Re: Anthropology and science

Michael Thomas Carson (mcarson@HAWAII.EDU)
Thu, 7 Sep 1995 15:06:02 -1000

On Thu, 7 Sep 1995, Nick Corduan wrote:

> This is actually a good point, because some people -- and I am undecided on
> this issue, myself -- are of the opinion that "real science" must be useful
> in some fashion. (I don't mean utilitarian. I mean that the statements must
> be of some use or application. For instance, some might debate whether a
> layman's version of gravity -- What goes up must come down -- is at all
> useful, and if not, they'd argue that it is no longer science.)
> There is also a danger inherent in being generalistic that you will lose track
> of usefulness. (And also the risk of redundancy is greater, which also
> reduces usefullnes. For instance, a modern scientist of physics writing up a
> paper based on the idea that "What goes up must come down" -- which isn't
> necessarioly true, of course <g> -- would not be entirley useful, simply
> because it's an old theme.)

Regarding Mick Corduan's above message: I like what you said about the
laws of gravity. You're right that one person's perception can be quite
different from another person's perception. For some, gravity may be
common sense. For others, this common sense reasoning has been replaced
with a "scientific" reasoning, based on hypothesis-testing. Although I'm
not a particular fan of Robert Dunnell, I think he has made these points
before but with lots more words.

- Mike Carson