Spring 2012



Dr. William S. Abruzzi







Required Textbooks:



1.   Napoleon Chagnon, Yanomamo (Fifth Edition), Holt, Rinehart & Winston,

2.   Orna Johnson & Marvin Harris , Cultural Anthropology (seventh edition). Pearson, 2007.

3.   Asen Balikci, The Netsilik Eskimo.  Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1970.



Course Description:


Anthropology is most simply defined as the study of humankind.  The term, anthropology, derives from the Greek word anthropos meaning "man".  There are three sub-fields of anthropology:  biological anthropology, cultural anthropology and archaeology.  Cultural anthropology is that sub-field within anthropology that examines the variety of human societies and cultures throughout different times and places.  Among other things, anthropologists are interested in how various peoples have interacted with their environments, how they have provided for their material needs, how they have organized themselves into social groups, the different types of families that have existed, the various gender roles that different peoples have adopted, the different forms of government that have evolved, and how different people have viewed the world around them and their place in it.


However, as a science of human behavior, cultural anthropology attempts to explain, not just describe, the diversity of societies that exist today and that have existed in the past.  In other words, anthropologists want to understand the processes that have created the immense variety of human lifestyles over the past two million years.  This course will introduce the student to some of the concepts, principles and methods used by cultural anthropologists in their study of human social systems, as well as to many of the issues that have been raised as a result of anthropological research.  The general goal of the course is to acquaint the student with the unique perspective that cultural anthropology offers towards an understanding of the human condition.  More specifically, the course will present students with a systemic, scientific understanding of human social behavior, diversity and evolution.  By reading and discussing studies about specific groups of people with lifestyles quite different from that of urban and suburban United States, it is hoped that the student will come to appreciate and understand the causes of human social and cultural diversity and the rational basis of alternate social behaviors.  At the same time, the course will adopt an evolutionary approach and emphasizes the importance of  taking a longitudinal view of contemporary issues rather than approaching them from rather limited short term social of political perspectives.


But cultural anthropology is not just about "primitive" peoples living exotic lifestyles in far away places.  Studying the lifestyles of other peoples should provide the student with a new understanding of the behavior, organization and values that prevail in our own society.  As a science of human behavior, cultural anthropology has as much to say about the workings of American society as it does about the Inuit, the Pygmies, the Dobe Ju/'hoansi, the Yanomamo and the many other peoples traditionally studied by anthropologists.  An important objective of the course, then, will be to apply anthropology as a tool for examining issues and topics in contemporary American society.



Teaching Methods:

A variety of teaching techniques will be used throughout the course, including lectures, class discussions, small-group discussions, films, and out-of-class assignments. In addition, reading assignments will be given in the form of handouts distributed in class, Internet sites, email messages and both articles and videos placed on reserve in the Trexler Library. These different sources of information and methods of teaching are used to complement and reinforce each other in order to increase the depth and the scope of the student's understanding of the material included within the course. All such material will be considered required reading and will potentially be included on examinations.



Course Unit Instruction:

This class is scheduled to meet for 3 hours per week. Additional instructional activities for the course include viewing selected ethnographic films in the Trexler Library throughout the semester.



The following procedures will be used to arrive at a student's final grade in this course:


1.    Three Exams   (25% each)


2.    Course Essay




Written Assignments:

1.     Each student will write a 6-page (1,500-1,800 word) essay that provides a systematic anthropological explanation of the material presented in class.  The purpose of this essay is to determine how well the student understands the material discussed throughout the course and is able to apply the concepts and principles presented in class to that material.  This paper will be treated as a research paper (meaning that it must be detailed and referenced) in which the sources used will be the course readings and class presentations.  The essay is due on Thursday, April 26th.


2.      All written assignments MUST be typed. Handwritten materials will NOT be accepted.


3   Although the primary concern is with the quality of the ideas and analysis presented, essays  and other written assignments will also be evaluated in terms of their adherence to accepted writing standards. They must be typed clearly and legibly. They must also be organized, grammatically correct and free from spelling errors. Papers must, therefore, be carefully proof read before they are submitted. A sloppy and poorly written paper will not receive as high a grade as a comparable paper which is neat and clearly written, which expresses a coherent theme, and which contains few spelling and grammatical errors. Having an idea that you cannot express clearly and concisely is little better than not having the idea at all.  Developing good writing skills is, thus, very important.



Grading Policy:


1.     ALL assignments and examinations must be completed or taken at the time scheduled.  Late essays will only be accepted and make-up tests will only be given in the event of an emergency and will receive a 10-point reduction in grade for each day they are late, i.e., a score of 80 on a make-up test will be recorded as a 70, 60, 50, etc. (Computer problems or printer dysfunction are NOT valid excuses for a late paper.  They indicate that the student waited until the very last minute to complete an assignment.)  Similarly, incomplete course grades  will be reduced by 10 points when they are completed. The grade on any exam not taken or assignment not completed will be zero.  Plagiarized assignments will also receive a grade of zero.

