I’m not sure why this argument has flared up again, but both popular anthropology blogs Gene Expression and Savage Minds are talking about Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel, and some cultural anthropologists’ reaction to it. I say some, because while I agree with a lot of Gene Expression‘s post and what they have to say, I feel they over-generalize what “cultural anthropologists” think, feel, and say about the book and their philosophy and approach to the sciences in general. Or maybe I just live in a bubble where everyone uses the scientific method and can deal with messy or generalized answers. Probably the latter, from the feedback I’ve heard from others.
I hope the answer lies somewhere in the middle; that while there are many vocal cultural anthropologists that are completely relativist, there are others who are objective and don’t balk at information that doesn’t fit into their schema. Or maybe that’s just me and I’m in the wrong graduate program.