One Does Not Simply…Write About Anthropology

My Time as a Graduate Student

To dig or not to dig…

I was thinking today about how many individuals do not understand what archaeologists have to deal with on a daily basis with the public. The public, especially Americans, are enthralled with the idea of archeology and the digging up history, but they do not understand the ethics, and the work that goes into discovering and excavating a site.

The public is fascinated with artifacts and objects that are not from their life time, so it makes sense that this fascination has made its way into the popular culture of television shows and movies. The general public is interested in artifacts that could explain their cultural history, but what is neglected in popular televisions show is how an object is defined within the historical context. Shows like Diggers and American Diggers have turned the discipline of preserving history into making profit off of looting, and the archaeological community has the right to speak out and be upset against shows like these that discredit the discipline.

I have never watched an episode of either show until this assignment and decided to check it out and as a result I can see why the archaeological community has every right to be upset about television shows like these. It is a fact that there are many undiscovered historical sites in the United States and many of which will not be discovered because they are on private land. Quoted in the article The Ethics of Historical Archaeology, Rick Savage from the American Diggers claims that they are recovering the artifacts and protecting the past before it is gone. But how is it preserving the past and protecting when artifacts are being sold for profit? In the Principles of Archaeological Ethics: principle three discusses the buying and selling of artifacts contributes to destruction of historic context of the archaeological record, if exploited for profit it destroys archaeological sites and its historic value in the context of the archaeological record. Artifacts that are being sold for profit no longer hold the historic value that they once had when in the original archaeological context of site. How is it saving history when it is being sold and just kept away and forgotten about? As Kathleen Deagan put it in her article, an artifact without a context becomes just an aesthetic object, just another piece of artwork with a forgotten story.

These individuals who claim they are ‘treasure hunters’ or ‘diggers’ but they are just glorified looters who are sending a message to the public to encourage looting for one’s own profit.  Television shows and movies like Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, and National Treasure, have made the discipline sexy, adventurous, and unrealistic but it has opened opportunities to educate the public on the archaeological ethics and preservation laws if done correctly as stated in the article National Geographic’s Diggers Redux. With National Geographic, they responded in reaction to what would satisfy the public not thinking of the consequences of the reactions from the archaeological community in response to the television show, as a result they did pull their show and were willing to work with archaeologists to make it ethical. With this kind of willingness to find compromises and solutions to be ethical within the archaeological community, it is possible to have television shows that promote the ethics of archaeology and actually have individuals who are professionals on site. One of the many jobs an archaeologist has on a site is to talk to tourist about the background of artifacts and how findings relate to the site.

A site is a non-renewable source and there are limited similar sites and the destruction of these sites leads to the destruction of the historical record. Anyone can claim that they know the history of the site when Wikipedia is available to the general public, but to have the accreditation of a degree is when it can be taken seriously. There is a need to have a good balance between ethics and entertainment when it comes to shows involving archaeology principles and the preservation of artifacts.

American DiggersThis show is completely unethical and stupid, but we must remember that this is Spike TV and they are catering to a specific audience. But here is a sneak peak at an episode, and I will let you decide for yourself about the ethics of this show.

 

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The Artificial Ape

It has been a few days since I lasted posted, but it has been crazy with the holidays and traveling. But I wanted to post my Biological Anthropology paper because I am really proud of it and because my fiance suggested that I should. Although this class was not my favorite this past semester I was able to get the B that I needed, pass the class, and have material that I can critic because of pure ridiculousness. Here is my paper… (please do not plagiarize, if you would like to use the material, please quote. thank you).

 

The Artificial Ape: How Technology Changed the Course of Human Evolution. TIMOTHY TAYLOR. Palgave Macmillian, 2010. 244 pp, figures, notes, biblio, index. $27.00 (hardback). ISBN 978-0-230-61763-6.

          In his work The Artificial Ape, Timothy Taylor argues the idea that the technological innovation of tool use in early hominids was the essential phase that allowed for the development of larger brains and increased intelligence, emphasizing the invention of baby slings. The author attempts to answer the central question of his book: “Did we evolve into the modern human form and invent the objects on which we now depend, or did the things come first and so bring us into being?” (Taylor 2010:27) Taylor believes in the latter in which humans are not products of the biological (natural selection or sexual selection) but products of artificial selection (Taylor 2010:27). Although Taylor makes his claims that “technology evolved us,” (Taylor 2010: 9) he has provided weak evidence and weak arguments in his attempt to support the claim. He also provides long narratives of personal stories that often trail off and never make a solid connection to his main hypothesis.  The Artificial Ape is not an adequate source for those who are seeking to shed light on the questions surrounding human evolution.

