Mirando a Través de la Predisposición Cultural en la Ciencia

La mayoría de las personas aceptan ahora que los campos como la política y el periodismo reflejan y perpetúan las predisposiciones culturales. Aún así, imaginamos a la ciencia como algo libre de suposiciones culturales que no hayan sido examinadas. Eso es más o menos verdad en algunos campos, digamos la química o la física. No cabe duda de que mi propio rincón de la ciencia, la etología, o el estudio del comportamiento animal, no es prístina.

Cómo vemos a los animales refleja la forma en la que nos vemos a nosotros mismos. El fundador de la primatología japonesa, Kinji Imanishi, podría dar fe de eso. Imanishi argumentaba que la naturaleza es inherentemente armónica más que competitiva, con las especies formando un todo ecológico. Esta visión más bien no darwiniana molestó tanto a un paleontólogo británico, el difunto Beverly Halstead, que en 1984 viajó a Kyoto a enfrentarse a Imanishi. Sin preocuparse por el conocimiento de primera mano de los trabajos de Imanishi, los cuales nunca fueron traducidos, Halstead le dijo que su teoría era "japonesa en su irrealidad".

¿Qué llevó a Halstead a ser tan descortés? ¿Por qué escribió después un artículo criticando no sólo las visiones de Imanishi, sino su país? ¿Por qué Nature , una de las más prestigiadas publicaciones científicas, lo publicó en 1985 bajo la condescendente afirmación de que "la popularidad de los escritos de Kinji Imanishi en Japón brinda una interesante visión interna de la sociedad japonesa"? No podría decirse lo mismo de la teoría de la competencia interminable de Darwin, la cual creció de una sociedad que daba origen al capitalismo de mercado libre?

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