Darkness in El Dorado Controversy - Archived Document

Internet Source: email from author
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To Professor Louise Lamphere, President of the American Anthropological Association

From Mark Ritchie January 12, 2001

Dear Professor Lamphere,

I am the author of the book Spirit of the Rainforest (Island Lake Press 1996, 2nd ed 2000). This book, you already know, is cited numerous times by Patrick Tierney in his book Darkness in El Dorado. In December, after I read a critical review of Darkness by Jane Lancaster (editor of Human Nature) I wrote an email to her. Below I quote from the main points of my email (with slight modifications). I brought to her attention (and now to yours) that Mr. Tierney has badly misquoted me in Darkness. Here is part of what I said in my email to Dr. Lancaster:

Dear Dr. Lancaster,

Your observation that Tierney's massive footnoting gives a totally false impression of objectivity is at the heart of the problem of Tierney's book. I would be curious to know how much of his documentation could survive scrutiny. An example of this is Tierney's citing of me as a source on Lizot. I fully admit that when my book came out, I did not even know how to spell Lizot's name. And I never, I repeat never, have used his name in any reference to anything that happened in my book. I'm not denying that Lizot did what Tierney alleges. But I am saying without equivocation that I have never confirmed to anyone, my wife and children included, that Lizot was the person I referred to in my book. Never. The first time my wife ever heard Lizot's name mentioned in connection with me was when she read it in Tierney's book at a recent book signing I was doing. Yet from reading Tierney, one would think that I had published Lizot's name. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One other example: Tierney used my research to support his claim that Chagnon demanded women. My research supports nothing of the sort. Chagnon is no friend of mine. Indeed, from an academic standpoint, I consider him an opponent. If he had sexually abused women, I would have made that known. Especially so in light of his "bums, beggars, and prostitutes," quote which I may have used a bit too much. But if I had proof of female abuse by Chagnon, I'd have used the quote even more. The documentation Tierney cites on this is simply a flagrant violation of honest research.


Dr Lamphere,

That is the end of the main part of my E-mail to Dr. Lancaster. May I say in closing, I appreciated that Dr. Lancaster gave Jungleman an honest ear. (Jungleman was a Yanomamö shaman who died in 1994. My book is his autobiography/biography.) I say this because I have been disappointed with the lack of hearing Jungleman has received. A New York author makes largely unsubstantiated charges and is invited to speak at the AAA, while Jungleman is ignored. That is why I appreciated Dr. Lancaster's straightforward acceptance of his message.


Mark Andrew Ritchie
27220 Darrell Road
Wauconda, Illinois 60084