            The introduction and the first chapter of The Artificial Ape expands upon Taylor’s theory of the evolution of hominids caused by technology, while the remaining chapters serve as evidence to his claims (although some of the chapters’ content do not make contextual sense in relation to the overall thesis). Taylor introduces his three systems: non-living (physics and gravity), biological (animals and plants), and the artificial; into which he categorizes the fundamental forces of the Earth. His goal is to convince the reader that humans belong to the third categorical system, that of the artificial, meaning modern humans are the products of technological change (Taylor 2010: 4-5).

 Taylor makes several efforts to place emphasis on the early hominid need for alternative means for carrying infants, and thus the need to invent baby slings, as the driver for the creation of stone tools (Taylor 2010: 123). He argues that baby slings allowed us to “push back our biological limits” and allowed our brains to expand, thus forming into an artificial species (Taylor 2010: 203). According to Taylor, the innovation of a baby-sling would allow hominids to transport infants and would solve various problems such as freeing hands for other tasks, make walking easier, and conserve energy that would otherwise be spent carrying young in arms, therefore better ensuring the survival of helpless infants (Taylor 2010: 123). Although Taylor makes good arguments for the reasons for carrying technology, baby-slings would have been constructed of organic materials that would have decayed through time leaving no archaeological evidence opposed to those of stone tools.  Even though Taylor does not discuss this, there could have been various other ways of compensating for the care of infants. These alternative means of childcare include examples of social caring, such as “aunting” which is evident in modern ape species (Lecture 10-8:Primate Behavior).

During much of the discourse throughout his writing, Taylor argues “that we did not become intelligent enough to invent things, the things actually allowed us to evolve into intelligent beings (Taylor 2010: 57). The earliest tool use has been dated to approximately 2.5 million years ago (possibly earlier than that but due to little evidence because they could have been constructed by organic materials) and has been linked to brain enlargement, dietary consumption, and increased intelligence (Larsen 2008: 296-308). Tool use is also linked to the evolution in body size due to the increase in access to protein that was acquired by hunting and the evidence that stone tools were able to process meat (Larsen 2008: 321). Fossil evidence indicates a decrease of robusticity in the skulls and bodies of hominids, such as a reduction of tooth size, which was due to the increase of important technology and cooking that softened meat thus making it easier to chew (Larsen 2008: 327). The fossil evidence does coincide with Taylor’s argument that the evolution of technology is linked to the increase in intelligence of hominids; there are a plethora of fossil skulls that indicate that the size and mass of brains were increasing with the use of tools (Larsen 2008: 306-327). However it still does not suggest that technology was the cause of evolution of the human race, as Taylor is also arguing, tool use was advancing as humans were adapting to new environmental changes and better access to resources that could make tools more specialized.

Taylor gets caught with counter- arguments to his own theory by stating that apes are not capable of inventing things without first losing many of their natural abilities (Taylor 2010:67). It is known, through studying primate behavior, that many species of ape have adopted tool use into their daily lives like the chimpanzee with “ant-farming” (Larsen 2008:192, 296). It could be conceived that apes were using the same tool use that is used today at the time of the ape-human split 7-6 million years ago, suggesting they did not lose their natural abilities and it did not lead to bipedalism or increased brain size. This also suggests that early hominids could have used organic tools further suggesting the ability to sustain primitive behavior and natural abilities, which would disagree with Taylor’s argument. Taylor does state this argument in the first paragraph of chapter two and states that this would disprove his claims, but he does not discuss it further and never revisits the issue (Taylor 2010:33).  

Interesting in its own right, Taylor’s prolonged discussion on why Tasmanian aborigines have apparently degenerated to a similar level of simple tool use in relation to that of chimpanzees, does not strengthen his arguments. It does refute his notations in that the aborigines were able to retain their natural abilities with coexistence of tools and technology. They could very well create, use, and manipulate nature into tools when they deemed necessary, they still evolved alongside the rest of the Homo sapiens species (same brain size and mass) without the complete dependency of technology (Taylor 2010). The Tasmanians also refute Taylor’s claims that the modern human species cannot live without the reliance of technology; this culture has had a sustainable lifestyle for over 40, 000 years (Taylor 2010).

