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TURNER ON TURNER* [1] ON TURNER, POINT BY POINT BY POINT:

 

A Rejoinder to Trudy Turner and Jeffrey Nelson, “Turner Point By Point”

by Terry Turner

Department of Anthropology

Cornell University

 

            When the so-called El Dorado Task Force began its investigation of Patrick Tierney’s allegations about injurious and unethical practices by researchers and journalists among the Yanomami, its Chair, Jane Hill, appealed to the members of the AAA to aid its investigations by contributing relevant data and research. I was one who complied with this request. I had been conducting research on Tierney’s allegations against James Neel and Napoleon Chagnon, as part of which I had recently read through the collection of Neel’s papers in the Archive of the American Philosophical Society.   With the help of my research assistant, John Stevens, I had prepared an annotated index of the papers for my own use and the guidance of other researchers, and sent this to the committee (Turner and Stevens 2001).    I had also taken part in the Yanomami Round Table sponsored by Public Anthropology, the results of which are posted on the web at http://www.public anthropology.org (Turner 2001a; 2001b; 2001c).   I did additional research for my three contributions to this collective effort and prepared a digest of this new research and analysis, which I also submitted to the Task Force. This text, entitled The Yanomami and the Ethics of Anthropological Practice, was independently published as an Occasional Paper by the Latin American Studies Program of Cornell University (Turner 2001d). It is this text (or rather the part of it that deals with James Neel and the AEC Expedition of 1968), which Trudy Turner and her research assistant, Jeffrey Nelson, attack and attempt to discredit in its entirety in their memo, “Turner point by point”. That their effort falls short, point by point, is perhaps less significant than that they felt it necessary to make the attempt (Turner* and Nelson 2002).

 

            “Turner point by point” is an extraordinary document, considering its context. It is an attempt by a member of a supposedly objective and impartial commission of investigation, with the help of a research assistant, to refute and dismiss in every significant particular an extensive compendium of new research findings dealing with the allegations the commission is supposedly investigating, supplied in good faith to the commission in response to an appeal by its chair for exactly such contributions to aid the commission in its work. The attempt to dismiss my work does not stop with criticisms of my research and interpretations of evidence but attacks my scholarship as such and offers tendentious and distorted representations of my motives. It is clearly an attempt to deal with the findings of my research, which are admittedly at variance with the view of the author of the paper that James Neel’s work and ideas are above criticism, by killing the messenger.

 

            As such, “Turner point by point” can only be understood as a product of the peculiar structure of the El Dorado Task Force, which has put individual partisans of the principal figures under investigation in charge of preparing the sections of its report dealing specifically with them.   This “division of labor” has given us an investigative commission in which Raymond Hames, a defender and partisan of Napoleon Chagnon, has been assigned to write the section of the report on Chagnon, and Trudy Turner, a biological anthropologist committed to the categorical defense of James Neel against any and all allegations of ethical conflicts or of harboring embarrassing eugenic ideas, has been placed in charge of the part of the report dealing with James Neel.   The effects of this deck-stacking have been amplified by the failure to provide for effective collective review by the other members of the Task Force, as some of them have publicly complained (J. Chernela and F. Coronil, in statements to the Business Meeting of the AAA December 2001). The result, if the Preliminary Report is any indication of the character of the final product, as it claims itself to be in its own preamble, bids fair to be a scandal in its own right and an embarrassment to the Association.   It was for such reasons that the Society of Latin American Anthropologists, which includes in its membership most anthropologists with professional expertise on the ethnographic area and specific research issues involved in the case, called unanimously for the retraction of the Preliminary Report at its meeting at the national AAA meeting shortly before the Business Meeting where the Task Force presented its report.

 

              “Turner point by point” holds a place of importance among the products of the Task Force, as is evidenced by its length, virtually equal to that of the whole Preliminary Report.   The two documents are obviously closely related. Comparison of the text of “Turner point by point” with the segment of the Preliminary Report devoted to Neel, also authored by Trudy Turner*, reveals that the latter is based in large part on the former. “Turner point by point”, in other words, appears to have served as a sort of working paper for the Preliminary Report’s section on Neel. It is therefore altogether right and proper that the Task Force should have posted it on its web page side by side with the text of the Preliminary Report, as it were as a codicil.   The Report repeats many of the same attacks on my research, interpretations, and conclusions.   On several important points, this also involves Turner* and Nelson, and hence the Preliminary Report, where it follows them, in contradicting the conclusions of other independent researchers, like Bruce Albert and the Brazilian team of medical experts that critically reviewed Tierney’s book, whose analysis of the evidence converges with and reinforces my interpretation of several of the principal issues in question (Albert 2001a, 2001b; Lobo et al. 2001).    

 

            Despite its manifold problems, to be reviewed below, Turner’s* and Nelson’s paper marks a step forward in the discussion of the issues surrounding Neel’s and Chagnon’s work with the Yanomami.   It is the most extensive and sustained attempt by partisans of Neel and/or Chagnon to engage seriously with scholarly criticisms of the conduct and ideas of those they seek to defend. By committing themselves to a point-by-point attempt to refute my critical analysis of Neel’s policies and actions among the Yanomami, his conduct of the 1968 expedition, and the content and anthropological implications of his genetic reductionist and eugenic theories, they make possible a direct comparison and evaluation of our respective analyses and conclusions on all these points. The result is a salutary contribution to the clarification of the issues involved in the controversy over Neel’s work and ideas.

 

            These issues, like those that arise from the conduct and statements of Chagnon, Lizot, and others who have worked with the Yanomami, as well as those who have taken part in the controversy itself, are inseparably connected with the effects of the activities in question on the Yanomami.   The basic ethical issue underlying this entire controversy is whether the activities of researchers studying the Yanomami have damaged or disrupted their individual and social lives. A secondary question is whether these damaging actions and statements have violated professional ethical and intellectual standards in ways that have damaged or demeaned the profession of anthropology. A third issue that has grown increasingly more insistent, in direct correlation with the other two, is whether anthropologists who, as a group, collectively profess a code of professional ethics, have the will to confront and take responsibility for doing something about such violations and damages as may have occurred, even if this only amounts to recognizing that they have occurred, and that in consequence some form of apology or compensation may be due the Yanomami. This question hangs over the work of the El Dorado Task Force, and indeed over the exchange of criticisms of which this paper forms part.

 

 

The scope of Turner* and Nelson’s critique

 

            I now turn to an examination of the specific points of Turner’s* and Nelson’s text.   They begin by narrowing the scope of their critique:

 

Turner (2001:9) discusses three major issues of concern about the 1968 expedition. Only one of these issues will concern us in this review: the actions and motive of Neel and the 1968 Orinoco expedition revealed in Neel’s own journal and correspondence and the critical review of evidence on the 1968 measles epidemic by the Brazilian medical team. (p.1)

 

The reference to Neel’s journal and papers and the findings of the Brazilian medical team is taken directly from my own text, which continues,

 

These two new bodies of data complement each other in their main implications and   raise two fundamental ethical issues--the expedition’s relative priority of research over medical responsibilities, and the lack of informed consent.

 

Turner * and Nelson omit to mention this further sentence, but attempt in their following text to dismiss the issues it raises. Nor do they take account of any of the Brazilian team’s criticisms of Neel’s and the expedition’s failure to do all they could and should have done to give effective medical assistance to the Yanomami in the epidemic.   It is worth mentioning that the other two major issues to which I referred, and which Turner* and Nelson exclude from consideration, were, secondly, the actions, public statements and research methods of Napoleon Chagnon in his work both during and since the 1968 expedition; and thirdly, the vicissitudes and sufferings of the Yanomami as affected by the actions, statements, and silences of Neel, Chagnon and other researchers, down to and including what can be done to help them in their present situation in Brazil and Venezuela.   As I note, this third issue “leads directly to the practical questions of what has actually happened to the Yanomami, what rightful claims for redress they may have, and what we can do to help them now.“ To my way of thinking, this third set of issues is the pivotal point of reference against which the first and second sets of issues should be evaluated and judged, and cannot properly be separated from them.

 

 

Did Neel do “the best he could “ under the circumstances”?   Examining Turner’s* and Nelson’s basic claim

 

            The overall tone of Turner’s* and Nelson’s paper is set by their statement on the first page, “We believe that James Neel did the best he could under very difficult conditions”. This statement is echoed in the section on Neel in the Preliminary Report (Section 8, third paragraph), also written by Turner*:

 

The view of the Task Force is that Neel and his expedition, dealing with an extraordinarily difficult situation, did the best they possibly could to address the emergency [i.e., the measles epidemic. TT].

 

This extreme claim is problematic on several grounds. First, it is not the opinion of several other scholars and observers, such as the Brazilian medical team, the anthropologist Bruce Albert, the journalist Patrick Tierney, and myself, to name only a few. The contrary opinions of these researchers are based on plentiful and varied evidence. Secondly, Turner’s* and Nelson’s claim that the opinion they express is the collective consensus of the members of the Task Force is dubious. Here as elsewhere, their use of the first person plural pronoun, in contexts where it appears to refer to the Task Force as a whole (e.g., “Our conclusions about James Neel differ substantially from those of Turner”: Turner point by point” p. 1), may actually refer only to themselves. It would be interesting to have a poll of the Task Force on this question.

 

            Thirdly, they fail to define their criteria of evaluation:   what does “best” mean in their phrase, “the best they possibly could”? “Best” of what? In the context of the statements, it appears to refer to medical performance. This is manifestly unsustainable, as the Brazilian team, Albert and I have separately argued on different but convergent grounds. The simplest of which is that the expedition, under Neel’s direction gave too much time and attention to carrying out its research program to provide sufficiently timely immunization. If, however, “best” actually refers to some notion of an optimal balance between research goals and medical needs (the kind of compromise that I believe Neel was trying to achieve), then it would be necessary to specify the grounds for judging the sacrifices of medical effectiveness involved to be optimal, i.e., the “best” possible, relative to the value of the non-medical research that these sacrifices make possible. This, as I argued, was the scientific, organizational and moral dilemma with which James Neel struggled.

