A note on the anthropology of the Pacific

A note on the anthropology of the Pacific July 5, 2019


A landscape in Samoa
A South Pacific view in Samoa. (Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)


In the eighth issue of Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, which appeared in 2014, A. Keith Thompson, a legal historian who hails originally from New Zealand but who has lived and traveled extensively worldwide and who now resides and works in New South Wales, Australia, published an article titled “Fashion or Proof? A Challenge for Pacific Anthropology”:


Abstract: This article is a call to Pacific anthropologists to write the story of the origin of mankind in the Pacific a bit larger and perhaps to look scientifically for additional explanations. Is it possible that the early diffusionists may have gotten some things right, albeit for the wrong reasons?


I re-read Dr. Thompson’s essay again just now.  Why?  Because I had come across some very harsh (and mocking) online criticism of it — criticism that seemed to me to pertain to an absurdly simple-minded article quite unlike the one that I remembered having read.  And, sure enough, my re-reading “Fashion or Proof?” yielded nothing that was even close to being as transparently ridiculous as that online critic seeks to make it appear.


I encourage others to read it or, if they’ve already read it previously, to take another look at it.




The Samoan scenery shown in the photograph above inspires me to share two particular links to articles that I found interesting:


“Best way to fight climate change? Plant a trillion trees”


“Time is running out for sand: Sand and gravel are being extracted faster than they can be replaced. Monitor and manage this resource globally, urge Mette Bendixen and colleagues.”




Finally, here’s some other science news that caught my attention.  The first item has a Utah connection:


“Some ancient crocodiles may have chomped on plants instead of meat: Fossil teeth suggest plant-eating evolved at least three times in crocs of the Mesozoic Era”


This new book, if they read it, could do wonders to improve my image in certain quarters:


“‘Slime’ shows how algae have shaped our climate, evolution and daily lives: A new book will have you looking at pond scum in a whole new light”


And this link will clearly illlustrate the reality that, whether they’re enthused about it or not, they simply need to deal with the fact that I’m likely not going away any time soon:


“One big reason you can’t get rid of cockroaches: Cockroaches can quickly evolve resistance to insecticides. But we can still fight back.”



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