Friday, December 11, 2009

We (anthropologists) should all be embarassed. Many of us should be worried.

This report just came out yesterday in Science.

Chagnon Critics Overstepped Bounds, Historian Says. Science (2009) vol. 326 (5959) pp. 1466

This article describes shocking (yet not particularly surprising) account by historian Alice Dumurat Dreger (Northwestern U.) of the sleazy 2000 Patrick Tierney attack on Napoleon Chagnon and the corrupt way in which the AAA handled the accusations that were levied against Chagnon. Apparently, the AAA's commission as "task force" to look into claims posed by Tierney. As it turns out, the task forced cleared Chagnon, yet went on to state that the allegations had "merit" and had been damaging to the Yanamamö. The shocking part is that the AAA task force was quite aware that the claims were bogus in the first place yet chose to drag Chagnon through the "task force investigation" simply to make political statement to Latin American countries. This is the very definition of a witch hunt, done with the sickening dour earnestness that makes AAA meetings so horrific to attend. Shameful.

As Dreger pointed out in her paper presented at the recent AAA meetings, "I can't imagine how any scholar feels safe" as a member. Exactly: who is next? The witch hunt was sanctified by the AAA because many anthropologists simply have had a longstanding a beef with what Chagnon argued. Sloppy, reprehensible research done by many of the other ass-clowns in the AAA remains "acceptable" simply because it is "PC" enough. Woe be unto those who dare challenge the sacred cows of Anthropology.

Where are the investigations for research done that is never published? Or not published in Open Access formats to provide a product back to the people who handed over their intellectual property for nothing but a signature on a Human Subjects form? Or investigations into those that argue that "their people" don't need to read academic results? Or those who extract intellectual knowledge from their subjects, yet convert that into a "personal journey" of no utility to anyone anywhere.

Sad to be an Anthropologist today....


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