The last three chapters were exceptionally confusing because these last chapters seemed to be on material culture but did not link nor have any significance to the main topics of the book. One argument that stands out from these chapters is the claim that early forms of art, like the Venus of Willendorf, were really objects of a form of capitalism within the early archaic period. Taylor describes it as a way of moving products and ideas across the landscape, again no evidence of capital exchange analogous to that of the promotion of Coke-Cola products (Taylor 2010:140). Again there is no evidence to support that the Venus of Willendorf was used as a way to sell a product, it is interpreted as a female symbol of fertility and representation of a woman due to the elements that are analogous with other various symbolic art of that time. I would agree that it could have been used as a form of sharing ideology of gender, but not as a promotional item of capital production. 

As stated before, the chapters’ contents of The Artificial Ape do not contextually validate Taylor’s arguments. Although he addresses many good points, he fails to execute the explanation to the relevance to his claims often leaving the reader confused and frustrated. He dilutes much of his narrative with personal recollections that often lead to dead ends, are never revisited, or don’t have any contextual significance to the overall main topics. At several points in the book, Taylor addresses several issues like: why and how bipedalism led to larger brains, the reason for loosing canines, and the debate of sustaining natural abilities with simple tool use in comparison to apes; and states that he will return to the issues that he has laid forth, but fails to readdress them (Taylor 2010:29, 33, 66,109). If he did answer these issues, the explanations were not sufficient. With adequate coverage of these points Taylor’s work may have been a more sufficient piece on the evolutionary history of the modern human.

Taylor states in his conclusion that the increase in brain size was due to hominid female need for being able to handle “ever more developmental retarded young” and places the invention of the baby sling at the same time with the increase of intelligence (Taylor 2010:198). He describes this as the human identity. There is no disputing with Taylor when it comes to modern dependency of technology of the Western world. Taylor would be correct in the context that humans have developed technology to the point where the human brain has been progressively shrinking due to the high dependency (Taylor 2010:32). It seems inevitable that the modern human would not be able to survive without the use of technology becoming the artificial ape. The reader must take his claims, although they could be plausible, with extreme caution due to the lack of archaeological evidence and the weak arguments to back his claims. The idea that technology drove human evolution is a very plausible idea but if Taylor had stronger evidence to support his claims, his work would have been a more credible resource on the subject.  

FIN

If you could not tell, I did not like the book very much.

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Defining Anthropology

I have had some people ask what anthropology is and the ever more popular “what can you do with anthropology?” So today’s post I decided to define anthropology and all its aspects for those who are not familiar.

Anthropology is the study to understand the meaning of humankind, past and present, broken down into four subdisciplines: Cultural anthropology, Biological (physical) anthropology, Archaeology, and Linguistics. 

  • Cultural Anthropology – is the study of the relationship of culture and humans. Usually present day cultures are studied, but it isn’t just limited to that. Cultural anthropology covers studies of, but not limited to:  kinship, exchange, material culture, technology, infrastructure, gender, sex, ethnicity, religion, myth, symbols, music, nutrition, recreation, food, etc.
  • Biological Anthropology – the study of humans past and present exploring the biological and evolution of the humans and research of non-human primates. This includes forensics, primatology, etc.
  • Archaeology –  the study of the human past through its material remains that are evidence of the cultural and material lives of past societies. Archaeologists examine these material remains in order to deduce patterns of past human behavior and cultural practices.
  • Linguistics – is the study of the construction and use of human languages. (If anyone has seen My Fair Lady, Henry Higgins is a linguist)

An anthropologist doesn’t need to be an expert in all the fields, but even within each field anthropologists have different interests. What I have found out with anthropology is that it can be applied to almost everything and anything, and there are so many avenues that can be taken through an anthropological lens.

As far as jobs – it all depends. Personally I have enjoyed writing paper and going to conferences, essentially teaching other’s a different perspective at look at culture. I have also dabbled in archaeology working on an excavation, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as what I am doing now. But others have gone into biological anthropology and into forensics  others in applied anthropology focusing on medical anthropology. But it is the skills that have been taught to anthropologists like interviewing, public speaking, etc. So anthropology can be used in almost any career field.

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The Croods…..

