Internet Source: Public Anthropology: Engaging Ideas, May 27th 2001
Source URL (Archive.org): http://www.publicanthropology.org/Journals/Engaging-Ideas/RT(YANO)/Hill3.htm
Final Thoughts on the Ethical Implications
of "Darkness in El Dorado"
Program in Human Evolutionary Ecology,
Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-1086
The most important consensus to emerge from this interchange is the agreement that the suffering of the Yanomamo and other indigenous peoples is the most important focal point for turning discussion of the Tierney book into a useful exercise. Anthropologists and those we try to reach with our writings need to be aware that the vast majority of Native Americans were driven to extinction during colonial conquest and that this process did not end hundreds of years ago-- it is ongoing. Indeed, as Peters points out in a recent book, data on Brazilian Indians show that 36% of all indigenous groups that were contacted around or after 1900 were already extinct by the late 1950s1. Indigenous peoples are plagued by poor health and poverty, and programs in these two areas, along with education, land rights, and political protection area the keys to their survival. I join Albert in his support for Yanomamo land rights and the rejection of any 'readjustment' of the Yanomamo boundaries by Brazilian politicians with 'reformist' ideas about indigenous territories. Brazil does not need indigenous lands to solve its own problems of poverty, and it is not in Brazil's interests to continue an immoral conquest, that began five centuries ago, by further reducing indigenous land holdings. Instead the Brazilian people need education and technological development to make more effective use of the land that has already been expropriated from prior indigenous peoples through extermination and slavery. If Brazil cannot figure out how to raise the standard of living of its poor with two million square kilometers of Amazonian forest it will not solve those problems with four million square kilometers of forest. And of course the same is true for all other Latin American countries--- there is no justification whatsoever for further land expropriation from native inhabitants--- it must be stopped now and forever.
Albert focuses on pragmatic steps that lead to reduction of indigenous suffering. I wholehearted support that approach, though he and I don’t always agree on the details. Albert suggests that there are still three issues of biomedical ethics that should be investigated here: 1) possible experimentation during vaccinations without immunoglobulin; 2) inadequate training and planning to cope with the epidemic; and 3) failure to obtain informed consent while collecting biological samples. I believe however, that looking at the present and future situation is likely to help native peoples more than re-examining the past. I agree that the vaccinations without immunoglobulin should be investigated if this will bring closure to the issue, though I am fairly certain that the procedure was an accidental result of packing vaccines and immunoglobulin separately (the explanation given by those familiar with the situation). The issue of inadequate planning of the vaccination program really concerns the appropriate balance of help vs. research that should be required by visiting researchers. Should Neel have assumed full responsibility for counteracting the measles epidemic just because he was informed about it and was planning to be in the area? I don’t think this issue can be settled by an investigation. Common sense suggests that researchers cannot be held responsible for doing the job of governments. Neel did what he felt he could, and that was a lot more than any other anthropologist, missionary group or government agency working in the upper Orinoco did at the time. In this light it is important to remember that Neel also shipped a large supply of measles vaccine in 1967 to Brazilian missionaries who never administered them because the Brazilian government denied permission to do so2. If someone is to be investigated should it be Neel or the Brazilian government? Likewise, Albert suggests there should be a fuller investigation of the issue of informed consent while collecting 1968 biological samples? I doubt that an investigation of that specific event would be useful. The blood samples collected by the first Yanomamo expedition clearly were not collected under TODAY’S guidelines of informed consent despite the fact that the blood collection allowed Neel to discover that the Yanomamo had no antibodies to measles and thus motivated him to acquire and deliver the measles vaccine that saved many lives. It is important to note that Neel began plans for vaccination prior to hearing that an actual epidemic had started, and he did this because of information that he obtained through systematic blood sampling. Although investigation may uncover very little new information about this past event, it would indeed be useful to have more discussion about what sufficiently 'informed' consent should consist of in the present and future given that the Yanomamo do not have an advanced education in molecular biology and medicine that might be required for a complete understanding of the significance and utility of research that could be conducted among them. On other biomedical ethics issues I agree with Albert. He seems to mistakenly suggest that my position is that informed consent was not required for the radioiodine studies conducted by Roche because the Yanomamo couldn’t fully understand the research. I do not hold that position. Instead I believe that informed consent is and was required for all experimentation carried out on indigenous populations. This is true of Roche's iodine tracer studies despite the fact that they posed little