Re: industry finger up the academic wazoo

Martin Cohen (mcohen@UCLA.EDU)
Fri, 18 Oct 1996 14:00:09 -0700

Bill Loker wrote:

>On a slightly unrelated topic, did anyone see the comment by reporter
>Boyce Rensberger of the Washington Post in the latest AN ("Projecting
>Points" column) in which he states that reporters don't consult
>anthropologists much because, "anthropology is still so riven with rival
>'schools of thought' that it is ... possible to find well-credentialed
>anthropologists to dispute anything said by any other well-creditialed
>anthropologist. This gives the impression that anthropology hasn't got
>its act together or isn't a mature science." He continues, "It doesn't
>seem that anthropology can point to a large body of knowledge that
>explains a lot about human beings and is solidly accepted by most
>What say ye, fellow anthropologists? Is Rensberger correct? Does, say,
>cultural anthropology have a large body of relatively widely accepted
Rather than defend anthropology, I have to question Rensberger's sincerity.
Journalists regularly consult economists, psychologists and psychiatrists.
Yet the disputes within these fields, and the ability to find quailifed
professionals who would contridict one another are at least as great as in
anthropology. The difference: economists are regularly consulted by
business and government; psychologists and psychiatrists provide clinical
service. Anthropologists are just not seen as being in "the real world".
It has a lot more to do with image than reality.

Martin Cohen