Chapter One
Introduction to Anthropology and the Scientific Method

Anthropology is the study of humankind and the human condition.  The goal of anthropology is to describe and explain the similarities and differences in biology and culture of all humans in all times and all places.  Anthropology is different from other disciplines that study humans because of its holistic, comparative, relativistic, and scientific approaches.  The discipline is divided into four main subdisciplines, cultural anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and physical anthropology, each of which may be further divided into specialized areas of interest.  Physical anthropologists test and accept or reject explanations for natural phenomena using the scientific method.  The goals of science are completely separate and distinct from (rather than antagonistic to) the goals of religion.  Belief in one does not necessarily preclude belief in the other. 

Overview of Unit

Reading: Chapter One in Essentials of Physical Anthropology, Eighth Edition. Jurmain, Nelson, Kilgor, and Trevathan.

Print and bring these to class:

Chapter One Lecture Outline

Chapter One Vocabulary

Steps of the Scientific Method

Scientific Misconceptions


You need not bring this to class (although some students choose to), but as soon as possible after each class session use your lecture notes to answer these questions :
Chapter One Study Guide


Before class watch or read:
An example of biocultural evolution: Lactase Deficiency

Milk drinking started around 7,500 years ago in central Europe (pdf)

"Why We Can't Rule Out Bigfoot"

"How simple ideas lead to scientific discoveries" (7:32)

"Isn't Evolution Just a Theory?" (6:15)

 Example of application of the scientific method: Semmelweis and “Childbed Fever”

 "Why Is Evolution Controversial Anyway?" (6:36)


- Science and scientific investigation is part of critical thinking.  I recommend you watch this provocative and informative video, Here Be Dragons (41:10), an introduction to critical thinking that "offers a toolbox for recognizing and understanding the dangers of pseudoscience, and appreciation for the reality-based benefits offered by real science."


Related links that might be of interest to you:

"Evolution is a Fact and a Theory" 
Laetoli Footprints (includes video of formation/interpretation): http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/07/1/l_071_03.html

Another Look at the Scientific Method: http://biology.clc.uc.edu/courses/bio104/sci_meth.ht
          The Skeptic's Dictionary:  http://skepdic.com/

The Talk.Origins Archives: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy: http://www.talkorigins.org/