Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Rant

Expand Messages
  • Bob Muckle
    Something has been bothering me big-time. And it has been going on for almost five weeks. I can t seem to get it out of my head. I m hoping by writing this bit
    Message 1 of 12 , Jun 2, 2010
    • 0 Attachment
      Something has been bothering me big-time. And it has been going on for almost five weeks. I can't seem to get it out of my head. I'm hoping by writing this bit of a rant, I can transfer the thinking about it to whoever is reading it.

      On a very general level, I get bothered by all the misinformation, bias, ignorance, and such in the mainstream media. I get even more bothered when it comes from a well-known "academic personality" who people might think he or she really knows what they are talking about.

      More specifically I am bothered by an article written by Michael Shermer, who is the founding publisher of "Skeptic Magazine", book author, columnist for 'Scientific American' and appears to have carved out a career on the public lecture circuit. He wrote an essay called "Life Has Never Been So Good for Our Species" or something like that. As far as I can tell it was originally published in the L.A. Times at the end of April and has since been reproduced in many kind of media, including the traditional print papers and the digital (eg. Huffington Post). I used to be fan of the kind of work Shermer did, including promoting rational thinking. But....in my view the article is crap. It reminds my of the deer poop that the student dropped in my hand yesterday; except worse because Shermer is dishing out the crap to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions.

      I haven't actually read the article for weeks, so my info might be a bit off, but not much. Shermer's basic argument, as I recall, is that despite what some from the envrionmental movement say, we should not be thinking all gloom and doom about the present or the future. He basically says that we have it pretty good, better than ever before. He might be right, but I still don't like the article.

      What bothers me is the way he presents his argument. He is all over the place with odd comparisons, and uses data from where I don't know. Right from the get-go, he says that humans are far better off now than at any time prior to 10,000 years ago. To illustrate his point, he uses an example from the Yanomamo, which he must think is representative of everybody prior to 10,000 years ago, which is absurd. Equally absurd, he suggests that based on the Yanomamo, and presumably by extension all prehistoric peoples, he suggest the amount of poverty can be extrapolated by the fact that an average village has only 300 artifacts (he doesn't actually use the word artifact). This is grossly absurd. I've excavated in many preshistoric sites. Many prehistoric sites can reveal 300 artifacts an hour during excavation. One local prehistoric sites has over 60,000 artifacts cataloged, and I'm not talkign lithic flakes or potsherds.

      For comparison (with his 300 artifacts representing a village of prehistoric people), he says someone living in Manhattan has 10 billion products available to them. An obvious indicator of how good we have it, in Shermer's mind.

      There is so much more, but I am running out of time before I head off to work in the forest, in the rain....

      He compares the average annual income of hunter/gathers with those in industrialized nations, as if the average annual income in USD is important to foragers. As further proof of how good humans have it today, he notes that we have to work less now that a few decades ago to purchase....get this: a cheesburger.

      He thinks we have it really good now compared to the past, because we can buy tv's, dvd's, brand name jewelry, and SUV's. He thinks this is the best time ever because there is less pollution now in some American cities than there was 20 years ago. And he thinks we have it really good now because the crime rate has gone down in some American cities over the past few decades.

      I think a lot of his argument is really faulty. He is all over the place. I think a lot of the problem has to do with his ignorance of anthropology, both archaeology and cultural. He seems to have no appreciation of what was happening in prehistory; nor does he seem to appreciate other cultures may have other values that are important to them, rather than being able to shop forever or buy an inexpensive cheeseburger.

      I wonder what many ethnic minorities would think of Shermers' statement that we are better off now than at any other time. He talks about how it is easier to ride a bicycle in the LA smog now than 20 years ago, but doesn't mention that there actually used to be no smog at all. I wonder if he asked any Indigenous people if he though their people were better off now than 500 years ago. My list goes on and on.

      I'm not actually doubting that for some, this is a pretty good time for the species. Especially if you restrict the species to wealthy, middle-aged American males of European descent, living in Southern California, who writes and lectures for a living.

      Rant over.

      Bob
    • Kent Morris
      I agree with you... ... From: Bob Muckle To: ; Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2010 8:35 AM
      Message 2 of 12 , Jun 2, 2010
      • 0 Attachment
        I agree with you...
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Bob Muckle" <bmuckle@...>
        To: <SACC-L@...>; <SACC-L@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2010 8:35 AM
        Subject: [SACC-L] Rant


