Ok, the world doesn’t need another article on Eliot Spitzer. So, just skip the intro and read the rest of GW anthropologist Patty Kelly’s article in the LA Times on the decriminalization of prostitution and her own field work in a legal Mexican brothel. [Also read Lorenz’s take on anthropologi.info].
Scientific American reported on a new study that audiences were more likely to believe a news story purporting ‘bad science’ if accompanied by images of MRI Scans. I wonder if there is any visual corollary for bad ethnography? [60-second feature also available as podcast].
Debating the HTS Debates: A short piece by William Beeman has provoked discussion on how anthropologists represent ethical debates within the discipline to the public. Alternet published an English translation of William Beeman’s article in Le Monde Diplomatique recounting the controversy over HTS and the reaction of anthropologists. Greg Downy at Culture Matters has written an ambivalent review of Beeman’s article, suggesting that Beeman’s dispassionate reporting obscures the exigency with which anthropologists view the debate. At the end of Downy’s post, you can also scroll down to read Beeman’s and Downy’s responses to one another.
Academic Etiquette: Sean at Cosmic Variance wrote a thought piece on hierarchy and performance in the act of asking questions at an academic talk.
Cellphones to the Rescue! NYT magazine published this article on the unfolding effects of cell phones on the economies and social life of large swaths of the third world. The article follows Jan Chipchase, a ‘human behavior researcher’ who examines cellphone use around the world for Nokia. While the feature has a positivist slant, it’s most interesting point is to enjoin the reader to take efficiency and information as serious material concerns on the micro-level. A section reads:
Something that’s mostly a convenience booster for those of us with a full complement of technology at our disposal — land-lines, Internet connections, TVs, cars — can be a life-saver to someone with fewer ways to access information. A “just in time” moment afforded by a cellphone looks a lot different to a mother in Uganda who needs to carry a child with malaria three hours to visit the nearest doctor but who would like to know first whether that doctor is even in town.
The Law and BSG: Kerim pointed me to this interview with the creators of Battlestar Galactica on issues of legality, torture, economy and cylon rights as portrayed on the show. Maybe he forwarded it to me because of all the frackin’ toaster references I have on my facebook status updates. At any rate, if HBO’s ‘Wire’ is the best ethnographic text on the U.S. today, then perhaps BSG is one of the best current interpretations on ethics and the human condition.
Punchline: National Geographic ran a short piece on the history of April Fools Jokes. Note the part about the recent shift from small around-the-office pranks to institutionalized media hoaxes. Touché.