Tagged: anthropology; bias
April 2, 2017 at 11:58 am #239
I found this awesome forum, I want to look into this guy’s reply more. Perhaps bias rejection is not the ultimate goal…
Lee Jussim on March 13, 2016 at 10:33 pm
Heterodox is not a homogeneous group. Although I am one of the founding members, I do not claim to speak for the group. Nonetheless, perhaps you will find my view of this issue of some value.
Both you and Anonymous are roughly correct. We are here to air ideas that otherwise might get ignored or prematurely relegated to an intellectual dustbin. That is not empirical. But empirical research actually starts with such ideas. One has to, first, become aware of some idea, and second, to consider it not completely absurd or beyond some moral pale to study, to empirically study it.
However, I would say, yes, most of us are, in fact, interested in empirically investigating these issues. Most of us have obtained findings that validate plenty of leftwing claims as well as rightwing claims. (if you go to my regular Rutgers web page, you will find plenty of papers on stereotype biases, prejudice, and self-fulfilling prophecies).
Salticid, when you wrote “representative” you did not write “representative of what”? Anthropologists? Social scientists? The American Public? Now, I am 100% sure that Custred’s view is NOT representative of anthropologists’ views.
However, that is because I am also sure that Custred’s view is mostly dead on right. Anthropology has been taken over by activists, and by activists, I mean radical leftwing activists.
I agree, however, with Anonymous’s criticism about Scheper-Hughes. She was indeed calling for exporting liberal democracy, rather than for advancing radical leftist views of social justice.
I do not know the sociology or history of Anthropology as a discipline. I can only guess that, either her message was perverted over the years, or that Custred chose the wrong author and paper. Cultural Anthropology is dominated by social constructionist/post modernist/critical race theory perspectives. These are wildly leftist/Marxist-influenced perspectives. They rail against things like “Androcentric, Eurocentric, hegemonic discourses and practices.” One of the major Anthropology bodies recently voted to boycott the only liberal democracy in the Middle East — which, whatever you think about it, is an action completely INCONSISTENT with Scheper-Hughes’s call.
So, although Custred probably got that part wrong, he did pretty much get the rest right.
Now, our new hire will be heading up empirical studies. But probably not studies of how representative Custred’s view is. His first project will probably be development of a new questionnaire to assess the climate on campuses with respect to free speech and academic freedom. Those freedoms are, many of us believe, under siege. However, we do not plan to go just on our sense of this — we do plan to empirically investigate it.
P.S. You might be interested in my most recent Psych Today post. It is not on anthropology, but it is on one of the issues Anthropology (and psychology, and sociology, and philosophy, and law) are deeply concerned about. Gaps (racial, ethnic, gender, etc.). Psych Today just elevated it to an “essential read.” You can find it here:
Anonymous on March 12, 2016 at 8:03 am
Oh, wait, sorry, I seem to have forgotten what “empirically” meant. I would like it to be empirical. I meant something like “without bias.”
Why am I in favor of bias? Well, I’m not. No bias would be great. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to /try/ to get rid of bias. It’s hard to do, and easy to trick yourself into thinking you have done it.
My philosophy is that you should give up on that, and, instead, you should design a system where bias is an advantage. Here is how it would work.
Some people have strong beliefs, based on their experience. Let’s call them advocates. They argue for their beliefs. They are willing to argue in detail and with passion, because they are confident in them. But they hold themselves to standards: they force themselves to explain why they think they are right, they rely as much as possible on simple arguments from evidence rather than their experience, and they check their sources religiously, because they remember that memory is strange and unreliable and subject to distortions. They do everything they can to make their reasoning as clear as possible.
And then everyone else reads them, with, mind you, realistic expectations about what a good argument looks like. And if they decide to get into the argument, they are subject to the same rules. Requests for sources or other demands are polite and make reasonable demands on one’s time. No one says, “If X is a problem, why didn’t I hear any complaints from you about Y four years ago,” as though when someone makes a complaint or remark it becomes their responsibility to make every other possible vaguely similar complaint or remark. Etc, etc. Not that these rules would not be broken, but that when twenty people on Twitter go “I notice that you didn’t give a source for that. Post one immediately or explain why you are lying,” it is generally recognized that this is unreasonable.
Most of the readers don’t have too much bias, because they haven’t gotten into the fight. And the advocates have laid out their ideas well. So most people can make a very well-informed judgment. But the advocates are sort of like sacrifices here. They take a position and it nails them down. Their judgment is impaired. So in this system most people are pretty close to right on issues they don’t feel too strongly about, but on their pet issues, they are usually wrong. It is a bit of a paradox.
Einstein to the end of his life maintained that the universe could not really be random, that quantum mechanics was only an approximation. In a system where you try to eliminate bias, that could hold back the whole field of physics. If Herr Professor Einstein says it is not right, well, he is a famous physicist, he has worked hard to eliminate his bias and understand the world clearly, and now he should be among the most rational and unbiased of men. But science is designed to take advantage of bias and not to eliminate it. So instead of holding back the field or creating a schism, Einstein’s doubt of quantum mechanics only made it better. His thought experiment with the clock in his debate with Bohr gave us ΔEΔt ≧ ℏ/2 (the time-energy uncertainty principle). His hidden-variable theory gave us Bell’s inequality. But Einstein himself never changed his mind on this issue.
Heterodox Academy participates in this debate as an advocate: a group of people with a strong belief, trying to convince others of it in a reasonable way. It takes a particular position, and that nails it down and makes it biased. But it would be much more biased if it tried to convince itself that it was unbiased.April 2, 2017 at 12:03 pm #240
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