hazard to the study population and had the potential of benefitting the Yanomamo3. But I think that it would be useful to consider the levels of information required in order to label consent as 'informed'. I suggest that a perfectly informed opinion about the implications and significance of any particular research project requires one to be a specialist in that research area-- something unrealistic for Yanomamo or even American populations. Instead, 'informed consent' should include a complete understanding of the potential risks of a research protocol and a more general understanding of the purpose of the research (and this is the grey area that I think needs to be carefully considered). I don’t believe that the Yanomamo have a full understanding of the implications any of the anthropological or medical research conducted among them, but I do think that the general research goals can be adequately explained to them, and that perhaps knowing that is sufficient for 'informed' consent. Finally I also agree fully with Albert's reformulation of my original suggestion that when research is not designed to directly help a native population they should know that fact and should be expected to negotiate the terms of the research accordingly. It is logical and wise that indigenous populations request technical and material assistance from the same scientists who carry out such research in payment for their collaboration. The only departure between Albert and I on this point is whether the natives have more to gain by adopting a friendly stance of seeking allies or an adversarial stance of threatening lawsuits when negotiating with biomedical researchers.
I also want to join Martin's in a call for more effective education of native peoples. It is not appropriate that we as a 'panel of experts' debate the pros and cons of specific types of research on indigenous people for years into the future. Instead, the native populations themselves must receive an education that allows them to assess the tradeoffs inherent in any research protocol and allows THEM to determine whether they think there are potential long term benefits or risks associated with any research plan. This is indeed a tall order, but we must begin somewhere. Indigenous peoples cannot remain at the mercy of outsiders (with their own agendas) who attempt to sway them one way or another with respect to a given scientific program. I believe that the Human Genome Project would be a great place to start this process since it has many implications for native peoples concerning both their health and their history and relationships to other native groups, and because native DNA is currently held by a multitude of scientists around the world. This will require a basic education far beyond anything currently available for any South American indigenous population, (or even most peasant populations in Latin America). I agree with Martins' suggestion that I should be careful not to label the education of native peoples 'coaching'. But unfortunately it remains coaching as long as native populations hear only one side of every issue and are given incomplete information and as long as some ideologues remain committed to obstructing indigenous access to all points of view in the modern world. Native peoples are 'coached' when words are placed into their mouths that they repeat without a full understanding of their significance or implications. Sadly, there are examples of this in many recent debates concerning indigenous issues in South America. And ironically this process of ideological persuasion by incomplete information and deception now practiced by some anthropologists is directly analogous to methods that have been denounced by anthropologists when practiced by some missionaries (religious conversion based on deceit or incomplete information).
Both Martins and Albert mention the good work of NGO's in the indigenous rights struggles of South America and Martins suggests that criticism of such groups is 'offensive'. I agree that many NGOs do a great job and serve and important function in countries where governments have ignored indigenous needs and human rights. I am very sorry that some criticism may indeed be unfair to many people who have sacrificed for worthy causes. But no institutional system can be placed above criticism. Modern indigenous rights and development NGOs are a mixed bag that unfortunately does not always serve the interests of native groups. We must criticize this system if it is ever to improve. Recent analyses of NGOs in Africa has suggested that some of these groups may intentionally exacerbate and exaggerate conditions of hunger in order to generate public economic support for their famine relief organizations. We cannot be naive about the fact that many NGOs have paid staff and that those people might sometimes show more concern for their career than for the targets of their programs. We should not forget, for example, that a recent head of UNICEF resigned in disgrace for embezzling funds despite an obscene yearly salary paid to him so that he could oversee programs for the needy children of the world. The people who work for NGOs are human and we cannot allow their behavior to be placed above scrutiny. In South America I have seen blatantly corrupt NGOs involved in indigenous rights work. In Paraguay the Inter-American Foundation investigated just such an NGO (with a large extra-national technical staff) in 1978 and cut off all funding to that group when it became clear that funds were being used in an inappropriate manner. NGOs that concern themselves with indigenous peoples causes come in two basic flavors. Those that channel technical advice and help programs (educational, health, economic) to indigenous populations and those that claim representational