Re: Chunking intelligence functions

From: Neal Blaikie (
Date: Wed May 09 2001 - 19:02:33 MDT

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:

> Let's take a specific example: Margaret Mead. How many of the social
> scientists of your acquaintance regard her as (A) an important
> anthropologist whose work on Samoan customs helped to reveal Western
> customs such as sexual jealousy as cultural artefacts rather than inherent
> properties of human nature, or (B) one of the all-time rose-tinted
> screwups of cultural anthropology, whose work was disproved in toto by
> Derek Freeman (who spent six years on the project rather than twelve
> weeks)? If most social scientists you know think of Margaret Mead as a
> screwup and believe that sexual jealousy is an evolved human universal,
> then either my statement was unfair and stereotypical and I'm attacking a
> straw man in an already-won war, or there's a very strong selection bias
> in the sample group of "social scientists who Ben Goertzel feels like
> talking to".

Unfortunately, Margaret Mead is a bad choice for an example. Since much of my
academic background is in anthropology, I can say with a fair amount of
certainty that her theories have become increasingly less credible over the
last ten or fifteen years, and some anthropologists have tossed her out
completely (except for her place in a historical context). As for your
multiple choice setup, neither answer would be completely accurate, and I
don't think too many serious social scientists would call Mead a screwup
because later generations have replaced her theories with ones that work
better. This isn't how science works. Whether she turns out to be right or
not, her significance is based on her contributions to an ongoing body of

Neal Blaikie

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