        > Something has been bothering me big-time. And it has been going on for
        > almost five weeks. I can't seem to get it out of my head. I'm hoping by
        > writing this bit of a rant, I can transfer the thinking about it to
        > whoever is reading it.
        >
        > On a very general level, I get bothered by all the misinformation, bias,
        > ignorance, and such in the mainstream media. I get even more bothered when
        > it comes from a well-known "academic personality" who people might think
        > he or she really knows what they are talking about.
        >
        > More specifically I am bothered by an article written by Michael Shermer,
        > who is the founding publisher of "Skeptic Magazine", book author,
        > columnist for 'Scientific American' and appears to have carved out a
        > career on the public lecture circuit. He wrote an essay called "Life Has
        > Never Been So Good for Our Species" or something like that. As far as I
        > can tell it was originally published in the L.A. Times at the end of April
        > and has since been reproduced in many kind of media, including the
        > traditional print papers and the digital (eg. Huffington Post). I used to
        > be fan of the kind of work Shermer did, including promoting rational
        > thinking. But....in my view the article is crap. It reminds my of the deer
        > poop that the student dropped in my hand yesterday; except worse because
        > Shermer is dishing out the crap to hundreds of thousands, perhaps
        > millions.
        >
        > I haven't actually read the article for weeks, so my info might be a bit
        > off, but not much. Shermer's basic argument, as I recall, is that despite
        > what some from the envrionmental movement say, we should not be thinking
        > all gloom and doom about the present or the future. He basically says that
        > we have it pretty good, better than ever before. He might be right, but I
        > still don't like the article.
        >
        > What bothers me is the way he presents his argument. He is all over the
        > place with odd comparisons, and uses data from where I don't know. Right
        > from the get-go, he says that humans are far better off now than at any
        > time prior to 10,000 years ago. To illustrate his point, he uses an
        > example from the Yanomamo, which he must think is representative of
        > everybody prior to 10,000 years ago, which is absurd. Equally absurd, he
        > suggests that based on the Yanomamo, and presumably by extension all
        > prehistoric peoples, he suggest the amount of poverty can be extrapolated
        > by the fact that an average village has only 300 artifacts (he doesn't
        > actually use the word artifact). This is grossly absurd. I've excavated in
        > many preshistoric sites. Many prehistoric sites can reveal 300 artifacts
        > an hour during excavation. One local prehistoric sites has over 60,000
        > artifacts cataloged, and I'm not talkign lithic flakes or potsherds.
        >
        > For comparison (with his 300 artifacts representing a village of
        > prehistoric people), he says someone living in Manhattan has 10 billion
        > products available to them. An obvious indicator of how good we have it,
        > in Shermer's mind.
        >
        > There is so much more, but I am running out of time before I head off to
        > work in the forest, in the rain....
        >
        > He compares the average annual income of hunter/gathers with those in
        > industrialized nations, as if the average annual income in USD is
        > important to foragers. As further proof of how good humans have it today,
        > he notes that we have to work less now that a few decades ago to
        > purchase....get this: a cheesburger.
        >
        > He thinks we have it really good now compared to the past, because we can
        > buy tv's, dvd's, brand name jewelry, and SUV's. He thinks this is the
        > best time ever because there is less pollution now in some American cities
        > than there was 20 years ago. And he thinks we have it really good now
        > because the crime rate has gone down in some American cities over the past
        > few decades.
        >
        > I think a lot of his argument is really faulty. He is all over the place.
        > I think a lot of the problem has to do with his ignorance of anthropology,
        > both archaeology and cultural. He seems to have no appreciation of what
        > was happening in prehistory; nor does he seem to appreciate other cultures
        > may have other values that are important to them, rather than being able
        > to shop forever or buy an inexpensive cheeseburger.
        >
        > I wonder what many ethnic minorities would think of Shermers' statement
        > that we are better off now than at any other time. He talks about how it
        > is easier to ride a bicycle in the LA smog now than 20 years ago, but
        > doesn't mention that there actually used to be no smog at all. I wonder if
        > he asked any Indigenous people if he though their people were better off
        > now than 500 years ago. My list goes on and on.
        >
        > I'm not actually doubting that for some, this is a pretty good time for
        > the species. Especially if you restrict the species to wealthy,
        > middle-aged American males of European descent, living in Southern
        > California, who writes and lectures for a living.
        >
        > Rant over.
        >
        > Bob
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > Find out more at our web page :http://webs.anokaramsey.edu/sacc/Yahoo!
        > Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > __________ Information from ESET NOD32 Antivirus, version of virus
        > signature database 5166 (20100602) __________
        >
        > The message was checked by ESET NOD32 Antivirus.
        >
        > http://www.eset.com
        >
        >
        >


        __________ Information from ESET NOD32 Antivirus, version of virus signature database 5166 (20100602) __________

        The message was checked by ESET NOD32 Antivirus.

        http://www.eset.com
      • mep1mep
        Never read Sahlin s article about the Affluent h/g s, huh? ________________________________ From: Bob Muckle To: SACC-L@capilanou.ca;
        Message 3 of 12 , Jun 2, 2010
        • 0 Attachment
          Never read Sahlin's article about the "Affluent" h/g's, huh?




          ________________________________
          From: Bob Muckle <bmuckle@...>
          To: SACC-L@...; SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Wed, June 2, 2010 10:35:53 AM
          Subject: [SACC-L] Rant

           
          Something has been bothering me big-time. And it has been going on for almost five weeks. I can't seem to get it out of my head. I'm hoping by writing this bit of a rant, I can transfer the thinking about it to whoever is reading it.

          On a very general level, I get bothered by all the misinformation, bias, ignorance, and such in the mainstream media. I get even more bothered when it comes from a well-known "academic personality" who people might think he or she really knows what they are talking about.

          More specifically I am bothered by an article written by Michael Shermer, who is the founding publisher of "Skeptic Magazine", book author, columnist for 'Scientific American' and appears to have carved out a career on the public lecture circuit. He wrote an essay called "Life Has Never Been So Good for Our Species" or something like that. As far as I can tell it was originally published in the L.A. Times at the end of April and has since been reproduced in many kind of media, including the traditional print papers and the digital (eg. Huffington Post). I used to be fan of the kind of work Shermer did, including promoting rational thinking. But....in my view the article is crap. It reminds my of the deer poop that the student dropped in my hand yesterday; except worse because Shermer is dishing out the crap to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions.

          I haven't actually read the article for weeks, so my info might be a bit off, but not much. Shermer's basic argument, as I recall, is that despite what some from the envrionmental movement say, we should not be thinking all gloom and doom about the present or the future. He basically says that we have it pretty good, better than ever before. He might be right, but I still don't like the article.

          What bothers me is the way he presents his argument. He is all over the place with odd comparisons, and uses data from where I don't know. Right from the get-go, he says that humans are far better off now than at any time prior to 10,000 years ago. To illustrate his point, he uses an example from the Yanomamo, which he must think is representative of everybody prior to 10,000 years ago, which is absurd. Equally absurd, he suggests that based on the Yanomamo, and presumably by extension all prehistoric peoples, he suggest the amount of poverty can be extrapolated by the fact that an average village has only 300 artifacts (he doesn't actually use the word artifact). This is grossly absurd. I've excavated in many preshistoric sites. Many prehistoric sites can reveal 300 artifacts an hour during excavation. One local prehistoric sites has over 60,000 artifacts cataloged, and I'm not talkign lithic flakes or potsherds.

          For comparison (with his 300 artifacts representing a village of prehistoric people), he says someone living in Manhattan has 10 billion products available to them. An obvious indicator of how good we have it, in Shermer's mind.

          There is so much more, but I am running out of time before I head off to work in the forest, in the rain....

          He compares the average annual income of hunter/gathers with those in industrialized nations, as if the average annual income in USD is important to foragers. As further proof of how good humans have it today, he notes that we have to work less now that a few decades ago to purchase....get this: a cheesburger.

          He thinks we have it really good now compared to the past, because we can buy tv's, dvd's, brand name jewelry, and SUV's. He thinks this is the best time ever because there is less pollution now in some American cities than there was 20 years ago. And he thinks we have it really good now because the crime rate has gone down in some American cities over the past few decades.

          I think a lot of his argument is really faulty. He is all over the place. I think a lot of the problem has to do with his ignorance of anthropology, both archaeology and cultural. He seems to have no appreciation of what was happening in prehistory; nor does he seem to appreciate other cultures may have other values that are important to them, rather than being able to shop forever or buy an inexpensive cheeseburger.

          I wonder what many ethnic minorities would think of Shermers' statement that we are better off now than at any other time. He talks about how it is easier to ride a bicycle in the LA smog now than 20 years ago, but doesn't mention that there actually used to be no smog at all. I wonder if he asked any Indigenous people if he though their people were better off now than 500 years ago. My list goes on and on.