authority for indigenous populations. I believe that the first type of NGOs should be supported unconditionally as long as the funds and help they claim to provide are actually delivered to native peoples. The second group is more problematic. They sometimes contain foreign nationals (especially ex-patriot failed anthropologists) or non-indigenous advisors who set the agenda for a collection of indigenous puppet leaders. This, ironically, is the same colonial model that most anthropologists have criticized when practiced at the national level during western colonialism. Puppet leaders can be cultivated from native groups as easily as they are cultivated in colonized nations. In some cases the 'indigenous leaders' showcased by these NGOs are highly acculturated, city-raised opportunists who do not represent in any way the views of the native populations among which they claim membership. Indeed, some such leaders have no claims to ethnic affiliation beyond their genes. These types of 'representational' NGOs seem to have become more common in recent years. Such NGOs often insist they are the sole legitimate voice of tribal peoples of a particular group or region and insist that all proposals to work amongst tribal peoples must be approved by them (of course this usually implies that they take an administrative cut or a consulting fee for every project they approve). Are such groups legitimate and should anthropologists take seriously their claims to represent tribal peoples? Perhaps native South Americans need this type of help in gaining political leverage in hostile nation states that refuse to recognize their legitimate political leaders, but such NGOs should always be considered temporary and transitional. They must be phased out through time as local tribal governments are increasingly capable of claiming sole representational authority for indigenous groups. There are no such 'representational' NGOs in the US where native tribes would be offended by the idea that any outside group other than their own tribal governments could ever claim any legitimate right to represent them.
Despite agreements on above issues I believe there is also an ethical issue raised by this book that concerns the practice of anthropology in recent years and how we want to proceed in the future. This is the ethical issue concerning legitimate tactics of academic debate. Should anthropologists condone theoretical censorship and oppression and professional behaviors designed to silence those who hold unpopular theoretical views?
There remains a debate about the truthfulness of this book which has dual ethical implications that I pointed out in the first two rounds of discussion. First, if the book is full of distortions then we are morally bound to point that out. As Turner says: "Ethically, one is obliged to speak out when one possesses relevant knowledge that an act or statement is an abuse or misuse of the truth". Second, if the book is full of misrepresentations there is an ethical issue concerning why Neel and Chagnon were targets of this untruthful piece of work. This is related to the disturbing ethical question of why some anthropologists have attempted to stop Chagnon from carrying out research for many years (and long before any Chagnon association with alleged gold-miners, etc.). The ethical issue here is censorship based on theoretical disagreement, and it was in that context that I introduced to this discussion the persecution of 'sociobiology' by Tierney and his associates.
Let me treat these points in turn. First is the factual basis for many of Tierney's charges, particularly about Chagnon (since most of us seem prepared to accept that Tierney botched much of his treatment of James Neel's activities). As I suggested in both earlier rounds I do not consider much of Tierney's account of either Neel or Chagnon's activities to be well established and his credibility is very low given the fact that the pieces of his book most thoroughly checked to date have been shown to be marred by misrepresentations and distortions. Despite an impressive number of footnotes, my opinion is that many of those provide no support for assertions they are associated with and some directly contradict the passages in the text where they are cited. New examples of this appear with each successive week that the text is scrutinized. For example, the essay just published this week by Paul and Beatty concerning Neel's eugenic views6 notes in the first paragraph that Tierney claimed Neel was denied the Nobel Prize because he was considered a "pariah" in the field of human genetics. The Tierney footnote to back that assertion refers to Neel's own autobiography where nowhere in 320 pages does he mention the Nobel Prize nor any indication that he was considered a "pariah" by his peers. This is typical of Tierney's sloppy and dishonest use of footnotes. I have seen preliminary copies or heard of reports by Jim Neel Jr., Ryk Ward (a geneticist who worked with Jim Neel during the measles vaccination period), and Napoleon Chagnon which all suggest that various aspects of Tierney's book are packed with gross misrepresentations and that even Turner's recent archival research and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro's investigation still contain some errors. Thus, while I am certain that some parts of the book have now been thoroughly discredited, I continue to withhold judgment on other parts of the book until more information is available. This appears to frustrate Turner who wants all readers to immediately denounce Chagnon regardless of the fact that we have not heard his side of the story nor has there been time to carefully fact check all chapters in Tierney's book (something that Turner interprets as proof that those sections are accurate).
