Darkness in El Dorado - Archived Document
Anthropological Niche of Douglas W. Hume
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Internet Source: Challenge, April 11, 2001
Source URL: http://www.plp.org/cd01/cd0411.html#RTFToC20#RTFToC30


Guns, Germs, Steel and Anthropologists

According to Tierney, Neel and Chagnon carelessly or deliberately used an obsolete vaccine to spread a lethal measles epidemic among the Yanomami. This charge has grabbed headlines, and drawn angry rebuttals by Chagnon's supporters. But even more serious are charges that Chagnon became a village headman and created the very warfare he described by bribing Indians with sought-after steel goods and stirring up enmities. Chagnon's frequent trips to remote villages to gather blood samples and genealogies ignored the health of Yanomami, who lacked immunity to urban diseases and died by the thousands.

At one point "Chagnon's village" actually made war on "Lizot's village" run by another corrupt anthropologist! During the early '90s, Chagnon conspired with the crooked mistress of Venezuela's president Perez and gold mining bosses to create a Yanomami reservation which would allow unlimited access to minerals and to Chagnon's human research "subjects." Obviously Chagnon's "research" is scientifically worthless.

(Incidentally, this is the same President Pérez who, in 1989, sent tanks to murder hundreds of workers and youth who had rebelled against an austerity plan imposed by him and the International Monetary Fund. The reservation scheme was derailed when Pérez was ousted and imprisoned for being a crook and helping oil-rich Venezuela go broke.)