Re: Psychometry

Leo Thomas Walsh (ai653@KSU.KSU.EDU)
Wed, 7 Dec 1994 23:16:12 -0600

> > One thing that I have been taught that was supposed to be an inherent
> > trait in anthropologists was an open mindedness that allowed such
> > practices as psychometry to be given a chance to see if they work. When
> > a shaman performs a "rain dance" most people will immediately assume that
> > it is just a bunch of whooey while an anthropologist is supposed to see
> > if it actually works. Does the rain come when the ritual is performed?
> That's news to me! I didn't realize that the job of the anthropologist
> was to test the validity of magic! I've never heard anything so
> ridiculous. Of course an anthropologist doesn't dismiss such practices as
> "whooey" but he tries only to ascribe meaning to the practice within the
> cultural context that it occurs. He doesn't try to "see if it really
> works" scientifically.
> Jerry Forstadt
> Arizona State University

I never said anything about scientific proof, whatever that may mean. It
should be the duty of the anthroppologist to accurately depict the
culture being studied. If a shaman performs a rain dance, I would hope
that the anthropologist doing the research would try to see if it
worked. Does the rain come? There have been certain debates lately
about misrepresentations of certain people who live in a certain Brazilian
forrest. If the rain dance works and the researcher doesn't report that,
Leo T. Walsh (