I previously noted that to survive as a Westerner, you can get away with participating in a culture that asks of you little more than to understand the “one minute” button on the microwave, while to survive in a foraging society you needed much much more. Moreover, I suggested that the level of complexity in an individual’s life was greater among HG (Hunter-Gatherer) societies than Western societies.
Continue reading Primitive Cultures are Simple, while Civilization is Complex: Part 3
In the first part of this discussion, I reminded you that we are talking about “falsehoods.” “Falsehood” is a term I and others have co-opted and have used for well over a decade in anthropology and biology courses across the land. The idea is to identify a statement that, when uttered in some particular demographic or sociocultural context, invokes a relatively consistent set of meanings in the minds of those present, such that those meanings are at least iffy, probably wrong, and often (but certainly not always) offensive and destructive in some way. Such a construct … this falsehood thingie … can then be de-constructed in a way that becomes an enlightening learning experience.
Continue reading Primitive Cultures are Simple, while Civilization is Complex: Part 2
A “falsehood” is a belief held by a number of people that is in some way incorrect. That incorrectness may be blatant, it may be subtle, it may be conditional, it may be simple, it may be complex. But, the unraveling of the belief, even if much of that belief is in fact true, can be a learning experience in which future thinking about the issue is transformed. If the examination of the falsehood is accomplished in a thoughtful manner and without too much sophistry, this can be a rewarding experience. (If not, it can be rather awaste oftime.)
Continue reading Primitive Cultures are Simple, while Civilization is Complex: Part 1
“In today’s lecture, I will be casting false pearls before real swine”
… I won’t tell you who said that, but when he did say it, he was in front of a classroom of several hundred Harvard freshmen, and he was referring to the idea of telling little white lies to the unwashed masses in order to achieve the dissemination of greater truth. No one in the room but the wizened teaching assistants, clustered off to the side furtively consuming their lunch in the “no food allowed” lecture hall, got the Biblical reference. There were spit takes.
Continue reading False Pearls before Real Swine