          I'm not actually doubting that for some, this is a pretty good time for the species. Especially if you restrict the species to wealthy, middle-aged American males of European descent, living in Southern California, who writes and lectures for a living.

          Rant over.

          Bob







          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Nikki Ives
          Wow - it sounds like this article would be a really good example of ethnocentrism - I might use it in the classroom! Nicole Ives Prince George s Community
          Message 4 of 12 , Jun 2, 2010
          • 0 Attachment
            Wow - it sounds like this article would be a really good example of ethnocentrism - I might use it in the classroom!



            Nicole Ives
            Prince George's Community College
            Largo, MD




            ________________________________
            From: Bob Muckle <bmuckle@...>
            To: SACC-L@...; SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Wed, June 2, 2010 11:35:53 AM
            Subject: [SACC-L] Rant


            Something has been bothering me big-time. And it has been going on for almost five weeks. I can't seem to get it out of my head. I'm hoping by writing this bit of a rant, I can transfer the thinking about it to whoever is reading it.

            On a very general level, I get bothered by all the misinformation, bias, ignorance, and such in the mainstream media. I get even more bothered when it comes from a well-known "academic personality" who people might think he or she really knows what they are talking about.

            More specifically I am bothered by an article written by Michael Shermer, who is the founding publisher of "Skeptic Magazine", book author, columnist for 'Scientific American' and appears to have carved out a career on the public lecture circuit. He wrote an essay called "Life Has Never Been So Good for Our Species" or something like that. As far as I can tell it was originally published in the L.A. Times at the end of April and has since been reproduced in many kind of media, including the traditional print papers and the digital (eg. Huffington Post). I used to be fan of the kind of work Shermer did, including promoting rational thinking. But....in my view the article is crap. It reminds my of the deer poop that the student dropped in my hand yesterday; except worse because Shermer is dishing out the crap to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions.

            I haven't actually read the article for weeks, so my info might be a bit off, but not much. Shermer's basic argument, as I recall, is that despite what some from the envrionmental movement say, we should not be thinking all gloom and doom about the present or the future. He basically says that we have it pretty good, better than ever before. He might be right, but I still don't like the article.

            What bothers me is the way he presents his argument. He is all over the place with odd comparisons, and uses data from where I don't know. Right from the get-go, he says that humans are far better off now than at any time prior to 10,000 years ago. To illustrate his point, he uses an example from the Yanomamo, which he must think is representative of everybody prior to 10,000 years ago, which is absurd. Equally absurd, he suggests that based on the Yanomamo, and presumably by extension all prehistoric peoples, he suggest the amount of poverty can be extrapolated by the fact that an average village has only 300 artifacts (he doesn't actually use the word artifact). This is grossly absurd. I've excavated in many preshistoric sites. Many prehistoric sites can reveal 300 artifacts an hour during excavation. One local prehistoric sites has over 60,000 artifacts cataloged, and I'm not talkign lithic flakes or potsherds.

            For comparison (with his 300 artifacts representing a village of prehistoric people), he says someone living in Manhattan has 10 billion products available to them. An obvious indicator of how good we have it, in Shermer's mind.

            There is so much more, but I am running out of time before I head off to work in the forest, in the rain....

            He compares the average annual income of hunter/gathers with those in industrialized nations, as if the average annual income in USD is important to foragers. As further proof of how good humans have it today, he notes that we have to work less now that a few decades ago to purchase....get this: a cheesburger.

            He thinks we have it really good now compared to the past, because we can buy tv's, dvd's, brand name jewelry, and SUV's. He thinks this is the best time ever because there is less pollution now in some American cities than there was 20 years ago. And he thinks we have it really good now because the crime rate has gone down in some American cities over the past few decades.

            I think a lot of his argument is really faulty. He is all over the place. I think a lot of the problem has to do with his ignorance of anthropology, both archaeology and cultural. He seems to have no appreciation of what was happening in prehistory; nor does he seem to appreciate other cultures may have other values that are important to them, rather than being able to shop forever or buy an inexpensive cheeseburger.

            I wonder what many ethnic minorities would think of Shermers' statement that we are better off now than at any other time. He talks about how it is easier to ride a bicycle in the LA smog now than 20 years ago, but doesn't mention that there actually used to be no smog at all. I wonder if he asked any Indigenous people if he though their people were better off now than 500 years ago. My list goes on and on.

            I'm not actually doubting that for some, this is a pretty good time for the species. Especially if you restrict the species to wealthy, middle-aged American males of European descent, living in Southern California, who writes and lectures for a living.

            Rant over.

            Bob







            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • dianne.chidester@gvltec.edu
            Re: Bob s rant. Wow! I ve been such a fan of Skeptical Inquirer for years and am really disappointed that Shermer would compare foragers today to people of
            Message 5 of 12 , Jun 2, 2010
            • 0 Attachment
              Re: Bob's rant.



              Wow! I've been such a fan of "Skeptical Inquirer" for years and am
              really disappointed that Shermer would compare foragers today to people
              of the past, etc.



              Wonder why he doesn't look at all the "diseases of modernization" for a
              comparison?



              Cheers?

              Dianne


              This electronic mail message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message. To the best of our ability and knowledge, this mail message has been scanned and is free of viruses and malware.


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Deborah Shepherd
              Ha-ha! Great point. Deborah Shepherd ________________________________ From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Nikki Ives
              Message 6 of 12 , Jun 2, 2010
              • 0 Attachment
                Ha-ha! Great point.

                Deborah Shepherd

                ________________________________
                From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Nikki Ives [ikkinh@...]
                Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2010 10:56 AM
                To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Rant



                Wow - it sounds like this article would be a really good example of ethnocentrism - I might use it in the classroom!

                Nicole Ives
                Prince George's Community College
                Largo, MD

                ________________________________
                From: Bob Muckle <bmuckle@...<mailto:bmuckle%40capilanou.ca>>
                To: SACC-L@...<mailto:SACC-L%40capilanou.ca>; SACC-L@yahoogroups.com<mailto:SACC-L%40yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Wed, June 2, 2010 11:35:53 AM
                Subject: [SACC-L] Rant

                Something has been bothering me big-time. And it has been going on for almost five weeks. I can't seem to get it out of my head. I'm hoping by writing this bit of a rant, I can transfer the thinking about it to whoever is reading it.

                On a very general level, I get bothered by all the misinformation, bias, ignorance, and such in the mainstream media. I get even more bothered when it comes from a well-known "academic personality" who people might think he or she really knows what they are talking about.

