Talk:Derek Freeman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject New Zealand (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject New Zealand, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of New Zealand and New Zealand-related topics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Biography (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Biography, a collaborative effort to create, develop and organize Wikipedia's articles about people. All interested editors are invited to join the project and contribute to the discussion. For instructions on how to use this banner, please refer to the documentation.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
WikiProject Anthropology  
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Anthropology, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Anthropology on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the importance scale.

Biased Article[edit]

This article is sickeningly biased toward Mead. It is perfectly in line with the authoritarian mysticism that the American and Continental neo-Lysenkoists in anthropology and their postmodernist cousins impose on anyone who questions the party line. Russell, a _true_ progressive, was so right in saying that mysticism is the ancestor of fascism (including that brand of fascism called Stalinism). There is no point in even trying to edit this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:21, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

Ad hominem?[edit]

Do you think you (Maunus, Slrubenstein) may be cherry picking the worst personal details you can find on Freeman in the most one sided sources and largely ignoring the factual details of the controversy? I'm especially disturbed by the heavy reliance on Shankman and the absence of Martin Orans. I can balance with some material from Orans myself. Supershorts (talk) 17:48, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

No I don't think so - I am using all the available literature, including the highly positive biography by Appell and Madan - and in fact I am taking particular pains to include positive information. I have Orans myself, I'll be using that for description of the conroversy, but right now I am writing about his life which Oran's doesn't touch much upon. If you have any actual criticisms of the way I am writing the biography please address those instead of just casting random aspersions. Also Slrubenstein has made 1 edit to the article - changing an anthropoloogical detail - you have no reason to address him in this fashion: I am the one writing this article at the moment - if you have something you want to add or change do so. If you have questions or doubts about sources adress those - providing sources of course. ·Maunus·ƛ· 18:24, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
Too much weight on the psychological condition of Freeman. The space would be better used detailing the facts of the controversy, as presented by Freeman. Is Hiram Cantor the only source for the supposed mental abberations of Freeman? Is he qualified to make such diagnoses? I find especially eyebrow raising the tale of the "Freudian slip": "because I was afraid you might ask me to stay the night"; and the "castrator of men". Do you have access to Cantor's sources for that? It sounds like pretty base and unreliable ad hominem defamation to me.
I think a cooler headed and factual treatment of the controversy would be more appropriate here. I'll get hold of a copy of Orans and add some stuff. This tabloid stuff sure is exciting though. Maybe I can find a source claiming that Mead was a space zombie. Supershorts (talk) 10:54, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
Freeman himself wrote about and commented his mental condition - and the Freudian slip. So do many other sources, Caton is an excellent and reliable source and he has had access to most of Freeman's Psychiatrist archives. The article spends time on Freeman's mental condition because reliable sources do that. That is not tabloid stuff - that is biography - the article is about Freemans life, not about the Mead controversy. I am going to start another page specifically about the controversy.·Maunus·ƛ· 11:58, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
Freeman is notable for his work on Samoa, not his alleged mental problems. That should form the bulk of material here. A separate page on the controversy is a good idea. Supershorts (talk) 12:12, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
Nonsense, he is notable because of his controversial publications (and for his work on Borneo) - the literature on his controversial nature also treats his mental health extensively (Caton even diagnoses him as suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder). Freeman himself discusses his mental issues in several published interviews. It cannot be left out. That being said - his thought and work IS the bulk of the material here - I have limited discussion of his mental health to the bare minimum.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:22, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Pattern of rhetoric[edit]

I notice a common flaw in the writing on these articles. The flaw takes the form of trying to imply that the majority of people agree with this or that point. This is of course a claim that requires a source. An example is

"Generally anthropologists have been reluctant to accept Freeman's critique as a valid."

Added here

Is that Maunus' opinion? Supershorts (talk) 11:24, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

No that can be sourced to a rather large number of sources including Shankman, Orans, and probably Freeman himself - furthermore the AAA have issued statements criticizing Freeman severely and Louise Lamphere - then President of rebutted the NY Times' obituary of Freeman which stated that his critique had finally been generally accepted. I wrote it in a stronger formulation first, which can also be supported by sources but toned it down to reluctance in order to make it less controversial. ·Maunus·ƛ· 12:01, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
By the way, you keep talkign about Orans as if he somehow supports Freeman - he doesn't he is equally critical of Mead and Freeman.·Maunus·ƛ· 12:30, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, I think Orans is a good neutral source, focussed on the facts of the controversy. I haven't read Shankman, but I get the feeling it's a bit sensationalist. Does Orans really find that "Generally anthropologists have been reluctant to accept Freeman's critique as a valid."? Can you point out where he says that. Does he mean that Mead was right and Freeman was wrong? That's the sense I am getting from your writing. Or just that Freeman was not entirely correct. Supershorts (talk) 12:52, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
Shankman argues that anthropologists generally have generally been critical of Mead, and that her popularity was morew with the general public. Shankman is probably one of the least sensationalist commentators in this debate - I don't know why you would have a different opinion obviously not having read his work. I would agree that Caton is more sensationalist - but his work on the controversy is also generally well respected and has been well received. Shankman shows that Freeman misrepresented Mead as an "absolute cultural determinist" who denied biological influences on behavior - which she wasn't and didn't. He shows that Mead argued that the coming of age phenomena was the result of interaction between biological and cultural factors (and that she generally was interested in Evolutionary theory at a very early point) - Freeman ignored this part of her argument. He also shows that Anthropologists have never accepted Freeman's critique as valid - that it has been rejected on multiple accounts, and that it has mostly been well received by sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists and right wing political commentators. Orans, himself rejects the validity of Freeman's critique - not because he agrees with Mead, but because he finds Mead's arguments to be based on circumstantial evidence and formulated in a way that cannot be refuted (Not even wrong).·Maunus·ƛ· 16:15, 29 May 2011 (UTC)