Disney has always gotten slack for being inaccurate for their renditions of the classic fairy tales, but we have  fallen in love with them. Dreamworks has also gone to that level of inaccuracies with their new movie The Croods. This movie is based on a prehistoric family, who are suppose to be Neanderthals…who are knuckle-walkers…..

The Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) were found in Europe and the Middle East, mostly in Europe due to fossil evidence in caves. Dating from 130,000 to about 36,000 years, and are very similar and different than anatomically modern humans. They are: shorter, stockier bodies, more robust, powerful (muscular) build, larger faces, and bigger brains. They also had culture, advanced tools, and also interbreed with archaic Homo sapiens.  They were fully bipedal, no knuckle-walking. The Homo species, in general, were fully bipedal at this time.

The main female character is Eve – the first biblical female – bipedal as well as a knuckle-walker. But what is accurate to this trailer is the spread of culture and knowledge that has been associated with the Homo erectus and into the Homo sapiens. (this includes Neanderthals). We associate a lot of culture spread with the neanderthals because there is a lot of archaeological fossil evidence that has been found with the species. With the Neanderthals we see a lot of emergence of culture like burials, social groups, shelters, etc… so the trailer (from what I have seen) is accurate in the spread of culture and cultural materials.

But what we have to keep in mind (like with all movies) is that movies are for entertainment and the creators are usually catering to a specific audience. We may not always agree with the movies and we find the flaws, but the general public won’t usually pick up on these inaccuracies.

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Preserving the Past

Just finished my archaeology exam and I have just been reading about the reenactments going on in Fredericksburg, Va. So I was just thinking about the reasons why we preserve the past and certain aspects in history that we decide to preserve.

Historic preservation has been a cultural movement of the nineteenth and twentieth century that largely involves the task of protecting the sites, objects, and artifacts that are culturally and historically important to a nation. Unlike European countries, the United States is a fairly new nation with little history. The past we preserve can be as far back as Native American ruins like Mesa Verde as a substitute for European sites such as Athens, or to the first McDonald stand. Anything worth saving is important.

But what is history? History has been defined by past events, but who tells these events? History is a collective memory that is made up of fabricated myths of individuals and reinforced by rituals such as celebrations, heritage tourism, and reenactments, that have all come together to create national symbols. It is through these national symbols that a collective identity is created with a shared historical memory that must be renewed by constant reinforcements so it will not be lost.

So the question is, why do we preserve? Robert Stripe in the prologue of A Richer Heritage states seven reasons why we preserve: 1) “we seek to preserve our heritage because our historic resources are all that physically link us to our past,” 2) we save because we have lived with it and it has become part of us, 3) personal identity, 4)“we preserve historic sites and structures because of their relation to past events, movements, and people that feel are important to honor and understand,” 5) intrinsic value, 6) we preserve our past because we believe in the right of our cities and the countryside to be beautiful, and 7) “we seek to preserve because we have discovered – all too belatedly- that preservation can serve important and social purposes in our society.

The Mount Vernon Ladies Associations preserved the image of George Washington, a Revolutionary War General and the first President of the nation. But what makes him more important than any other officer in the army? As a patriotic nation we have instilled an almost divine right upon these people, idolizing them for being greater than the average human man.  Although they have had their faults and flaws, we neglect to tell these for it would disrupt the cultural narrative and be detrimental to the fabric of history. If we were to tell elementary school children that Benjamin Franklin was not only an inventor but was a pimp of his time, the cultural narrative would change. As a collective memory, we neglect this because we see these men as idols without flaws because of their influence upon the past. We are in a sense creating shrines for these individuals by transforming their homes into museum houses or creating monuments that people visit as a way of honoring these individuals. One could go so far as to say worshiping their ancestors. In the early nineteenth century there was an emphasis on patriotic sites due to the fascination of the nation’s findings with an effort to “recapture the early days of nationhood.

Tocqueville believed that the American people had a strong connection with the individuals who founded the nation, although there is not a direct link of kinship, people want to share the same values that they instilled upon the nation; individualism and freedom. These men are the famous wealthy dead white guys of a shared history, so we place them symbolically at the top of the totem.

