Sun, 19 Jan 1997 11:51:05 -0600 wrote:
> Whitaker's Laws apply to all social sciences, including sociology and
> its wholly owned subsidiary, anthropology:

Sorry, Bobby, anthropolgy isn't a sub-discipline of sociology.

> Anything advocated by social science that sounds good is probably
> untrue.

Dear me, that's a bit broad. Sounds good in my mellifluous tones?
Laura's? You seemed to quite like Carleton Coon -- is he now untrue to you?
(Gawd, sounds C&W)

> Anything advocated by social science that dovetails with trendy
> political views is almost certainly untrue.

What's a trendy political view? The New Right? Does this mean that social
sciences are less correct when Democrats are in the White House than when
Republicans occupy the Oval Office? Or vice versa? How trendy does it
have to be? What's the epsitemological basis for this? Does something
that's true when times are untrendy become less true when things get
trendy? What are the Fall colours going to be this year?

> Anything advocated by social science that claims to be Scientific is
> probably nonsense.

Oh, dear. Genetics (not one of your favouries, I know)? Isotopic analysis?
Physical anthropology? Demography? Geology? If I say that I think
cosmology is really interesting, does that mean it becomes wrong?

> Anything advocated by social science that sounds good and is
> politically trendy is always wrong.

Oh, it's _additive_. OK. But now, for example, 'racial science' and
social Darwinism were both really popular and politically tendy rather
over 100 years ago, and again (given a pretty close relationship between
social Darwinism and eugenics) about 60 years ago. So they were wrong
then... but did they get any less wrong when they got less trendy?
How do you feel about the aether, Bob? Humoural theories in medicine?
Lysenkoism? Are they OK now?

> Anything advocated by social science that sounds good, is politically
> trendy and
> claims to be Scientific Truth will be a laughing stock twenty years

Aaah, nope, Bobby ol' boy. Things will be wrong, our interests will
change and some things will be _really_ wrong. But good ideas have
staying power, Bobby, and they stand up well against criticism -- and
I'm pretty sure that some of the things we talk about now will stand up.
That's the difference between legitimate research and your intellectually
inbred little band of racists, Bob -- you can never work up the
intellectual firepower to open up your ideas to honest critique, and
so they stultify -- and we have people quoting Carleton Coon and 1911
Encyclopedia Britannicas (and Gobineau, for that matter) as if they were
the last word in anthropological thought.


Scott MacEachern
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Bowdoin College
Brunswick, ME 04011
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