 

            Turner’s* and Nelson’s claim that Neel provided the “best possible” medical assistance to the Yanomami, despite the enormous time and effort invested in the collection of his biological samples, is in effect an attempt to duck this difficult issue.   If their claim were true, of course, then no ethical issue would arise, which is its rhetorical function: to make the ethical issue go away. There are, however, good reasons not to accept this claim.   The Brazilian medical team, Albert and I have each challenged the ethics of Neel’s attempt to split the difference between his medical and scientific goals during the epidemic on the grounds that it led to failure to move quickly enough to vaccinate some groups of Yanomami before they were exposed to the measles. This rendered the vaccinations ineffective as immunization. As I also point out in my Occasional Paper, the expedition also failed in some cases to provide adequate care in the aftermath of the vaccinations for the heavy reactions of the Yanomami to the vaccine, and to the numerous cases of measles itself.   Turner* and Nelson fail to deal with these points. Instead, they attempt to claim that the apparent ethical problems arise from a contradiction in my own argument:

 

The Task Force believes that Turner’s concerns include a contradiction. Turner believes that the team should have abandoned its research schedule to, on the one hand, vaccinate as many people as possible, and, on the other hand, to remain in individual villages to treat people with severe vaccine reactions.   The expedition consisted of only eight or nine members, so could not really satisfy both concerns. It is likely that pursuing either strategy would have led to problems on the other front. (El Dorado Task Force of the AAA: Preliminary Report, November 2001: section 8)

 

Indeed! And even greater problems if the expedition simultaneously persisted in trying to carry out its extremely demanding research schedule while attempting to carry out the urgent immunization and post inoculation care demanded by the onset of the epidemic, which is exactly what it did! There is indeed a “contradiction” here, but it does not arise from my “concerns”. It stems rather from the material reality of a situation that grew beyond the expedition’s ability to deal with in an optimal manner. The arrival of the epidemic, in other words, made medical demands on the expedition that it was not prepared to meet, unless it had been willing to put aside more of its research activities temporarily to allow it to vaccinate as many people as possible before they were exposed. When it persisted in its research program, something clearly had to give. Several things, as it turned out, did give: some relatively inessential research, and some medically important activities, such as those mentioned above by Turner* and Nelson as “Turner’s concerns”.   Far from revealing a contradiction in my argument, Turner* and Nelson make my case.

 

 

Tierney’s allegations about Neel and the epidemic, the Turner-Sponsel memo to the AAA leadership, and Turner’s subsequent research.

 

             Turner* and Nelson repeat certain misstatements and misconceptions concerning the memo Leslie Sponsel and I sent to the Presidents and certain Committee heads of the AAA to warn them of the imminent publication of Patrick Tierney’s book which must be corrected.   Since these statements occur both in “Turner point by point” and the Preliminary Report, I consider both documents here (Turner* and Nelson, “Turner Point by Point”, p. 1; Preliminary Report of the El Dorado Task Force, Pt. II, A.) For example, Turner* writes in the Preliminary Report that:

 

 

the allegation that research might have exacerbated the effects of a measles epidemic among the Yanomami” was publicly made only by Terence Turner and Leslie Sponsel (my italics:TT)

 

 

  No, not “publicly”.   Our memo was a private communication to a few officers of the AAA, addressed to the two presidents (acting and elected) by name.   It was made public by a person or persons unknown, who sent it out to email list serves without our permission.   He or she has never come forward, no doubt because he/she is aware her/his action was a betrayal of trust. It was the unauthorized public circulation of our memo that had the effect of transforming the meaning of what we described in it as a series of sensational implications and unverified claims in need of investigation to a set of conclusions and charges we were making on our own.   In this context, Turner’s* and Nelson’s statement, in “Turner point by point”, that as a result of “taking upon himself the obligation of reviewing the Neel material [Turner] has moved far from his original claim...” is similarly misleading. Neither Sponsel nor I made “original claims” of our own in our memo. Rather, we sought to convey the salient claims and implications of Tierney’s evidence and allegations.   Both Sponsel and I have repeatedly explained these facts. It is therefore disturbing to find our colleagues on the Task Force uncritically repeating these allegations without taking our statements about the context and purposes of our memo into account.

 

            There are other tendentious statements and omissions on the first page of Turner’s* and Nelson’s text that betray a persistent spin in the direction of misrepresenting the intentions of my research and previous writing on the subject of Neel and the AEC Expedition and those of my Occasional Paper. For example, they indirectly attempt to warn off potential readers of John Stevens’ and my Annotated Index of James Neel’s papers in the Archive of the American Philosophical Society in the following words:

 

We also invite other scholars to read the original material and not just the annotated bibliography produced by Turner and Stevens.

 

Stevens and I join Turner* and Nelson in this invitation. We never intended our bibliography to be anything other than a useful guide to the documents--a preliminary indication of what is there in the archive, not a substitute for reading the documents themselves. Why do Turner* and Nelson feel it necessary to warn other scholars against relying on our annotated reference guide for purposes we never suggested or intended? I notice that they pay us the compliment of using our indexing system to refer to the Neel documents they cite. [2] It was precisely to facilitate such scholarly reference and communication about these important documents that we undertook the labor of compiling our index. Continuing their apparent effort to discredit the scholarly value of the index, Turner* and Nelson repeatedly attack my footnotes, which make use of references drawn from the Neel papers, on the grounds that some of them are irrelevant to the points at issue, as narrowly construed by themselves (e.g., “Turner point by point”, Section I, fifth paragraph; Section III, second paragraph). In these cases they mistake the function of the footnotes in question. Most of them occur in contexts where I am citing all the references in Neel’s papers bearing upon a general issue to which the specific point I am discussing pertains. I include in some of these multiple citations some that do not mention the specific aspect of the point under discussion, but form part of the document set pertaining to the general category or context that includes it. Sometimes such documents are relevant as negative evidence that the point in question was not a concern in Neel’s other extant papers relating to the same general subject. This seems to me to be a reasonable concern where the documentary evidence in question is not readily available to the public, but where Stevens’ and my Annotated Index indicates that documents relating to the context in question exist other than those that specifically bear on a certain point. At such points it seemed pertinent to indicate that I had taken these other documents into account and to indicate that they do not contain information that invalidates my point. It is difficult to understand Turner’s* and Nelson’s obsessive attention to this relatively petty issue except as part of an attempt to discredit totally and in every respect my scholarly contributions to the discussion of the allegations about Neel’s activities.

 

 

Section I: Research and Disease as an agent of selective pressure.

 

            I shall organize the rest of this paper using Turner’s* and Nelson’s headings, following their example by critiquing their point by point critique point by point. Turner* and Nelson open their discussion in Section I. of my account of Neel’s conflicting interests in research on the Yanomami’s reactions to disease and his commitments to humanitarian medical assistance with an account of Neel’s ideas about the genetic capacity of human populations to generate antibodies. It is not clear why Turner* and Nelson felt it necessary to write this section, since it in no way disagrees with what I say on the point in question. The basic point is that Neel held that the genetic capacity for resistance to disease is uniform across all human populations regardless of racial differences. They attack some of my references because they “are not applicable to the point [I am] making”, mentioning one on measles vaccine that does not mention racial differences.   My point, however, was not exclusively limited to racial difference, as indeed Neel’s ideas were not. I was concerned with Neel’s general idea of a uniform genetic capacity for generating antibodies, not a narrow preoccupation with racial difference. As Turner* and Nelson say, Neel “often uses the term ‘disease pressure’ without discussing ‘racial differences’ in populations.” I agree.

             

 

II. Use of Vaccinations as Research Tool

 

A. Neel’s long term interest in the use of vaccination for research

 

            Turner* and Nelson warm to their task in the following section on the use of vaccinations as a research tool.   In part A. of this section, they challenge my assertion of “Neel’s long-term interest in the use of vaccination for research.” In this and the following subsections, they continually attempt to deflect my discussion of the tension between Neel’s research interests and his humanitarian medical commitments on specious grounds by misstating my argument and the basic point at issue. They attempt to maintain that Neel had no interest in using vaccinations as a research tool because his motives for the vaccinations were purely humanitarian. This argument is wrong about Neel’s motives, logically confused, and misrepresents my position.

 

            After conceding my claim that “there is no question that Neel is interested in disease and disease pressure”, they nevertheless deny my suggestions that he had a research interest in the Yanomamis’ reactions to the vaccinations administered by the 1968 AEC Expedition, on the grounds that he had humanitarian medical motives for the vaccinations, as if the one precluded the other. They proceed to present documentation of their point that Neel cared for the health and well-being of the indigenous peoples on whom he worked as if it constituted in and of itself a counter-argument to my interpretation that the vaccinations served both purposes. It does not. I agree with them that Neel had medical concerns and thought of the vaccinations as a way of protecting the Yanomami against disease.   I have often stated that I see no intrinsic incompatibility between research and medical motives, and have myself presented evidence that Neel had both kinds of motives for the vaccinations (Turner 2001d:30-33).

 

            My point about the relation between Neel’s medical and research goals is not, as Turner* and Nelson try to make out, that Neel had no humanitarian concerns and never intended the vaccinations to serve a medical purpose. It is that while Neel had both medical and research objectives for the vaccinations, and that while these objectives are mutually compatible in principle, they did come into conflict in the context of the epidemic. This conflict imposed ethically fraught choices on Neel and his expedition colleagues.

 

            Pressing on with their point by point attack, Turner* and Nelson come up with the distorted and for the most part inaccurate statement that:

 

Turner bases his statement [on the probability that Neel was interested in vaccinations as a research tool for studying the production of antibodies] on Johnson’s [sic] work on the ABCC and the inhabitants of the Marshall Islands (the reference is to Barbara Johnston’s research on AEC activities in the Marshall Islands, in which Neel was involved)...An examination of all the AEC material is beyond the scope of this report; however, we have found no reference to experimental vaccination in any of the AEC grant proposals from 1960 through 1973.

 

First of all, while I do quote a substantial passage from an AEC document (Conard 1957) provided to me by Johnston in support of my interpretation, I do not by any means “base my statement” (i.e., my interpretation of Neel’s research interest in the vaccinations) solely on Johnston’s evidence, as Turner* and Nelson imply. Secondly, since the passage I quote is clearly relevant to the point at issue (which Turner* and Nelson do not dispute), it is not obvious to me why Turner* and Nelson felt that the fact that “all of the AEC material is beyond the scope of their investigation” made them unable to deal with the implications of that specific document, or for that matter why they did not themselves try to consult with Johnston, as I did, about her valuable and pertinent research (according to Johnston, they never contacted her). Why should the document in question be beyond the scope of their investigation of me, and by whose rules, since it was not beyond the scope of mine?  

 

            One of the other grounds for my interpretation of Neel’s research use of vaccinations is Francis Black’s study of the Tiriyo, an Amazonian people located near the Yanomami, which Tierney mentions. Black’s study, carried out two years before Neel’s 1968 expedition to the Yanomami, employed vaccinations to ”model” reactions to a natural epidemic of measles, for purposes of studying the production of antibodies--precisely Neel’s research of interest. Neel and Black were in communication (according to the American Society of Human Genetics, Black advised Neel on the selection of vaccine for his 1968 expedition!), so Black’s vaccination campaign among the Tiriyo may well have served as a “model” for Neel.