The ritual of heritage tourism not only reinforces the collective memory but the way preservationist and interpreters tell the myths of history to the population as an educational system, Bathel states that preservation sites use heroes, Revolutionary legends, presidents, as means to each civic obedience.  The other rituals that capture the myths of history are the reenactments. After visiting one of the Civil War reenactments, I talked with a few of the men that participated. When asked why they participate, they responded “we are reliving history.”  One man stated: “we are not only reliving the events of history by dressing up in the period clothing, but we are honoring those who fought and died for the country.” In the sense of Civil War reenactments, it is a sense of ancestor worship even though these individuals may or may not have any direct descendants, these ritual serves as dramizations of the cultural narrative or myth. The feeling that they are embodying someone from the time, gives the event a meaning and identity in the historic preservation movement. Tocqueville states that it is nostalgia that creates American to have a need to reside to their past as way to search for their identity (Tocqueville 1854).

Reenactment actors embody an individual and seem to almost step back in time and out of the present, these individuals clothe themselves in the period clothing and use the weapons of that time to preserve as if they are ghosts of the past walking among the present-day living. Another binary opposition can be made with sacred and profane time; reenactments take place during holidays or on the weekends when people do not have work during such a time the Civil War reenactors are in a state of liminality. They have embodied an individual that is not themselves and not any specific individual of the past, they are just the symbolic representation of that individual of the past.

The ever prevailing theme in historic preservation is nostalgia for the past: we romanticize about the primitive past. As a result of nostalgia, elitist have invested thousands of dollars to finance for the preservation of sites, but instead of preserving the image of the site they are interpreting history through their eyes.

In conclusion, historic preservation has the duty to preserve the ideas and values of the collective memory. In the United States, people associate their culture identity with the ideas of freedom and individualism that our Founding Fathers fought for from Great Britain. We have come to idolize the individuals that fought and created these ideas and preserve their images in myths and the physical materials that they have left behind, such as the Declaration of Independence. This document is just a piece of parchment with ink, but once symbolic meaning is bestowed upon the paper, it becomes a national symbol that people have come to associate with as their cultural identity. As Americans we want to stand apart from other countries and with the little history that we have, we feel the need to preserve everything that represents the individuals who founded the country to objects of the past. Historic perseveration has preserved the physical symbols that represent the history and the past as collective memory through fabricated myths that are reinforced by the rituals that American perform to preserve the past.

 

 

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The Hobbits

In light of the new Hobbit movie (actually trilogy) I would like to share with you the hobbit species of human.

the-hobbit-banner1

Discovered in 2003, the species Homo floresiencsis, nicknamed the Hobbit was discovered in Indonesia. This species dates from around „100-12, 000 years ago, and is still under debate about its origins because of it’s uniqueness. About 9 individuals were discovered and almost a full skeleton including a skull. The Hobbit is estimated to be  estimated at 3’7” and 55 lbs (thus the nickname for it’s size) with a brain size of about 400 cc (smaller than the size of a chimp, quarter of the size of humans). Despite the small brain, it’s intelligence is more advanced than that of an ape due to the evidence of advanced tool use, as well evidence of meat eating with cut marks on animal bones, and evidence of fire making. You don’t have to have a large brain to have intelligence.

It has relatively modern legs, so it was bipedal, but had arboreal wrist suggesting it was still living partially in the trees. Other species that existed during this time were the neanderthals and various other archaic Homo sapiens whom brain size were that of modern humans or larger, with relatively modern human anatomy.

Theories that surround this species is that it suffered from genetic or developmental disorder, or a genetic variation just like that are small people in modern humans, this could very well be the case.

So when you go see The Hobbit, keep in mind that they could have actually been an evolved species of Homo floresiencsis and that Tolkien could have discovered, covered it up, and planted the evidence for the future to discover the species that gave rise to his characters. I believe that it is a literary conspiracy.

Tolkien’s description of the Hobbits:
Hobbits are little people, smaller than dwarfs. They love peace and quiet and good tilled earth. They dislike machines, but they are handy with tools…..
„
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The Refuge

I did a project recently on the ostrazation of religious organizations and focusing on the reasons and effects it had on many people. One group that I focused on was a youth outreach group The Refuge located in Altoona, Pa. Two of my best friends Bethany and Micah Marshall try to influence lives of many kids’ lives in a possitive manner. What follows is a section of my paper.

