At the same time, I am by no means against science. Everything has its shortcomings and faults. But then, we don't simply abandon each and every endeavor or term or idea simply because it has some drawbacks. While there are certainly plenty of drawbacks to science, there are also more than enough strengths. I mean, do we really need to talk about germ theory and cell biology and DNA studies and, well, everything that IS science? Doesn't everyone know about the value of science? Don't all anthropologists agree that science matters? Why am I even talking about this?
Because the American Anthropological Association decided to remove any and all references to science in their mission statement:
Is anthropology a science? Don’t ask the American Anthropological Association (AAA), which recently voted to strike the word “science” from its long-term mission statement.
At the society’s annual meeting in New Orleans two weeks ago, the AAA’s executive board voted to change its long term goal statement from: “The purposes of the Association shall be to advance anthropology as the science that studies humankind in all its aspects” to: “The purposes of the Association shall be to advance public understanding of humankind in all its aspects.”
Three other mentions of science were removed from the three-paragraph statement, while teaching and promoting public understanding were emphasized.
Overall, I think this is a bad call. I understand why the AAA made some new references in the statement, and why they wanted to emphasize particular foci, but I completely disagree with the decision to remove all references to science. What were they thinking? And what do the more scientifically inclined anthropologists think about this? For the record, I vote NO on this decision, "cultural" anthropologist or not.
UPDATE 12/3: Here are a couple more posts that discuss this issue:
1. Savage Minds-Alex Golub provides one response to the issue.
2. BANDIT: Another good discussion of the issue from Julienne Rutherford writing for the Biological Anthropology Developing Investigators Troop (BANDIT).
3. Daniel Lende over at Neuroanthropology has the ROUNDUP of ALL ROUNDUPS for this issue--and he provides a valuable (and calm) lens through which to look at this issue.
Check out Colleen Morgan's response to this issue over at Middle Savagery.