                More specifically I am bothered by an article written by Michael Shermer, who is the founding publisher of "Skeptic Magazine", book author, columnist for 'Scientific American' and appears to have carved out a career on the public lecture circuit. He wrote an essay called "Life Has Never Been So Good for Our Species" or something like that. As far as I can tell it was originally published in the L.A. Times at the end of April and has since been reproduced in many kind of media, including the traditional print papers and the digital (eg. Huffington Post). I used to be fan of the kind of work Shermer did, including promoting rational thinking. But....in my view the article is crap. It reminds my of the deer poop that the student dropped in my hand yesterday; except worse because Shermer is dishing out the crap to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions.

                I haven't actually read the article for weeks, so my info might be a bit off, but not much. Shermer's basic argument, as I recall, is that despite what some from the envrionmental movement say, we should not be thinking all gloom and doom about the present or the future. He basically says that we have it pretty good, better than ever before. He might be right, but I still don't like the article.

                What bothers me is the way he presents his argument. He is all over the place with odd comparisons, and uses data from where I don't know. Right from the get-go, he says that humans are far better off now than at any time prior to 10,000 years ago. To illustrate his point, he uses an example from the Yanomamo, which he must think is representative of everybody prior to 10,000 years ago, which is absurd. Equally absurd, he suggests that based on the Yanomamo, and presumably by extension all prehistoric peoples, he suggest the amount of poverty can be extrapolated by the fact that an average village has only 300 artifacts (he doesn't actually use the word artifact). This is grossly absurd. I've excavated in many preshistoric sites. Many prehistoric sites can reveal 300 artifacts an hour during excavation. One local prehistoric sites has over 60,000 artifacts cataloged, and I'm not talkign lithic flakes or potsherds.

                For comparison (with his 300 artifacts representing a village of prehistoric people), he says someone living in Manhattan has 10 billion products available to them. An obvious indicator of how good we have it, in Shermer's mind.

                There is so much more, but I am running out of time before I head off to work in the forest, in the rain....

                He compares the average annual income of hunter/gathers with those in industrialized nations, as if the average annual income in USD is important to foragers. As further proof of how good humans have it today, he notes that we have to work less now that a few decades ago to purchase....get this: a cheesburger.

                He thinks we have it really good now compared to the past, because we can buy tv's, dvd's, brand name jewelry, and SUV's. He thinks this is the best time ever because there is less pollution now in some American cities than there was 20 years ago. And he thinks we have it really good now because the crime rate has gone down in some American cities over the past few decades.

                I think a lot of his argument is really faulty. He is all over the place. I think a lot of the problem has to do with his ignorance of anthropology, both archaeology and cultural. He seems to have no appreciation of what was happening in prehistory; nor does he seem to appreciate other cultures may have other values that are important to them, rather than being able to shop forever or buy an inexpensive cheeseburger.

                I wonder what many ethnic minorities would think of Shermers' statement that we are better off now than at any other time. He talks about how it is easier to ride a bicycle in the LA smog now than 20 years ago, but doesn't mention that there actually used to be no smog at all. I wonder if he asked any Indigenous people if he though their people were better off now than 500 years ago. My list goes on and on.

                I'm not actually doubting that for some, this is a pretty good time for the species. Especially if you restrict the species to wealthy, middle-aged American males of European descent, living in Southern California, who writes and lectures for a living.

                Rant over.

                Bob

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Lewine, Mark
                Yes, thanks for the idea! From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Nikki Ives Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2010 11:57 AM To:
                Message 7 of 12 , Jun 2, 2010
                • 0 Attachment
                  Yes, thanks for the idea!



                  From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Nikki Ives
                  Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2010 11:57 AM
                  To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Rant





                  Wow - it sounds like this article would be a really good example of ethnocentrism - I might use it in the classroom!

                  Nicole Ives
                  Prince George's Community College
                  Largo, MD

                  ________________________________
                  From: Bob Muckle <bmuckle@... <mailto:bmuckle%40capilanou.ca> >
                  To: SACC-L@... <mailto:SACC-L%40capilanou.ca> ; SACC-L@yahoogroups.com <mailto:SACC-L%40yahoogroups.com>
                  Sent: Wed, June 2, 2010 11:35:53 AM
                  Subject: [SACC-L] Rant

                  Something has been bothering me big-time. And it has been going on for almost five weeks. I can't seem to get it out of my head. I'm hoping by writing this bit of a rant, I can transfer the thinking about it to whoever is reading it.

                  On a very general level, I get bothered by all the misinformation, bias, ignorance, and such in the mainstream media. I get even more bothered when it comes from a well-known "academic personality" who people might think he or she really knows what they are talking about.

                  More specifically I am bothered by an article written by Michael Shermer, who is the founding publisher of "Skeptic Magazine", book author, columnist for 'Scientific American' and appears to have carved out a career on the public lecture circuit. He wrote an essay called "Life Has Never Been So Good for Our Species" or something like that. As far as I can tell it was originally published in the L.A. Times at the end of April and has since been reproduced in many kind of media, including the traditional print papers and the digital (eg. Huffington Post). I used to be fan of the kind of work Shermer did, including promoting rational thinking. But....in my view the article is crap. It reminds my of the deer poop that the student dropped in my hand yesterday; except worse because Shermer is dishing out the crap to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions.

                  I haven't actually read the article for weeks, so my info might be a bit off, but not much. Shermer's basic argument, as I recall, is that despite what some from the envrionmental movement say, we should not be thinking all gloom and doom about the present or the future. He basically says that we have it pretty good, better than ever before. He might be right, but I still don't like the article.

                  What bothers me is the way he presents his argument. He is all over the place with odd comparisons, and uses data from where I don't know. Right from the get-go, he says that humans are far better off now than at any time prior to 10,000 years ago. To illustrate his point, he uses an example from the Yanomamo, which he must think is representative of everybody prior to 10,000 years ago, which is absurd. Equally absurd, he suggests that based on the Yanomamo, and presumably by extension all prehistoric peoples, he suggest the amount of poverty can be extrapolated by the fact that an average village has only 300 artifacts (he doesn't actually use the word artifact). This is grossly absurd. I've excavated in many preshistoric sites. Many prehistoric sites can reveal 300 artifacts an hour during excavation. One local prehistoric sites has over 60,000 artifacts cataloged, and I'm not talkign lithic flakes or potsherds.

                  For comparison (with his 300 artifacts representing a village of prehistoric people), he says someone living in Manhattan has 10 billion products available to them. An obvious indicator of how good we have it, in Shermer's mind.

                  There is so much more, but I am running out of time before I head off to work in the forest, in the rain....

                  He compares the average annual income of hunter/gathers with those in industrialized nations, as if the average annual income in USD is important to foragers. As further proof of how good humans have it today, he notes that we have to work less now that a few decades ago to purchase....get this: a cheesburger.