2.     ALL materials assigned for reading, presented or discussed in class (including films) or distributed in class and/or by email will be potentially included in examinations.


3.     Attendance will not be taken, but absence from class is NOT an acceptable excuse for a student's failure to complete an assignment or examination.  It is the student's responsibility to obtain the necessary information on days that he or she misses class.  In addition, a student who regularly misses class cannot expect special consideration in the event of poor grades.


4.     In the final analysis, responsibility for completing all course requirements rests with the student. If the student has any doubt on any matter regarding the course, he or she should contact the instructor BEFORE the problem becomes insurmountable.  One of the benefits of the small size of the Muhlenberg Campus is the potential that exist for easy faculty-student contact.


5.     Plagiarism constitutes a violation of the Academic Behavior Code and will be dealt with VERY STRICTLY. The Sociology and Anthropology Department treats plagiarism cases very seriously.  Depending on the nature of the plagiarism, a student could receive a failing grade for the course; be referred to the Dean's Office for judicial review; and have a "VF" (violation of Academic Behavior Code) grade entered on their transcripts.  If a student is in doubt about a specific situation, it is his or her responsibility to consult the instructor or some other appropriate person (such as a librarian or writing tutor) for clarification.



Extra-Credit Option:


1.     Students may also choose to complete a  research paper for up to 10 extra points on the final grade for the course. (The grade received on the research paper will be added to a student's grade after all of the other calculations have been made.) The research paper should be approximately 12 pages long (3000 words) and must be written on a topic approved in advance by the instructor.  The research paper will be strictly graded according to the guidelines described at the end of the syllabus. All research paper topics must be approved by Thursday, October 13th.   NO UNAPPROVED PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED.

All students working on extra-credit papers are expected to meet with the instructor to discuss the progress of their research papers. The paper is due on Thursday, May 3rd (the last day of class) NO LATE PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED.

2.     Students writing research papers will need to obtain research materials that are not available in the Trexler Library in order to complete a satisfactory paper. This will necessitate either travel to other libraries in the Lehigh Valley or extensive use of Interlibrary Loan services through the Trexler Library. Students should be aware that obtaining research materials through Interlibrary Loan may take several weeks and should, therefore, start their research papers as soon as possible.  Not receiving adequate sources in time to analyze your subject and write your paper will seriously affect the quality of the paper you submit and the grade your paper receives.



Additional Comments:


1.     I believe that students learn better with fewer distractions. Please do not use laptops, cell phones, PDAs or other texting devices during class.  The use of these devices in the classroom represents a distraction not only to the student using them, but also to other students in the class and results in students being less engaged in class discussions and presentations. The use of these devices also constitutes a distraction to the instructor.  If you need to use a computer, etc. for note taking, you must supply a written note from the Academic Resource Center stating that it is necessary due to a specific disability.


2.     Students frequently approach social science classes with preconceived ideas about the subject matter to be covered. Due to the familiar nature of some of the topics and issues discussed, students often rely on socially acquired concepts and explanations, many of which are simplistic and ethnocentric. Cultural anthropology offers specific concepts and methods of social analysis. Students are expected to learn the concepts and methods presented in class and to use them within the confines of the course.




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Anthropology News










                      READING ASSIGNMENTS*


  Introduction: Taking an Anthropological Perspective

Life is a comedy to those who think and a travesty to those who feel.





!!! One Hundred Percent American !!!



           "Philosophy:   unintelligible answers to unsolvable



 --Henry Adams




Horsemeat Ain't All That Bad!



Then what was it?




    A Rat in My Soup




 Its Not Just for Flushing Anymore


For all those people who love Japanese food






 1.     Miner, Body Ritual among the Nacirema..

 2.     Hughes, The Sacred Rac.

 3.     Chagnon, "Prologue" & Chapter 1.



Film:  Mondo Cane






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5.     Harris & Johnson, Chapters 1 & 2.

6.     Sharp, "Steel Axes for Stone-Age Australians." (R)

7.     Tourism.

8.     Ethnocentrism in American News Reporting

9.     Furedi, North Waging Cultural War against South.

10.     Abruzzi, You are a Fluke of the Universe


Ethnocentrism (ppt)









An Animal's Place







Hairy 31-year-old Burmese woman with her 14-month-old son, who has long hair growing from his ear.









People and Animals




Eating Out in Vietnam


One Man's Meat is

Another Man's Passion





Medical Benefits of Picking Your Nose


Just in case you wanted to know . . . ??





Elaine Davidson, the most pierced woman in the world, shows off some of her 2,520 piercings at the 50th anniversary of the Guinness World Records in London.




American Anthropological Association


Code of Ethics





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  Thinking Critically

Militant Agnostic!    I don't know and you don't either.






