If the presence of an anthropologist at a fieldsite indicates that there exist unknowns, then for that anthropologist off-handedly to dismiss informant responses as irrelevant, inadequate, or otherwise poor explanations for observed phenomena is an intellectually arrogant, if not dangerous act.

What then does the anthropologist do with statements that "god willed it" and "the spirits did it"? To dismiss them without good reasons is to be guilty of intellectual condescension; but what constitutes a "good reason," either to reject or to accept such testimony? This essay seeks to consider just such "good reasons," to see if they are as "good" as academic practitioners seem to assume.

Document Type


Publication Date

August 1990