                  He thinks we have it really good now compared to the past, because we can buy tv's, dvd's, brand name jewelry, and SUV's. He thinks this is the best time ever because there is less pollution now in some American cities than there was 20 years ago. And he thinks we have it really good now because the crime rate has gone down in some American cities over the past few decades.

                  I think a lot of his argument is really faulty. He is all over the place. I think a lot of the problem has to do with his ignorance of anthropology, both archaeology and cultural. He seems to have no appreciation of what was happening in prehistory; nor does he seem to appreciate other cultures may have other values that are important to them, rather than being able to shop forever or buy an inexpensive cheeseburger.

                  I wonder what many ethnic minorities would think of Shermers' statement that we are better off now than at any other time. He talks about how it is easier to ride a bicycle in the LA smog now than 20 years ago, but doesn't mention that there actually used to be no smog at all. I wonder if he asked any Indigenous people if he though their people were better off now than 500 years ago. My list goes on and on.

                  I'm not actually doubting that for some, this is a pretty good time for the species. Especially if you restrict the species to wealthy, middle-aged American males of European descent, living in Southern California, who writes and lectures for a living.

                  Rant over.

                  Bob

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Lynch, Brian M
                  I don t mean to offer this flippantly. I too have read The Skeptical Inquirer, and have appreciated the work that it reflects on so many issues. Could it be,
                  Message 8 of 12 , Jun 2, 2010
                  • 0 Attachment
                    I don't mean to offer this flippantly. I too have read The Skeptical Inquirer, and have appreciated the work that it reflects on so many issues. Could it be, however, that "skepticism" in that context extends primarily to questions of 'magic, science, and religion," excluding social/political/economic 'science'? The perspective that Bob conveys to us from the article he refers to, sounds (as people have already suggested) to be relatively devoid of the critical/scientific insights of anthropology, including those of historical/material analysis that emerged from anthropologists efforts to apply political/economic science to the study of peoples and cultures.

                    Meanwhile, I wonder what the peoples have to say about it all, who are the ones being ground up under the bulldozers of the "better off than before" minority of the world?

                    Thanks, Bob, for raising this.

                    Brian

                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com on behalf of dianne.chidester@...
                    Sent: Wed 6/2/2010 12:03 PM
                    To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: RE: [SACC-L] Rant



                    Re: Bob's rant.



                    Wow! I've been such a fan of "Skeptical Inquirer" for years and am
                    really disappointed that Shermer would compare foragers today to people
                    of the past, etc.



                    Wonder why he doesn't look at all the "diseases of modernization" for a
                    comparison?



                    Cheers?

                    Dianne


                    This electronic mail message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message. To the best of our ability and knowledge, this mail message has been scanned and is free of viruses and malware.


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Lynch, Brian M
                    Bob, Interesting parallel, by the way, with the experience of having to tell a budding archaeologist that he just put poop in your hand rather than a
                    Message 9 of 12 , Jun 2, 2010
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Bob, Interesting parallel, by the way, with the experience of having to tell a budding archaeologist that he just put 'poop' in your hand rather than a valuable artifact.




                      -----Original Message-----
                      From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com on behalf of Bob Muckle
                      Sent: Wed 6/2/2010 11:35 AM
                      To: SACC-L@...; SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: [SACC-L] Rant

                      Something has been bothering me big-time. And it has been going on for almost five weeks. I can't seem to get it out of my head. I'm hoping by writing this bit of a rant, I can transfer the thinking about it to whoever is reading it.

                      On a very general level, I get bothered by all the misinformation, bias, ignorance, and such in the mainstream media. I get even more bothered when it comes from a well-known "academic personality" who people might think he or she really knows what they are talking about.

                      More specifically I am bothered by an article written by Michael Shermer, who is the founding publisher of "Skeptic Magazine", book author, columnist for 'Scientific American' and appears to have carved out a career on the public lecture circuit. He wrote an essay called "Life Has Never Been So Good for Our Species" or something like that. As far as I can tell it was originally published in the L.A. Times at the end of April and has since been reproduced in many kind of media, including the traditional print papers and the digital (eg. Huffington Post). I used to be fan of the kind of work Shermer did, including promoting rational thinking. But....in my view the article is crap. It reminds my of the deer poop that the student dropped in my hand yesterday; except worse because Shermer is dishing out the crap to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions.

                      I haven't actually read the article for weeks, so my info might be a bit off, but not much. Shermer's basic argument, as I recall, is that despite what some from the envrionmental movement say, we should not be thinking all gloom and doom about the present or the future. He basically says that we have it pretty good, better than ever before. He might be right, but I still don't like the article.

                      What bothers me is the way he presents his argument. He is all over the place with odd comparisons, and uses data from where I don't know. Right from the get-go, he says that humans are far better off now than at any time prior to 10,000 years ago. To illustrate his point, he uses an example from the Yanomamo, which he must think is representative of everybody prior to 10,000 years ago, which is absurd. Equally absurd, he suggests that based on the Yanomamo, and presumably by extension all prehistoric peoples, he suggest the amount of poverty can be extrapolated by the fact that an average village has only 300 artifacts (he doesn't actually use the word artifact). This is grossly absurd. I've excavated in many preshistoric sites. Many prehistoric sites can reveal 300 artifacts an hour during excavation. One local prehistoric sites has over 60,000 artifacts cataloged, and I'm not talkign lithic flakes or potsherds.

                      For comparison (with his 300 artifacts representing a village of prehistoric people), he says someone living in Manhattan has 10 billion products available to them. An obvious indicator of how good we have it, in Shermer's mind.

                      There is so much more, but I am running out of time before I head off to work in the forest, in the rain....

                      He compares the average annual income of hunter/gathers with those in industrialized nations, as if the average annual income in USD is important to foragers. As further proof of how good humans have it today, he notes that we have to work less now that a few decades ago to purchase....get this: a cheesburger.

                      He thinks we have it really good now compared to the past, because we can buy tv's, dvd's, brand name jewelry, and SUV's. He thinks this is the best time ever because there is less pollution now in some American cities than there was 20 years ago. And he thinks we have it really good now because the crime rate has gone down in some American cities over the past few decades.

                      I think a lot of his argument is really faulty. He is all over the place. I think a lot of the problem has to do with his ignorance of anthropology, both archaeology and cultural. He seems to have no appreciation of what was happening in prehistory; nor does he seem to appreciate other cultures may have other values that are important to them, rather than being able to shop forever or buy an inexpensive cheeseburger.