"THE NEW LOGIC:   It would be nice if it worked.

Ergo, it will work."

-- H. L. Mencken







U.S. Military Interventions 1890 - 2011



History of U.S. Interventions in Latin America



United Nations Resolutions Vetoed by the U.S.









Bottled Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype?





Occam's Razor




Bread Is Dangerous !




Dihydrogen Monoxide Alert
 Urban Legends Reference Page





"A concern with knowing the world, rather than advocating a view of the world because it confirms some political, ideological, or religious project, has always been fundamental to scientific philosophy." 


  --Lawrence Kuznar, Reclaiming a Scientific Anthropology (1997)







Fast Food Nutrition Guide





"The aim of scientific research is to formulate explanatory theories which are: (1) predictive (or retrodictive), (2) testable (or falsifiable), (3) parsimonious, (4) of broad scope, and (5) integratable or cumulative within a coherent and expanding corpus of theories."


--Marvin Harris (1994)









Masada: the Real Story




1.     Holmes, It's Awful! It's Terrible! It's . . . Never Mind

2.     Noah, Defining Bullshit

3.     Abruzzi, The Myth of Chief Seattle


4.     Zindler, Did Jesus Even Exist?

5.     Abruzzi, The Jesus Movement.

6.     Infancy Gospel of Jesus



7.     Bible Gateway: Genesis 1-2 & Exodus 9-14.11

8.     Silberman, Who Were the Israelites?

Critical Thinking (ppt)



Film:  From Jesus To Christ (part 1)



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10.     Sagan, The Fine Art of Baloney Detection

11.     Abruzzi, Science and Anthropology

12.     Abruzzi, Aristotelian vs. Galilean Forms of Explanation

13.     Abruzzi, Hill's Criteria of Causation

14.     Kurin, Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief


Methods (ppt)



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Film:  "A Man Called Bee" (R)




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"Sacred Cows make the best hamburger."

      --Mark Twain




History Stumbles Again




"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."  

--Carl Sagan






Creationism Explained



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"Every 15 seconds, in the United States someone comes up with a bogus statistic."


--Richard B. Felson








According to a Harris poll taken on August 12, 1998, Americans are three times as likely to believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus (83%) as in evolution (28%).  (NewYorkTimes)










On the Life of Jesus

"We do not have enough material to write a respectable obituary."

--M.S. Enslin, The Prophet of Nazareth











Western Military Involvement in the Middle East



The U.S. invasion of Iraq was undertaken largely by American and European soldiers. Similarly, the current fighting in Afghanistan and Libya is under the jurisdiction of NATO, a combined American and European military force.  The citizens of Western Countries (Americans and Europeans) are told in each of these cases that their military forces are undertaking military operations for humanitarian purposes only, not for conquest or domination, or that they are undertaken as part of the "War on Terror"  ("We're fighting the terrorists over there so that we don't have to fight them here"). Most Westerners believe this and usually support military invasions.  It is interesting that at the Berlin Conference in 1885 in which European powers divided up Africa into spheres of influence that determined which areas would be colonized by which country each of the countries ennobled their colonization by agreeing to


"bind themselves to watch over the preservation of the native tribes, and to care for the improvement of the conditions of their moral and material well-being  ...  instructing the natives and bringing home to them the blessings of civilization."


The history of European colonization makes a mockery of the above statement.  European colonization of Africa (and elsewhere) was undertaken for the benefit of Europeans, not Africans.  This is clearly illustrated by British torture (including castration) of Kenyans fighting for independence from Great Britain during the 1950s and France's brutal response to the Algerian struggle for independence in the 1960s.  Both of these events took place after nearly a century of colonial rule in which the colonized peoples existed as second-class citizens in their own countries.  Numerous other examples can be given of European exploitation of colonized peoples, including Madhusree Mukerjee's (Churchill's Secret War) detailed account of the British Government's refusal to send surplus food to prevent the famine in India in 1943 that killed an estimated 2-3 million people.


Similarly, in 1953 the U.S. Government, working through the CIA, overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran and placed the Shah on the throne.  This was done largely to retain Western control of Iran's oil and to counter the Soviet Union's gaining an influence in Iran.  The Shah was given carte blanche to purchase any weapons he wanted, including those needed to suppress Iranian dissidents.  The Shah became one of the most brutal dictators in the Middle East, who increasingly relied on his secret police (SAVAK) to maintain control.  Opposition to the Shah eventually led to the Iranian Revolution in 1979 that brought the Ayatollah Khomeini into power and the clerics who rule Iran today.  Similarly, the U.S. Government supported Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran and the eight-year war that followed in which an estimated one million people were killed, even though American officials knew at the time that Hussein was employing chemical warfare (including mustard gas) against Iranian soldiers and civilians, and that he had even used them against the Kurds in Iraq.