 

            Pursuing their misrepresentation of my argument, Turner* and Nelson falsely state,

 

Turner disagrees with Lindee (2000) that Neel was vaccinating because of humanitarian concerns.

 

I do not disagree with Lindee that Neel had humanitarian motives for vaccinating, only with her claim that his motives were exclusively humanitarian.   The quoted passage from my Occasional Paper that immediately follows Turner* and Nelson’s statement shows precisely this. In it I reject Lindee’s arguments that my claim that Neel had research motives for the vaccinations (and the tests for antibodies he carried out in the previous year to discover whether or not the Yanomami were a “virgin soil” population for measles) is invalidated by the fact that he had “ purely humanitarian motives” (Lindee 200, 2001a; cf. Stevens 2001; my italics TT). Lindee’s argument here rests upon the same faulty logic that Turner* and Nelson themselves employ in asserting that humanitarian motives must ipso facto exclude research interests.

 

            Turner * and Nelson concede that “there is no question that Neel is interested in disease and disease pressure”, and refer to his studies of antibodies in blood samples, but continue to deny that he employed vaccine and vaccinations as instruments of research on such topics. They may be motivated by a fear that to concede as much would give credence to Tierney’s allegations that Neel employed the vaccinations for experimental purposes, and perhaps also by a realization that, if the vaccinations were indeed at least to some extent used for research, then ethically the informed consent of the Yanomami should have been obtained before they were carried out, and the vaccinations would thus join the list of ethically dubious research practices of the AEC Expedition.   If so, their fears are well grounded on both counts. However this may be, the evidence for the research use of the vaccinations (along with their medical purpose) is overwhelming and undeniable, as I have reported in my Occasional Paper and further describe below.

 

 

B. Other attempts to vaccinate

 

              In this section, Turner* and Nelson dispute my claim that the evidence I present that Neel was planning vaccination campaigns for a number of other epidemic diseases for which the Yanomami were “virgin”, months before he learned of the outbreak of the measles epidemic in Brazil and Venezuela in 1968, indicates that he planned to use the vaccinations for research on these diseases, on the grounds that Neel’s following correspondence “addresses [his] continuing interest in vaccination as a humanitarian effort”. Aside from trotting out their familiar logical fallacy about humanitarian motives precluding research purposes, their argument here rests on a misapprehension of Neel’s interest in observing the reactions of isolated populations like the Yanomami to epidemic disease.

 

            Neel made no secret of his keen interest in the possibility of observing a “virgin soil” epidemic.   In his autobiography, he describes the 1968 epidemic as an “experiment of nature” which serendipitously confirmed his theory about the near-parity of Yanomami antibody levels with those of Caucasian populations (Neel 1994). Granted Neel’s interest in studying this question, how do Turner* and Nelson imagine he proposed to study the formation of antibodies other than by Black’s method of using reactions to vaccinations to “model” the effects of a natural epidemic, in the absence of antibodies or immune reactions to these diseases in blood specimens taken from unexposed subjects?

 

            As it happens, however, I have another, extremely reliable source for my claims that Neel was interested in studying a “virgin soil” epidemic (or reasonable “model” thereof produced by reactions to vaccinations), in order to check his ideas about the species-wide uniformity of genetic capacity for disease resistance, and that he deliberately chose the Yanomami at least partly because they afforded the opportunity for such studies. This source is my personal conversations and correspondence with Neel in the early 1960s, when he was considering working with the Kayapo rather than the Yanomami as his major Amazonian research project. It emerged in his discussions with me at this time that whether or not the Kayapo were still a “virgin soil” population for measles was an important consideration for him in making his decision about whether to work primarily with them or with the Yanomami. Neel was not seeking a “virgin soil” population merely out of humanitarian motives, in order to inoculate them against disease. Nor was the discovery of a group’s “virginity” extraneous to his research interests and plans, becoming thereupon an exclusively “humanitarian” concern leading to purely medical efforts at protective vaccination, as Lindee and others have claimed. Rather, Neel actively sought “virgin” populations to use to establish a research base-line for studying the reactions of such groups to new diseases, considered as novel selective pressures.   In this vein, Neel put questions to me while I was in the field about the Kayapos’ contacts with epidemic diseases. He was disappointed when I reported that the Kayapo had experienced a major measles epidemic and several flu epidemics within the half-dozen years prior to fieldwork with them. My correspondence with Neel about this and other points, dating from 1964-5, is still among his papers in the Archive of the American Philosophical Society. My information about the recent Kayapo epidemics was one of the factors that dissuaded him from selecting the Kayapo for his own intensive study, although his close Brazilian colleague, Francisco Salzano, continued to work with them for several seasons, using my genealogical census data. I emphasize that at this time I willingly and fully cooperated with Neel and Salzano and saw no ethical problems in their work.

 

            Salzano, as it happens, is the source of one of the most unambiguous statements of Neel’s use of vaccinations for research purposes in the 1968 expedition. At the outset of the recent controversy, in September 2000, Salzano was interviewed by a reporter for the Brazilian newspaper, O Globo , about the purpose of the vaccinations administered by the 1968 expedition. Salzano, no fan of Tierney’s, who had earlier in the interview described Tierney’s book as “a case for the police”, straightforwardly replied to the reporter’s question about the purpose of the vaccination campaign as follows:  

 

The effects of the vaccinations, according to Salzano, were followed [ acompanhado , “accompanied”] by the expedition with the authorization of the Venezuelan and Brazilian governments, and conformed to all ethical standards. The purpose was to discover how the organisms of people belonging to isolated groups, like the Yanomamis, react to vaccination against infectious diseases. (Rubens Valente, O Globo for Sept 27, 2000: Primeiro Caderno. (My italics, TT) [3]

 

 

Salzano’s statement leaves no room for doubt. The vaccinations were the instrumental part of Neel’s effort to test his theory about the ability of isolated populations to “react to”, i.e., form antibodies against, alien viral epidemic diseases such as measles.

 

            There are other testimonials to Neel’s use of the vaccinations for research. Before Neel and the AEC expedition left the U.S. For Venezuela, Dr. M. Martins da Silva, Chief of the Office of Research Coordination of the Pan American Health Organization (a regional office of the World Health Organization), wrote to the Director of Medical Research and Development at American Cyanamid to request a donation of 1,000 doses of live measles vaccine for Neel from the company’s Lederle Laboratories. He explained,

 

            Dr. Neel plans to vaccinate against measles as many of the susceptible Indian population as he will come in contact during his month-long stay in the area. He intends to document the procedure by recording febrile reactions, color photography of the rash, and measuring antibody response to the vaccine in a sample of pre- and post-vaccination serum specimens. (COR 48: Martins da Silva 19/12/67)

The intended “documentation” is clearly research to determine levels of “antibody response”, not merely a “humanitarian” medical procedure.

 

            Turner* and Nelson cite several passages from Neel’s correspondence with missionaries, in which he proclaims his humanitarian concerns “in addition to” his “primarily research orientation.” These are letters in which Neel seeks the cooperation and support of the missionaries.   He speaks of his intentions to vaccinate the Indians against several epidemic diseases, including measles. He does not specifically mention his research interest in reactions to the vaccine, but this is understandable in the context (Tierney cites the shock and sense of betrayal of missionaries upon learning that Chagnon had not informed them of the research purposes of the vaccinations, which he had represented as inspired by purely humanitarian motives: Tierney 2000:43). With this reservation, there is nothing in this correspondence that is inconsistent with what I write in the Occasional Paper. Turner* and Nelson assert that I “fail to note” that Neel continued to try to obtain vaccine for the Yanomami after his return to the US after the 1968 expedition, as if this somehow contradicted something I say. I do not fail to note it, and as they recognize I include the correspondence in my annotated index of the Neel papers.   What they fail to note about this shipment of Edmonston B vaccine is that the Venezuelans declined to use it on Indians, preferring the milder Schwarz vaccine in one-third size doses, in order to avoid the intense reactions caused by the Edmonston vaccine as used, in full doses, by Neel.

 

 

II. C. The Dow Protocol

 

            Equally decisive evidence of Neel’s interest in using vaccinations for research on the immune responses of the Yanomami is provided by his correspondence with the Dow Chemical Company about the possibility of testing a new vaccine on the Yanomami a little more than a year after the 1968 epidemic. Turner* and Nelson misinterpret this correspondence in two ways. In the first place, they fail to take account of the explicit statements it contains of Neel’s interest in using the test vaccinations to study immune responses, and secondly they seek to contradict my assertion that “Dow called a halt to the protocol” because of reservations about the proposed Neel expedition’s ability to do adequate follow-up blood sampling, by taking a letter of Neel’s out of the context of the correspondence with Dow of which it formed an integral part.

 

            Turner* and Nelson state,

 

In 1970 Neel and representatives of the Dow company were in consultation concerning a field test of a triple vaccine, which included a vaccine against rubella. Turner regards this as additional evidence that Neel viewed the entire vaccination process as an experiment. We regard it as a continuation of Neel’s desire to provide aid to this population. In addition, Turner states that the representative of the Dow company felt that Neel could not complete the follow-up blood sampling and that Dow called a halt to the protocol.

 

             This is inaccurate. In the first place, I never claimed that Neel thought of “the entire vaccination process as an experiment”, by which I take Turner* and Nelson to imply that I think that Neel regarded the vaccinations exclusively as experimental, and not at all as humanitarian measures conferring medical benefits. I have consistently employed the generic term “research” instead of “experiment” because the vaccinations were clearly not conducted as an experiment in the scientific sense of contrasting a treated group with an untreated control group. I have consistently said that Neel’s approach to vaccinations was two-sided. As abundant evidence including the Dow protocol shows, he considered them useful both as a research tool and as a medical measure beneficial to the “isolated” populations who were his subjects.   It is Turner* and Nelson, in chorus with other Neel defenders like Lindee, who have insisted on an exclusively one-sided emphasis on Neel’s “desire to provided [medical] aid”, as part of their misconceived attempt to deny that he also employed vaccination as a tool of research. The Dow correspondence contradicts this view, as it provides explicit evidence that Neel was “interested” in vaccinations using Dow’s new vaccine to study differences in reaction rates and/or immune responses between “an isolated South American Indian population and North American urban populations” (DOC 2: Dow draft protocol, 1970, Part I, C). It also fully supports my claim that Dow was concerned, not that Neel could not complete the follow-up blood sampling at all, as Turner* and Nelson say that I maintain, but rather that he could not complete it in a way that would deliver the quality of information Dow required. It was Dow’s specification of the standards that would have to be met for follow-up blood testing to provide the quality of information they required--standards that became increasingly demanding as the correspondence continued--that caused Neel to withdraw from the project. Both he and the Dow representative, Phillip Jackson, concurred at the time of their final exchange of letters and a telephone conversation at the same time that Dow’s requirements were clearly impracticable for Neel’s expedition.