                      I wonder what many ethnic minorities would think of Shermers' statement that we are better off now than at any other time. He talks about how it is easier to ride a bicycle in the LA smog now than 20 years ago, but doesn't mention that there actually used to be no smog at all. I wonder if he asked any Indigenous people if he though their people were better off now than 500 years ago. My list goes on and on.

                      I'm not actually doubting that for some, this is a pretty good time for the species. Especially if you restrict the species to wealthy, middle-aged American males of European descent, living in Southern California, who writes and lectures for a living.

                      Rant over.

                      Bob





                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • George Thomas
                      Marshall Sahlins s affluent forager, AND Marvin Harris s section in his 1970s-80s text re our illusions about having more free time than foragers. Harris
                      Message 10 of 12 , Jun 3, 2010
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Marshall Sahlins's affluent forager, AND Marvin Harris's section in his 1970s-80s text re our illusions about having more free time than foragers. Harris provided stats for intro students.
                        Continuing with previous poop under discussion, I was recently unexpectedly edumuckated while on a survey involving "shovel tests." Among the small, non-artifactual rocks on one screen load was something that looked like a tightly-wrapped snail-like or gastropod fossil, but not quite.  I put it in a safe place until I could look it up in my Adubon fossil fleld guide.  Winging it and going by morphology alone, I found the thing illustrated.  It was a shark coprolite.  I actually must admit, in fairness, that I was momentarily tempted to treat the thing like an artifact, some kind of sculpture.
                        We rant on an on about "exceptionalism" and, securely lacking in information, we assume we are better off than anyone in the past because we have more "stuff," and that we have a handle on complexity.
                        But it seems the shark has the edge on poop complexity. (Who was the poop "designer," and what were they thinking?)
                         
                        George
                         
                        Posted by: "Lynch, Brian M" blynch@... bdlqvcc
                            Date: Wed Jun 2, 2010 9:57 am ((PDT))

                        Bob, Interesting parallel, by the way, with the experience of having to tell a budding archaeologist that he just put 'poop' in your hand rather than a valuable artifact.

                            Posted by: "Lewine, Mark" mark.lewine@...
                            Date: Wed Jun 2, 2010 9:34 am ((PDT))

                        Yes, thanks for the idea!



                        From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Nikki Ives
                        Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2010 11:57 AM
                        To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
                        Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Rant

                        Wow - it sounds like this article would be a really good example of ethnocentrism - I might use it in the classroom!

                        Nicole Ives
                        Prince George's Community College
                        Largo, MD

                        ________________________________
                        From: Bob Muckle <bmuckle@... <mailto:bmuckle%40capilanou.ca> >
                        To: SACC-L@... <mailto:SACC-L%40capilanou.ca> ; SACC-L@yahoogroups.com <mailto:SACC-L%40yahoogroups.com>
                        Sent: Wed, June 2, 2010 11:35:53 AM
                        Subject: [SACC-L] Rant

                        Something has been bothering me big-time. And it has been going on for almost five weeks. I can't seem to get it out of my head. I'm hoping by writing this bit of a rant, I can transfer the thinking about it to whoever is reading it.

                        On a very general level, I get bothered by all the misinformation, bias, ignorance, and such in the mainstream media. I get even more bothered when it comes from a well-known "academic personality" who people might think he or she really knows what they are talking about.

                        More specifically I am bothered by an article written by Michael Shermer, who is the founding publisher of "Skeptic Magazine", book author, columnist for 'Scientific American' and appears to have carved out a career on the public lecture circuit. He wrote an essay called "Life Has Never Been So Good for Our Species" or something like that. As far as I can tell it was originally published in the L.A. Times at the end of April and has since been reproduced in many kind of media, including the traditional print papers and the digital (eg. Huffington Post). I used to be fan of the kind of work Shermer did, including promoting rational thinking. But....in my view the article is crap. It reminds my of the deer poop that the student dropped in my hand yesterday; except worse because Shermer is dishing out the crap to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions.

                        I haven't actually read the article for weeks, so my info might be a bit off, but not much. Shermer's basic argument, as I recall, is that despite what some from the envrionmental movement say, we should not be thinking all gloom and doom about the present or the future. He basically says that we have it pretty good, better than ever before. He might be right, but I still don't like the article.

                        What bothers me is the way he presents his argument. He is all over the place with odd comparisons, and uses data from where I don't know. Right from the get-go, he says that humans are far better off now than at any time prior to 10,000 years ago. To illustrate his point, he uses an example from the Yanomamo, which he must think is representative of everybody prior to 10,000 years ago, which is absurd. Equally absurd, he suggests that based on the Yanomamo, and presumably by extension all prehistoric peoples, he suggest the amount of poverty can be extrapolated by the fact that an average village has only 300 artifacts (he doesn't actually use the word artifact). This is grossly absurd. I've excavated in many preshistoric sites. Many prehistoric sites can reveal 300 artifacts an hour during excavation. One local prehistoric sites has over 60,000 artifacts cataloged, and I'm not talkign lithic flakes or potsherds.

                        For comparison (with his 300 artifacts representing a village of prehistoric people), he says someone living in Manhattan has 10 billion products available to them. An obvious indicator of how good we have it, in Shermer's mind.

                        There is so much more, but I am running out of time before I head off to work in the forest, in the rain....

                        He compares the average annual income of hunter/gathers with those in industrialized nations, as if the average annual income in USD is important to foragers. As further proof of how good humans have it today, he notes that we have to work less now that a few decades ago to purchase....get this: a cheesburger.

                        He thinks we have it really good now compared to the past, because we can buy tv's, dvd's, brand name jewelry, and SUV's. He thinks this is the best time ever because there is less pollution now in some American cities than there was 20 years ago. And he thinks we have it really good now because the crime rate has gone down in some American cities over the past few decades.

                        I think a lot of his argument is really faulty. He is all over the place. I think a lot of the problem has to do with his ignorance of anthropology, both archaeology and cultural. He seems to have no appreciation of what was happening in prehistory; nor does he seem to appreciate other cultures may have other values that are important to them, rather than being able to shop forever or buy an inexpensive cheeseburger.

                        I wonder what many ethnic minorities would think of Shermers' statement that we are better off now than at any other time. He talks about how it is easier to ride a bicycle in the LA smog now than 20 years ago, but doesn't mention that there actually used to be no smog at all. I wonder if he asked any Indigenous people if he though their people were better off now than 500 years ago. My list goes on and on.

                        I'm not actually doubting that for some, this is a pretty good time for the species. Especially if you restrict the species to wealthy, middle-aged American males of European descent, living in Southern California, who writes and lectures for a living.

                        Rant over.

