Honesty in pseudo-science

Professional anthropologists have finally admitted they just don’t do science. So it’s only a matter of time before the sociologists and evolutionary biologists admit that they don’t either. And even the ghost of Keynes would have to admit that whatever economists are doing these days, it can’t reasonably be described as science:

Anthropologists have been thrown into turmoil about the nature and future of their profession after a decision by the American Anthropological Association at its recent annual meeting to strip the word “science” from a statement of its long-range plan.

The decision has reopened a long-simmering tension between researchers in science-based anthropological disciplines — including archaeologists, physical anthropologists and some cultural anthropologists — and members of the profession who study race, ethnicity and gender and see themselves as advocates for native peoples or human rights.

I don’t quite agree with the NYT’s characterization of this debate between “science-based” anthropologists and ideological anthropologists. Neither side are actually engaged in doing any science per se due to the historical nature of their discipline; “study” is not synonymous with “scientific experiment”. Neither history nor logic are scientody, although both are often utilized by scientists engaged in it.

But this does underline the importance of properly defining what the various aspects of science are and are not. So long as scientists and other ideologists are determined to pronounce judgment on what is and is not science and attempt using “science” as an excuse to interfere in the political arena, non-scientists have a responsibility to force them to strictly abide by consistent definitions. This is why it is always important to determine whether someone us bandying about the term “science” in the sense of scientage, scientody, or scientistry.

Mr. Sailer has his own take on the situation.