 

            Neel’s letter formally advising Dow of his decision to withdraw, which Turner* and Nelson cite as evidence that Neel rather than Dow called a halt to the protocol, is his regretful acknowledgement that he (and the Yanomami, who might turn out to have been exposed to measles and thus unsuitable for the test) would be unable to comply with the standards Dow had now specified (standards that had not been so clear or demanding at the outset of their negotiations). The letter of Dow’s representative specifying these conditions that precedes Neel’s letter of withdrawal, together with the final letter of the series, in which he informs Neel in more definitive terms of his reasons for independently concluding that the Yanomami vaccination testing program should be called off, were what effectively precipitated   the termination of the project. They have nothing to do with Neel’s own motives for taking part in the protocol, which were to use the vaccine to test the reaction levels of the Yanomami. Neel’s interest in using the vaccinations for this purpose is specifically stated in the protocol for the Dow project as an objective of the testing of the Dow vaccine on the Yanomami, and is the same purpose that Salzano makes clear Neel had for the 1968 vaccinations.  

 

            The interpretation of the Neel-Dow correspondence I have put forward here, as well as in my Occasional Paper, is supported by a careful reading of the whole correspondence between Dow and Neel. There are six items in Neel’s file of Dow correspondence, one of which is the letter Neel wrote to the Dow representative, Jackson, on Dec.30, 1970 (COR 59). This is the one that Turner* and Nelson quote. The first item is an internal memo dealing with minimal amounts of blood required for testing the reactions to the triple vaccine, dated August 7, 1970 (DOC 13). The second is a letter from Jackson to Neel, dated Nov. 4, 1970, which begins:

 

            Subsequent to our phone conversation of last week regarding a possible trivalent live virus vaccine field trial in the Yanomama, I discussed some of the technical points with our virologist and the following conclusions were reached. (COR 1: Jackson to Neel 4/11/70)

 

This beginning, and other details of Jackson’s letters raising queries and reservations about Neel’s ability to carry out the study to Dow’s standards, imply that the idea that the expedition might carry out a field trial of the vaccine with the Yanomami was probably initiated (or as I wrote in my Occasional Paper, “floated”, by Neel (Turner 2001:15).   If it had been initially proposed by Jackson, he would almost certainly not have been consulting on basic points with his virologist and considering a whole range of objections and difficulties following his conversation with Neel, which he refers to as if it were the initial discussion of the project between them. For example, in the third paragraph Jackson says,

 

In our phone conversation you indicated that there were basically two types of villages which would be available for this type of vaccine study...The second type is remote and not readily accessible and may have escaped the measles epidemic. My impression is that in the latter category you are considering only one particular village...

 

Here Jackson is questioning Neel about the fundamental design of the study, which has obviously been proposed to him by Neel.   In the remainder of this letter, and in his long following letter of 23 December, 1970 (COR 2) Jackson formulates a series of questions, reservations and options concerning the specific procedures of the proposed expedition. For example, towards the end of the Nov. 4 letter, he mentions his concern that Neel and Chagnon will leave the field before the eight-to-ten week period after vaccination that would be optimal for testing the effects of the vaccine. In this first mention of this problem, he says that Dow could probably live with a test made after six weeks, although some information would be lost. In his two later letters, this reservation acquires more force and specificity, and becomes one of the factors leading to the termination of the involvement of Neel and Chagnon in the proposed test.

 

            In all of these queries and reservations, it is apparent that Jackson is responding, from the perspective of Dow’s interests in testing its vaccine, to an initial, relatively unspecific proposal by Neel, in company with Chagnon, that the expedition might conduct trials of the vaccine among the Yanomami.   This context is relevant to the interpretation of the correspondence, which essentially consists of Jackson spelling out the conditions under which Dow would be willing to go along with Neel’s proposal to test the vaccine among the Yanomami--conditions which both he and Neel eventually recognize as rendering the whole idea impracticable.

 

            Jackson followed up his letter of 4 November with a four page single-spaced letter to Neel dated 23 December (COR 2), accompanied by a draft of a protocol for a vaccine testing program that would meet Dow’s standards, dated 21 December (DOC 2).   Jackson couches his letter in positive terms, carefully specifying the field procedures that will be required for the expedition to go ahead with the field trial. He brings up several difficulties, however, that he suggests could be overcome, but only in ways that imposed unacceptable burdens on Neel and Chagnon and led to their decision to back out of the project. One of these was the need for “some reasonably good reactivity data” derived from observations that would have to be done throughout the period of reactions to the vaccinations, up to the end of a seven-week period.   He notes that this would be likely to conflict with the expedition’s other activities, particularly for Chagnon:

 

...during our discussion...Dr. Chagnon indicated that, if any significant reactions are to be expected, he would like to be with the vaccinated population during the appropriate time. Of course, I would hope that this could be done, however, Dr. Chagnon will have to evaluate its practicality in relation to the amount of his time which it would require.

 

Jackson then proceeds to describe the reaction periods to the three vaccines making up the composite vaccine, which total seven weeks, from the second to the eighth week after vaccination. This would mean, as he points out, that the person accompanying the patients (whom Jackson implies would be Chagnon) “would have to remain in the vaccinated village during the period indicated by these data, [and thus would] have little opportunity to visit other villages during the expedition”.   Jackson’s phrasing here implies that he thinks that Chagnon did not realize the length of time he had provisionally committed himself to remain with one vaccinated group, and that he (Jackson) imagines that this might well conflict with Chagnon’s other research commitments. Jackson’s tone is skeptical but firm: despite the problems he can imagine that the prolonged observation period would be likely to cause, he insists on Dow’s need for “some reasonably good reactivity data”, meaning re-testing the identical vaccinated subjects after approximately seven-eight weeks.

 

            Jackson also raises a further and more serious difficulty, which he considers “the largest problem [he could] foresee in this entire project”, which is that there was no way to be certain that the Yanomami population selected for study would still be unexposed to measles, and thus still appropriate for testing the vaccine.   He explains that Dow had available four batches of lyophilized vaccines of 450 doses each, and was extremely reluctant to take the 200 doses required for the field test from only one of these batches, since that would leave only some 250 doses for testing in the USA. To minimize the risk of losing so much of one of the batches of vaccine in a possibly unproductive test, Jackson urged that Neel and Chagnon take 50 doses from each of the four batches. This would mean an extremely burdensome bookkeeping problem in the field, and pose possibly insuperable difficulties in identifying which Yanomami had been vaccinated with which vaccine when it came to re-testing. Jackson notes,

 

I recall that Dr. Chagnon very emphatically expressed a preference for working with a single vaccine in order to avoid bookkeeping problems in the field...however, I believe the additional effort involved in recording which of the four vaccines is used for each individual would pay off mightily in reducing the risk which we at Dow must accept.

 

           Confronted with these demanding conditions, both directly related to Dow’s concerns about the expedition’s ability to carry out satisfactory re-testing, Neel decided to withdraw from the project. In his letter of 30 December responding to Jackson’s protocol and letter of 23 December, he gives the incompatibility of “the requirements of your protocol” with “the realities of our field situation” as his reason for coming to the conclusion that the Yanomami] are “probably not the best population on which to field test your vaccine.” He gives three specific reasons for arriving at this conclusion, which are merely restatements of the “requirements” formulated in Jackson’s letter and protocol.

 

            Turner* and Nelson quote a passage of this letter, and claim “This letter shows that contrary to Turner’s assertion, it was Neel, not Jackson, who called a halt to the trial.” This is literally true, but only in the trivial sense that Neel wrote the first of the two letters that formally terminated the project. His letter, however, was followed by one from Jackson, sent January 6, which confirms, in more definitive terms, Dow’s decision not to undertake the project. Jackson’s letter, which does not mention his having received Neel’s letter (possibly the holidays delayed its delivery) speaks of this decision as a “concurrence” (i.e., a conclusion arrived at by both sides, not just Neel) reached in “our recent phone conversation”. Jackson speaks of this conversation as if it, rather than Neel’s letter, was the occasion of the definitive decision not to go on with the project, and mentions “a variety of reasons” why the project is unfeasible... particularly with regard to obtaining a follow-up blood sample”. He goes on to state that Dow had continued to accumulate data that showed that “the final serological evaluation should be at approximately 8 to 10 weeks” (thus even longer than the period he had previously specified), and observes that this would be “completely impossible” for Neel to comply with.

 

            This letter confirms, just as I claimed on the point disputed by Turner* and Nelson,   that it was really Dow that terminated the agreement with Neel, and that it did so, just as I claimed, because “the representative of the Dow company [Jackson] felt that Neel could not complete the follow-up blood sampling and that Dow called a halt to the protocol.”

 

            Jackson’s final letter goes on to mention a more troubling possibility:

 

practical difficulties aside, as I indicated to you in our phone conversation, I began to be haunted by the suspicion that, with regard to non-transmissibility of the rubella component, safety data accumulated in the U.S. population may not be fully applicable to the Yanomamo population. The cultural and epidemiologic differences are obviously very great and some of these differences could enhance the risk of fetal infection with the rubella vaccine virus.

 

Note that Jackson is explicitly speaking here of the danger of viral infection. This passage, along with another in Jackson’s letter of 23 December, was the basis of my statement that Jackson was concerned that “the vaccine might cause infectious cases of the disease”, which on the evidence of this passage is literally true.   Turner* and Nelson attempt to contradict me, saying, accurately, that Jackson is concerned with the special case of teratogenic transference of the virus from pregnant mothers to the fetus or from an infected nursing child to the mother through the breast. In his letter of 23 December, however, he speculates that there may also be a possibility that non-nursing children might infect their mothers through “intimate physical contact,” which sounds to me like ordinary contagious infection.