When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1980, the U.S. provided military and logistical support to the Mujahideen (Muslim jihadists) resisting the Soviet invasion, The U.S. spent hundreds of millions of dollars per year supporting the Mujahideen, including arming them with shoulder-launched Stinger missiles capable of shooting down Soviet attack helicopters.    The CIA also worked with local Afghans and with Saudi Arabia to recruit 35,000 Jihadists from some 40 Arab countries to come to Afghanistan to fight along side the Afghan Mujahideen.  Prominent in that recruitment process purportedly were Osama bin Laden and Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman (the blind cleric behind the World Trade Towers bombing in 1993).  Once the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan, U.S. interests in helping the Afghans ended.  The U.S., thus, curtailed its support of the Afghans and left the various factions in Afghanistan to fight among themselves to run their country.  It was during this struggle that the Taliban emerged victorious and came to control Afghanistan.


Most Americans know very little history and are completely unaware of the significant role that their government and the governments of Europe --especially Great Britain and France-- have played in creating the current conditions that exist throughout the world, especially in the Middle East.  Every single country in the Middle East, Africa and Asia (except Japan) was at one time a European colony, and both the former colonists and increasingly the U.S. have worked steadily over the past century or more to maintain control of events in the region, including establishing and maintaining governments that advanced their interests.  How might an understanding of the actual history of Western involvement in the Middle East help us gain a better insight into contemporary developments in this region?  What do theories in political science have to say about why political actors such as countries act the way they do and implement the policies they do?  How might an application of the concepts of emic and etic enhance our understanding of such actions?


How might all of these approaches help us to be critical observers of actions taken in our name?












Intelligent Falling Theory










Conspiracy Theories








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In 1900, there were approximately 500,000 deer in the U.S.  Today, there are almost 20 million deer in the U.S.  The expansion of the deer population, combined with the redistribution of the American population away from urban centers, has resulted in increased contact between the two populations and, consequently, in an increase in the incidence of Lyme disease.







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U.S. Forest Facts


1.    About 33% of the U.S. land area, or 298 million ha (737 million acres), is forest land.

2.    The nation's forest land area is still about two-thirds the size it was in the year 1600, in spite of the conversion of 370 million acres of forest land to other uses, principally to agriculture.

3.    More trees are growing in America's forests today than at any time since the early 1900's.

4.    In 1900, forest growth rates were a fraction of harvest. Today, overall annual forest growth exceeds harvest by 37%.

5.    Net annual forest growth has increased 62% since 1952, and total growth per acre has increased 71%.

6.    Nationally, standing timber volume per acre in U.S. forests is 30% greater today than it was in 1952.

7.    On a per acre basis, net annual tree growth in the U.S. is 52 cubic feet compared with 27 in Canada and 24 in Russia.

8.    Annual growth in National Forests now exceeds harvest by more than 55%.


SOURCE:  The Bugwood Network (The University of Georgia - Warnell School of Forest Resources and College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences)





"Some people have this vision -especially back East- that we're running out of trees.  We're not running out of trees.  We're running out of agreement on what to do with all these trees."


--Jack Ward Thomas, former chief of the U.S. Forest Service.








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Politics and Victimhood



“Unfortunately, claiming victim status does not itself bring sound ethical choices. Stalin and Hitler both claimed throughout their political careers to be victims. They persuaded millions of other people that they too were victims of an international capitalist or Jewish conspiracy.  . . . No major war or active mass killing in the twentieth century began without the aggressors or perpetrators first claiming innocence and victimhood. In the 21st century we see a second wave of aggressive wars with victim claims in which leaders not only present their peoples as victims, but make explicit reference to the mass murders of the 20th century. The human capacity for subjective victimhood is apparently limitless, and people who believe that they are victims can be motivated to perform acts of great violence."


--Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010).









And Jesus said . . .


"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast

ye your pearls before swine."


--Matthew 7:6





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The Criminal Side of the American Dream.
David R. Simon, Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.






Tony Soprano's America by David R. Simon, analyzes the show . . . from a sociological perspective.  Simon, a research associate at the University of California, Berkeley, and an adjunct professor at the University of North Florida, spends most of his time lecturing us on American wickedness. For him, ''The Sopranos'' is ''a symbol of our national pathologies.'' Crowding virtually every page with statistics, he expounds on the military-industrial complex, the Warren Report, Vietnam, Iran-contra, Enron and so on. Occasionally he returns to Tony's ''inauthentic existence'' and his organized-crime family, which represents ''the tip of a transnational crime iceberg.''


  ---David Kelly, "Deconstructing the Sopranos". New York Times, September 15, 2002 









"Disputes within anthropology have a way of becoming blood feuds.  Virtually all of the field's leading figures have been struck by poison arrows.  Margaret Mead?  Dupe!  Franz Boas?  Spy!  Colin Turnbull?  Hoaxer!  Marshall Sahlins?  Imperialist!  Indeed, the excessive ferocity of anthropological warfare has fractured the discipline and tarnished its image.  It's become the academic equivalent of 'The Jerry Springer Show.'"