The second point of clear disagreement concerns the issue of 'sociobiology' and its role in this controversy. Turner points out that many intelligent and careful scientists do not accept some sociobiological theories or approaches as useful in the search for understanding about human culture and behavior. This is quite correct, but irrelevant to a discussion about ethics. Indeed, Turner has provided his own confused and muddled understanding of sociobiology and then demolished that straw man with obvious satisfaction, but this too is irrelevant to a discussion of ethics. Most scientists who disagree with sociobiological theories are not actively trying to block sociobiological research and censor the research findings of sociobiologists. That is an ethical issue, one concerning academic freedom. I suggested in round one that sociobiology was relevant to the discussion of ethics because the book is an attempt to smear sociobiologists with untrue charges only BECAUSE THEY ARE SOCIOBIOLOGISTS. Turner appears to simultaneously reject that charge and then reaffirm its accuracy, launching into a discussion that attempts to convince the reader that sociobiology is so misguided that the attacks on its practitioners are justified. Indeed he concludes by suggesting that sociobiological theory leads its adherents to reject legitimate modern indigenous leaders. This suggestion is malicious slander that has no basis in reality (where most sociobiologists not only accept modern indigenous leaders but work together with them to help solve modern indigenous problems). In short, Turner engages in precisely the practices that I suggested were unethical. Tierney made an even more blatant connection between sociobiology and ethics when he suggested in the first few pages of his book that sociobiologists were prepared to "sacrifice everything-- including the lives of their subjects-- to spread their gospel" (page 17). Let me repeat here for clarity that the academic issue of whether sociobiological views are correct or misguided is not the issue, and I am not interested in an academic debate about the merits of sociobiology vs. other anthropological theories. Many anthropological theories will eventually be disproven but their proponents are allowed to present their ideas in a free forum of academic debate. What is an ethical issue raised by this book is academic censorship, and particularly unethical attempts to silence a particular theoretical viewpoint. I believe that there is good evidence that Chagnon was denied research access to the Yanomamo only BECAUSE he espoused sociobiological theories (particularly about warfare) and that some anthropologists were actively engaged in this theoretical persecution because of their own muddled ideas about the implications of Chagnon's research. Furthermore I think the record is clear that Chagnon has often been attacked by those who mainly wish to discredit sociobiology and that hypocritical attacks on him and not others (who engaged in similar field practices described in the Tierney book) have been motivated only by that desire to discredit sociobiology---not because his behavior is exceptionally unethical (which I do think would constitute legitimate grounds for criticism if true).
Many of those who have defended Chagnon from theoretically motivated attacks have done so not because they necessarily agree with his views, nor because they like him as a person, nor because they think his behavior has always been admirable, but BECAUSE he has been the target of theoretical persecution which amounts to academic censorship. I think that Albert makes an interesting point when he suggests that the cause of sociobiology may have been more hurt than helped by Chagnon's association with that cause. I have heard the same point of view expressed by a variety of sociobiologists who recognize that Chagnon made an extraordinary number of enemies in his career compared to most other sociobiologists. However, Albert should realize that the flip-side of his observation is also valid. If attacks on Chagnon had focused on his personal behavior and specific activities that were considered unacceptable instead of attacking his sociobiological theories as inherently evil (and the dangerous nature of his data and interpretations), perhaps Chagnon would be answering entirely for himself in this debate.
