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ANGLE OF ROTATION (DEGREES)
Dr. ATKINSON. Mr. Brown, I don't know whether this is quite as remarkable to you as it is to me: relations are absolutely orderly and can be reproduced in any laboratory in the country. This is a major step forward in understanding the relationship between the physiology of these processes and their representations as mental images.
I want to comment also on Dr. Chapin's remarks about computer speech. As you may have seen in the most recent issue of Science '80 à discussion of this topic; it emphasizes computer electronics. What is not emphasized is that none of this work could have been done without a deep understanding of the linguistic rules that characterize speech. Those rules have emerged in recent years from an interdisciplinary approach to these problems by neurobiologists, linguists, and computer scientists--all grappling with the rules that characterize human speech and with the application to computers.
No one could have foreseen that application when this work began to evolve, but it was an important and critical application.
Dr. CLARK. Mr. Chairman, Dr. Friedl would like to say a few words.
Mr. Brown. Yes, Dr. Friedl.
Dr. FRIEDL. I would like to get back to the problem of translation that we were talking about and to suggest that one of the problems we have is exemplified by what happened here this morning.
We had a presentation of what might look to a lay audience like a rather simple result. After all, everyone knows that it isn't hard to tell whether things are the same or different and, really, what difference does it make that you have discovered that there is a regular process by which this occurs.
So, a lay audience might have looked at that presentation and said, “Yes, but so what ?" It takes the kind of comment Dr. Atkinson made to explain that what looks like a simple discoverey, is, in fact, not simple but contains complex elements.
So, I would like to suggest that, in dealing with this whole problem of translation, part of the problem is that very often the results of scientific research look terribly simple, and this is especially true in the social sciences. They give us the feeling that we are repeating commonsense, that we are saying commonsense things. The translation, therefore, ought to say, “Yes, this looks simple but see what the consequences are." Let's try to explain why it is not, in fact, simple.
Mr. Brown. I am reminded of the fact that there is a long history of scientific effort trying to understand the design of the brain. There is a book by that name, which dealt with some of the same kinds of things; namely, how we are motivated to act by things that form in our brains and if you take that far enough you get into all sorts of radical political discussions about how social change occurs because people have an image in their brains of a different kind of society.
Are you going to do any research like that and get yourself into a lot of trouble?
Dr. ATKINSON. I am going to be cautious and let Dr. Simon respond to those remarks.
Mr. Brown. All right. They create a warm feeling in people and blocks are all right but you can't go too far with this kind of thing. All right. We will get to the more controversial areas.
Dr. CLARK. The next presentation is by Dr. John Yellen, Program Director for Anthropology. He will address currently active research on human origins as well as research on human cultures and the environment. Virtually all of the Federal support in anthropology, for research, done at universities is provided by the National Science Foundation. John ?
STATEMENT OF DR. JOHN YELLEN, PROGRAM DIRECTOR FOR
Dr. YELLEN. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. The discipline of anthropology includes social anthropology, physical anthropology and archaeology. Anthropologists study a wide range of different societies in the search for regularities in human behavior. Anthropology also integrates biology and culture. What distinguishes physical anthropology from other areas in biology is this particular emphasis. Finalsy, anthropologists like to look at things over the long run. What we are today, our bodies, the words we speak, result from millions of years of development. Anthropology is obviously a broad and diverse field. However, it has an intellectual coherence. One can single out major directions and questions. I want to talk about two of them this morning.
The first concerns where we came from. What is the path, the process which led to our becoming human. This search for human origins holds a high place in the public regard. As an example, the Time magazine with Richard Leakey on the cover was the largest selling issue in 1977, and it may have been the largest selling issue of all time. New fossils and new ways of looking at them have dramatically changed the picture of where we came from.
In the spring of 1978, the Foundation sponsored a conference which brought together a very broadly based group of human origins researchers. At that conference, we tried to assess our current state of knowledge and to see where we should concentrate our efforts over the next decade. What was clear from the outset is that our understanding of the past has increased enormously over the last half dozen years.
