Presentation on theme: "What is Anthropology? The scientific study of humanity’s biological and cultural evolution and variation Evolution: The study of something’s origins and."— Presentation transcript:
What is Anthropology? The scientific study of humanity’s biological and cultural evolution and variation Evolution: The study of something’s origins and how it has changed over time. Variation: Interest in understanding why human populations vary in both their biology and culture.
Elements of Anthropology I: Science Science is a systematic process of coming to understand the natural world through the gathering and analysis of empirical data. All science involves: – Observation – Hypothesis generation – Hypothesis testing and retesting – Theory formation
Elements of Science Observation- Noticing and questioning some happening in the natural world. Hypothesis – Preliminary, untested statement about the underlying causes of the observation. Theory – An hypothesis that has been repeatedly tested and thus far has yet to be disproven.
Are all hypotheses scientific ones? The answer is no. For an hypothesis to be a valid one, it must be phrased in such a way that it could be disproven using known testing methods. Examples of three bad scientific hypotheses: God exists. God does not exist. I love my family. These three are all based on belief.
Are there some gray areas? Yes. Not all hypotheses are directly testable, so we must look for test implications in the real world – things we would expect to be true if our hypothesis were in fact correct. Anything which does not fit the test implications must lead to revision of the hypothesis.
So, tell me again when does hypothesis become theory? After repeated testing and a failure to disprove the hypothesis. The experiments used to support a hypothesis must be replicable – not singular events. Keep in mind that we are never out to “prove” an hypothesis, just support or refute it. Nothing is ever proven in real science, just supported for the time being – things may change tomorrow, the next day, or never. Science is a process.
Social Science vs. Hard Science Social Sciences have adapted the scientific method to the examination of humanity in its many forms in an effort to understand any underlying principles and to explain variation. Scientific method was originally developed to understand natural phenomena, not human behavior.
Elements of Anthropology II: Understanding Biology and Culture Humans are animals, but we are special ones, so we must be studied in a special way. - Bipedality - Brain size - Language - Prolonged postnatal development - Culture
The Biocultural Approach Human biology and culture interact in an inextricably intertwined way. To understand our biology, we must understand our culture, and vice versa. Culture: Patterns of behavior that are learned, shared among members of a society, integrated into everyday life, passed from one generation to the next, and are used as a means of adaptation (successfully interacting with the environment).
The Holistic Approach Studying an animal as complex as humanity requires a holistic method, one that attempts to incorporate the systemic interactions of all possible variables to create a given observation. In other words, we try to look at the “big picture” in any given scenario.
The Multidisciplinary Approach All of this is a tall order, and so often anthropologists must bring in team members from a variety of seemingly unrelated disciplines in order to understand a given problem and formulate some answer to it. This even causes division within anthropology.
Divisions of Anthropology 1. Cultural Ethnology and ethnography 2. Physical (aka biological) Primatology, Osteology, Paleoanthropology 3. Archaeological Palynology, Paleoanthro, (Pre)Historic 4. Linguistic Sociolinguistics, Phonology, Phonemics 5. Applied Anthropology