 

            The final point about the Dow correspondence is the most important in the context of the whole controversy over Neel’s interest in vaccinations as a research tool. Neel concludes his January 6 letter of reply to Jackson with the sentence, “I am sorry to take this position, because I really would have been interested in the titres developed ” (my italics, TT).   Turner* and Nelson quote this sentence but cut off the final italicized clause (without the customary three dots to indicate the deletion).    The draft protocol of the proposed study, in which Neel is listed as principal investigator, that Jackson enclosed with his letter of 23 December leaves no doubt about the reasons for Neel’s “interest” in the “titres developed.”(DOC 2) Under Part I of this protocol, “Study Objectives,” one of the four objectives of the vaccinations is listed as:

 

C.   To estimate possible differences in either immune responses and/or reaction rates between an isolated South American Indian population and North American urban populations.

 

The fourth objective listed is “to provide anti-measles protection to a population highly susceptible to measles”. In other words, Neel hoped to use the vaccinations as a tool for researching the capacity of the Yanomami to generate resistance (produce leukocytes) against measles.   At the same time, he hoped that this would protect the Yanomami against the disease. Unlike Turner* and Nelson, Lindee, and other partisans of Neel, Neel himself clearly saw no incompatibility between research and humanitarian medical objectives of the vaccinations.   It should be borne in mind that this protocol was drafted less than two years after the 1968 measles vaccination campaign, and thus constitutes powerful evidence that the latter was also intended for the same reasons.

 

            The Brazilian medical team also drew the same conclusion about the implications of the 1970 Dow protocol, which Tierney cited in a footnote of the published text of his book, although it had not been mentioned in the galleys. The Brazilians comment:

 

 

An important new document was included in the published text (see his note 140): a research proposal presented in 1971 by Neel to Dow Chemical for testing a triple vaccine on the Yanomami. This document indirectly shows that the scientist’s research proposal for the 1968 vaccination was probably to evaluate the efficacy of the vaccine, to verify the vaccine reactions, to compare the frequency of these reactions and the immunological responses to the vaccine with urban populations , and finally to immunize the Yanomami against measles. (Lobo et al. 2000: Postscript, November 18, 2000: 1. My italics. TT) [4]

 

 

This inference about the purpose of the 1968 vaccinations is confirmed by Salzano’s statement to the reporter of O Globo cited above.

 

            To conclude my discussion of Sections I and II, A, B, and C: Turner* and Nelson’s persistent attempt to misrepresent my position as a simplistic argument that Neel’s research interests in the vaccinations excluded humanitarian objectives on the basis of their assumption that the two are mutually exclusive is a way of evading the issue of the ethical tension between them that developed in the context of the 1968 epidemic. This, however, is the central ethical issue concerning the conduct of the expedition, including that of Neel as its leader. Turner* and Nelson’s misleading formulation serves the rhetorical function of simplifying their task of refuting my argument, so that it appears to be enough for them to show that Neel had humanitarian motives for the vaccinations to refute my claims that he also had research objectives for them, and that these came into conflict during the epidemic.

 

            Rather than representing Neel as simply opting for research to the exclusion of humanitarian or medical objectives, I describe him as attempting to achieve a compromise that would satisfy his main research goals of collecting biological specimens and the pressures of his obligations to the institutional and granting apparatus to which he was bound while also providing essential medical care. I further argue, and document with abundant references to Neel’s own writings and other evidence, that the level of Neel’s research commitments to biological sampling, which he maintained despite the intense pressures of the medical situation, precluded more timely and effective medical assistance, especially given the small number of medically competent staff he had with him.   This priority of research over medical goals (a matter of relative weighting rather than an absolute either/or choice), I argue, was evinced above all by Neel’s refusal to make serious modifications in his schedule of movements from village to village, originally planned at a rate suitable for the collection of large numbers of biological specimens, even after he knew that the epidemic had already broken out near the area where he was working and there was no time to lose if the Yanomami were to be vaccinated in time for effective immunization.

 

            The Brazilian medical experts’ judgment on this issue agrees with my own. It deserves all the more to be considered as they support Neel against almost all of Tierney’s allegations:

 

Given that J. Neel already knew about the risk of an epidemic during his preparations for the trip..some additional precautions could have been taken or foreseen in his working plan...among these, planning and timing of the itinerary of villages to be visited...(Lobo et al ., 2001: Section 5.8.3.)

Since Neel was aware of the speed with which the disease spread and the difficulties encountered in this type of fieldwork, the only question is whether, given his prior knowledge of the epidemic in Brazil, better planning and training...could have reduced the impact of the epidemic (Lobo et al ., 2001: Section 7).

...If measles reached the region before the team arrived, the planning and organization of their movements--regardless of whether they gave priority to either medical care or research--probably had a greater impact on the failure of the vaccination...and the lack of control over mortality [than on the spread of the epidemic]. (Lobo et al. , 2001: Post Scriptum, Point 2)   

 

             What is the fundamental issue at stake in this argument? Turner* and Nelson’s persistent attempt to misrepresent my position as a simplistic claim that for Neel research purposes for the vaccinations excluded any medical purpose has the effect of avoiding the tough ethical issues posed by the need to reconcile them without unduly sacrificing either. These are the issues Neel and some of the other members of the expedition like Centerwall struggled with. We respect their memory more by recognizing this struggle for what it was than by pretending that it did not exist. Turner* and Nelson’s attempt to substitute the straw man of the mutual exclusiveness of Neel’s humanitarian and research interests for the tragic ambiguities of the conduct of the 1968 Orinoco expedition implies that it is enough for them to show that Neel had humanitarian motives for the vaccinations to refute my claims that there were any conflicting research objectives for them. Their position, however, is logically incoherent, empirically ungrounded, and a misrepresentation of my argument, and moreover evades the central ethical issue of the relation between humanitarian responsibilities and research values.

 

 

III. Trips to the Centers of Disease Control [sic] (CDC) in Nov. 1967

 

            In my discussion of this issue I was primarily responding to Susan Lindee’s citation of Neel’s trip to the CDC as having been for the purpose of consulting about the Edmonston B vaccine. As I read the correspondence between Neel and members of the CDC staff about the visit, it became clear that Neel’s motives for going to the CDC had to do primarily with methods of collecting fungal samples and methods of studying disease incidence and effects on populations.   These were clearly subjects on which Neel felt he had much to learn and would justify a personal visit that would enable extended conversations with experts. There is no evidence in any of Neel’s correspondence or other writings that he regarded the choice of a vaccine as a problem on this order, at least as far as the CDC was concerned. It was perhaps more a question that could be dealt with by telephone, as Neel mentions that he did upon his return from Venezuela in 1968, without requiring a trip to Atlanta. This did not mean of course that once at the CDC he would not talk about vaccines, merely that they were not the primary subject for the sake of which he undertook the trip. Turner* and Nelson’s attempt to stretch my comment to this effect into a “contradiction” (in their section VIII.B) is silly. I discuss this point further below.

 

 

IV. Selection of Vaccine

 

            My suggestion that Neel may have selected Edmonston B simply because he could get it for free, to which Turner* and Black refer, was based on a remark of Francis Black to that effect cited by Mann in an article in Science (Mann 2000:416).   I would agree that this does not convincingly account for why Neel took the one measles vaccine then available that called for the laborious procedure of giving accompanying shots of gamma globulin to cut the intensity of the fever reactions. I was unable to find any positive indications of a reason for Neel’s choice either in his own writings or those of others associated with the expedition. Specifically, I was unable to discover positive evidence for Tierney’s suggestion that Neel selected the Edmonston vaccine deliberately because of the reactions to which it led were virtually indistinguishable from reactions to exposure to wild measles (see remarks of G.S. Wilson quoted by Tierney: Tierney 2000:56).

 

            With respect to Turner* and Nelson’s claim that Neel had very little time to get vaccine between the date on which he first learned of the outbreak of measles (11 December) and his departure for the field in January, it should be noted that Neel had already begun to solicit donations of vaccine as early as 15 September (COR 29, DOC 12), so this can not be adduced as a reason. Here again Turner* and Nelson challenge some of my references, claiming that they do not relate to “the selection of vaccine”.   They do, however, relate to other relevant aspects of the properties, solicitation, and use of vaccine, which were part of my discussion of the general question of vaccine. Once again Turner* and Nelson manufacture a false issue by an overly narrow construction of the subject under discussion.

 

 

V. Planning and following the expedition’s itinerary

 

            Under this very important heading Turner* and Nelson have only one brief observation. They quote a passage from Neel’s field journal reporting a discussion with the head of the Venezuelan “Commissioner for Indian Affairs”. In this discussion the Commissioner informs Neel of the outbreak of measles among the Yanomami and Makiritare of the Ventuari, not far from the region on the Orinoco to which Neel’s expedition was heading. After noting his receipt of this report, Neel appends the cryptic note “Discussion and invite them in also. We will be swarming with Indians if all this comes to pass and the problem is now not to over-commit our troops at any point. Plans and replans”. Turner* and Nelson comment on this with a single sentence, “This indicates that Neel was reformulating his plans.” But in fact Neel did not significantly reformulate the itinerary he had planned before receiving news of the measles on the Ventuari and leaving for the field (on this point see my detailed discussion of all of Neel’s correspondence and personal journal entries dealing with the expedition’s itinerary: Turner 2001d:17-18). Nor did he “invite [the personnel of the Venezuelan Indian Agency] in” as his note suggests he contemplated doing. This whole question of Neel’s relative inflexibility in modifying his plans for the expeditions route and rate of movement is critical to the interpretation of his relative priorities for research and emergency medical treatment. It is puzzling that Turner* and Nelson do not recognize the significance of this issue or attempt to give it more serious consideration.

 

 

VI. Outbreak of the epidemic

 

            Turner* and Nelson begin their discussion under this head with the sentences:

 

Turner suggests that Neel should have known about the measles epidemic from conversations in Caracas. He should have also moved more quickly to vaccinate before he had confirmed information about the measles outbreak in the area he was about to enter.

 

Yes, I do indeed suggest these things, and I stand by them. Of course Neel knew that the epidemic had not only broken out on the Ventuari from his conversation in Caracas but had learned from his missionary correspondents before he left the USA that it was already on the Orinoco. Of course he should have moved more quickly to vaccinate without waiting for confirmed information that it had broken out in the area where he planned to work. By the time he might receive such confirmation, it would already be too late for vaccinations of many of those exposed to do any good. As the Brazilian medical team suggests, that is exactly what happened (Lobo et al. 2000).