                        Bob






                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Lynch, Brian M
                        I will now wait with curiosity to see how coprolite morphology and complexity might work their way into the ID scenario! Brian ... From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
                        Message 11 of 12 , Jun 3, 2010
                        • 0 Attachment
                          I will now wait with curiosity to see how coprolite morphology and complexity might work their way into the ID scenario!


                          Brian


                          -----Original Message-----
                          From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com on behalf of George Thomas
                          Sent: Thu 6/3/2010 8:24 AM
                          To: sacc-l@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: [SACC-L] Re: Rant

                          Marshall Sahlins's affluent forager, AND Marvin Harris's section in his 1970s-80s text re our illusions about having more free time than foragers. Harris provided stats for intro students.
                          Continuing with previous poop under discussion, I was recently unexpectedly edumuckated while on a survey involving "shovel tests." Among the small, non-artifactual rocks on one screen load was something that looked like a tightly-wrapped snail-like or gastropod fossil, but not quite.  I put it in a safe place until I could look it up in my Adubon fossil fleld guide.  Winging it and going by morphology alone, I found the thing illustrated.  It was a shark coprolite.  I actually must admit, in fairness, that I was momentarily tempted to treat the thing like an artifact, some kind of sculpture.
                          We rant on an on about "exceptionalism" and, securely lacking in information, we assume we are better off than anyone in the past because we have more "stuff," and that we have a handle on complexity.
                          But it seems the shark has the edge on poop complexity. (Who was the poop "designer," and what were they thinking?)
                           
                          George
                           
                          Posted by: "Lynch, Brian M" blynch@... bdlqvcc
                              Date: Wed Jun 2, 2010 9:57 am ((PDT))

                          Bob, Interesting parallel, by the way, with the experience of having to tell a budding archaeologist that he just put 'poop' in your hand rather than a valuable artifact.

                              Posted by: "Lewine, Mark" mark.lewine@...
                              Date: Wed Jun 2, 2010 9:34 am ((PDT))

                          Yes, thanks for the idea!



                          From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Nikki Ives
                          Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2010 11:57 AM
                          To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Rant

                          Wow - it sounds like this article would be a really good example of ethnocentrism - I might use it in the classroom!

                          Nicole Ives
                          Prince George's Community College
                          Largo, MD

                          ________________________________
                          From: Bob Muckle <bmuckle@... <mailto:bmuckle%40capilanou.ca> >
                          To: SACC-L@... <mailto:SACC-L%40capilanou.ca> ; SACC-L@yahoogroups.com <mailto:SACC-L%40yahoogroups.com>
                          Sent: Wed, June 2, 2010 11:35:53 AM
                          Subject: [SACC-L] Rant

                          Something has been bothering me big-time. And it has been going on for almost five weeks. I can't seem to get it out of my head. I'm hoping by writing this bit of a rant, I can transfer the thinking about it to whoever is reading it.

                          On a very general level, I get bothered by all the misinformation, bias, ignorance, and such in the mainstream media. I get even more bothered when it comes from a well-known "academic personality" who people might think he or she really knows what they are talking about.

                          More specifically I am bothered by an article written by Michael Shermer, who is the founding publisher of "Skeptic Magazine", book author, columnist for 'Scientific American' and appears to have carved out a career on the public lecture circuit. He wrote an essay called "Life Has Never Been So Good for Our Species" or something like that. As far as I can tell it was originally published in the L.A. Times at the end of April and has since been reproduced in many kind of media, including the traditional print papers and the digital (eg. Huffington Post). I used to be fan of the kind of work Shermer did, including promoting rational thinking. But....in my view the article is crap. It reminds my of the deer poop that the student dropped in my hand yesterday; except worse because Shermer is dishing out the crap to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions.

                          I haven't actually read the article for weeks, so my info might be a bit off, but not much. Shermer's basic argument, as I recall, is that despite what some from the envrionmental movement say, we should not be thinking all gloom and doom about the present or the future. He basically says that we have it pretty good, better than ever before. He might be right, but I still don't like the article.

                          What bothers me is the way he presents his argument. He is all over the place with odd comparisons, and uses data from where I don't know. Right from the get-go, he says that humans are far better off now than at any time prior to 10,000 years ago. To illustrate his point, he uses an example from the Yanomamo, which he must think is representative of everybody prior to 10,000 years ago, which is absurd. Equally absurd, he suggests that based on the Yanomamo, and presumably by extension all prehistoric peoples, he suggest the amount of poverty can be extrapolated by the fact that an average village has only 300 artifacts (he doesn't actually use the word artifact). This is grossly absurd. I've excavated in many preshistoric sites. Many prehistoric sites can reveal 300 artifacts an hour during excavation. One local prehistoric sites has over 60,000 artifacts cataloged, and I'm not talkign lithic flakes or potsherds.

                          For comparison (with his 300 artifacts representing a village of prehistoric people), he says someone living in Manhattan has 10 billion products available to them. An obvious indicator of how good we have it, in Shermer's mind.

                          There is so much more, but I am running out of time before I head off to work in the forest, in the rain....

                          He compares the average annual income of hunter/gathers with those in industrialized nations, as if the average annual income in USD is important to foragers. As further proof of how good humans have it today, he notes that we have to work less now that a few decades ago to purchase....get this: a cheesburger.

                          He thinks we have it really good now compared to the past, because we can buy tv's, dvd's, brand name jewelry, and SUV's. He thinks this is the best time ever because there is less pollution now in some American cities than there was 20 years ago. And he thinks we have it really good now because the crime rate has gone down in some American cities over the past few decades.

                          I think a lot of his argument is really faulty. He is all over the place. I think a lot of the problem has to do with his ignorance of anthropology, both archaeology and cultural. He seems to have no appreciation of what was happening in prehistory; nor does he seem to appreciate other cultures may have other values that are important to them, rather than being able to shop forever or buy an inexpensive cheeseburger.

                          I wonder what many ethnic minorities would think of Shermers' statement that we are better off now than at any other time. He talks about how it is easier to ride a bicycle in the LA smog now than 20 years ago, but doesn't mention that there actually used to be no smog at all. I wonder if he asked any Indigenous people if he though their people were better off now than 500 years ago. My list goes on and on.

                          I'm not actually doubting that for some, this is a pretty good time for the species. Especially if you restrict the species to wealthy, middle-aged American males of European descent, living in Southern California, who writes and lectures for a living.

                          Rant over.

