The following appeared in an article written by Dr. Karp, an anthropologist.

“Twenty years ago, Dr. Field, a noted anthropologist, visited the island of Tertia and concluded from his observations that children in Tertia were reared by an entire village rather than by their own biological parents. However, my recent interviews with children living in the group of islands that includes Tertia show that these children spend much more time talking about their biological parents than about other adults in the village. This research of mine proves that Dr. Field’s conclusion about Tertian village culture is invalid and thus that the observation-centered approach to studying cultures is invalid as well. The interview-centered method that my team of graduate students is currently using in Tertia will establish a much more accurate understanding of child-rearing traditions there and in other island cultures.”

Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.

The interviewer, Dr. Karp, is an anthropologist with years of fieldwork experience. He is basing his conclusion on the research he conducted on Tertia, an island full of people with no tradition of writing. While Dr. Field’s study was not intended to be an in-depth ethnographic analysis of child-rearing traditions, Dr. Karp is reaching well beyond his findings. The interview-centered approach has not been proven inaccurate nor has it been shown to promote understanding. In fact, the two are at odds with each other. The ethnographic method demands that a researcher spend a significant amount of time observing and interacting with culture.

On the other hand, Field concluded that Tertian children were raised by an entire village, not their biological parents. The assumption that the children spend most of their time talking about their birth parents instead of other adults is unfounded.

Dr. Karp’s hypothesis that Tertian children spend more time with their biological parents than with other adults is based on his interviews with Tertia children. He claims to have interviewed sixteen children between the ages of five and fourteen. He claims that eleven of the sixteen children told him that their biological parents were involved in their upbringing. He suggests that these interviews reveal “the entire village” raising children.

Although Dr. Karp’s interviews have generated considerable publicity, they do not prove his hypothesis. The interviews are anecdotal, and so while they are attractive, their validity is limited. Furthermore, the discussions did not involve living members of Tertia’s culture. Dr. Karp’s group of graduate students went to the island to excavate a burial mound. While there, they interviewed some adult members of the Tertian community, but they did not talk to any children or adolescents.

Dr. Karp’s interviews are therefore of limited value. The anthropological study of child-rearing traditions requires an in-depth, systematic analysis of multiple sources of information. Dr. Karp’s interviews do not satisfy these requirements. For example, he interviewed only fifteen of the sixteen children he claimed to have interviewed. If, as Dr. Karp claims, eleven of these fifteen children told him that their biological parents were actively involved in their upbringing, then Dr. Karp would have interviewed twenty-two children, not sixteen. He would have interviewed twice as many children as he had, and this would not be unreasonable. However, Dr. Karp has not provided any statistics or raw data to support the eleven children that claimed their biological parents were involved. He made those eleven children sound absurd by stating that they told the truth.

Dr. Karp’s interviews also reveal his bias. He interviewed children living on the island of Tertia, while anthropologists usually interview members of culture on the verge of extinction. Dr. Karp assumes that Tertian children still spend most of their time with their biological parents, a highly questionable assumption. Tertia is a small island, and most adults have married, had children, and died. Dr. Karp’s samples are skewed toward young adults, but his research does not prove that Tertian children still spend most of their time with their parents. As a result, Dr. Karp’s conclusions are questionable.

The interview-centered method is not invalid. On the contrary, it is gaining credibility among anthropologists. Archaeologists and anthropologists use interviews to gather information, but they are collecting this evidence through observation. Conducting interviews alone is not sufficient to gain an accurate understanding of a culture. A researcher must observe and interact in a meaningful way with the culture members to fully understand their culture. The interview-centered method ensures that important cultural information is not overlooked. For example, Dr. Karp’s interviews do not prove that The entire village raises tertian children. The ethnographic method did.