 

 

VII. Spread of the epidemic

 

            Turner* and Nelson take exception to my disagreement with Neel’s claim to have averted a tragedy (i.e., stopped or contained the epidemic). They cite “very flattering” comments by Missionaries about Neel, and items in Missionary newsletters that indicate that Neel saved many lives. So he did, but many fewer than he would have had he moved faster to vaccinate the people of his area. If Turner* and Nelson read the missionary newsletters, they must have noticed the reports that the epidemic was spreading beyond the villages where the expedition had worked. Turner* claimed in her presentation at the 2001 AAA Meetings that she had read and taken into account the Brazilian medical team’s report, which notes the widespread ineffectiveness of the expedition’s vaccinations and their “failure to control mortality” owing to the expedition’s failure to vaccinate until many Yanomami had been effectively exposed for three days or more (Lobo et al. 2000).    The epidemic continued and spread, and many died within the area of the expedition’s medical activities. This was the tragedy that was not averted. I think it at least deserved a mention along with the flattering comments of the missionaries.

 

 

VIII. Neel’s correspondence with Marcel Roche

 

A. Responsibility for the epidemic

 

            Turner* and Nelson deny that there is any evidence that Neel ever thought that he and the expedition might have been responsible for spreading the measles epidemic to the Yanomami area of the Orinoco. As they are of course aware, Tierney’s suggestion that Neel was worried about this possibility is based on indirect inference about Neel’s motives for attempting to identify a Brazilian boy who although sick lacked diagnostic symptoms of measles. Neel claimed that Marcel Roche had diagnosed the boy as a case of measles in an article in The American Journal of Epidemiology, which according to Tierney he did not show Roche before it appeared (Neel et al. 1970; Tierney 2000:62).   On the “evidence” of his claim that Marcel Roche had diagnosed the boy as a case of measles despite his lack of characteristic measles symptoms, Neel identified the boy as the index case from which the epidemic spread (Tierney 2000:60-61; Neel et al. 1970). Tierney reports that when he visited Roche in 1996 and asked him about Neel’s claim, Roche denied that he had said the boy had measles, saying that he had diagnosed the boy only as a victim of nonspecific tropical fever.

 

            When Tierney’s book was published, one of the criticisms made against Tierney was that Roche by 1996 had come down with Alzheimer’s, and that Tierney had taken advantage of a man who could no longer be a reliable source (even though he was still functioning as editor of the science journal, Interciencia ).   When I searched Neel’s papers, however, I discovered an exchange of correspondence between Neel and Roche dating from April 1968, immediately after Neel’s return from the Orinoco, in which Neel off-handedly asks for a confirmation in writing that Roche had diagnosed the Brazilian boy with measles (COR 16, 4 April 1968), and Roche responds that he had not diagnosed measles but only a tropical fever (Unnumbered/uncatalogued COR, 23 April, 1968). This is exactly what Tierney reported him as saying 28 years later, so it appears that Alzheimer’s was not a factor.

 

            Neel’s persistence in claiming the Brazilian boy as a case of measles in his 1970 article on the basis of Roche’s supposed diagnosis, which on the evidence of Roche’s 1968 letter he knew to be false, raises a legitimate question about his motive.   This, at any rate, is the indirect evidence underlying Tierney’s suggestion that Neel falsely reported Roche’s diagnosis in an attempt to deflect blame from the expedition for being the source of the epidemic. There is no direct evidence for this inference, nor did I claim that there was in reporting Tierney’s interpretation in my Occasional Paper.

 

            Against the background of the discussions of this point, with which they must be familiar, Turner* and Nelson’s claim that there is no indication in Neel’s papers that Neel ever thought that he or the expedition might have been responsible for causing the epidemic is disingenuous. As they are surely aware, the contention that Neel might have been worried about this issue is based on indirect inference from his claims about Roche’s diagnosis, not any claim that “Neel or Roche suggested in letters or documents that the expedition was responsible for the epidemic”, in the words of Turner* and Nelson.   If Neel was indeed trying to cover up the dreadful possibility that the expedition might have been responsible for bringing the epidemic, as suggested by Tierney, he would have been unlikely to have ”indicated” it in so in so many words in a letter. The whole point turns on the question of Neel’s motives for insisting on the apparently unfounded measles diagnosis of the Brazilian boy. As I have reported, there is now new documentary evidence from Neel’s papers that vindicates Tierney’s assertion that Neel misrepresented Roche’s diagnosis of the Brazilian boy to support his identification of the boy as the index case of the measles outbreak at Ocamo. Turner* and Nelson choose not to confront this question, and represent their failure to find any evidence where nobody claimed it existed as a basis for dismissing the issue.

 

 

B. Permission to vaccinate

 

            As Turner* and Nelson report, I came to the conclusion that Neel must have had permission from some Venezuelan government source, if not the Ministry of Health, on the basis of indirect evidence presented by Lindee, and so reported in my Occasional Paper.   There seems to be nothing to disagree about on this point.

 

 

C. Roche is concerned about the use of Edmonston B

 

            Here Turner* and Nelson refer to my comment on Roche’s response to Neel’s shipment of Edmonston B vaccine after his return from Venezuela in April 1968. Roche informs Neel that the Venezuelans will not use the Edmonston vaccine on Indians, because they are using a far milder form of measles vaccination using one third-strength doses of Lirurgen Schwarz vaccine.   Roche refers to the Venezuelans’ decision in this matter as being based on “studies”. In my Occasional Paper I suggest that these studies must have been known at the CDC (indeed, they were probably the studies conducted by Dr. Helen Casey, Neel’s erstwhile collaborator, who was one of the developers of the Schwarz vaccine), and that Neel must surely have heard about them from scientists at CDC during his visit there in 1967 if he did not already know about them.  

 

            Turner* and Nelson pounce on this innocent remark with enthusiasm. They exclaim,

 

This is directly contradictory to Turner’s earlier assertion that Neel did not discuss the vaccines with scientists at the CDC when he was there.

 

But I never said that Neel “did not discuss” vaccine at the CDC. What I said was that he did not make his trip to the CDC for the purpose of discussing it. The relevant passage is:

 

[Neel’s] correspondence with various scientists at the CDC reveals that Neel’s trip there shortly before leaving for Venezuela was for purposes of discussing aspects of disease research, but not for consulting on the properties of the Edmonston B vaccine, as Lindee and others have asserted (Lindee 2001a; 2001b; cf. Stevens and Turner 2001; COR 26;28;124;126;131)

 

This of course is not to say he may not have talked about vaccines with local experts while there.   I did not go to France in 1999 to discuss the weather, but I nevertheless did so while there on several occasions with knowledgeable locals. If there is a problem here, it may be with Turner’s* and Nelson’s grasp of the concept of contradiction.

 

            There is, however, a problem of another sort presented by Roche’s response to Neel, which consists in its implications for Neel’s possible motives for employing the Edmonston vaccine (in full doses). If Neel knew in December 1967 or January 1968 about the studies Roche cited in his response to Neel’s shipment of vaccine in April 1968, why did he persist in using the Edmonston vaccine anyway, and in full doses at that? Turner* and Nelson do not confront this troubling question; but then, for lack of evidence, neither do I in my discussion of Neel’s vaccine selection in my Occasional Paper.   Roche’s letter may nevertheless be regarded as one more piece of circumstantial evidence that Neel may well have known of less problematically reactive available vaccines and dosage strategies but nevertheless chose Edmonston B in full doses because the reactions it caused were of greater value for his research objectives.

 

            On the subject of Centerwall’s protocol with its recommendation for vaccinating half the village at a time so the intense reactions to the Edmonston vaccine would only prostrate half of a community at a time, leaving the other half to take care of those who would be knocked out by the reactions to the vaccinations, I would like to point out that it was I in my Occasional paper who pointed out that this was clearly suggested for medical reasons, and not intended as an experimental policy (leaving half the village as a control group), as the Brazilian team and Tierney had suggested might be a possibility.    Turner* and Nelson make a good point about the shortage of adult doses of gamma globulin, along with the expedition’s inadequate supply of that medicine, having been a possible motive for the Centerwall strategy.   This still leaves unexplained the reasons for this shortfall, and the apparent lack of attempts to obtain further supplies.

 

 

IX. Vaccinations

 

             Nothing listed under this head.

 

 

X. Centerwall’s protocol

 

            Turner* and Nelson open this section by quoting me out of context to make it appear that I am making an obviously counterfactual claim about the use of gamma globulin, which is the opposite of what I actually say. They assert:

 

Turner states that the use of gamma globulin demonstrated “the relative indifference and low priority that seems to have attended other dealings with the vaccine.

 

The clause that they quote occurs in a passage in which I discuss the possible reasons for Neel’s failure to send gamma globulin along with the 1,000 doses of Edmondston B vaccine he shipped to the Brazilian missionaries in January 1968. I write:

 

The documents provide no answer to the question of why gamma globulin was not supplied to the missionaries along with the Edmonston vaccine, and why Roche was not told that he should use it when he vaccinated at Ocamo. There is no evidence that this was part of an “experiment”. It may simply have been a result of the relative indifference and low priority that seems to have attended other dealings with the vaccine.

 

A reading of the whole passage which constitutes the context of the words Turner* and Nelson quote shows that what I actually suggest is that the failure to use gamma globulin together with the vaccine, not its use, may be explained by indifference and low priority.  

 

 

XI. Neel’s low priority for vaccinations as compared to research

 

            In their discussion of my analysis of Neel’s priorities, Turner* and Nelson claim that I base my argument “to a great degree” upon one statement by Neel in his journal that seems to entertain the possibility of dispensing with the vaccinations altogether. They then present a far-fetched alternative interpretation of the same four words and attempt to suggest that they have thereby refuted my whole argument about Neel’s relative priorities. None of these contentions are correct, or even come close.

 

            The sentence in question occurs in the context of a discussion of the need to organize research activities more efficiently at the next site to be visited, the village of Patanowatedi, and to this end constructs a hierarchized list of research tasks, assigning relative priorities to each task and specifying which expedition member is to carry out each.   At the end of this list of tasks, projected to take three to four days to complete, Neel concludes with the phrase, “then inoculate if at all”.   I interpret this as a straightforward expression of determination not to allow vaccinating to get in the way of research activities, and to accept the possibility that if the completion of other, more highly prioritized tasks does not leave enough time for the vaccinations then so be it. This meaning is not only verbally explicit, but is clear from the context of the phrase and the whole discourse in which it is embedded.  

 

            Turner* and Nelson strain credulity in attempting to suggest an alternative interpretation of this phrase, as well as the implications of leaving the vaccinations until last in the list of tasks to be performed. They suggest that it might be an indication of the problem of the tendency of Indians to run away from vaccinations, and of this alone. The first thing to say about this is that if two alternative interpretations are suggested of an utterance in the course of an investigation of its meaning, the investigator normally proceeds to attempt to evaluate the relative probability of the two possibilities. Turner* and Nelson do not do this. Instead they proceed as if it were enough simply to have come up with an alternative possibility, however improbable, to avoid considering the possibility that my interpretation of the phrase might be correct.    Here as elsewhere they act not as objective investigators but as lawyers for the defense, arguing a brief.  

