Re: Anthro & Politics

Nils Zurawski (zurawsk@UNI-MUENSTER.DE)
Wed, 13 Sep 1995 21:21:33 +0100

>Ms. Bennett has raised several points with regard to scientific objectivity.
> First, I must agree that we are all products of our society, and that our
>perceptions are biased to some degree based on our ethical upbringing.
> However, I believe that a scientific endeavor must be able to break out of
>its past and be objective, or it is not only useless but dangerous. I also
>believe anthropology can and has done that in many instances. Like any
>science, anthroplogy should be founded in the scientific method and the
>desire for objective evaluation of the facts. No one accusses physics of
>being biased when they say hydrogen has one electron in its shell, that is an
>empirical fact well proven by nuclear reactors. Anthropology must strive for
>similararily objective facts, and I believe they are possible to elucidate.
> As to the grounding of paradigms in current power structures, while some
>small minds still persist in such attitudes, and we all may find ourself
>being critical and biased from time to time, a true scientist must seek for
>those truths that do exist beyond societal bias.
>Sorry I got on a rant
>John A. Giacobbe

I have problems with your view of facts. And I doubt that also in physics
and the like, there are mere true facts that are beyond societal bias. For
instance take the debates on environmental issues that are often fought
with "scientific facts" (pollution etc.) and those facts differ from party
to pary involved.
Ok you could always ask a third independent person.... and you start all over

But for the human sciences who is the judge, the person to say "Ok that's
something we all agree on, so it must be a true fact."
I believe there has been done an awful lot of damage with this "absolut
truth" in both human and antural sciences. Isn't it easier just to be aware
of the bias and take it into account while researching and evaluating.
Being an sociologist, I have litlle knowledge about what the bias could be
in e.g. physics, but I'd bet there are some. maybe I shuld have more but I
wasn't interested so far.

Thanks for the rant anyway