                                            --New York Times, October 8, 2000








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First Exam:


(Sample test)




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  Ecology, Adaptation and Evolution

Ecology begins at home:  Clean up your room.


Thomas Malthus

         Paul Ehrlich







"The Malthusian motive: the will to control the population of the poor rather than the consumption of the rich; the desire to eliminate poverty by reducing the numbers of the poor rather than the inequalities of society.  . . .  If we claim that there are too many people on the earth, then why are we so sure that we are not the excess ones --we Westerners who individually consume and pollute as much as 50 or more African or Indian peasants?  In all my years in the field of population, I have never one single time heard a member of the population establishment say that there were too many upper-middle class white Anglo-Saxon Protestants in the world.


 --Pierre Pradervand, "The Neo-Malthusian Myth." Africa Report (July/August)1974:34-37.









Evolution of Food Production






Resilient Rainforests








"The richest fifth of the world's people consumes 86 percent of all goods and services while the poorest fifth consumes just 1.3 percent. Indeed, the richest fifth consumes 45 percent of all meat and fish, 58 percent of all energy used and 84 percent of all paper, has 74 percent of all telephone lines and owns 87 percent of all vehicles."


--Kofi Annan --United Nations Secretary General








Every minute the sun showers the earth with more energy than the world's entire population consumes in a year.




"Psychiatry: the care of the id by the odd."






Lola: A Cultural Ecology Tale




 Working Time Needed to Buy a Big Mac













The Good Life!


According to The Economist (August 9, 2003), Americans receive an average of 16 vacation days per year (but most workers only take 14).  By contrast, Europeans receive far more vacation days per year than do Americans:  Italians receive 42; French receive 37; Germans receive 35; and the British receive 28.  Over the past 20 years, average annual working hours have increased in the U.S., but decreased in Europe.  America's higher level of productivity is attributed by many economists not to our greater economic efficiency, but rather to the fact that we work more hours than anyone else.  Americans now work, on average, 200 hours per year more than the Japanese, the world's former most industrious nation. 








Climate Change Skeptics Bet $10,000

on Cooler World









"It takes approximately 3,000 liters of water to grow enough food to feed one person for one day -- or about 1 liter for each calorie consumed." (The Economist, Sept. 2, 2006)

















1.     Harris & Johnson, Chapters 5, 6 & 7, plus pages 290-291.

2.     Chagnon, Chapter 2.


3.     Lee, Environment and Settlement & Subsistence: Foraging for a Living.


4.     Turnbull, The Importance of Flux in Two Hunting Societies

5.     Abruzzi, Population Pressure and Subsistence Strategies among the Mbuti Pygmies


6.     Balikci, Chapters 1 - 2.



Film:   Nanook of the North  (R)

The Hunters  (R)



Ju/'hoansi Ecology (ppt)


Inuit Ecology (ppt)


Pygmy Ecology (ppt)


Sacred Cow (ppt)



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5.      Abruzzi, Infanticide.

6.      Balikci, Chapters 7 - 8.

7.      Mowat, "The Blood in Their Veins."  (R)



Ecology and Social Evolution (ppt)






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The following four readings will NOT be included on the exam.


8.     Abruzzi, On Overpopulation

9.     "Experts Predict Global Population Will Plateau," Spiegel

10.     Abruzzi, Logging and Deforestation

11.     Abruzzi, Hurricanes and Global Warming









 Yuppie Environmentalism!





Digestion Machine






Christmas and the Economy

In 2002, consumer spending accounted for 70% of U.S. GDP. Consumer spending accounted for 60% of GDP in Italy and Spain and 55% in Japan and France.  Given the importance of consumer spending to the survival and well-being of the economy in the U.S. and other industrial societies, it makes sense from an anthropological perspective that these countries would have evolved rituals that would function to promote consumer spending.  Christmas is just such a ritual.  Over 50% of consumer spending in the U.S. takes place during October, November and December.  It would also make sense that industrial countries such as China and Japan, which have very few Christians and no Christian tradition, would also adopt Christmas as a national holiday.



Christmas in China




Christmas in Japan





Equality in America?


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the share of national income going to those in the top fifth of earners in the U.S. rose from 44% in 1973 to 50% in 2000. The share going to the top 1% rose to 15% in 1998, higher than it has ever been since the second world war.


Take wealth rather than income, and America's economic inequality is even more startling. The wealthiest 1% of all households controls 38% of national wealth, while the bottom 80% of households holds only 17%.

