Re: culture as gene-flow regulator: the arunta

Len Piotrowski (
Wed, 25 Sep 1996 20:47:07 GMT

In article <52c1hs$> (Gerold Firl) writes:


>Service lists the sources he used to compile his ethnographic survey; I
>got the impression that spencer and gillen were the primaries. You seem
>to be claiming that service is wrong when he says that "sexual licence"
>was "encouraged" at the large gatherings of the arunta; on what basis
>do you make this claim?

I answered this in a previous post. Perhaps you've forgotten?

>You say that promiscuous sexual activity "has
>never been documented" for the arunta "or any other aboriginal group",
>and yet spencer and gillen traveled among the arunta in the 19th
>century, and according to them that is exactly what happened.

Prove it!

>Forgive me if I don't place too much credibility in your
>pronouncements; I'd like to see some evidence. You've made so many
>bogus claims that your presumption of authority in the face of standard
>anthropological sources is less than convincing.

And so Firl's pissing match begins. He likes making predictions without
evidence, cries when he's asked to produce evidence of his predictions, and
demands that those who ask for evidence of his predictions show him evidence
that he needs to show evidence. Boggles!

Your hypothesis fails because no one can verify it's conditions and falsified
by contradictory anthropological evidence.

>|> >[snip]

>Why? The arunta may not practice the walkabout, but apparently some
>australian groups did (or do).

Who? Anyway, your hypothesis/theory depends on the Arunta. It's already a
failed thing.

> I explained what a *prediction* was to
>you already, lenny. A prediction uses a model to forecast the behavior
>of a system in areas where current data is lacking.

Your model is constructed from an analysis of the very area "where current
data is lacking" to predict "behavior of [the] system" in the very area your
model was constructed from! Boggles!

>My *prediction*,
>based on the hypothesis that aboriginal culture shows adaptations for
>increasing the rate of gene flow, is that men on walkabout would
>impregnate women along the way.

Your model has no basis in truth, and neither does your prediction.

>The fact that I don't have data to
>support the prediction should not be taken to indicate that the
>hypothesis is incorrect; it's cheating to make predictions where you
>already have data.

It is also "cheating," to put it mildly, to obfuscate your hypothesis with
some alternative notion of "prediction" as if your model is fact beyond dispute.
Which ever route you wish to take, the basis of your model and therefore your
"prediction" stemming from it, is unverifiable and falsified by cultural fact;
or else the conditions of your hypothesis are unverifiable and falsified by
cultural fact, and therefore, does not support your model.

>|> Therefore, low population doesn't correspond with social strategies to
>|> increase gene flow in the Arunta case. Your hypothesis lacks any supporting
>|> evidence and is falsified by known social characteristics of the central
>|> desert aboriginals.

>Tsk tsk lenny. So dismissive.

That's science for you. Bad theories die hard.

>Surely you're aware that aboriginal
>culture has been disrupted by disease, missionary meddling, and land
>appropriation by whites?


>The reason that the early sources such as
>spencer and gillen are so valuable is because they saw the arunta while
>the aboriginal lifestyle was still fairly pristine.

Contradicted by ethongraphic fact!

>If you're taking
>current aboriginal lifestyles as your guide to traditional culture, you
>need to make some adjustments.

It's your model that is in need of adjustment!

>And if you're talking about pre-contact
>arunta culture, you'd better have some solid reasons for dismissing the
>testimony of the eyewitness observers.

They simply couldn't comprehend what they perceived in the Other except in
terms of the familiar.



"If you can't remember what mnemonic means, you've got a problem."
- perlstyle