One of my hobbies is reading scientific journals. I like reading The Lancet, for example, to keep myself abreast with latest medical breakthroughs. I sense five methods scientists/researchers use in their works. I know there are other things one can observe in reading such journals. For now, I'll focus on these five.
1) Relying on previous articles, research, studies, and experiments without a generalizing theory as guide
2) Doing repetitive studies, experiments, and research to test the replicability and consistency of results and conclusions
3) Selecting a part of a whole (brain instead of a whole body) for specialized studies, research, and experiments
4) Making hypotheses before doing studies, research, and experiments that will validate or invalidate them
5) Using a language that includes terms, concepts, definitions, interpretations other scientists use and understand
Are the methods above applicable or possible in anthropological study, research, and fieldwork? If not, is Anthropology then not a science? If Anthropology is not a science, what is it then?
You still have time to do it, John. Retirement, I think, is the best phase to do what one has always wanted. As long as you're not a persona non grata in Taiwan, you're fine. Just look at it this way: Chagnon may have a good academic career, but the saddest thing is he'll never see the Amazon again to complete his almost life-long research. What a waste? Don't you think? Bad ethnography ruins him.
I have always wondered how one should study a ritual. If it is a ceremony attended by 1000 people, are you going to include all of them in your study? Can a couple of them (just enough for cross-checking) represent the group since, I assume, they all have the same knowledge and information about the ritual. If ritual is a performance, are priests/priestesses and their assistants performers? Are attendees performers too since they do what priests/priestesses ask them?
I can understand if someone will only focus on a ritual as a cultural process and ritual stuff as cultural materials due to lack of time and funds. Though subjective, it is a reasonable one. If my study is about blessing of ritual materials by a priest or priestess, I don't see any reason why I should include other people who are not involved in the process. What I'm saying is that as long as the subjectivity practiced is not malicious, the objectivity of the study is still fine.
Retire? Who is planning to retire? My wife and business partner won't hear of it. We plan to go out with our boots on. My hobbies have, in any case, moved in other directions (check out the presentations you will be taken to by a Google search for "Slideshare John McCreery"). Now, instead of backing down from Turner's model, I am thinking about how to extend it, by adding historical research and social network analysis to ethnography, using richer contextual data to illuminate personal experience as an observing participant in the Japanese ad world.
As my email slogan sometimes reads, "In Taiwan, I studied magicians. In Japan, I joined the guild." Magic and advertising. As Malinowski observed, they have a lot in common.
Thanks for the kind words.
Anthropologists certainly should investigate in an empirical fashion, but this doesn't mean that all will pursue evidence and data in the same way. So much depends on what is being investigated.
Please see this article about A-level Anthropology and try to sprade the discussion, sign, ...etc. It is a concret step baout Anthropology and the public vision