Re: Mr. postman

Mon, 25 Jul 1994 23:32:11 -0400

>Although I agree with everything Dwight Read has to say about the Postman
>exerpts, I'm surprised that Dwight even bothered. Postman's drivel reflects
>the level of thought of his protege, Seeker1,

Ahem. Just for the record (which I inevitably always seem to have to set
straight), hence this goes to the list. I am not nor ever will be Neil
Postman's protege', for the main reason that I don't agree with the
entirety of his viewpoint toward the effects of technology on culture. But
then, I rarely agree with the entirety of anybody's viewpoint. Least of
all, my own. ;-)
And, for the record, I also pointed out in my post that I didn't
necessarily agree with even the particular quote from Postman - I was
merely soliticing reactions to it. I happen to think this particular quote
is wrong because it's solely a right brain view; but I wanted to see how
the left brainers reacted to it, since so much I see seems to be the
dominant left brain view ("anthro IS science, and by golly, if it ain't, it
SHOULD be!")
As for my own opinion, I happen to think anthro is 30% storytelling,
30% science, and 40% "off the cuff" (e.g. "whatever works.") A nice mix of
all parts of the brain.

> who seems at his brightest and
>best when dealing with charicatures,

Since I assume you meant "carictature,"

Hmmm... I had one of those made of me when I was ten years old - I remember
the notable thing about it was the guy drew an oversized head. Maybe that's
appropriate; I always seem to be running into swelled heads from time to

> either of his own invention or those of
>his heroes.

If you know who my heroes are (I doubt it, don't assume that 'cause I quote
them in my .sig means they're my hero), I admire your insight. But I doubt
you do; go ahead, take some guesses. (Hint: one of 'em is John Dillinger.)

> Anyone who has done serious ethnographic research quickly learns
>the difference between anecdotes and patterned responses. Postman charicatures
>ethnographic data as so many anecdotes. Not that anecdotes aren't important,
>particularly in pointing up the unexpected, the contradictory, and the
>enigmatic--the events that shake an ethnographer out of the complacent delusion
>that he has it figured out.

Thank you, Mike, for identifying what I consider likewise to be one of the
most important tasks of anthropology (heightening our sense of amibiguity,
rather than reducing it.)

>But they are at best tokens of patterning, events
>that lead one to rethink his or her data to infer one or more patterns that
>might generate the enigmatic anecdote. From the inference comes the hypothesis
>and from the hypothesis comes the tests, and from these come the discarding
>and /or modifications of the hypotheses and further testing. I may have this
>wrong, but I have always thought of this procedure as scienctific, not that I
>give a damn what you call it. I don't feel particularly left out or rejected
>when I don't get to eat lunch with a physicist.

Hey, don't yell at me. I'm not drawing the boundary mappings here. You
convince the physicists that what you're doing is science - far as I'm
concerned, if you think it is, it is - but they may not agree. Postman
seems to be taking the resignationist attitude ("it AIN'T science, and we
shouldn't PRETEND it's so to convince the 'hard' scientists"), but then,
I've never been a resigner.

However, I am taking off for another week. ACM SIGGRAPH calls! (Can't wait
to see that AquaThought VR Simulator!) So hope this thread continues
without my momentum.

>Next thread.
> Mike Lieber

Seeker1 [@Nervm.Nerdc.Ufl.Edu] (real info available on request)
CyberAnthropologist, TechnoCulturalist, Guerilla Ontologist, Chaotician
Discordian Society, Counter-Illuminati Operations Branch
"One measures a circle beginning anywhere." -- Charles Fort