The Refuge: Changing Culture affecting the Youth

  As I have stated before, our cultural environment shapes and influences everything from our religious point of view, social interactions, gender identity, and individual identity. Many of us would like to think that today’s youth grow up in great neighborhoods with great families whose parents have been perfect role models for their children, but unfortunately this is far from the truth. It is true that there are vast majority of youth who grow up religious because of their cultural environments and their family environments, but there is also a reality that there are locations in the United States where there are slums, drug and alcohol abuse, parents who abandon their children, parents who abuse each other and their children, etc. These environments influence the actions and lives of many teens and young adults. What is even more devastating is that there are not that many youth programs that will openly take troubled youths who have been in trouble with the law, having identity problems, in abuse relationships with parents, etc. But there are plenty of youth programs and churches who accept those who have been ‘positively’ influenced by positive environments and have turned into good religious and responsible youth adults. Many of these kinds of youth programs shut their doors not wanting ‘trouble’ and leaving these troubled youths to drop out of school, thrown in jail, get involved with substance abuse, and basically lead a life that will get them nowhere.

            The small country town of Altoona, Pennsylvania can identify with many inner city problems ranging from low income families, alcohol and drug abuse, broken homes, and problems with self-identity. A large of the teenagers in this area are from low income and broken homes with no hope of a future, many of the teenagers also do not have any place to go because of the local churches who shun them away because of their situation. Pastor Micah Marshall came to Altoona to help an outreach youth program called The Refuge build their program and reach out to the community. Pastor Micah has been with the organization since 2011 when the outreach program only had as many as 30-35 members, today the program has about 150 and is growing.

            Refuge is comprised of teenagers from the ages thirteen to eighteen and different kinds of backgrounds with an open door policy, no discrimination on age, race, color, gender, religious background, or sexual orientation. The only way to be rejected from this organization is if a member brings physical harm to another member or youth staff member. The Refuge promotes non-denominational practices and focuses on the importance the relationships with God and Jesus instead on focusing on the constructs of religious practices, that it is more important to understand the relationship between the individual and the divine entity. Pastor Micah quotes: “‘The Refuge’ we’re not into religion, we’re into relationships. We don’t care what denominational background the students come from or what church they attend on Sunday mornings or even if they attend church at all. We are just glad to have them hangout with us on a Tuesday nights. Many churches stick with in their denomination and play it safe and don’t inner mix [referring to the various religious background]. Plus we are an outreach driven youth ministry which means we go out and get the students rather than wait for the students to come to us.”

The outreach programs identifies itself as a “not your average youth group” because they accept every teenager from “every walk of life from every area, we have no boundaries”.  About 75% of the teenagers in Refuge come from dysfunctional homes and no relationship with parents: “This is one place they can come for two hours to get loved on where people care and want to spend time with them”, quotes Pastor Micah. Resulting in Pastor Micah and his wife Bethany as being the main role models for these teenagers: “For all of us it breaks our hearts to know they don’t have anyone at all to love them,” says Micah, “so for us it’s a huge honor and it’s a huge responsibility for us to know that and we have to make sure we stay strong but yet real with them. We want them to see us following Christ and in that they do the same.”

Culture is changing very rapidly and culture change is aimed and reflected in the youth culture, including the taboo of sex, self-image, and identity. Many religious organizations are not adapting to the cultural change and still very set in their old ways: Culture plays a huge part in religion and vice versa because they actively affect one another,” Pastor Micah, “culture and religion play hand in hand with each other yet they can clash as well. They are like the two neighborhood kids who sometimes get a long and play nice but also disagree and fight with each other. It is important for religion to have culture so that the effectiveness of the message that we preach, teach and live out is moving with culture. If we don’t then we are left behind with what is that “OLD TIME RELIGION” that is outdated and ineffective.” Pastor Micah understands that as a youth pastor he has to keep up to date on the rising cultural trends and how it can affect youths in negative and positive ways. In many cases, the restraints of strict guidelines that many religious organizations has put upon youths have made many youths question religious or veer away from religious as a whole.

A survey was given to the teenagers by staff at The Refuge with seven questions pertaining to religion and self-identity, one question asking: In your own words, define what religion means to you. Responses from the youths varied greatly. Many responses to religion was that it was corrupt, bad, or not believing in religion to the opposite side of the spectrum of defining principle, one’s lifestyle, etc. Pastor Micah’s response to this: “because religion sometimes presents itself as guidelines, corrupt and all the negative things. We teach our kids it’s not about the religion you have but about the relationship you have.” From this survey we are able to observe that there are multiple ways of defining religion not in youth, but institutions are finding it hard to define religion for it to relate to the growing culture and as a result ostracizing individuals.