Only several years ago, unique fossils could dramatically change our understanding of human evolution. One could use as an example the advanced australopithecine skull, known in the trade as “1470" which the Richard Leakey and Glyn Isaac group found in Kenya. On the basis of that one skull a number of ideas went out the window. Such a situation, it could be argued, characterizes a science in its infancy. When one unique bit of data can have such a tremendous effect, it is probably the most exciting stage of the science, but not necessarily the most productive.
Over the past several years, the numbers of relevant fossils have increased dramatically. One can now, for the first time, start to talk about sample size and criteria for selection. This picture shows Don Johanson from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, at Hadar in Ethiopia. From one limited time period he has discovered remains from 36 individuals who were possibly members of a single social group. It looks as though they were all killed at the same time. In her testimony submitted to this committee, Dr. Clark discussed "Homo afarensis," a newly described species which is now the earliest form of human known. The Hadar finds provide most of the material on which the species is based.
The next two pictures illustrate not only why human origins research has advanced the way it has, but also why some aspects of it are so time consuming. The real secret to its success lies in carefully organized and integrated multidisciplinary research. One of the things such an approach does is allow for the more efficient search for fossils. This picture shows how paleomagnetic reversal data from the Siwalik Hills in Pakistan can be used to isolate just those strata in which early australopithecine remains might be found. This permits effective concentration of search effort. At long intervals the North and South Poles periodically reverse their position and geophysicists can isolate strata which date to individual magretic periods. Other techniques permit one to establish absolute chronologies, and to make tentative reconstructions to show what the landscape looked like when these early hominids were roaming over it.
This picture presents a detailed, though of course, tentative reconstruction of the East Turkana landscape as it was in “1470s” time, 1.8 million years ago. The gray shaded area in the smaller of the two insets shows the relevant stratum left today, and the large inset presents the reconstruction derived from it. It's only in this way that we can begin to understand the lifestyle of these early hominids and the selective forces which acted on them.
A second basic questions that anthropologists ask is how, at a technologically simple level, people relate to and make use of their environment. I'd like to use examples from this area termed "ecological anthropology" to show how good basic research can also yield information with direct utility in developing nations. The work being done by ecological anthropoligists provides tools for assisting development in such countries.
What we are learning in Central America is really intriguing because it is so unexpected. Anthropologists have long been interested in the Mayan empire, how it rose, functioned, and then very rapidly declined. Mayans lived in relatively large groups and it has been difficult to understand how such high population densities could be maintained in lowland tropical environments. Many of these same areas today are uninhabited.
In the last several years, aerial photographs have revealed extensive field systems, in some cases directly associated with classic Mayan sites. The raised fields and intervening water filled ditches are associated with terraces and agricultural features as well as house mounds. Several scientists studied further those raised fields. It appears that most had a layer of crushed limestone which may have acted as fertilizer, and it has been hypothesized that the canals may have been used to raise fish.
Thus, research directed toward this end has the potential of producing very practical information. In fact, the Mexican Government has an experimental program to reintroduce raised field agriculture, and raised fields are now working very successfully in several places. It is a very appropriate technology.
In contrast, many ecological studies are focused in the ethnographic present. For example, anthropologists from the State University of New York at Binghamton are currently engaged in a long-term study of Turkana pastoralism in Northern Kenya. This region is a Sahelian environment, the same as that of drought-plagued western and central Africa where malnutrition is prevalent. The livestock, cattle, goats, sheep and camels lie at the core of a pastoralist's life. Social organization and values are centered in the herds.
Pastoralists have sucessfully occupied Sahelian environments for thousands of years; the archaeological data make that clear. They have developed mechanisms for survival in these arid areas. Current research should not only provide more detailed knowledge of how these mechanisms work, but also provide a basis for sensible and sensitive expenditures by organizations such as AID, whose Sahel development program is budgeted at $100 million in the current fiscal year.
Thank you very much.
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