The world of academia and the social sciences in particular have a shameful history of oppression against researchers who have shown an interest in ideas derived from the theory of evolution by natural selection. I believe that in the long run this period will be an embarrassment to the social sciences and will be understood as an extension of the nasty reaction to Charles Darwin and his early allies in the 19th century. The historical parallels here are not accidental--- both camps of attackers have been driven by a fear that a new theory will erode the general belief in the special place of humans in nature. Darwin was attacked on religious grounds because he suggested that the human form, like that of other living organisms was subject to natural selection, and that humans were evolved apes, not an exempt part of nature created uniquely by God. Sociobiologists have been relentlessly attacked by anthropologists in particular because 'sociobiologists' reject the proposition that human behavior is so uniquely special due to 'culture' that it has been rendered exempt from natural selection and the rules and regularities of behavior that apply to other living organisms. These are two religions--- one based on a Christian God, the other on the anthropological concept of 'culture' that makes us special among living organisms. In both cases adherents of the religious dogma have reacted hysterically to views that they see as heresy. Turner suggests that my refusal to quietly acquiesce to further persecution of sociobiological views constitutes "white-hot rhetoric". If so, my reaction comes from years of having experienced this oppression first hand. Early sociobiologists were insulted and physically assaulted in public forums (In particular E.O. Wilson was attacked on several occasions). When I entered graduate school I was forced to transfer out of cultural anthropology and then to another university because faculty and students at my first institution were so openly hostile to sociobiological research. When I applied for research grants I was told by reviewers that my research was immoral, unethical and dangerous. I have been called a Nazi, a fascist, a sexist, racist, and a mindless reductionist. I was told by the chair of the first department that hired me that she couldn’t stand sociobiology but would give me a chance only because she knew a couple sociobiologists "and they weren't such bad people". For years I heard graduate students working with me complain that others in the department (including faculty) openly lectured that research such as mine should not be allowed. It was in this context that the attacks on Chagnon first began in the late 1970s. Finally in the 1990s the furor subsided, and most cultural anthropologists now seem prepared to reluctantly allow the sociobiologists to go about their business. It is to this repugnant and sad history of academic repression that I am reacting when I see Tierney again attempt to reinvigorate the hostilities of the 70s and 80s and lead his readers back down the path of theoretical persecution. I will not accept the degrading labels that try to blame the sufferings of modern indigenous people on 'immoral sociobiologists'. Sociobiologists are not fascists, (most are typical left-of-center academics), they are not racist (there are many minority sociobiologists), they are not sexist (there are many female sociobiologists), and there is no justification whatsoever for the mention of Nazi's in a sentence that discusses sociobiology (in fact many sociobiologists are Jewish). Those of us who are interested in exploring what evolutionary biology can tell us about human diversity are fed up with this unethical slander. I intend to call attention to such persecution whenever I see it (and the Tierney book qualifies).
I do not wish to correct Turner's confused and mistaken notion of what constitutes "a modern evolutionary view of human behavior". Modern researchers in this area usually designate themselves as either "evolutionary ecologists" or "evolutionary psychologists", with some small but important differences in the two schools of theory4. The term 'sociobiology' has effectively been dropped from the vocabulary except when used by outsiders to refer to all the different evolutionary perspectives collectively. For those who are interested in knowing what types of behavioral anthropological research are done under an evolutionary framework, there are now several good review articles and books which cover the past 20 years of this research in anthropology5. Most anthropologists who have read this type of work are impressed by the quantitative empirical methods and focus on behavioral sampling techniques even when the disagree with the evolutionary interpretations of some of the results.
For those who have read the Tierney book it is useful to point out that while Tierney tries to weave Neel and Chagnon together into some unholy sociobiological alliance out to sacrifice their study subjects in order to prove their repulsive theories, in fact Neel was never much of a sociobiologist at all (but Chagnon was and is). Neel was primarily a geneticist who was interested in questions of human genetics and had very little interest in the growing fields of behavioral research that made up 'sociobiology'. He never attended the international sociobiology meetings (Human Behavior and Evolution Society meetings held annually since the mid 1980s), even when they were held in Ann Arbor, Michigan (where he lived), and he never was invited to speak at them (even when Chagnon was president of the HBE Society). When Neel and I were colleagues at Michigan we talked many times about the Yanomamo and other South American Indians but he had little interest in foraging theory, food sharing, social structure, sexual division of labor, mate choice, life history theory, sex allocation theory, kin biased altruism, time allocation to activities, the emergence of cooperation or any of the other topics that behavioral 'sociobiologists' were working on at the time. Instead he was primarily interested in human genetic polymorphism and its relationship to disease. Indeed Turner badly misinterprets Neel's interest in headmen to imply an interest in the determinants of tribal social structure that Neel never had. The article that Tierney and Turner use to build their case of Neel as a "pariah" eugenicist, is primarily about the implications of the measured mutation rate for the genetic well-being of modern society. The article starts with Neel reviewing available data concerning the probability