parochialism in subdisciplines

I’ve always thought that some disciplines are much more parochial than others. One of my favorites are the group of physical anthropologists who do (non-human) primate biology. What the heck? They are biologists, but often dreadfully out of touch with the mainstream biology disciplines (i.e., genetics, evolution, paleontology, physiology, biomechanics, anatomy) that are really their area of interest. Somehow because they are working on primates (ie almost humans) they are exempt from understanding the other work that might inform their studies. Not true of all researchers, of course. I can name some folks in this field who are really doing cutting edge work, but then, they usually don’t consider themselves anthropologists, but biologists.

Is the frequency of this problem increasing because of the increase in workers/knowledge/publications and the difficulty in understanding the specifics in an ever expanding pool of information? If you major or get a phd from a department of “molecular genetics” is it reasonable to ask that you know some comparative biology and that animals beyond humans and rodents exist?

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2 thoughts on “parochialism in subdisciplines

  1. I am an Biology/Ecology PhD student who socializes and works with many Physical Anthropologists and I complain about this ALL the time! Love the DLC sifaka photo as the background by the way 🙂

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