Re: Social evolution of hominids

Phillip Bigelow (
Wed, 15 Jan 1997 20:29:38 -0800

Thomas Clarke wrote:
> In article <> (Phil
> Nicholls) writes:
> >Speculation is not bad, ... but there is a great deal more to physical
> >anthropology than the wild speculation and just-so stories.
> >Unfortunately, this aspect of physical anthropology is not as "sexy" and
> >therefore of less interest to the amateurs and dilatants.

Tom Clarke wrote:
> Don't forget, though, that it is the amateurs and dilletantes who
> pay the bill in the form of taxes and foundation grants.

Yes, but the average amatuer or dilletante (fortunately) doesn't
have the expertise to control the *flow* of the research funds.
If the average amatuer or dilletante did have such control,
there would be a lot more waste than there is now.
Can you say "pseudo-science-funding"? Sure, I knew you could.

> >It is, however, the meat and potatoes of the American Journal of
> >Physical Anthropology and the Journal of Human Evolution.
> >Speculations and "grand theories" are the desserts.

> But those desserts pay the bills.

Then how do you explain the longevity of all of these boring and
stodgy professional societies? If they aren't "sexy"-enough to pique
the interest of the average non-scientist taxpayer, then how on
earth have these professional societies stayed solvent?
Why is the _American Journal of Physical Anthropology_ still
being published?

> So don't short change the
> dessert. You don't have to eat it if you don't like to,
> but if you don't serve it, the customers will stop coming to
> your restaurant.

The professional journals don't write for the average amatuer
(taxpayer) audience, so your point is somewhat irrelevant.
Fiscally, the average amateur is in the dark when it comes to
science funding. I am quite contented and am more than a little
relieved in knowing this. For instance, how many more
(amatuer-funded) trips to Mt. Ararat have to be made to
find Noah's Ark? I think we could have stopped after trip
number "0". I am just thankful that N.S.F. had nothing to
do with funding these pseudo-science vacation trips.