Biological Anthropology dies @ Harvard

By Razib Khan | May 3, 2007 11:35 am

Check out this Harvard Crimson column on the death of the biological anthropology concentration:

The root cause is a language barrier. Faculty members of the sciences and the humanities strongly adhere to the belief that the world can either be exclusively expressed in math or in words. Social science also splits off the world in this manner. Any student who is taking intermediate microeconomics needs to decide if he wants to take a class taught in English or in math. If the former, he is to take Economics 1010a, “Microeconomic Theory.” If the latter, Economics 1011a, “Microeconomic Theory.” Science theses should typically have math. Humanities theses typically should not.

Update: John Hawks & Kambiz respond, though they have somewhat different opinions.
Update II: Afarensis responds.


Comments (5)

  1. The same thing happened at my institution. Cultural anthropologists, infected by the pomo virus, decided they didn’t like physical anthropology, and destroyed that section of the Anthropology department over a period of about 10 years.

  2. John Emerson

    Kambiz seems to think that the sociocultural aspect of anthropology can be picked up from everyday life.

  3. Caledonian

    Math IS language, and language math. I’ve never understood why people make such a division between the two.
    It’s like dividing sight into two different senses: small-area focusing and large-area perception. There are differences, yes, but they’re both seeing.

  4. I’ve never understood why people make such a division between the two.
    One you acquire effortlessly and without direction instruction. The other you acquire only after years of instruction, if you’re lucky. Most people won’t learn math above a superficial level, and most of those who do soon forget it as they major / pursue a career in anything that doesn’t involve numbers.

  5. Caledonian

    That’s how most people approach learning foreign languages, at least in the US: as a complex and useless subject introduced far into schooling that’s forgotten as soon as graduation comes.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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