Many of the teenagers have be ostracized from society because of the way they dress, behave and in many extreme cases, there are teenagers who have been beaten have substance abuse. All these troubles before the age of eighteen and are casted out by society and religious organizations because the institution does not want to have a bad image or be affiliated with troubled kids when it is these types of kids who need the most attention and help than those who come from good homes. The Refuge lives up to its name by creating a safe place for teenagers from all walks of life and helping them get back on the right track. Pastor Micah and his wife have seen teenagers improve their lives in a matter of a few months and build a relationship that will better their future. 

I am thinking about expanding this project to get Refuge recognized and help out the community.

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Evolution….

I just recently finished a book The Artificial Ape by Timothy Taylor  for a biological anthropology course and I wanted to rip my eyes out. There are a lot of evolutionary theories to define the human identity as Homo sapiens and how we have evolved into the modern human. No one will ever agree to how the human race evolved into what we are now or will become, and that is just personal preference to what one believes, whether it be God or biological evolution. Even with the scientific evidence, there will never be just one theory.

The Aquatic Ape

Recently the Animal Planet on the Discovery Channel has released the documentary of the Aquatic Ape (mermaids). The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis (AAH) – the notion that modern humans evolved from an ancestor who adapted to the water and became aquatic, we emerged out of the water to be modern humans. During the time of geographic and climate changes when many of the human ancestors were migrating inland, there was a group that moved toward the water and adapted to the water growing fins and gills, and living in the ocean. This theory was brought up in the 1940’s and 60’s, but has now been resurfaced.  There isn’t any fossil evidence that supports this but those who follow this theory believe that the aquatic abilities that we have are linked to past aquatic apes.

Animal Planet claims to have new emerging evidence of the aquatic ape……..I will leave it to you to decide.

http://animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/mermaids/videos/mermaids.htm

The Artificial Ape

Taylor argues the idea that the technological innovation of tool use in early hominids was the essential phase that allowed for the development of larger brains and increased intelligence, emphasizing the invention of baby slings. The author attempts to answer the central question of his book: “Did we evolve into the modern human form and invent the objects on which we now depend, or did the things come first and so bring us into being?”Taylor believes in the latter in which humans are not products of the biological (natural selection or sexual selection) but products of artificial selection  Although Taylor makes his claims that “technology evolved us,”  he has provided weak evidence and weak arguments in his attempt to support the claim. He also provides long narratives of personal stories that often trail off and never make a solid connection to his main hypothesis.

He states that humans needed alternative means for carrying infants, and thus the need to invent baby slings, as the driver for the creation of stone tools.  He argues that baby slings allowed us to “push back our biological limits” and allowed our brains to expand, thus forming into an artificial species. According to Taylor, the innovation of a baby-sling would allow hominids to transport infants and would solve various problems such as freeing hands for other tasks, make walking easier, and conserve energy that would otherwise be spent carrying young in arms, therefore better ensuring the survival of helpless infants. Although Taylor makes good arguments for the reasons for carrying technology, baby-slings would have been constructed of organic materials that would have decayed through time leaving no archaeological evidence opposed to those of stone tools.  Even though Taylor does not discuss this, there could have been various other ways of compensating for the care of infants. These alternative means of childcare include examples of social caring, such as “aunting” which is evident in modern ape species.

We can all agree that humans are highly dependent on technology and that has been an influence in modern human evolution. Technology has advanced our culture and such, but there are various other reasons for evolution like: diet and agriculture, and climate change. We also have evidence that our brains are shrinking due to our high dependency on technology and that are some biological features that are slowing devolving due to the lack of use (our wisdom teeth).

To be honest it is really up to the individual who believe how the human species has developed into the modern human. I’m just simply bring up some of the most ridiculous ones.

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First Time Post

So I am new the blogging world but not new to calling shenanigans in Anthropology, thus is why I can be an anthro-theory snob. This semester was interesting, not only trying to get back into the swing of not being school for two years but also adapting to new theory views down here in Florida. (Especially in biological anthropology)

But I thought blogging would be a great way to express my thoughts in various fields of anthropology for calling shenanigans, discussing thesis and research that I will be working on,  and to keep my sanity during my time in grad school.

With one semester down, I am hoping to be done with classes by the Fall 2013 and have my thesis to work on during the Spring 2014. So my goal is to be completely done by the Spring of 2014.

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