This is a summary of Orans book from this source:[1]"Compares Mead's field notes and correspondence with the published version of Coming of age and concludes that she had been able to form a reasonably accurate picture of Samoan culture and sexuality. However, she then selectively used the information she had gathered to argue a case for cultural determinism and a more permissive sexual code, when the data she had collected would have equally supported the opposite case. Claims her fieldwork was sloppy and her enquiry could not have provided the evidence needed to prove her thesis - thus "her work may properly be dammed with the harshest scientific criticism of all, that it is "not even wrong"" (p.155). Explores reasons for the enthusiastic and uncritical reception the book received from scholars and the general public - including his own use of it as a set reading for his students. Criticises the failure of cultural anthropology to accept the need for a positivist scientific approach. Describes Mead's understanding of three factors restricting adolescent sexual freedom in Samoa - noble birth, age and residence in the pastor's house, claiming that the first of these applied to a much larger proportion of the population than is generally recognised. Notes Mead's view that earlier generations had lived under a much stricter regime. Discusses evidence from Mead, Freeman and Holmes about Christianisation and internalisation of a sense of sin. Considers the "temporary felicitous relaxation" and the "little Margaret among the children" explanations, but concludes. from a listing of all the clearly positive and negative statements in Coming of age in Samoa (which shows the negative outweigh the positive nearly two to one), that such hypotheses are unnecessary. Accuses Mead of leaving out certain incidents recorded in her fieldnotes, such as the rape of an eight year-old girl and the immensely destructive hurricane which led to a "famine in native foods" by the time of her departure. Examines Mead's field writings for evidence of her command of Samoan and her sources of information. Finds inconsistencies in her population statistics and evidence that two of her chief informants on sex were a young man and a European school teacher and that much of her data was gathered in English. Suggests her sources for her figures on such matters as sexual experience are dubious and amount to little more than gossip in some cases. Rejects Freeman's claim that Mead was hoaxed by Fa'apua'a Fa'amu on four grounds - that it is inconsist with Mead's assertions of chastity as the norm for taupou, that none of the information in the field notes is attributed to Fa'amu and her letters to Mead contain nothing of ethnographical interest, that Mead records the trip to Ofu and Olosega in a news bulletin letter but mentions nothing about receiving important new information, and that her letters to Boas show no change in her attitudes as a result. Accuses Freeman of leaving out a critical phrase from one of these letters - which ruins Freeman's interpretation of too much ethnography and too little focus on the question of adolescent stress."·Maunus·ƛ· 16:19, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

On page 6-7 Orans writes: "Clearly Freeman's critique apart from its defects, was bound to arouse the same anxiety as my offhand remarks - that the discrediting of Mead would do harm to the field of anthropology. In addition, many anthropologists, whatever their views on the quality of Mead's work believed that her lifelong efforts to secure the understanding of the power of culture were surely on the side of the angels. Freeman's critique, with its avowed intention of giving the biological a greater role, was seen as reactionary and racist. Mead's work was a charter for an ideology that most anthropologists approved; Freeman's critique was seen as a charter for an ideology that most anthropologists abhorred" - in short he says that there was an ideological background in anthropology which made it impossible for the discipline to accept Freeman's critique - even if it had been valid (which he argues it mostly isn't - although it hits its target on some accounts). Orans whole book is an indictment of the post-modernist anti-positivist paradigm of anthropology which he argues is prevalent, and which has made it impossible to evaluate Mead and Freeman's work in scientific terms. This paradigm - which as I said he clearly sees as prevalent, does not generally accept Freeman's critique as valid, although they are also generally critical of Mead's work and regard her as a popularizer, more than a scholar.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:58, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Awful article[edit]

I don't know who would hold such a particular grudge against Freeman, a dead man, and nor do I know why given the relative obscurity of the topic, but this article is essentially an awful smear campaign. There's a long (and I mean long) section of ruminations on Freeman's psychological health that makes up the introduction; Freeman was a scholar who suffered no notable illnesses, and if he can be characterized as a narcissist then the whole academic community follows.

None of this pablum belongs in the lede paragraph.

Even worse, poor Freeman doesn't find quarter in death! Was it really necessary to cite some off-the-wall source rebutting his goddamn obituary?

I have every intention of rewriting this article from the ground up, and I couldn't care less which Wikihawk deigns to stop me.

-- (talk) 03:29, 5 October 2012 (UTC)

Freeman's mental health is important to cover in this article because 1. =it has been the subject of substantial attention in the literature about him. And we have to give due weight to all notable published viewpoints regarding Freeman. 2. it impinges on his scientific project of debunking Margaret Mead's findings, and has been described as ties to his motivation for undertaking that project by his biographers. 3. his illness was not only notable it was noted by a large number of his biographers and he even commented on it himself in his own biographical writings. It is not an off-the-wall source debunking his obituary, it is the president of the American Anthropological Association debunking a specific claim in his obituary because it was factually incorrect. Wikipedia articles are not supposed to be hagiographies, but to be complete reviews of the literature about its subject - including both the good, the bad and the ugly. The Lead paragraph per WP:LEAD are supposed to be a summary of the article, and therefore the same material that belongs in the article belongs n the lead. The article should however of course be written in a respectful manner, and if there are specific cases where you believe we can reword or change the material to achieve a more respectful tone I'll be happy to collaborate on that. However you will not be able to remove material based on reliable sources without first giving a good reason and establishing a consensus for why those sources are not to be used.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 10:49, 5 October 2012 (UTC)