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(Pacific Standard Magazine)   Researcher finds that deeply held premises behind anthropology and psychology are incorrect. Predictably, anthropology professors declare research "unethical"   (psmag.com) divider line 103
    More: Interesting, anthropology, psychology, physical environment, experimental psychologies, social psychologist, French cuisine, cognitive development, psychological research  
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5955 clicks; posted to Geek » on 25 Feb 2013 at 7:04 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-02-25 06:31:28 PM  
Joe Henrich has a fair bit of cool research.
 
2013-02-25 06:47:52 PM  
Just because someone has an idea that ideas considered to be the status quo are wrong doesn't automatically make him right. Those disagreeing aren't doing so simply because they don't want to face up to having spent years dedicated to being wrong.

Everytime I write a band name in a non referential manner I always think about throwing in a few song names into the text, but with Status Quo, they've made more songs than I've had hot dinners, they must have used nearly every combination known to man. This sentence alone was a #3 hit.
 
2013-02-25 07:11:36 PM  
Excellent article, though I don't accept it completely. I do wonder what his research can do for international diplomacy.
 
2013-02-25 07:16:49 PM  
Interesting tag?  In some cultures, it would be considered obvious.  ;)
 
2013-02-25 07:18:05 PM  
I wonder if the weirdness is worse with Republicans?
 
2013-02-25 07:20:15 PM  
I agree with those Indians. I would happily accept $10 of free money, so what if the other guy kept $90? It's unearned. We both win. By refusing I punish myself.
 
2013-02-25 07:25:29 PM  
Headline is a bit misleading, FTFA:
HENRICH, HEINE, AND NORENZAYAN'S FEAR of being ostracized after the publication of the WEIRD paper turned out to be misplaced. Response to the paper, both published and otherwise, has been nearly universally positive, with more than a few of their colleagues suggesting that the work will spark fundamental changes. "I have no doubt that this paper is going to change the social sciences," said Richard Nisbett, an eminent psychologist at the University of Michigan. "It just puts it all in one place and makes such a bold statement." More remarkable still, after reading the paper, academics from other disciplines began to come forward with their own mea culpas. Commenting on the paper, two brain researchers from Northwestern University argued (pdf) that the nascent field of neuroimaging had made the same mistake as psychologists, noting that 90 percent of neuroimaging studies were performed in Western countries. Researchers in motor development similarly suggested that their discipline's body of research ignored how different child-rearing practices around the world can dramatically influence states of development. Two psycholinguistics professors suggested that their colleagues had also made the same mistake: blithely assuming human homogeneity while focusing their research primarily on one rather small slice of humanity.
 
2013-02-25 07:28:00 PM  
Psychology is a science in the same way that marshmallows are food.
 
2013-02-25 07:28:36 PM  
The West is the best.
The West is the best.
Give in.
We'll do the rest.
 
2013-02-25 07:37:47 PM  
Whoa nubian! Do you really expect me to read all that shiat?
 
2013-02-25 07:39:04 PM  

Suede head: I agree with those Indians. I would happily accept $10 of free money, so what if the other guy kept $90? It's unearned. We both win. By refusing I punish myself.


Yeah. Maybe I don't get the game, but it seems like refusing the split is a dick move AND incredibly stupid. Who turns down free money? "Hey, I just won $1M in the lottery, and I'm going to offer you $10,000, but if you turn down my offer, neither of us get anything." What the fark kind of petty, jealous person would I have to be to turn down ten grand just because it's only 1% of a million?!
 
2013-02-25 07:39:22 PM  

SpdrJay: Psychology is a science in the same way that marshmallows are food.


So anthropology is a science in the same way marshmallows are a suspension bridge?
 
2013-02-25 07:42:20 PM  
One line **IS** longer than the other!!  ::facepalm::

i48.tinypic.com
 
2013-02-25 07:51:03 PM  

SpdrJay: Psychology is a science in the same way that marshmallows are food.


I feel the same about economics and political science.
 
2013-02-25 07:54:18 PM  
The problem that stands out to me is that these indigenous people that he tested seem to basically live a subsistence lifestyle. In that kind of environment, of course no one would turn down free money however uneven the split may be. But when you're testing people who don't have to worry about their own survival, they have much less incentive to just be thankful for whatever they can get. If they wanted a North American basis of comparison, they should have exclusively tested homeless people. If they had, I'd bet a million internet dollars that the results would have been much more similar.
 
