Darkness in El Dorado - Archived Document
Anthropological Niche of Douglas W. Hume
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Internet Source: CBC (Canadian Television) Quirks & Quarks for December 9, 2000
Source URL: http://www.radio.cbc.ca/programs/quirks/archives/00-01/dec0900.htm


Darkness in El Dorado

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A new book by American Journalist Patrick Tierney called Darkness in El Dorado (Norton, 2000) has made sensational charges against two important and influential American scientists. Tierney charges the late Geneticist James Neel and Anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon with shoddy science and profoundly unethical behaviour in their studies of the Yanomami people in the South American forests.

While some anthropologists have supported Tierney, many have charged him with factual errors and bias. The controversy is certainly causing Anthropologists to take a long hard look at their work.

CBC producer Maureen Matthews attended a recent conference of the American Anthropological Association in San Francisco, and reports on the controversy. She spoke with Patrick Tierney, History Professor Susan Lindee of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who has claimed there are serious factual errors in Tierney’s work, Dr. John Hammerton Professor Emeritus and former head of the Medical Genetics Department at the University of Manitoba, who thinks James Neel is innocent of the charges Tierney makes, and Jesus Ignacio Cardozo, a Venezuelan anthropologist who was a graduate student of Dr. Chagnon, and thinks that Chagnon profoundly misunderstood the Yanomami and was capable of ethical lapses.