that any allele undergoes mutation per generation and the number of total genes that are required for the healthy function of a human being. Contrary to Turner's assertion Neel shows no interest in that article for how genetics might impinge on social structure, but instead he focuses on how social structure affects the genetic composition of a population. He points out that mutation rates are high (and even higher in modern polluted environments), and that something must counter this genetic load of deleterious alleles in order for populations to stay healthy. He notes that headmen generally are not defective individuals and also usually have high genetic fitness, thus partially explaining why accumulation of deleterious mutations has not been a serious problem in human history. He does not attempt to model how 'superior' alleles are constantly introduced to populations due to headman reproductive rates, but instead he explains why deleterious alleles do not become overly abundant (because the Index of Innate Ability is unlikely to be high for those with blatantly defective genes). Indeed, as Neel would have easily realized, any strong positive selection for 'superior' genes in headmen would have long ago driven those genes to fixation (in an additive genetic system) and ALL members of the population would have the 'superior headman genes' thus there would be no genetic basis for new headmen. Instead Neel points out only that when deleterious mutations arise in the population that affect certain capabilities ("deficient speaking ability, poor knowledge of tribal lore, lackluster hunting ability, ineptness in tribal raids, etc"), individuals having those mutations are unlikely to be headman and therefore unlikely to have high fitness. Thus, the traditional relationship between headmen and polygyny is part of the explanation in human history for why deleterious mutations do not accumulate through time. Neel mentions in the same article that childhood viability and differential female fecundity also must contribute to populational genetic well-being as well, but that these factors are less well studied that the polygynous mating advantages of headmen (something that neither Tierney nor Turner mention in their confused rendition of Neel's paper). Yes, Neel was a type of eugenicist like many other geneticists who consider it unwise for people with severe genetic defects to reproduce and pass on that burden to their families and society. Indeed all modern genetic counseling is driven by the same concerns that Neel expressed. But, Tierney and Turner have grossly misrepresented Neel’s eugenic views (see the recent analyses of Neel's eugenecism on the El Dorado website13) in an attempt to connect one allegedly sinister world view (sociobiology) with another allegedly sinister academic interest (eugenics). Ironically, in the cited article on headmen Neel voices his concern that social phenomena like racial discrimination and economic classicism cause a good deal harm to the modern gene pool by allowing people to succeed based on traits other than their own abilities. He explicitly rejects any notion that we should re-institute and Yanomamo like mating structure to eliminate deleterious mutations, and he also rejects genetic engineering or any government regulations affecting breeding. Instead he suggests that we should now be more concerned about eliminating mutagens from our environment and that we should research the possibility of enhanced DNA repair mechanisms for modern humans. These are hardly the Nazi-like programs that Tierney and his allies have tried to imply that Neel favored. In short James Neel saw himself as a "Doctor to the Genepool" just as his autobiography suggests, but nothing like the distorted view that Tierney and some of his allies try to convey to readers not familiar with Neel's work.
But not only does the Tierney book assert that sociobiologists are immoral, it also develops the theme from the first chapter to the last that scientists in general are immoral people because of their interest in research (rather than just helping). This too, unfortunately is a theme that has been developed in some circles of modern anthropology. Tierney is careful to inform the reader early on that he himself has abandoned his own 'objectivity' in order to advocate indigenous causes more effectively (page XXIV). He asserts that those who do research with Indians are engaged in an unethical enterprise unless that research is directly designed to help the Indians who participate in the study. In short, the subtext of his book is that scientists are evil people because they engage in inquiry rather than advocacy. This attitude takes on a smug 'holier-than-thou' character as Tierney continually reminds the reader that he and his friends do nothing more than provide services to native peoples--- the only proper activity for anyone visiting native communities -- while other evil scientists are engaged in the unethical enterprise of trying to find answers to questions (allegedly for their own career gain). This position represents the ultimate moralizing that pervades this book. Only Tierney's lifestyle is moral and ethical and that all who deviate from his standards are evil. Not surprisingly Tierney sees little value of scientific research because he doesn’t understand the significance of most scientific studies he discusses in this book. It hardly escapes notice that many strong Tierney allies in this debate also have little to no scientific background or ability to understand scientific research. I don’t object to their lack of interest in scientific methods and research, but I do object to them trying to force everyone into their mold. Rather than the scientists being selfish and misguided I suggest that it is these anti-science activists who have a very short sighted view of what will ultimately provide most help for native populations. Yes, direct assistance is important and should often be a priority. But scientific research can also provide important benefits to the native populations and to the world community (which includes them and many other people). There is indeed a blatant anti-science tone in this book, and that tone explains the negative reaction by many readers outside sociobiology or anthropology who are unfamiliar with the details but recognize the tone of the argument. Tierney's travels to Venezuela in order to convince the government to ban all scientific research7 on native populations are the logical final step in this process and should surprise none who have read the book.