2013-02-25 07:54:51 PM  

Dion Fortune: One line **IS** longer than the other!!  ::facepalm::

[i48.tinypic.com image 458x406]


Yeah, the top line is clearly longer than the bottom one.
 
2013-02-25 08:00:19 PM  
I liked that article. Norenzayan's name was ringing a bell, so I did a quick search of my files and found that I had cited him in a recent article I wrote. And I'm an anthropologist! Of religion! So neener neener, Subby.
 
2013-02-25 08:00:21 PM  
We call it riding the gravy train, boys!

/Hooray for the perfessors.
 
2013-02-25 08:11:45 PM  

Slaxl: Just because someone has an idea that ideas considered to be the status quo are wrong doesn't automatically make him right. Those disagreeing aren't doing so simply because they don't want to face up to having spent years dedicated to being wrong.

Everytime I write a band name in a non referential manner I always think about throwing in a few song names into the text, but with Status Quo, they've made more songs than I've had hot dinners, they must have used nearly every combination known to man. This sentence alone was a #3 hit.


Just because a who what now O_o

Maybe your ideas would gain more traction if you removed a few layers of double negatives (i.e. layers of pretentiousness).
 
2013-02-25 08:12:50 PM  
Load of crap.
 
2013-02-25 08:16:34 PM  

ruta: Suede head: I agree with those Indians. I would happily accept $10 of free money, so what if the other guy kept $90? It's unearned. We both win. By refusing I punish myself.

Yeah. Maybe I don't get the game, but it seems like refusing the split is a dick move AND incredibly stupid. Who turns down free money? "Hey, I just won $1M in the lottery, and I'm going to offer you $10,000, but if you turn down my offer, neither of us get anything." What the fark kind of petty, jealous person would I have to be to turn down ten grand just because it's only 1% of a million?!


Why do we throw a murderer in jail?  It costs money and it won't bring the victim back to life.  Aren't you just doling out punishment at cost to yourself?
 
2013-02-25 08:19:23 PM  
Uh, so he won't, like, keep killing people?
 
2013-02-25 08:19:38 PM  

Kuta: The West is the best.
The West is the best.
Give in.
We'll do the rest.


www.ballardsfarm.com

The best in the test
outclasses all the rest
Science brings the best to you
 
2013-02-25 08:26:32 PM  
Which bit of "humans aren't actually rational actors" contradicts the majority opinion within anthropology and psychology?

/Experimental game theory is awesome. And weird.
 
2013-02-25 08:31:06 PM  

ShawnDoc: Headline is a bit misleading


Sometimes you have to take a bit of poetic license in order to get a green. The unethical bit is earlier in the article.

/Subby
 
2013-02-25 08:32:43 PM  
Fascinating article, thanks subby!

Interesting theory and seems to make a lot of sense. How many times have we heard about something strange in another part of the world and said "What are those people thinking???" utterly confused by their behavior. Well, it makes sense that different cultures produce different thoughts and reactions, and we've known for a long, long time that we in the West are much more focused on individuals than on the group as a whole - there're even entire political movements dedicated to that concept.

Anyway, great read.
 
2013-02-25 08:37:17 PM  
Overall this article was incredibly interesting.

But the author... The author actually says that liberal arts education in the past 30 years is driven by white guilt. He didn't use those words, but he readily admitted it. I don't think he even realizes he did it.

This little bit was interesting, too:

"In their paper the trio pointed out cross-cultural studies that suggest that the "weird" Western mind is the most self-aggrandizing and egotistical on the planet: we are more likely to promote ourselves as individuals versus advancing as a group."

That's the author speaking, and not a quote from scientists. I suspect the term "self-aggrandizing" is the author's choice. As Americans, in general, we promote ourselves as individuals because we see that as the best way of advancing the group, consciously or not. This comes out in various ways. "God helps those who help themselves," "Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime."  I can think of a lot of examples, but they're hard to articulate without it just descending into politics, but even the most liberal of us think this way more than other cultures.  It's not "self-aggrandizement", and definitely not so in lieu of the advancement of the group.

