Reading through John Hawks’s blog was really enjoyable as he writes about very relevant topics that are accessible to both the scientific and lay audiences. Two posts of his stand out in my mind in particular because they align very nicely with my own thoughts, observations, and philosophies.
“The Stalin Age Diet”
Herein, Hawks talks about a column in the New York Times written by a Dan Lieberman in support of the recent push to ban large sodas in New York City–a proposition by mayor Bloomberg. The author tries to make an argument based on evolution and as an anthropologists knows, one should never (NEVER) try to argue evolution to an anthropologist. Lieberman suggests that we have evolved to need coercion because previously we ( our evo. ancestors) never had the plethora of sugary and fatty foods that we do today. Essentially, Lieberman is advocating for governmental intervention into our daily lives and to make choices for us. As some of you may know, I am a very stout classical Libertarian and I hate unnecessary governmental intervention and any law which infringes on our rights. While I’m not sure if Hawks is also a Libertarian, he is espousing very liberty-motivated principles in his critique of Lieberman’s article. I think Hawks makes his best argument however, when he talks about it is the State which forces children to be at school all day and eat these unhealthy meals instead of going outside to play, be happy, and have healthy alternatives to food (within means of economic access, im sure).
“Why do scientists follow fads instead of acting like proper skeptics?”
In this post, Hawks responds to a correspondence which tells of a trend in the scientific community to, well, continue existing trends in the scientific community. Instead of questioning data and studies and the suppositions they conclude, many scientists simply accept it and then adopt these theories themselves instead of challenging the findings. Hawks suggests that scientists these days simply do not read the primary literature and thus do not have the foundation to critique papers which need it.
This post reminded me of different observation I myself have made with regards to “Cross-cultural studies.” Too often, it seems, a study is deemed cross-cultural if two different groups of people are compared or contrasted. This is a very minimalistic interpretation in my opinion. Other studies make broad generalizations between the East and West if a sample in Florida is compared with a sample in Japan. Do these people not realise the degree of variation in the United States, much less between Japan and Taiwan??!