--The Economist (Sept. 6, 2003)










After the Animal Liberation Front — which the FBI calls a terrorist organization — “freed” 10,000 mink from a farm near Sultan, the saboteurs didn’t hang around to see what happened next. About 9,000 of the coddled predators starved to death, were hit by cars or recaptured, while some 1,000 hungry survivors are now going after chickens, ducks, cats, geese and any other small animals they can get their claws on, according to the Seattle Times. A mink industry group, Fur Commission USA, says farm-raised mink can’t survive in the wild; the animal-rights group disagrees. A similar mink-liberation in England almost caused the extinction of a rare water vole in 1998.

--High Country News (Sept. 29, 2003)





--The Economist (Sept. 6, 2003)








"Sociology is the outhouse in the grove of academe."


--H.L. Menken





  Kinship and Social Organization

It is one of the cruelties of life that you don't get to choose your relatives.


A young Ju'hoansi woman nearing the age of marriage.








"The American newspapers report that on January 13th an indignation meeting was held at the Salt Lake City, at which about three thousand women attended, and all men except the reporters were excluded. The object was to protest in the most earnest manner against two Bills recently brought into the Federal Congress for the suppression of polygamy. They also state that the Legislature of Utah has passed a Bill giving women the suffrage. If this be true, and if the three thousand indignationists can influence the whole twenty-five thousand in Utah, polygamy is not likely to be put down by the Federal Congress."


--The British Medical Journal, Feb. 26, 1870









Evolution of American Eating Behavior

"Currently, 47% of the money Americans spend on food pays for restaurant bills --up from 25% in 1955. There are about 70,000 restaurants in the U.S. --12,000 more than the previous year. The fastest growing sector was take-out restaurants; 58% of food establishments cater to take-out customers."

--International Herald Tribune (1-11-03)






1.     Harris & Johnson, Chapters 8 & 9.

2.     Chagnon, Chapter 4.

3.     Balikci, Chapters 3 - 6.



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4.     Hillman, "The Occurrence of Polygamy."  (R)

5.     Goldstein, When Brothers Share a Wife.

6.     Cohen, "Disappearance of the Incest Taboo." (R)

7.     Incest Laws in the U.S.




Kinship and Social Organization (ppt)


Yanomamo Marriage (ppt)


Polygamy (ppt)


Incest (ppt)











Modern Arranged Marriages






Brideprice in Ancient Israel






The Levirate in the Bible


Deuteronomy 25


5  If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband's brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her.

6  The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.

7  However, if a man does not want to marry his brother's wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, "My husband's brother refuses to carry on his brother's name in Israel. He will not fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to me."

8  Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, "I do not want to marry her,"

9   his brother's widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, "This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother's family line."

10  That man's line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled.





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Second Exam:

(Sample test)


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  Gender-Related Behavior

The most effective way to remember your wife's birthday is to forget it once.





"There are more methodological problems in regards to the study of cognitive sex differences and sex differences in general than there are actual sex differences."


                                 --Dr. Carolyn N. Jaklin




The Opt-Out Revolution




The Widows Battalion




Black Widows: Female Murderers






"I judge a woman and a horse by the same criteria: legs, head and rear end."


--Helena Rubenstein











"A woman's body is a work of art.  A man's body is like a Jeep. It's for getting around."


--Elaine Benes (Seinfeld)











A Woman's Mouse



1.      Abruzzi, On Gender Difference Research.

2.      Fausto-Sterling, Two Sexes Are Not Enough





         Jenna Talackova



 Film:  Fight to Be Male



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4.     Harris & Johnson, Chapter 14.

5.     Friedl, Society and Sex Roles

7.     Cronk, "Parental Favoritism towards Daughters," (R)

8.     Abruzzi, Taliban War on Women

9.     Jones, Effacing the Male


Films:   Paradise Bent  (R)

  Bombay Eunuch  (R)



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10.     Soitoti, "The Initiation of a Maasai Warrior." (R)

11.     Sillah, "Bundu Trap." (R)

13.     Abruzzi, Circumcision


 Films:  Female Genital Mutilation

Womanhood and Circumcision:  

 Three Maasai Women Have Their Say

LA Mohel




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Cancer and Gender





Prominent Women in Politics



"What's the point of having this superior military you're always talking about if we can't use it?"

--Madeleine Albright (former Secretary of State) to Colin Powell (former Secretary of Defense).







Armed Iraqi women assembled in Tikrit

to demonstrate their readiness for a possible war.






The Myth of Female Innocence


1.      Women commit the majority of child homicides in the U.S.

2.      Women commit the majority of physical child abuse.

3.      Women commit about 25% of the child sexual abuse.

4.      Women are primarily responsible for infanticide.

5.      30% of the women who killed men in one Chicago study had previous arrest records for assault, battery, and weapons charges.

6.     46% of  90 lesbian couples surveyed in a 1990 study reported that they experienced “repeated acts of violence in their relationships.”





Jihad's Women



Cheerleader for Female Suicide Bombers










“Good looks are a woman's most fungible asset, exchangeable for social position, money, even love.  But, dependent on a body that ages, it is an asset that a woman uses or loses.”

