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Nimis's avatar

Could an anthropologist get a good picture of who you are?

Asked by Nimis (13090 points ) August 17th, 2011

Assuming things are preserved as they are today.
Could a future anthropologist get a good decent idea of who you are from:

- your home
– your computer
– your closet
– your fridge
– your library
– your music collection
– your photos
– your art
– your backyard or garden
– your work place or work space
– your car
– et cetera…

What would give the most accurate picture?
What would be the most misleading?

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14 Answers

dappled_leaves's avatar

I think so, from my books and art… and from the contents of my fridge. horrors

JilltheTooth's avatar

You forgot garbage. My garbage would be pretty telling.

athenasgriffin's avatar

My iPod and my computer could give anyone a wonderful idea of who I am. However, they would probably think I was indecisive from the size of my music collection.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@athenasgriffin – yup, that’s me too.

wundayatta's avatar

Probably. They’d get a lot from my file cabinets with all my early correspondence and all my bills and tax returns from forever. I can’t think of anything that would be misleading.

Nimis's avatar

@JilltheTooth Garbage! Can’t believe I left that out.

Blueroses's avatar

Interesting question! Looking around at my surroundings, I’m amazed to notice how very few things reflect my own choices and how many things were gifts or inherited. Finding these items would give no clues to who I am.

Now, if they found my kitchen cabinets, my laptop or my locked bedside table drawer… the picture would emerge.

efritz's avatar

Based on my clothing, sloppy lifestyle, and music/movie collection, I am obviously a hipster. Minus the trust fund and vegan-ness. So I guess a hobo with a mac.

Nimis's avatar

@efritz Ha! Hobos with a Mac.
Clearly something to be further studied by future anthropologists.

Pandora's avatar

I think the most accurate would be my photos. I have tons of pictures of the people dearest to me.
So if they assume family is most important to me, than they would be right.
The most misleading thing would be my clothing drawers. They would see everything neatly folded and organized in square little boxes. They would assume I’m an anal neat freak. What they wouldn’t know is I use to just throw my stuff in my drawers when I had room. Now I organize so I can fit as much as possible and so I can find my stuff when I need it without having to look in a bunch of places for it especially since my memory isn’t what it once was.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Not really. More likely, the information about your habits would be many datapoints to be added to others to understand trends in the habits of your people. Unless you keep a lot of written records. And yea, midden heaps (garbage), are huge sources of information used by archaeologists. The fact that most of us send ours away would mean not being able to figure out who or even what community produced any particular piece of garbage.

To get an accurate picture of a person, behavioral information would need to be collected, such that couldn’t be collected without direct observation. If you’re one of those annoying people who updates their Facebook every five minutes about every single thing that happens, that would probably be used in painting a picture of you.

augustlan's avatar

I’m thinking they’d get a pretty complete picture of me, just by reading all of my posts on Fluther. ;)

gondwanalon's avatar

An anthropologist could get the best picture of who I am by looking at my physical body. I’m an athlete who has been in continuous training for over 30 years.

An anthropologist could learn a lot about my athletic nature just from looking at my heart. My heart is large and powerful and is capable of generation a large continuous blood output. This is characteristic of long distance competitive athletes. My cardiologist told me that my heart is like that of an Olympic cyclist. Also an anthropologist would determine that I eat a healthy diet as all of my coronary blood vessels are wide open with no plaque build up at all. An anthropologist would also note the scaring inside of my left atrium due to an ablation procedure done at one point in my life. This would indicate to the anthropologist that I once suffered from atrial fibrillation.

dreamwolf's avatar

An Anthropologist might, but a Journalist definitely could.

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