                          Bob






                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • George Thomas
                          Perfect!  We may be on our way to preempting the next evolutionary step within the ID genepool.  But really, the divine complexity of shark coprolites is a
                          Message 12 of 12 , Jun 4, 2010
                          • 0 Attachment
                            Perfect!  We may be on our way to preempting the next evolutionary step within the ID genepool.  But really, the divine complexity of shark coprolites is a holy wonder.....One finds one and hears choirs..... organs..... um.....
                            I'll see what happens if I ever find another one and the lab folks find it bagged & tagged.
                            :-)
                             
                                Posted by: "Lynch, Brian M" blynch@... bdlqvcc
                                Date: Thu Jun 3, 2010 5:48 am ((PDT))


                            I will now wait with curiosity to see how coprolite morphology and complexity might work their way into the ID scenario!


                            Brian


                            -----Original Message-----
                            From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com on behalf of George Thomas
                            Sent: Thu 6/3/2010 8:24 AM
                            To: sacc-l@yahoogroups.com
                            Subject: [SACC-L] Re: Rant

                            Marshall Sahlins's affluent forager, AND Marvin Harris's section in his 1970s-80s text re our illusions about having more free time than foragers. Harris provided stats for intro students.
                            Continuing with previous poop under discussion, I was recently unexpectedly edumuckated while on a survey involving "shovel tests." Among the small, non-artifactual rocks on one screen load was something that looked like a tightly-wrapped snail-like or gastropod fossil, but not quite.  I put it in a safe place until I could look it up in my Adubon fossil fleld guide.  Winging it and going by morphology alone, I found the thing illustrated.  It was a shark coprolite.  I actually must admit, in fairness, that I was momentarily tempted to treat the thing like an artifact, some kind of sculpture.
                            We rant on an on about "exceptionalism" and, securely lacking in information, we assume we are better off than anyone in the past because we have more "stuff," and that we have a handle on complexity.
                            But it seems the shark has the edge on poop complexity. (Who was the poop "designer," and what were they thinking?)
                             
                            George
                             
                            Posted by: "Lynch, Brian M" blynch@... bdlqvcc
                                Date: Wed Jun 2, 2010 9:57 am ((PDT))

                            Bob, Interesting parallel, by the way, with the experience of having to tell a budding archaeologist that he just put 'poop' in your hand rather than a valuable artifact.

                                Posted by: "Lewine, Mark" mark.lewine@...
                                Date: Wed Jun 2, 2010 9:34 am ((PDT))

                            Yes, thanks for the idea!



                            From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Nikki Ives
                            Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2010 11:57 AM
                            To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
                            Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Rant

                            Wow - it sounds like this article would be a really good example of ethnocentrism - I might use it in the classroom!

                            Nicole Ives
                            Prince George's Community College
                            Largo, MD

                            ________________________________
                            From: Bob Muckle <bmuckle@... <mailto:bmuckle%40capilanou.ca> >
                            To: SACC-L@... <mailto:SACC-L%40capilanou.ca> ; SACC-L@yahoogroups.com <mailto:SACC-L%40yahoogroups.com>
                            Sent: Wed, June 2, 2010 11:35:53 AM
                            Subject: [SACC-L] Rant

                            Something has been bothering me big-time. And it has been going on for almost five weeks. I can't seem to get it out of my head. I'm hoping by writing this bit of a rant, I can transfer the thinking about it to whoever is reading it.

                            On a very general level, I get bothered by all the misinformation, bias, ignorance, and such in the mainstream media. I get even more bothered when it comes from a well-known "academic personality" who people might think he or she really knows what they are talking about.

                            More specifically I am bothered by an article written by Michael Shermer, who is the founding publisher of "Skeptic Magazine", book author, columnist for 'Scientific American' and appears to have carved out a career on the public lecture circuit. He wrote an essay called "Life Has Never Been So Good for Our Species" or something like that. As far as I can tell it was originally published in the L.A. Times at the end of April and has since been reproduced in many kind of media, including the traditional print papers and the digital (eg. Huffington Post). I used to be fan of the kind of work Shermer did, including promoting rational thinking. But....in my view the article is crap. It reminds my of the deer poop that the student dropped in my hand yesterday; except worse because Shermer is dishing out the crap to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions.

                            I haven't actually read the article for weeks, so my info might be a bit off, but not much. Shermer's basic argument, as I recall, is that despite what some from the envrionmental movement say, we should not be thinking all gloom and doom about the present or the future. He basically says that we have it pretty good, better than ever before. He might be right, but I still don't like the article.

                            What bothers me is the way he presents his argument. He is all over the place with odd comparisons, and uses data from where I don't know. Right from the get-go, he says that humans are far better off now than at any time prior to 10,000 years ago. To illustrate his point, he uses an example from the Yanomamo, which he must think is representative of everybody prior to 10,000 years ago, which is absurd. Equally absurd, he suggests that based on the Yanomamo, and presumably by extension all prehistoric peoples, he suggest the amount of poverty can be extrapolated by the fact that an average village has only 300 artifacts (he doesn't actually use the word artifact). This is grossly absurd. I've excavated in many preshistoric sites. Many prehistoric sites can reveal 300 artifacts an hour during excavation. One local prehistoric sites has over 60,000 artifacts cataloged, and I'm not talkign lithic flakes or potsherds.

                            For comparison (with his 300 artifacts representing a village of prehistoric people), he says someone living in Manhattan has 10 billion products available to them. An obvious indicator of how good we have it, in Shermer's mind.

                            There is so much more, but I am running out of time before I head off to work in the forest, in the rain....

                            He compares the average annual income of hunter/gathers with those in industrialized nations, as if the average annual income in USD is important to foragers. As further proof of how good humans have it today, he notes that we have to work less now that a few decades ago to purchase....get this: a cheesburger.

                            He thinks we have it really good now compared to the past, because we can buy tv's, dvd's, brand name jewelry, and SUV's. He thinks this is the best time ever because there is less pollution now in some American cities than there was 20 years ago. And he thinks we have it really good now because the crime rate has gone down in some American cities over the past few decades.

                            I think a lot of his argument is really faulty. He is all over the place. I think a lot of the problem has to do with his ignorance of anthropology, both archaeology and cultural. He seems to have no appreciation of what was happening in prehistory; nor does he seem to appreciate other cultures may have other values that are important to them, rather than being able to shop forever or buy an inexpensive cheeseburger.

                            I wonder what many ethnic minorities would think of Shermers' statement that we are better off now than at any other time. He talks about how it is easier to ride a bicycle in the LA smog now than 20 years ago, but doesn't mention that there actually used to be no smog at all. I wonder if he asked any Indigenous people if he though their people were better off now than 500 years ago. My list goes on and on.

                            I'm not actually doubting that for some, this is a pretty good time for the species. Especially if you restrict the species to wealthy, middle-aged American males of European descent, living in Southern California, who writes and lectures for a living.

                            Rant over.

                            Bob






                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.