Darkness in El Dorado Controversy - Archived Document

Internet Source: USA TODAY , LIFE; Pg. 8D , November 13, 2000
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Science academy criticizes 'Darkness in El Dorado' claims

Dan Vergano

The National Academy of Sciences has joined the growing chorus of scientists denouncing a book that suggests scientists triggered a measles epidemic among Venezuelan natives.

In a statement, Bruce Alberts, head of the federally chartered organization, calls many of the book's statements "misleading or demonstrably false." Alberts says Patrick Tierney, the author of Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon, invented an NAS study to justify his results, wrongly linked researchers to the Atomic Energy Commission, and mischaracterized the work and views of a late University of Michigan researcher.

On Thursday, Tierney spoke to Venezuelan authorities, urging an international investigation into the 1968 events described in his book. The NAS statement (available at www.national-academies.org) does not address the book's claims of misconduct against University of California, Santa Barbara, anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon.

Tierney says Chagnon's expeditions sparked death and disease among the Yanomami, as well as incorrectly marking them as violent "Fierce People."