Re: culture as gene-flow regulator: the arunta

Gerold Firl (
26 Sep 1996 19:49:13 GMT

In article <>, (Len Piotrowski) writes:

|> 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?

Not a chance. If I had ever seen a post from you documenting why your
word should be taken in preference to standard anthropological
references, I wouldn't forget it.

As I mentioned earlier, my newsreader dropped some posts while I was
out of the office, so maybe I missed the post in question.

|> >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!

Wonderful - lenny, you're a peach. What a great example of the warm and
fuzzy world of subjective postmodernism, or post-rationalism, whatever
you want to call it. If facts disagree with your dogma, no problem. If
wishes were horses, postmodernists would ride.

|> >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.

sorry, lenny, I'm afraid you're on your own. I'll trust you to man the
pissoir without any help from me. Just keep an eye on the prevailing winds.

|> 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!

You still don't seem to understand what a prediction is. I've tried
explaining this to you before. Predictions extend the theory to places
where there is no evidence - yet. It's much easier to concoct a theory
explaining known fact than to create one which can make accurate
predictions. Prediction is key to falsifiability. If my prediction
regarding variations in sexual positions at home vs. abroad for the
arunta could be verified, then that would be strong support for the
hypothesis that arunta customs reflect gene-flow enhancement

You had also challenged the data which I had used to develop the
hypothesis, claiming that the description of arunta society presented
by elman service is erroneous. I would still like to see the basis for
your claim; given your track record for disengenious pronouncements of
totally groundless assertions, your credibility is pretty low.

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

I'm not sure what you mean by "verify its' conditions"; what
conditions? And what is the contradictory evidence? Why don't you just
present it? If you've been holding your evidence in reserve for an
opportune moment, now seems like a good time to whip it out.

|> >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!

Tell me more. Which facts? Gathered when? Published where?

|> >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.

What was it that they couldn't comprehend? And how would you interpret
it, given your insight?

You have objected to the fact that a subincised penis does not
ejaculate inside the vagina. I still don't know why you have a problem
accepting it, but that's how it was described to me. What this means is
that semen either dribbles down the groove cut along the underside of
the shaft (incidentally, resulting in more of a flatiron than a cylindar)
in the case of male-superior positions, or else running onto the ground
in the case of female superior positions. In the case of male-superior
positions, semen can still enter the vagina; that's why subincision can
function as a birth-control system.

You have also objected to the statement that "sexual license" was
encouraged at the large ritual gatherings. Can you explain how spencer
and gillen were unable to comprehend "the Other" in this case? Is this
really so hard to understand? Are you suggesting that what they took to
be promiscuous sex was actually something else? If so, just what *were*
they doing? Maybe my comprehension of "the Other" is just too limited,
but I can't imagine what all those couples were doing if they weren't
doing what I thought they were doing. Good thing we have you here to
straighten things out; just what *was* going on, lenny?

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf