Anthropological Predictions:Examples

Fri, 8 Sep 1995 10:00:03 CDT

The nature of prediction seems straightforward enough to me, as does the
existence of anthropological predictions comparable to those of physical
science. We can predict, for example, that if small societies such as
autonomous bands and villages grow into larger ones such as chiefdoms,
states, and empires, their cultures will be transformed in terms of
differentiated structures and functions, accompanied by stratification
of wealth and power. Conversely, we can predict that the shrinking of
large societies back into small ones will bring cultural changes of a
generally reverse kind. As a subscriber to the principle of parity
between prediction and explanation, I submit that we can explain--and
hence predict--many of the most important cultural changes as results of
societal growth. The archaeological and ethnographic records support
this overwhelmingly. Why do we think we have achieved so much less,
scientifically, than we have? --Bob Graber