Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Etude regret

A.J. West writes of his time spend as an anthro major --
I regret studying it, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who dislikes obscurantism and sanctimonious anti-scientific pseudo-epistemology.
I add that I regret it too. My time and money could have been much better spent.
It is no wonder anthropology graduates are the least employable of all degree holders given that they learn no real skills in anthropology departments.  And it's not that there are no skills to learn: why not try teaching or studying the methods of historical linguistics, population genetics, and archaeological interpretation?
The archeological interpretation I learned was meager -- in fact only learned in a summer abroad, and it was too compromised by religion at that. Jesus walked here, therefore let's raise these church columns, etc. But more importantly, West continues:
The fact that anthropologists no longer teach students to understand societies like that has two important consequences.  First, anthropology departments no longer do what anthropology departments once did, which is to make sense of human societies not directly connected to one's own and to understand humans in a wide range of socio-cultural milieux.  Second, if anthropologists aren't studying or teaching these issues anymore, then nobody is studying or teaching these issues anymore.  What that means is that entire areas of human life are no longer considered the purview of the academy, and that happens to include - I don't think it's accidental - people who don't live like us, who don't have any of the same fundamental values as us, who aren't or weren't wholly integrated into neo-liberal systems or the world economy.
That is essential. Anyone interested in changing the world should know how important this is! 

And here's a great snippet of an interview with anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon by Franke Miele of Skeptic magazine.