--Nancy Etcoff, a psychologist, author of “Survival of the Prettiest”, quoted in The Economist (May 22nd 2003)







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  Politics, Political Organization,

  Conflict and Warfare

Stop repeat offenders!  Don't re-elect them!


Yanomamo Warriors





Power vs. Democracy


Sadam Hussein won 100% of the votes in the 2002 Iraqi election.  To many Americans, this was proof that the Iraqi elections were unfair and invalid.  However, the overall U.S. congressional re-election rate (including both the House and the Senate) normally exceeds 90%, and in both 1998 and 2004 was nearly 98%.   How different, then, are American elections from those in countries such as Iraq, Argentina and Zimbabwe whose elections the U.S. insists must be monitored by international organizations in order to make sure that they are fair?  Might not all of these situations, including the U.S.,  represent examples of the fact that those in power can and do exploit the advantages of power in order to maintain power?  Should American elections, then, also be monitored by international organizations in order to make sure that they are fair?




German Engineering vs. Arab Technology



"Revolution: an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment."

 --Ambrose Bierce




On Victimhood


“Unfortunately, claiming victim status does not itself bring sound ethical choices. Stalin and Hitler both claimed throughout their political careers to be victims. They persuaded millions of other people that they too were victims . . . .  No major war or active mass killing in the twentieth century began without the aggressors or perpetrators first claiming innocence and victimhood. In the 21st century we see a second wave of aggressive wars with victim claims in which leaders not only present their peoples as victims, but make explicit reference to the mass murders of the 20th century. The human capacity for subjective victimhood is apparently limitless, and people who believe that they are victims can be motivated to perform acts of great violence."


--Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands (2010)







"The number of Americans in prison exceeded 2 million last year, according to a new Justice Department report.  This means that one person in every 142 is in the slammer at any one time.  America's jail population --the world's largest-- has nearly doubled since 1990." (The Economist, April 12, 2003:6)






1.     Harris & Johnson, Chapter 10.

3.     Balikci, Chapter 9.

2.     Chagnon, Chapters 5, 6 & 7.

3.     Anderson, "Drugs, Violence and Street Crime." from Code of the Street. (R)


Films:    The Feast  (R)

Among the Wild Chimpanzees  (R)



             Yanomamo Warfare (ppt)




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The Story of Sun-tzu




Biker War in California










"Henry Kissinger was guilty of understatement when he said that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. In fact, power is the ultimate life-improver tout court. Powerful people not only have more friends than the rest of us. They also enjoy better health. Numerous studies demonstrate that low status is more strongly associated with heart disease than physical hazards like obesity and high blood pressure.

The benefits of power have grown dramatically in recent years. CEOs and other C-suite types have seen their salaries surge at a time when the median wage has either stagnated (in the United States) or grown slowly (in Europe). Politicians have learned how to monetise their pull. The Clintons earned $109m in the eight years after they left the White House. Tony Blair has turned himself into a wealthy man in the three years since his retirement from national politics." (
The Economist, September 9, 2010)







Colonization and Resistance

in North America and Palestine









"There are those who say that to kill Martin (a British sergeant) is terrorism, but to attack an army camp is guerrilla warfare and to bomb civilians is professional warfare. But I think it is the same from the moral point of view. Is it better to drop an atomic bomb on a city than to kill a handful of persons? I don’t think so. But nobody says that President Truman was a terrorist. All the men we went for individually — Wilkin, Martin, MacMichael and others — were personally interested in succeeding in the fight against us. So it was more efficient and more moral to go for selected targets. In any case, it was the only way we could operate, because we were so small. For us it was not a question of the professional honor of a soldier, it was the question of an idea, an aim that had to be achieved. We were aiming at a political goal. There are many examples of what we did to be found in the Bible — Gideon and Samson, for instance. This had an influence on our thinking. And we also learned from the history of other peoples who fought for their freedom — the Russian and Irish revolutionaries, Garibaldi and Tito."


--Yitzak Shamir


SOURCE:  Bethell Nicholas, The Palestine Triangle: The Struggle between British, Jews, and the Arabs, 1935-48 (1979), p. 278.


*   *   *

---Yitzak Shamir was a former Israeli Prime Minister who was also one of the leaders of Lehi [a.k.a. "The Stern Gang,"], an Israeli "terrorist" organization that fought both the British and the Palestinians during the Israeli struggle to establish the State of Israel in the 1940s.  In this quote, he is responding to charges  that by performing assassinations, bombings and attacks on Palestinian civilians, Israeli independence fighters were committing terrorism.  Is Shamir's argument any different than that used by Hamas, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda?










