Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Erratum in American Anthropologist

As part of the annual year-in-review issue of American Anthropologist, I offered my take on developments and themes in biological anthropology in 2009. I started the piece by recognizing 2009 as Darwin Year - the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. I described the intellectual richness of our discipline as a "tangled bank of ideas," an allusion to Darwin's phrase from the closing paragraphs of Origin:
"It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us."

You can bet I was pretty pleased with that little bit of wordplay, but less so when the phrase came out in print as the "tangled BARK." Oh. NO. So I want to enthusiastically thank the very good people at American Anthropologist for issuing an erratum in the September issue, correcting the wording to read:
"Whereas the disciplinary divides may seem more obvious between the primary branches off the mother trunk, a tangled bank of ideas and the seemingly limitless intellectual radiations of the human brain have yielded nearly as many specialties as there are people to specialize in them."

All is right with the world.

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