If a Japanese pedestrian trips on the street, passers-by will do their best to not even acknowledge it. I think the author here was see that as cold and selfish while the Japanese see it as shielding someone from embarassment and protecting their honor.
 
2013-02-25 08:38:42 PM  

Theaetetus: ShawnDoc: Headline is a bit misleading

Sometimes you have to take a bit of poetic license in order to get a green. The unethical bit is earlier in the article.

/Subby


A  Machiguenga never would have pulled that shiat.
 
2013-02-25 08:44:07 PM  

torusXL: Slaxl: Just because someone has an idea that ideas considered to be the status quo are wrong doesn't automatically make him right. Those disagreeing aren't doing so simply because they don't want to face up to having spent years dedicated to being wrong.

Everytime I write a band name in a non referential manner I always think about throwing in a few song names into the text, but with Status Quo, they've made more songs than I've had hot dinners, they must have used nearly every combination known to man. This sentence alone was a #3 hit.

Just because a who what now O_o

Maybe your ideas would gain more traction if you removed a few layers of double negatives (i.e. layers of pretentiousness).


I'm not saying you aren't incorrect. I'm not even saying that I'm unconvinced that your wrongness isn't unjustifiable. What is it about things I haven't said that makes you so unsure of that?
 
2013-02-25 08:45:39 PM  

silvervial: Fascinating article, thanks subby!

Interesting theory and seems to make a lot of sense. How many times have we heard about something strange in another part of the world and said "What are those people thinking???" utterly confused by their behavior. Well, it makes sense that different cultures produce different thoughts and reactions, and we've known for a long, long time that we in the West are much more focused on individuals than on the group as a whole - there're even entire political movements dedicated to that concept.

Anyway, great read.


Agreed. It reminded me of an article I read a number of years ago about Japanese car company officials having to learn how to deal with the public differently in the US vs Japan.
 
2013-02-25 08:47:43 PM  

Dokushin: ruta: Suede head: I agree with those Indians. I would happily accept $10 of free money, so what if the other guy kept $90? It's unearned. We both win. By refusing I punish myself.

Yeah. Maybe I don't get the game, but it seems like refusing the split is a dick move AND incredibly stupid. Who turns down free money? "Hey, I just won $1M in the lottery, and I'm going to offer you $10,000, but if you turn down my offer, neither of us get anything." What the fark kind of petty, jealous person would I have to be to turn down ten grand just because it's only 1% of a million?!

Why do we throw a murderer in jail?  It costs money and it won't bring the victim back to life.  Aren't you just doling out punishment at cost to yourself?


torusXL: Uh, so he won't, like, keep killing people?


Dokushin'spoint is that we use individual punishment as a means of guiding societal behavior. We punish people for things we don't like, even at a cost to ourselves, if we see the long-term benefit in societal behavior. We don't just put murderers away to keep them from killing. We do it to establish a punishment for murder that deters others from doing the same things.

The punishment for murder is a legal one while the punishment for not sharing is a social construct. We punish someone, at a personal cost, for not sharing enough of a windfall, in the hopes that over time we will create a social construct that encourages everyone to share more, which will eventually benefit us more than the initial personal cost.

Of course we only do that because we can afford that up-front personal cost. We're not that strapped for cash. If we were, we'd be more eager to accept the smaller percentage even if we don't like the long-term message it sends.
 
2013-02-25 08:49:55 PM  
I work with a white Canadian man and a Phillipino man.

The white guy made a hand gesture he considered benign, but which is deeply insulting in the other man's culture. He was angry, but explained that it was insulting.

The white man's response was "BUT EVERYONE DOES THAT, WHY SHOULD YOU BE OFFENDED?"

I actually offered that only some parts of the western world did not consider that gesture rude, and that "everyone" was actually a pretty small sample size, and that the majority of people he interacted with would find that offensive.

Which is kind of a metaphor, I think, for a lot of anthropological work.

Not that the field of study is something that should be written off or abandoned. It's just that people have a hard time getting outside of themselves, and what is "obvious" and "true" usually isn't.

//"WE'RE IN CANADA, YOU DO LIKE CANADIANS!"
///What an asshole.
 
2013-02-25 08:50:35 PM  
Hey, I just excavated an old outhouse.
What did I find?
 
2013-02-25 08:51:33 PM  

ModernLuddite: I work with a white Canadian man and a Phillipino man.

