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FW: 2/8/2001 Daily Report from The Chronicle of Higher Education

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: daily@chronicle.com [mailto:daily@chronicle.com] Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2001 5:00 AM To: daily@chronicle.com Subject: 2/8/2001 Daily Report
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 8, 2001
      FW: 2/8/2001 Daily Report from The Chronicle of Higher Education

      -----Original Message-----
      From: daily@... [mailto:daily@...]
      Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2001 5:00 AM
      To: daily@...
      Subject: 2/8/2001 Daily Report from The Chronicle of Higher Education

      ACADEME TODAY: The Chronicle of Higher Education's
      Daily Report for subscribers

      Good day!

      Here are news bulletins from The Chronicle of Higher Education
      for Thursday, February 8.

      * [snip]


      A glance at the February issue of "The New Criterion":
      The Yanomami controversy as an "academic exorcism"

      The recent criticism of the anthropologists James V. Neel and
      Napoleon A. Chagnon, who were accused of spreading disease and
      inciting violence among the Yanomami people of the Amazon River
      basin, amounts to "academic exorcism," writes Paul R. Gross, a
      professor emeritus of life sciences at the University of
      Virginia. The current effort to tarnish the researchers' work,
      says Mr. Gross, "rests on postmodern scripture: the idea that
      science is just window-dressing for Western hubris and
      colonialism." He argues that the battle over sociobiology is not
      an intellectual one, but more like "a moralistic crusade," of
      which the latest victims are Mr. Neel and Mr. Chagnon. Pointing
      to the criticism that surrounded the work of the zoologist E.O.
      Wilson in the mid 1970's, Mr. Gross writes that the academic
      left has at times sought to destroy the idea that human behavior
      and interaction are, to some degree, products of our evolution.
      In the 1970's, says Mr. Gross, "to have called upon biology,
      even if only as an aid to understanding culture, was a crime."
      He argues that Patrick Tierney's charges against Mr. Neel and
      Mr. Chagnon in his book "Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists
      and Journalists Devastated the Amazon" (W.W. Norton, 2000), are
      both "ridiculous" and "defamatory." In its published form, the
      book has been reduced to "mere innuendo," says Mr. Gross. The
      fact that physicians and scientists pushed Terence S. Turner, an
      anthropologist at Cornell University, to recant an early
      endorsement of Mr. Tierney's book suggests that the "exorcism of
      sociobiology" has failed again, writes Mr. Gross. Yet the "dirty
      work" is done, he says, because "decent scholars have been
      hounded and besmirched." The article is online at

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      Copyright (c) 2001 The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inc.

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