How are we to summarize the experience of this discussion? For those of us who took time out from our own busy schedules of research, teaching, and involvement in indigenous development projects there has to be some justification for this use of our time. I don’t believe this discussion has been just about posturing and displays of cleverness. Instead, all of us are concerned about native peoples, and whether the activities of anthropologists are helping or hurting their struggle for survival and respect. We are also concerned about our discipline-- about improving it and correcting past mistakes. We must continue to strive to work in an ethical way, while simultaneously discovering important anthropological principles in the world that can help promote a deeper understanding of our fellow man. Native peoples are a partner in this process and have every right to be heard. I disagree strongly with the description of 'real Indians' attributed to Chagnon by Martins (and that which Turner implies that all 'sociobiologists' must adhere to). I have spent more than half my life working with 'real Indians' and I know that their authenticity is not derived from being dirty and smelly, nor is it derived from wearing pretty feather adornments and body paint and going naked, nor from taking drugs and invoking spirits to heal illness caused by infectious agents. 'Real Indians' are people who have hopes, dreams, goals, fears, doubts, and disappointment. They care about their children and their friends, and they hope to improve their material well being and standard of living. They have lives driven by the same forces as the rest of us, they want happiness for themselves and their families, they want respect, and are willing to cooperate with those who cooperate with them. They are proud of their past and the successful lifestyles of their ancestors but are also prepared to adopt solutions to their problems even if those solutions are not part of their traditional culture. They are interested in the world and their place in it. They want to know why some groups of people are different from them and why some traits present among their people are also found in all human groups. This means that native people ARE in fact anthropologists and they should have input into anthropological theories and conclusions. Indeed native peoples are our partners in this process of learning and inquiry because they are us. Lets make sure we as anthropologists invite them permanently into the process and never again stand accused of exploiting or deceiving them for our own career gain.
1. Ribeiro, D. 1967 Indigenous cultures and languages of Brazil. In Indians of Brazil in the 20th century, ed. Janice Hopper, pages 77-165. Publication no. 2 Washington DC.: Institute for cultural research studies.
2. When did the measles epidemic begin among the Yanomami? By Tom Headland,
3. "Por denuncias de Tierney prohibieron investigaciones en zonas indigenas" El Nacional , 26 de Noviembre 2000.
4. Smith, E., M. Borgerhoff Mulder, and K. Hill. 2001. Controversies in the evolutionary social sciences: a guide to the perplexed. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 16: 128- 135.
5. Smith E., and B. Winterhalder eds. 1992.Evolutionary Ecology and Human Behavior. Aldine de Gruyter: New York. Borgerhoff Mulder, M. 1991. Human Behavioral Ecology: Studies in foraging and reproduction. In Behavioral Ecology: An Evolutionary Approach. J.R. Krebs and N. Davies, eds. Pp69-98. Blackwell: Oxford. Cronk, L., N. Chagnon and W. Irons. 2000. Adaptation and human behavior: An anthropological perspective. Aldine de Gruyter: New York.
6. James Neel, Darkness in El Dorado and Eugenics: The missing context. By Diane Paul and John Beatty.
7. "La prohibicion de investigar rige para todas las zonas indigenas." El Nacional, 24 de Noviembre 2000. http://www.anth.uconn.edu/gradstudents/dhume/darkness _in_el_dorado/documents/0428.htm
and "Por denuncias de Tierney prohibieron investigaciones en zonas indigenas" El Nacional , 26 de Noviembre 2000.
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