newsgroup in order to provide a forum for nature
vs nurture and sociobiological debates.

> An overreaction? Perhaps. On consideration however, it occurred to me that
> without too much distortion, and with the notable exceptions of a number of
> posters, the same thing could be suggested about anthro-l.

Not really. Every so often a sociobiology thread will become prominent,
but the subject is hardly that predominant in anthro-l.

> This may be a result of differences in notions of anthropology between the
> United States and Australia or maybe I have a completely unrealistic vision
> of the discipline of anthropology. If this is the case perhaps someone could
> point me in the direction of a mailing group where the phenomena of
> "culture" is discussed a little more seriously.

What's wrong with anthro-l? Stick around a little longer!


Wow! The anthropology department here is actually on-line! Let me
know if you ever need your own computer services officer -- I might
switch from my current job (as CSO for the department of Anatomy)
if you had an opening.

Do you know if Richard Basham has an email address?

Danny Yee.