Here's an idea why the American Anthropological Association took the word "science" out of their long-term plan. They took the lay of the coming political landscape, where science will be increasingly under fire from politicians and others. They then decided that if anthropologists pretend that we are not scientists, then maybe we will escape some of the anti-science fire.
**** END OF SARCASM ****
What anti-science trends? Look around, it's scary. These are only a couple of examples:
- Eric Cantor, the upcoming Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, campaigns regularly against science.
- Look at the global warming situation.
- Check out the Noah's Ark Theme Park in Kentucky. (Thanks to Archaeopop for this).
Our motto shouldn’t be “publish or perish, but rather, public or perish,” archaeologist Sabloff said to a crowd of fellow anthropologists. He noted how other scientific fields have their iconic scholars – think Stephen Hawking, or Cornell West, or Jared Diamond.But anthropology? With the exception of the deceased (Margaret Mead) and the fictitious (Indiana Jones), not so much.That needs to change, Sabloff says, especially considering the intensity and complexity of global issues. Take your pick of front page headlines. The Obama administration’s healthcare bill would benefit from having anthropologists share their perspectives in a public forum, such as an op-ed piece in the newspaper. The ongoing war in Afghanistan is another example; anthropologists could provide different viewpoints from the talking heads the public is used to seeing on television.Part of the problem has been university departments’ traditional avoidance of the limelight. Worse yet, anthropologists who speak out in the media are often criticized by their colleagues. “We shouldn’t be sniping, but rather supporting, our colleagues who write op-ed pieces,” Sabloff said.The lecture, which was as inspiring as it was bold, was met with wild applause, a standing ovation and likely more than a few anthropologists considering their future (however large or small) in the public spotlight.
Sabloff has written about this topic before:
Sabloff, Jeremy A.
1998 Distinguished Lecture in Archaeology: Communication and the Future of American Archaeology. American Anthropologist 100:869-875.
See also some of his more recent publications:
Sabloff, Jeremy A.
2008 Archaeology Matters: Action Archaeology in the Modern World. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA.
2009 How Can Archaeologists Usefully Contribute to Public Policy Considerations. Archaeological Dialogues 16:169-171.
This is the time to be scientific, and to show the public what we know about the past (and how we know it).