The white guy made a hand gesture he considered benign, but which is deeply insulting in the other man's culture. He was angry, but explained that it was insulting.

The white man's response was "BUT EVERYONE DOES THAT, WHY SHOULD YOU BE OFFENDED?"

I actually offered that only some parts of the western world did not consider that gesture rude, and that "everyone" was actually a pretty small sample size, and that the majority of people he interacted with would find that offensive.

Which is kind of a metaphor, I think, for a lot of anthropological work.

Not that the field of study is something that should be written off or abandoned. It's just that people have a hard time getting outside of themselves, and what is "obvious" and "true" usually isn't.

//"WE'RE IN CANADA, YOU DO LIKE CANADIANS!"
///What an asshole.


Sounds like the one guy flipped out over nothing.
 
2013-02-25 08:56:20 PM  
The subject matter was interesting, but I'd prefer something written by a journalist with a better grasp of the material. The researchers try to explain to him that having that Western cultural bias doesn't make you "worse" than having any other cultural bias, but he doesn't seem to get it.
 
2013-02-25 09:01:54 PM  
The problem with the game is that it's not dependent upon fairness, but class.

Poor people will accept (or keep) as much money as they can, period, because they are poor and need money. The prospect of free money influences their decision-making in the game. But if he had gone to Wall Street, or the Hague, or Buckingham Palace, or any rich area in any culture, and played the game with wealthy people, they would play it differently because they are rich and they see money differently than poor people (its not life or death to them). To poor people, the game is about the money. To rich people, the game is about the relationship between the negotiators.

Look at it this way: If it were not money but food, people would play it vastly differently depending on whether they were starving or full.
 
2013-02-25 09:04:19 PM  

Gunther: The subject matter was interesting, but I'd prefer something written by a journalist with a better grasp of the material. The researchers try to explain to him that having that Western cultural bias doesn't make you "worse" than having any other cultural bias, but he doesn't seem to get it.




It may make you worse at designing tests and compiling data about how culture affects subjective perceptions of reality. At least, until you are aware of it.
 
2013-02-25 09:04:22 PM  

LDM90: I'm not saying you aren't incorrect. I'm not even saying that I'm unconvinced that your wrongness isn't unjustifiable. What is it about things I haven't said that makes you so unsure of that?


I approve.

jonny_q: Dokushin'spoint is that we use individual punishment as a means of guiding societal behavior. We punish people for things we don't like, even at a cost to ourselves, if we see the long-term benefit in societal behavior. We don't just put murderers away to keep them from killing. We do it to establish a punishment for murder that deters others from doing the same things.


I think pretentiousness should require capital punishment.
 
2013-02-25 09:11:18 PM  
Oooooooooor, he just made it all up. How would you know? You take his word for it and trust him and stfu already, amiright?

Ooooooooor, you go to Upper Bumfukt or wherever this dude was yourself, and see if you get different results.
 
2013-02-25 09:12:54 PM  
Are they trying to say that culture influences human behavior? Stunning.
 
2013-02-25 09:18:32 PM  

ruta: Yeah. Maybe I don't get the game, but it seems like refusing the split is a dick move AND incredibly stupid. Who turns down free money? "Hey, I just won $1M in the lottery, and I'm going to offer you $10,000, but if you turn down my offer, neither of us get anything." What the fark kind of petty, jealous person would I have to be to turn down ten grand just because it's only 1% of a million?!


This is called spite.

It is part of a group of things: cooperation, parasitism, etc. This one is called spite. What kind of person, you ask? A spiteful one, I say.
 
2013-02-25 09:21:52 PM  
I completed a minor in anthroplogy in college. I never read anything that even hinted at some kind of belief that everyone is "hardwired." Complete rot.

This guy was not studying as an anthroplogist. He was conducting psychological studies and he carried ideas about western norms with him. Nothing wrong about that per se, but anthropology is about observation, not tinkering.

Meanwhile the author hates them libby libs. Obvious troll is obvious.
 
2013-02-25 09:32:53 PM  

Fano: ModernLuddite: I work with a white Canadian man and a Phillipino man.

The white guy made a hand gesture he considered benign, but which is deeply insulting in the other man's culture. He was angry, but explained that it was insulting.

The white man's response was "BUT EVERYONE DOES THAT, WHY SHOULD YOU BE OFFENDED?"

