Editor’s Note

The lifeblood of science and social science is competition among ideas in healthy debate testing scholarly standards and findings. In recent years, as standards have begun to disappear in social science and as journals begin to advocate for doctrine in place of social science and discipline, the opportunity to challenge colleagues (and editors) to adhere to disciplinary standards has also disappeared. Many journals have simply eliminated Letters to the Editor sections and discussions. Others have moved discussions to on-line pages where discussions often deteriorate into short emotional reactions or factional in-fighting in place of constructive scholarly debate to promote advances in the discipline. Below is an example of a letter that was accepted for publication by the editor of Anthropology in Action, one of two practicing anthropology journals (along with Practicing Anthropology), in late 2014. The letter was vetted but never published because Anthropology in Action, like Practicing Anthropology, changed its policy and no longer prints letters to the editor. In both publications, articles are increasingly shorter, book reviews are fewer, and discussions are disappearing. Despite the possibility of on-line publication that would open up such space, neither publication has moved to such option. Not a single letter to the editor has now appeared in Anthropology in Action for four years and possibly much longer before that. This is not to single out those publications since this is part of a widespread problem not limited to a single sub-field, publication or editor. The letter below is an example of one that poses a challenge to a sub-discipline to define its actual fit with the goals, questions and definitions of the discipline where such standards seem to have disappeared.