Re: The Real Place of Fuzziness in Anthropology

Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax (
Tue, 13 Aug 1996 15:57:02 -0800

I am stealing the following directly from a respected poster in
another thread. This is the kind of dribble that we so-called
"soft-scientists" often find ourselves dealing with when a
so-called "hard scientist" comes bumbling into our field and
attempts to explain a phenomenon which simply does not exist!

In <4upuok$> (James Howard)

>Every civilization develops from the migrating, lower testosterone,
>groups. They eventually increase their testosterone, which works to
>their detriment. They collapse. They are vulnerable to epidemic
>infections: plagues. These plagues remove the people of higher
>testosterone, which reduces the migration effect. The people of lower
>testosterone survive the infections and continue to live in situ. So
>the same effect occurs, i.e., the higher testosterone types become
>extinct, but the migration effect is reduced. (Read my entire article
>on AIDS at the website.)
>James Howard

What's really, really funny here is that this completely ignores
everything that archaeologists/anthropologists have hypothesized
regarding migration/sedentism in hunter/gatherer populations. Mobility
has been strongly linked primarily to subsistence, with other factors,
social, economic, religious, as secondary (although sometimes primary.)
I've yet to see a serious anthropologist argue that *physiology*
impacted mobility, other than people were hungry/thirsty. Yes, many
anthros are looking at the importance of gender in mobility/sedentism,
as it appears in the vast majority of hunter/gathering groups that
gathered foods were more important to the long-term survival of the
group than hunted foods, and thus gatherers (in the vast majority of
h/g's a female gendered activity) determined mobility (and this is not
just feminist theory, as Kelly, Lee and other *mainstream* anthros have
come to support this view...I have citations on articles from both men,
if anyone needs them.)

So what you're saying is that, following anthropological research,
during the formation of early *civilizations*, women were the ones with
the high testosterone levels???

MB Williams
Dept. of Anthro., UMass-Amherst

Well said, Mary Beth.