U.S. Elections








Drug Violence



Below is the link to an article which discusses how the Mexican cartels have begun to grow marijuana in the U.S. in part to circumvent the U.S. Border Patrol. It indicates that the largest cartels are operating marijuana "grows" in several U.S. states. They have even begun to use National Forests, due to the isolation they provide. It is rather interesting that, while most Americans stand aghast at the wealth, power and violence associated with the cartels, most Americans seem to ignore the fact that it is Americans themselves who fund the cartels, and that this is not the first time Americans have funded such violent criminal organizations. According to most estimates, marijuana provides up to 75% of the Mexican drug cartels' revenues. This means that the cartels and the violence they produce are being funded, not by crackheads and heroin addicts, but by your average recreational American pot smoker --your average Joe. This was the same person who funded organized crime (and all of the violence it produced) in Chicago, Detroit, New York and dozens of other American cities during prohibition. The simple fact is that if you make a popular product illegal, you will create a black market for it, increase its street value and lead to individuals and groups fighting to dominate or control its trade. It is simple supply and demand. Just as the cartels are getting rich on pot, the mob got rich on alcohol and prostitution during the 1920s. Gang wars in U.S. cities today are also based on the control of lucrative drug distribution territories. This is no different than the spectacular rise in Plains Indian warfare that occurred during the 19th century as increasing numbers of Indians competed with one another over the declining numbers of buffalo whose hides they sold to trading posts established throughout the mid-West to meet the increased demand for buffalo products in the cities of the U.S. and Europe. In the same way, the violence in Mexico and in the streets of America -past and present- is caused by competition over the sale of a resource made increasingly valuable by an increasing demand for it among American consumers and a restricted supply caused by legal authorities to prevent its distribution. And ironically, each success at decreasing the available supply only increases a drug's street value in the U.S., and thus the profits that the cartels can earn by providing it. So, Americans create the violence in Mexico in two ways: by increasing the demand for pot in the U.S. by consuming it in greater and greater quantities; and by restricting the supply of marijuana by making it illegal and by imposing restrictions on its importation. I guess you would call this a lose-lose situation. Indeed, the whole situation is best expressed in a famous quote taken from Pogo, a popular cartoon of the 1950s & 1960s . . .







Mexican Cartels Running Pot Farms in U.S. National Forest








On Democracy







As it was written . . .



"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.  On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."


--H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)






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If John Kerry had won Ohio in 2004, he would have been declared President of the United States, even though he would still have lost the popular vote by nearly 3.5 million votes.  (George Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore by a half-million votes in 2000.)  Would those who complained about Bush becoming President in 2000 because he lost the popular vote likely have stood on principle and been opposed to Kerry becoming president on the same grounds, or would they have accepted and rationalized their victory?



Politics is such wonderful theater!








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  Religion and World View

God protect me  from your followers!


The Gospel of Mary Magdalene






"Faith can move mountains, but not furniture."








Become an ordained member

of the Spiritual Humanist clergy








"Satan hasn't a single salaried helper; the opposition employ a million."


-Mark Twain
























1.     Harris & Johnson, Chapter 16.

2.     Chagnon, Chapter 3.

3.     Balikci, Chapters 3 - 6.

4.     Harris, "Phantom Cargo" (R)

5.     Abruzzi, The Jesus Movement.



Film:   Ghost Dance  (R)






Dear Dr. Laura






Mother Theresa's Exorcism





Saint. Elvis the Divine




What Would Jesus Eat?










St. Simeon the Stylite


The Stylite saints, or "pillar hermits" as they were known, lived austere lives on top of tall towers, some over 20 feet high.  St. Simeon lived on his column for 30 years, before he died in AD 459.  In order to demonstrate his piety, Simeon stood on one leg for a year.  He also tied a rope around his waist so tightly that his lower body became putrified and infested with maggots.  According to Butler's Lives of the Saints, Simeon ate the maggots, proclaiming, "Eat what God has given you."









Is Barney the ANTICHRIST?







The Religious Divide in America


"America is one of the most religious countries in the industrialised world. Over 80% of Americans claim to believe in God, compared with 62% of the French and 52% of Swedes. About two-thirds of Americans claim membership of a church, 40% go to church once a week, and 43% describe themselves as born-again Christians. Three times as many people believe in the Virgin birth as in evolution.  . . .  But America is also one of the most secular countries in the world. The constitution guarantees a rigorous separation of church and state, and secular groups are assiduous in using the courts to enforce that separation. (On February 25th, the Supreme Court ruled that states could withhold scholarships from students studying divinity.) Public schools recoil from even the mildest religious imagery. More than 29m Americans say that they have “no religion”, a number that exceeds all but two religious denominations, Roman Catholics and Baptists. For the most part, the people who run America's media industries in New York and Hollywood are aggressively secular, combining intellectual hostility to Middle America's religious fundamentalists with a generous measure of cultural disdain."

--The Economist (February 28, 2004)














The Greatest Action Story Ever Told


A Slightly Different Version

of the Original Story














Billboard in Farmington, New Mexico







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Third Exam


(Sample test)







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