Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why Anthropomics?

Because anthropology isn’t science.  Everybody knows that.  Anthropology wasn’t science at the University of Arizona, when I was a graduate student, nor was it a science at Yale when I taught there.  It always amused me that the students couldn’t get science credit for Primate Functional Anatomy – a dissection course! – or Primate Ecology, or Human Paleontology, much less for my own classes, like the only undergraduate course focusing on human genetics offered in Yale College, or even my course like Human Biology and Culture, which (the biology department actually told me) couldn’t possibly be science because it had the word “culture” in it.
Their course in Tissue Culture notwithstanding...
Anthropology is scholarly, and as such it is bigger than science, but isn't science.  At any rate, if you can't even convince your dean what it is, don't try and convince me.  And between us both, the people who insist the most loudly that anthropology really is a science, tend to do the crappiest fucking science themselves.
Which reminds me that I should probably warn you that my appreciation for, and invocation of, the English language not uncommonly extends beyond the decorous.  I was in fact indignantly chastized only last week for using the word “moron” in a podium paper at a scholarly meeting.
No kidding.
No names, of course, or name-calling, such as “douchebag retard,” but just an observation that my interlocutor was adopting an age-old sleight of hand to avoid discussing the substantive issues, more about which some other time.
The point is that since anthropology isn’t science, we need a word to signify a sciencey engagement of anthropology.  The kind of work that maybe involves expensive machines with flashing multicolored lights, and somber people with greasy hair in white lab coats.  You know, science.  Drawing authoritative-sounding conclusions about the state of being human from ridiculously thin bits of data.
But that’s evolutionary psychology, and we need a word to distinguish ourselves from that, don’t we?
Hence, “anthropomics”.  It jettisons the scholarly implications of “-ology” (from Greek logos, word/knowledge) in favor of the trendily scientistic “-omics” (from an obscure homage to Tom Mix, silent screen cowboy). 
Seriously, though, Robert Proctor had a very interesting article on naming processes in science a few years ago. 
Proctor, R. (2007) “‐Logos,”“‐Ismos,” and “‐Ikos” The Political Iconicity of Denominative Suffixes in Science (or, Phonesthemic Tints and Taints in the Coining of Science Domain Names).  Isis, 98(2): 290-309.
All right, get back to work.

1 comment:

  1. There is noticeably a bundle to comprehend this. I suppose you have made specific nice points in features also.
    psychotherapy new york