Re: Pig-headedness and anthropology

Philip Deitiker (
Thu, 05 Sep 1996 21:33:23 GMT

Ronald Kephart <> wrote:

>Shannon Adams <> wrote:

>>And while I personally believe that an individual has the RIGHT to >decide what he/she believes to be correct [...]

>Yes, everyone has the right to their beliefs. But, as I tell my students in linguistics and anthropology classes, unless you can ba=
>ck up your beliefs with EVIDENCE you do NOT have the right to have your beliefs taken seriously by anyone else in the context of sci=
>entific discourse.

>For example, I always have linguistics students who refuse to learn that Black English is, from a linguistic perspective, as good an=
> example of human language as any other. They nearly always say that they were taught that Black English is ungrammatical, and they=
> claim, they can't change their beliefs.

To address the above statement one needs to look at the relationship
between language and human beings. According complex grammatical
sturucture is inate to any group of human beings larger than one
(redunadant). Language can be thought of a logical tool of human
societies. The above stated individuals (students) may not realize
that langauge is a fundemental property of humans and are not aware of
that grammtical structure can take many forms. This type opf logic
does not apply to every cultural aspect.

>These people have a right to their belief; but they do not have the right to insist that I=
> take their belief into account as I grade their test questions. This is because in class I have provided them with evidence that B=
>lack English is in fact "grammatical" and that there is nothing in Black English which lies outside the possibilties of human langua=

>You could construct a parallel example using the "creationism" vs. evolution "debate". Which one is backed up by EVIDENCE?

This as I mentioned is an excellent counterexample. I think it's safe
to say that almost all immerergent cultures have some type of myth
system, many myth specifically detail creation, so its likely that the
contemplation of the human id and the odd behavior of humans trying to
understand and order themselves in the world would not inherantly, but
with extremely high probability create such myths. Is the current
understanding of creation (scientific) a myth. In a way it is, there
are many points of creation of life on earth we still don't know. As
an example, its entirely possible that mars was more suitable for life
earlier on and life was transplanted to earth by a weird meteorite
hit. Science knows alot (reaching certainty) about evolutionary events
that transpired over then last 10 million years, and less and less as
one goes back in time until one reaches the precambrian period and
what is know becomes very fuzzy. If you go to any different primodial
evolution lab you will probably get a different story about how life
came into existance on earth. To some degree or another, none not are
probably correct.
The difference between creationism and evolution is that with
creationism, creation must radiate from a single event and have order
as described in minor variants of a 6 millineum old story. Evolution
is a theory but primordial evolution is a number of working
hypotheses in which, even though a story can be told now, scientist
like to have the ability to rework every few years, and most
scientist, if you pen them down, will tell you about the weak points
of thier stories (hypothesis, and in retort tell you what they are
doing to sure up those weak points).
At a distance if one compares the seven days of creation and what
evolution says, Evolution is more acurate at predicting what happens
say 10,000, 100,000, of millions of years ago, but probably not doing
much better 2 billion years back. The major difference is that science
reserves the right to revise itself so that presumbably it will get
more accurate in the future, the semetic myth will never be more
accurate than it was 6000 years ago. And I guess it gets to the point
as to whether one believes the scribes intepretation of 6000 Years
back or of a worldwide association of modern scientist larger than the
6000 year old civilization with much more advanced methods of
analysis, reworking and arguing the issue.