 

            So let us put the question that they fail to ask: which interpretation is the more probable? If Neel had had what Turner* and Nelson call “the flight problem” in mind in considering the possibility of not vaccinating the Patanowatedi, he would almost certainly have said so. The whole passage of his journal to which the phrase in question belongs is concerned with the efficient division of labor and timely execution of research tasks. “Inoculation” is mentioned as one of a series of tasks that the members of the expedition should (or, in the case in question, maybe should not) perform, not as tasks that may be interrupted by the actions of others over whom Neel and the other members have no control. If Neel were worried about the “flight problem” in connection with these tasks, he would have been concerned that the Indians might flee from some of the other tasks as well, such as the taking of blood samples, which the expedition had led the Indians to believe was also a medical procedure, and which also involved sticking needles into their arms. The wider context of this passage is also relevant. It includes expressions of intense exasperation by Neel that the vaccinations are taking so much time and effort, and declarations of intent to off-load the responsibility for them to missionaries.   In conclusion, I submit that Turner’s* and Nelson’s alternative interpretation seems far-fetched and improbable in comparison with the one I propose.

 

            The interpretation of the phrase “if at all” is however a relatively minor difficulty beside the major problem of this section, which is the way Turner* and Nelson attempt to suggest that my “contention that Neel’s humanitarian aims were always secondary to his research goals” is based “to a great degree” [which becomes, in their truncated exposition, virtually 100 per cent.) on my interpretation of the phrase under discussion.   This is a truly brobdignagian distortion.

 

            The issue of Neel’s relative priorities for research and medical treatment is central to the ethical evaluation of his and the expedition’s conduct in the epidemic. As Turner* and Nelson say, I discuss it at some length in my Occasional Paper, because it is a complex issue and there are a number of related problems.   In my analysis of the question I give the most weight to the evidence of Neel’s itinerary for the expedition, and his unwillingness to make serious modifications in the routing and rate of the expedition’s movements to make possible more effective measures against the epidemic, such as more timely vaccinations and the possibility of not going to relatively remote and unexposed places on the original itinerary where this would mean exposing them to disease carriers who might accompany the expedition. To this end I present an exhaustive review of all of Neel’s references and formulations to his plans for the itinerary starting with his preliminary outlines while he was still in the USA (Turner 2001:17). The references include COR 37; 53;54;56;65;67; 70;77;78; and 96, and DOC 1 (Neel’s field journal):pp. 43-44, 12-13 Jan.; p. 48,14 Jan.; pp. 83-84, 7 Feb.; p. 95, 16-17 Feb.; and p. 99, 17 Feb.  

 

            Once Neel and the expedition arrived in the field I take account of the way the pressure of vaccinating and other medical work under the circumstances of the epidemic interfered with the carrying out of research tasks, and Neel’s annoyance and frustration over this.   I consider how this intensified the pressure on Neel to off-load them onto missionaries or possibly dispense with them. I attempt to weigh the research and medical purposes of the vaccinations, and point out how the balance between the research and medical functions of the vaccinations shifted dramatically with the outbreak of the epidemic, since the onset of wild measles rendered the vaccinations redundant for Neel’s research purposes. The resulting reduction of the vaccinations to a purely humanitarian medical function may well have made them seem even more onerous and unprofitable from Neel’s point of view. I also consider the institutional and career pressures on Neel from his responsibilities to granting agencies and commitments to laboratories that he had lined up to analyze his specimens, which his journal entries show that he felt keenly, and the way these feelings tended to tip the balance of priorities in favor of research as opposed to non-research activities. To ignore this entire analysis and claim that my understanding of Neel’s relative priorities for research and humanitarian action is based primarily on the interpretation of a single four-word phrase from his journal is to misrepresent my research and analysis big time.

 

            To conclude on a positive note, however, let me say that I am in full agreement with the authors’ final sentence of this section: “It must be remembered that no matter what Neel felt, he did vaccinate.” I also stress this fact, and give Neel full credit for it (Turner 2001d:54) Maybe too much credit, if claims by Centerwall’s son cited by Tierney in the epilogue to the paperback edition of his book are to be believed (Tierney 2002). According to him, Neel decided not to vaccinate after all at Patanowatedi, and was only forced to do so by Willard Centerwall’s threat to inform the Venezuelan authorities. Neel’s motives were said to be a desire to witness the natural progress of the virgin soil epidemic and worries that the reactions to the Edmonston B vaccine were too severe to administer without gamma globulin, of which their supply had run low (Tierney 2002: epilogue). As Tierney notes, this is hearsay evidence. If supported by other testimony, it will prompt a reconsideration of Neel’s research ethics.

 

 

XII. Neel’s upper respiratory infection

 

As a “comment” on my report that Neel had a continual problem with a serious upper respiratory infection virtually the entire time he was in the field, Turner* and Nelson simply repeat the fact, followed by a similar neutral repetition of my report that the Yanomami had had a serious outbreak of bronchial pneumonia a couple of months previously. As I remark in my text, the first of these facts, especially in the context of the second, raises a serious question about Neel’s regard for elementary medical precautions that any contemporary field worker with a comparable population would be expected to observe. No comment from Turner* and Nelson!

 

 

XIII. Neel’s search for the genetic basis of male dominance

 

            There is a remarkable uniformity in the attempts by defenders of Neel, beginning with the first University of Michigan statement, the University of California at Santa Barbara statement, Susan Lindee’s statements, the statements of Bruce Alberts of the National Academy of Science and the recent statement of the American Society of Human Genetics to avoid the uncomfortable truth about Neel’s beliefs about the eugenic effects of primitive headmanship (Lindee 2000, 2001a, 2001b, 2001c; Alberts 2001).   Turner* and Nelson faithfully follow these examples in similarly avoiding the unavoidable and denying the undeniable. Like them, they emphasize Neel’s opposition to eugenic ideology and political programs as applied to immigration policy, racism and other modern notions of inequality, which I have also consistently emphasized and praised, in an attempt to deflect and indirectly deny that Neel could have had eugenic ideas about the connection between “headmanship,” genetically coded “innate ability” and reproductive success among the Yanomami in particular and in human evolution in general.   All in vain.   None of these good folks dares to confront the plain evidence of Neel’s writings, such as his article, “On being headman” (1994), and passages of his autobiography, which I have quoted and discussed in various places, including my occasional paper. Nor have any of them, including Turner* and Nelson, been willing to face the obvious connections between Neel’s beliefs in this regard and Chagnon’s ideologically consistent but empirically discredited assertions about the superior reproductivity of Yanomami “killers”.   In plain language, Turner* and Nelson dodge the question, and avoid confronting the relevant evidence, which I cite and quote in my Occasional Paper (2001d:34-43) and in other places such as Turner 2000.   What can explain this impressively uniform pattern of avoidance? Is a significant proportion of biological anthropology so compromised by the genetic reductionism and sociobiological-cum-evolutionary-psychological propensity for eugenically tinged myth-making that it cannot bear to confront its mythological foundations? There is no point in picking apart Turner* and Nelson’s text in this section point by point. For those interested in reading for themselves what all these academically distinguished folks are trying to escape, read the relevant passages in Neel’s own writings (Neel 1980, 1994). Or, for a reasonably succinct summary, see Turner 2000).

Turner* and Nelson on the issue of informed consent

 

            Two major ethical issues have emerged in connection with Neel’s work with the 1968 AEC Orinoco Expedition. One is the issue of priorities of research over medical assistance. The other is that of informed consent. I have already commented on Turner* and Nelson’s startlingly incomplete and inadequate discussion of my “points” about the former topic. Their discussion of my treatment of the issue of priorities is however almost encyclopedic in comparison to their discussion of informed consent, which they relegate to the final paragraph of their abbreviated (one and one half pages) and oddly unfocused conclusion, which for the most part merely repeats points they have already covered in previous sections. Only the final paragraph of this conclusion raises the issue of informed consent, and this makes no reference to any “points” of my discussion of the subject.   The final sentences of this paragraph nevertheless seem worthy of comment in their own right, partly because they prefigure the more extended treatment of the subject in the Preliminary Report of the Task Force. Turner* and Nelson report that:

 

...Jane Hill, Chair of the El Dorado Task Force talked to two members of the field team about informed consent during the 1968 expedition.    They both state that individuals were told that blood was taken so that they could look for disease inside the blood.

 

This is consistent with what Chagnon told Hames that he told the Yanomami about the purpose of the blood sampling before and during the 1968 expedition. As Bruce Albert and I have both argued, this was tantamount, in the context of the Orinoco and the state of Yanomami understanding in 1968, to telling the Yanomami that the sampling was a medical procedure intended to help them, when it was in fact no such thing. It was, in other words, a way of obtaining mis informed consent for the taking of biological specimens, and as such, unethical. Moreover, in omitting to disclose the expedition’s intention to retain and preserve the blood specimens indefinitely, without destroying or returning them at the death of the donors, thus violating Yanomami cultural prescriptions in the matter, the members of the expedition clearly committed prevarication in the legal sense of not informing the Yanomami of pertinent aspects of the whole truth of their intended use of the samples. The failure to explain the research purposes of the vaccinations was yet another failure to seek informed consent.  

 

            Turner and Nelson continue:

 

In addition, we have surveyed 15 other researchers on human population biology during this time period as to their methods for obtaining consent. They all seem to have followed the same procedures the Neel team followed.

 

This statement is worthless without more specific indications of what procedures are being referred to and what precise questions were asked. Were the respondents asked, for example, if they routinely failed to try to explain the real research purpose of the specimens they were collecting? Did they instead, like the Neel team, mislead their subjects into thinking that the collection of specimens for research that would have no effect on their medical situation was some kind of medical procedure that might actually help in treating their illnesses? And did they withhold, as the Neel team did, culturally relevant information about the intended use and disposition of the specimens, in cases where these uses would violate cultural practices and values? These appear to have been among the standard “procedures” of the AEC Orinoco Expedition. They are all violations of ethical standards of informed consent

 

 

BRIEF CONCLUSION

 

            Except for a very few points that are in apparently unwitting agreement with my interpretations, not one of Turner* and Nelson’s many critical points can be sustained.   In the apt expression of E.P. Thompson, their paper is a veritable “orrery of errors” (Thompson 1978:193 ff.). This is a sobering conclusion, given the amount of time and effort they seem to have invested in their paper, and considering that it appears to form the basis of the important section of the Task Force Report on the allegations concerning James Neel. I am tempted to suggest that the authors could have used their time to better advantage if they had stuck to their original charge of investigating the ethical problems of Neel’s work rather than in wasting their time in futile efforts to slay messengers who have only been trying to help them in their task by informing them of the results of critical research they could have been doing themselves.  