I actually offered that only some parts of the western world did not consider that gesture rude, and that "everyone" was actually a pretty small sample size, and that the majority of people he interacted with would find that offensive.

Which is kind of a metaphor, I think, for a lot of anthropological work.

Not that the field of study is something that should be written off or abandoned. It's just that people have a hard time getting outside of themselves, and what is "obvious" and "true" usually isn't.

//"WE'RE IN CANADA, YOU DO LIKE CANADIANS!"
///What an asshole.

Sounds like the one guy flipped out over nothing.


Heheh.
 
2013-02-25 09:41:41 PM  
I seem to detect more than a whiff of 'noble savage' going on in this thread.
Look, the 'west' isn't better or worse than other places (in terms of spectrum of human behavior). Those who've pointed out that the results are skewed more due to poverty than culture are on to something.
I've lived in Asia for 12 years now, and it's different, but not in the way I keep hearing those back in the west keep droning on about.
Look at the recent news about polluted Chinese rivers.
The Chinese have a much more social culture, less individualistic, lauded by some in the west as an ideal that we've 'lost' - but that only extends to families, and so the individual behavior is just offset to the family level.
So long as the family is okay, they don't consider others, leading to the same 'tragedy of the commons' problem afflicting their rivers as we have faced in the west.
It's worth the researcher's while to try out innovative studies to reveal deeper behaviors among people, but the author's interpretation falls into a very cliche trap about 'west' vs 'other'.
 
2013-02-25 09:48:43 PM  

SevenizGud: ruta: Yeah. Maybe I don't get the game, but it seems like refusing the split is a dick move AND incredibly stupid. Who turns down free money? "Hey, I just won $1M in the lottery, and I'm going to offer you $10,000, but if you turn down my offer, neither of us get anything." What the fark kind of petty, jealous person would I have to be to turn down ten grand just because it's only 1% of a million?!

This is called spite.

It is part of a group of things: cooperation, parasitism, etc. This one is called spite. What kind of person, you ask? A spiteful one, I say.


It isn't really about the person given the authority to refuse. Westerners have the perception that if a person acts in an inequitable way that 'society' will punish them. You don't want to 'appear' greedy for fear of condemnation. That is why if YOU were given the money you would calculate that the odds of keeping half of it are almost guaranteed while the odds of getting NOTHING increase as you hoard more of the resource.

Now what makes the person refuse is a different action. To these poorer communities that money represents more than a nice dinner out or a couple video games. It represents LIFE and you would never refuse any offering no matter how small because the personal value is higher.

For example, let's take Americans. Two families of four are on a boat that is sinking. The captain offers the last four seats to one of the families to share with the other family, but the other family can refuse all of them if unhappy. The second family would only refuse a zero share since even getting one seat allows someone in the family to survive. They wouldn't doom the everyone when someone could be saved.
 
2013-02-25 10:10:27 PM  
"When he presented his research to the anthropology department at the University of British Columbia during a job interview a year later, he recalls a hostile reception."

Or, to put it in terms that those keeping up with climate science can understand: they branded him a "denier," hid behind volumes and volumes of peer-reviewed research, and mocked him on internet forums.
 
2013-02-25 10:12:50 PM  
I've got a couple of Anthropology degrees - this doesn't really undermine much of anything in Anthropology.

His field-test of games theory is a bit unique, and could be considered ethically dubious within the context of traditional anthropological fieldwork, but his findings dovetail neatly with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which has been pretty universally accepted in Anth since the 1950s
 
2013-02-25 10:17:01 PM  
offer me $5 out of $100 and i'll say fu and kill the contract because $5 means nothing to me... if i was getting $100 and the other guy $1900 i'd kill it too. i bet to many people $1900 means much more to them then $100 does to me so haha you greedy fark.
offer me $5 million out of $100 million and i'll take it and i bet most non millionaires would too.
he was starting with too much money.

roughly equivalent to the few days' wages they sometimes earned from episodic work with logging or oil companies.
 
2013-02-25 10:27:01 PM  
Great read subby!  I think I read something similar a half a year ago on Fark, but that's research / article publishing for ya.
 
2013-02-25 10:28:20 PM  
This article needs to be tattooed on the foreheads of some of the sociologists I've worked with.
 
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