City Journal Summer 2014

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Summer 2014
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Steven Malanga
Welcome to the Jungle « Back to Story

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Seems most of my life the Mayans where portrayed as peaceful farmers and builders by a consensus of archeologists. Any evidence to the contrary was ignored or downplayed. Didn't fit the narrative. Now we know they were a warrior society. Science is losing its credibility because ideology trumps truth. Be it anthropology, climatology, nutrition, and many other disciplines, People grow ever more skeptical, and rightly so.
It looks like Chagnon uncovered truths about two savage social groups, their beliefs and the struggle for dominance within those groups.
Graham Cunningham April 21, 2014 at 1:49 AM
The Anatomy of a Bleeding Heart:
http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm?frm=6936&sec_id=6936

"Perhaps the most self-destructive (politically correct) mind game of all is the demonising of Western society in its entirety. So much energy has been devoted by the white liberal establishment in the last fifty years to countering 18th and 19th century perceptions of white superiority that they have implanted in the minds of millions an historical myth of staggering absurdity and ignorance. In this mythical history, the world was once populated by a sometimes primitive but always delightful array of peoples and cultures living in harmony with the cosmos. Then along came the white imperialists with their technology and their aggression and plundered and ruined it all. In the obsessive compulsion to subvert all perceived hierarchy, a new politically correct hierarchy is rammed down your throat. At its apex would be someone like a Red Indian lesbian; at the bottom of the heap would be a middle class, Southern English male. The multi-layered, multi- ethnic, multi-polar nature of the real history of human conflict is thereby reduced to this silly guilt-trip. Consider, for example, the horrific genocide in Ruanda. This orgy of wickedness was treated by the British media as if it had been a kind of natural disaster. Indignation was confined to how the West should have done more to prevent it. It has become a near universal habit of thought in Western intellectual circles that only white (and possibly also yellow) skinned people can be held responsible for their own behaviour. Ironically this precious mindset is actually deeply patronising towards the rest of the human race."
The idea that primitive man was a wholly benign creature is counterintuitive. He would have been governed at the outset entirely by instinct - sex, fear, hunger, possessivity, all drivers of violence if untamed. Fortunately, he also developed the gift of reason. The Ten Commandments represent the blueprint for society by demanding that man be the opposite of his nature as a lying, thieving killer. The Bonobo crowd pursue the same illusions as Chagnon's critics in wishing to replace reality with theoretical fantasies that always stem from a political agenda.
Don't kid yourself if you think, Psychology, Political Science, Economics, and Public Policy don't have the same problems of "true believers" trying to make reality fit pet theories or philosophies.
Reading about Mr. Chagnon's challenges has to make one concerned about the results that come when people who believe what they want to believe are empowered to force those beliefs on others, particularly in a culture that prides itself on independent thinking.
36 people were shot in Chicago this weekend. Child out of wedlock births in the Black Community are at 70%. Murdered by Black is the most common cause of death for a Black male under the age of 30 in Chicago. The Chagnon study remarkably describes the Chicago Black Culture! The news media prints the data. Bill Cosby is vocal in talking about this culture. But the ESTABLISHMENT, e.g. Obama, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Democrats - won't admit the problem. It seems like rising to the top of the culture of violence makes you a leader of violence. That's what Chagnon reported. Jackson even has a child out of wedlock! Chagnon should study Chicago! Now that report would get him crucified in the mainstream Liberal media which cannot accept TRUTH! If you don't admit the problem, it cannot be fixed. Liberals have accepted the violence and murders as the cost of success. The Black Community has accepted this. That is what is scary. It is buried in the culture.

A second Dark Ages is even now upon us, as the warmists have amply demonstrated.
As many as %30 of men are murdered, often over women, and the Unokais, those doing the murders produce three times as many babies as those that dont, as they attract more women. I cannot help but see a similarity to "Hip-Hop Culture" here, no matter how politically incorrect that might be.
"Social Sciences", these are the ones which politicians use to inform us of decisions they have made for us. Social Sciences are now evolving into evermore virulent forms, like Ebola, or Aids, and should be considered for what they are, Social diseases! Also, when I was in College in the late 1970's we read Chagnon and used one of his books on the Yanomamo people.
Truth will eventually prevail against dogma.
Hmm... I took some anthro courses about ten years back. Chagnon and the Yanomano got a couple of mentions. Basically, this is what my instructors had to say (let me note, this wasn't aimed at Chagnon's scholarly writings but at people who knew Chagnon only from poular journalism, such as this):

1. The notion that earlier human hunter-gatherers were "peaceful" isn't based on belief in how sweet people are when capitalism is absent; it's based on the notion that a very small population (say several million people across the globe, mostly in groups of under a dozen) using limited resources (wood, plants, animal herds) doesn't have that many causes for conflict. You've got five guys hunting deer in western Iowa, and five guys hunting deer in northern Missouri, and they run into each other every couple of years -- this isn't just like Germany and France jousting over the Saar around 1900.

2. There's plenty of evidence that our very own ancestors, running around Europe and West Asia from 5 to 20 thousand years ago, took captives in sizable numbers on occasion and bashed their heads in, for reasons not presently clear. Maybe this was warfare, maybe religion. No one is claiming it's "capitalism."

3. This is the 20th (or 21st) century. There are lots of people around, and they have lots of history. Granted, the Yanomamo appear to be isolated today, but the odds are high that they are descended from other populations intereacting with yet other populations some centuries in the past. In other words, it hasn't been proven that the Yanomama are exactly like (or even reasonably close) to stone age human communities of 5000 to several million years ago. There are other primitive groups with other behavior -- Australian aboriginies for example, who have very complicated mental and social lives despite their limited technology.
The point is simple, and simply articulated. Even in the "objective" social sciences, confirmation bias is rampant. Anthropology is just a flagship of what's to come, perhaps an early harbinger due to its friendliness towards qualitative inquiry. Data is notoriously oblivious to evaluative claims, and academic "justice" will grow out of its infancy to assume its proper tyranny,satisfying the objective need for a qualitative, evaluative home, all the while entirely unchecked until the axiom of intellectual freedom rears its sleepy head, and we remember that this all got started because We only know that we don't know. All the human sciences will be tainted by the color of such a pseudo-epoche, until we finally remember that we're stuck with value--utilitarian, marxist, neoconservative, and liberal--until we remember that objectivity is not a matter of course, but effort.
Heather Campbell April 13, 2014 at 4:24 PM
Please don't tar all the "social sciences" with this brush! Psychology, Political Science, Economics, and Public Policy all still broadly use and value the scientific method.