Bad Science in "Science", "Nature" and a few others

Jeff Marck jeff.marck at
Thu Apr 25 03:59:32 UTC 2002

I put this out on ArcLing over the weekend and a number of people kind of
liked it. Obviously has a place on AN-lang and probably ASAO as well so
here it is:


The geneticists put out some striking papers on Polynesian genetics in the
last couple years. Per Hage and I have sent off a paper saying the obvious
conclusion to the observation that Polynesian mitochondrial DNA is mainly
Asian and Y-chromosome DNA is mainly Papuan is that Proto Oceanic and
immediately descended societies were matrilineal... as matrilineal
societies are relatively quick to absorb new men and slow absorb new women
as opposed to the various vice versas.

While these breakthroughs in genetics are welcome the archaeology seems
typically to be read second hand and the linguistics even more remotely.
And the simple and abundant errors in usages of linguistic terminologies
(and their implications) are sometimes amazing.

Perhaps they think we should be capable of speaking correctly and
authoritatively about genetics without bioscientists having a look at our
stuff before we send it off to press. Probably not. Why then do so many of
them seem to assume they can read third-hand linguistics for a week and
then publish generally accurate interpretations of what it means, what it
does not, and so forth?

It's simple arrogance and I for one, have not been entirely polite about it
in things I've sent off to press in recent months.


Jeff Marck

Jeff Marck
Adj. Asst. Prof. U. Iowa Anthropology
Adj. Asst. Prof. U. Hawai'i Linguistics
PO Box 27129
Omaha NE 68127 USA
USA-402-558-1931 (home)
USA-402-578-3462 (cell)

More information about the An-lang mailing list