 

            What useful results, if any, have emerged from this exercise? Firstly, I think it is useful to have refined the question of the possibly unethical aspects of Neel’s collection of biological specimens and vaccinations for research.   There is nothing intrinsically unethical about these research activities, and nothing intrinsically problematic, from an ethical point of view, in combining humanitarian medical procedures or treatment with research activities like monitoring reactions to vaccinations, so long as the subjects are adequately and honestly informed about the purposes and effects of the activities. Situations may arise, however, in which these activities and purposes may come into conflict in ways that prevent both from being fully realized, given available time and resources.   It is pretty clear that the 1968 measles epidemic on the Orinoco was such a situation. In such historical conjunctures it becomes necessary to make ethical choices, which may mean the temporary suspension of some or all research activities to permit the fulfillment of basic medical needs.

 

            The ethical dilemmas that arose and the ethically problematical decisions that were made in the 1968 AEC Expedition under the conditions of the epidemic resulted from an extreme situation when normally compatible humanitarian and research values came into contradiction and the researchers were called upon to make hard choices between the two sets of objectives. The choices they made were understandable but not ethically defensible by current standards or even the contemporary standards of the time. Neel and the expedition deserve great credit for the efforts they did make to provide medical care, including immunization, to the Yanomami before and during the onset of the epidemic. The weight of the presently available evidence, however, is that Neel did not suspend enough of his research program to make possible a sufficient medical effort to immunize many Yanomami of his research area effectively against the epidemic. It has also become clear that he and his colleagues did not adequately inform the Yanomami about the nature and purposes of the research aspects of their activities. In these two respects their actions cannot be judged to have complied fully with the standards of the contemporary AAA Code of Ethics, and some ethical conventions in effect at the time, like the Nuremburg and Helsinki I accords. The effects of those actions on the Yanomami at the time, although in many respects difficult to ascertain after the passage of so much time, are nevertheless sufficiently known to permit evaluation in some respects and to some extent.   It is possible, and necessary, to say that the expedition, through the efforts of a few of its members like Neel and especially Centerwall, vaccinated and treated many Yanomami, and doubtless saved many lives. It is also possible and necessary to say, with the Brazilian medical team, that they could have saved many more by more timely vaccinations, if they had been willing to suspend their priority on maintaining their research program during the onset of the epidemic.   We owe it to the Yanomami, to our profession and to ourselves to say frankly and publicly that some ethical misjudgments were made from which the Yanomami suffered.   This is the least we can do to help ensure that such misjudgments will not be made again.

 

 

 

REFERENCES

 

 

ALBERT, BRUCE

2001a.   Biomedical research, ethnic labels, and anthropological responsibility: further comments. In Robert Borofsky, ed., Yanomami Round Table Forum.   At site: Public Anthropology: Engaging ideas http://www.publicanthropology.org

 

2001b.   Human rights and research ethics among indigenous people: final comments. In Robert Borofsky, ed., Yanomami Round table Forum. At site: Public Anthropology: Engaging ideas http://www.publicanthropology.org

 

ALBERTS, BRUCE (President, National Academy of Sciences)

2000.   Setting the record straight regarding Darkness in El Dorado http://www4.nationalacademies.org/nas/nashome.nsf/b57ef1bf2404952b852566dd00671bfd/57065f16ff258371852569920052d283?OpenDocument

 

BOROFSKY, ROBERT (Ed.)

2001.   Yanomami roundtable forum . At site: Public Anthropology: Engaging ideas http://www.publicanthropology.org

 

CONARD, ROBERT

1957.   Letter to “Chuck” at Brookhaven National Laboratory from Robert Conard, Head of the Medical Department, AEC-Navy Medical Team, Marshall Islands Project. Dated September 25, 1957.   Document No. 0726332. Washington National Records Center, Collection 32681-6, Box No. 1) http://search.dis.anl.gov/plweb-cgi/mhrex

 

LINDEE, SUSAN

2000.   Letter in response to Darkness in El Dorado , 21 September 2000.   http://www.ramu.edu/anthropology.edu/anthropology/ Lindee.html .   Access date: 6/20/01

 

2001a.   Neel’s field notes in 1968. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, November 2000. Paper archived at http://ccat.sas.upenn.Edu/hss/faculty/neel.htm . Access date: 7/24/01

 

2001b.   “A tangled web in more ways than one.” Pennsylvania Gazette January/February 2001. Accessed at http://www.upenn. edu/gazette/0101/0101gaz9.html . Access date: 7/26/01.

 

2001c.   Review in "Perspectives on Tierney’s Darkness in El Dorado."   CA forum on anthropology in public.   Current Anthropology 42(2):272-274.

 

LOBO, M. S. DE C. et al .  

2000.   “Report of the medical team of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro on accusations contained in Patrick Tierney's Darkness in El Dorado.”   Translation Catherine V. Howard.   Posted at: http://www.tamu.edu/anthropology/UFRJ-Final.html

 

MANN, CHARLES C.

2000.   Anthropological warfare. Science 291 (5503):416

 

NEEL, JAMES V.,

1980.   “On Being Headman”, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine , 23 (277-94)

 

1994.   Physician to the Gene Pool: Genetic Lessons and Other Stories . New York. John Wiley. Ch. 17 (”Some longer-range problems for the gene pool” 301-316, see especially 301-304)

 

NEEL, JAMES V., WILLARD CENTERWALL, NAPOLEON CHAGNON,

AND HELEN CASEY

1970.   Notes on the effect of measles and measles vaccine in a virgin soil population of South American Indians. American Journal of Epidemiology 91: 418-29

 

STEVENS, JOHN

2001.   The History behind the darkness: A response to Susan Lindee’s readings of the Neel papers. http://www.anth.uconn. Edu/gradstudents/ dhume/darkness_in_el_dorado/ubdex.htm

 

STEVENS, JOHN AND TERENCE TURNER

2001.   Annotated index of selected documents and correspondence from the collection of James V. Neel’s papers in the archive of the American Philosophical Society.   At site: http://www.anth.uconn.Edu/gradstudents/    dhume/darkness_in_el_dorado/index.htm . Access date: 7/25/01

 

THOMPSON, E. P.

1978.   The poverty of theory, or an orrery of errors. In E.P. Thompson, The poverty of theory and other essays. Merlin.

 

TIERNEY, PATRICK

2000.   Darkness in El Dorado: How scientists and journalists devastated the Amazon .   New York. Norton

 

2002.   Paperback reissue of Darkness in El Dorado . New York. Norton

 

TURNER, TERENCE

2000.   Eugenic ideas in James Neel’s conception of “primitive society”. Posted on Hume website   http://www.anth.uconn.edu/ gradstudents/dhume/darkness_in_el_dorado/index.htm

and web site of Doctoral Program in Anthropology and History, University of Michigan, lecture series   “Science, Ethics, Power: Controversy over the production of knowledge and indigenous peoples” http://www.umich.edu.%7Elinet/ Crossing Borders/scienceethicspower.html

 

2001a.   Ethics in El Dorado: Patrick Tierney’s Darkness in El Dorado and the ensuing controversy, in Robert Borofsky, ed., Yanomami Roundtable Forum. At site: Public Anthropology: Engaging ideas http://www.publicanthropology.org

 

2001b.   Anthropological responsibilities, scientific ethics, and the ideology of “science”: What do we owe the Yanomami?, in Robert Borofsky, ed., Yanomami Roundtable Forum. At site: Public Anthropology: Engaging ideas http://www. publicanthropology.org

 

2001c.   “New light on the darkness”, in Robert Borofsky, ed., Yanomami Roundtable Forum. At site: Public Anthropology: Engaging ideas http://www. publicanthropology.org

 

2001d.   The Yanomami and the ethics of anthropological practice . Occasional Paper of the Latin American Studies Program, Cornell University

 

TURNER, TRUDY AND JEFFREY NELSON

2002.   Turner point by point. Posted on web page of El Dorado Task Force of the American Anthropological Association http://www.aaanet.org/edtf/index.htm

 

VALENTE, RUBENS

2000.   Report on Yanomami controversy with Salzano interview. O Globo , September 27, 2000. Primeiro Caderno

 



 

ENDNOTES

 

[1]   Through no fault of her own, Trudy Turner received a family name identical with mine, and to add insult to injury   also a given name with the same first initial, so the usual method of distinguishing two persons with identical last names by prefixing them with distinctive first initials will not work.   To keep the two T. Turners involved in this exchange distinct, I propose to place an asterisk after the name “Turner” when referring to Trudy Turner.

 

[2]   In our annotated bibliography of Neel’s papers, Stevens and I give a master list of items of correspondence, designated COR and numbered in the order in which we found them, and a similar master list of documents, designated DOC, similarly numbered. We follow this master list with a chronologically ordered list of letters and documents, a cross-indexed listing by selected topics, and an itemized listing of passages from Neel’s field journal.

 

[3]   This is my translation of the following original Portuguese text:  

Os efeitos da vacinação, segundo Salzano, foram acompanhados pela equipe com autorização dos governos Venezolanos e Brasileiros e seguiram todos os padrões éticos. O objetivo era saber como o organismo de pessoas pertencentes a grupos isolados, como os Ianomamis, reage a vacinação contra doenças infecciosas.

 

[4]   Tierney’s reference to this protocol, which the Brazilians cite, is contained in note 140 to Chapter 5 of his published text (Tierney 2000:342). It contains one error. He dates it “January 18, 1971”, and speaks of it together with his reference to Jackson’s letter to Neel of 6 January 1971, which is confusing since it was actually sent together with Jackson’s letter of December 23 to Neel. January 18, 1971 is actually the proposed starting date of the grant given on the cover. The draft itself is dated 21 December 1970, which explains how it could be included in the 23 December letter. The Brazilians refer to this protocol in the passage quoted as a research proposal presented by Neel to Dow, whereas it was a protocol drafted and sent by Dow to Neel. It is probable, however, that notes or a draft proposal by Neel was used as the basis for the Dow draft, since Neel is the principal investigator, and the protocol is concerned with the activities of his proposed expedition.