Re: Bastards--long

Lars Eighner (
5 Sep 1996 21:26:03 -0500

In our last episode <50n2as$>,
Broadcast on sci.anthropology
The lovely and talented (Bryant) wrote:

>In article <>, Lars Eighner <> wrote:
>>>>Wrong question.
>>>>The question is: what accounts for the absence of female-female
>>>>marriage in cultures where it is absent?
>[Bryant responded thusly:]
>>>Forgive me, but how is that any different than the question I posed above?
>>It is as if someone who comes from a culture in which
>>bathing in the river on Tuesdays is tabu. He visits
>>the Foobars and discovers that the Foobars bathe on
>>[snip for brevity]
>I suggested that we try to identify ecological parameters which correlate
>significantly with female/female marriage. If you insist, we can ask the
>exact same question by asking which parameters correlate negatively with
>cultures in which female/female marriage is unheard of.
>Your example was flawed, by the way. Female/female marriage is clearly
>a very rare cultural tradition (far fewer cultures practice it than do
>not, as my visit to HRAF last night convinced me of).

It is not so rare that you could possibly have have pulled the articles
and read them in one evening.

However, how rare it is or is not is not at all germane to my example.

>Therefore, it
>seems that studying why this untypical form of marriage emerged is a
>worthy goal, unburdened by the sexist and/or ethnocentric implications
>you seem to read into it.

If you had pulled the records and read them, you would have seen
that there are typically a couple of denials, several studies
which do not seem to have inquired on the subject at all, and
so forth before one the investigators comes forth and admits
to having suppressed the information in previous publications.

The best correlates of female-female marriage are the quality of
the fieldwork and the (eventual) candor of the investigators.
The record wasn't created in a vacuum, and you cannot ascertain
that by counting entries in an index.

However, now that you have revealed you method in doing
cross-cultural surveys we are all in a much better position
to properly evaluate your findings.

>>>>This is what I mean by pointing out the bias inherent in your
>>>>questions. Apparently your culture is the norm and it is
>>>>up to those that differ to explain themselves.
>This is very silly.
>Identifying unusual cultural practices is an objective affair. Sit down
>in front of the cross-cultural index and count.

So it might be if the record were in better shape. For this
particular subject, the record is extensively and systematically
distorted. That is not a guess or a shot in the dark. There are
enough admissions of suppression which are on the record to establish
that it was systematic.

Try pulling the 838 on Fang or Azande or Hottenttot (FX13), you'll
see what I mean. Count the number of denials, distortions,
and (eventually admitted) suppressions. The principal correlate
is the candor of the investigator. That's on the record.

Too bad you can't count the indexes at the Hirshfield Institute.
But some sociobi^H^H^H^H^H^H^Huh . . . "Social Darwinists" got
a little careless there while playing with matches, during a
bit of unpleasantness that occurred in the first of half of
the present century.

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