Monday, May 20, 2019

Dealing with bias in anthropology and paleontology

Anthropology, the scientific study of humans and human behavior and societies, and  paleontology, the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions, have become more complicated every year, especially for layman. But some of the complication comes from bias, which is especially frustrating for layman interested in finding out how we evolved and how we came to be who we are. Science is of course supposed to be unbiased but the bias seems to follow from the innate kin and ethnic-centered human nature of scientists who uphold their own ethnic history.

For many centuries in the West the history of man, civilization, languages, etc, was believed to have begun in the Judaic-Christian Garden of Eden, perhaps in southern Mesopotamia. Then people like Max Müller (1823-1900) discovered that there was a common ancestry or origin in language and culture between the Vedic Indians and Europeans, which soon set off opposition to the Judaic-Christian Semitic view of history. This opposition in anthropology and paleontology seems to have continued to the present, although it is never mentioned. The work of Soviet, Chinese, and Euro-American anthropologists and paleontologists seem to be biased toward upholding their own ethnic history. And since World War Two any talk a common ancestry or origin in language and culture between the Vedic Indians and Europeans is mainly taboo, since the Nazis were also interested in the subject.
So if we want to know who we are and where we came what are we to do?  We are left to our own layman judgements regarding who to believe or who to be skeptical of.  Personally, if I can discern that the scientist seems to affirm the biological origin of social behavior I'll take their ideas more seriously.  But it's all very frustrating and disappointing.

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