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Asunto:yanomami were subjects of US radiation/measles experiments
Fecha:Martes, 19 de Septiembre, 2000  11:38:13 (-0400)
Autor:Soltani" (by way of amigrans <"Atossa>

>Delivered-To: viscom@... 
>Mime-Version: 1.0 
>Date:         Fri, 15 Sep 2000 05:13:33 -0500 
>Reply-To: Visual Communications Discussion <VISCOM@...> 
>Sender: Visual Communications Discussion <VISCOM@...> 
>From: Jay Ruby <ruby@...> 
>Subject:      Ethnographic Filmmaker Accused of Fraud!!!! 
>To: VISCOM@... 
> 
> To: Louise Lamphere, President, American Anthropological Association 
> (lamphere@un> 
> Don Brenneis, President -elect, American Anthropological Association 
> (brenneis@...) 
> 
> From: Terry Turner, Professor of Anthropology, Cornell 
> University.  Head of 
> the Special Commission of the American Anthropological Association to 
> Investigate the Situation of the Brazilian Yanomami, 1990-91 
> (tst3@... 
> 
> Leslie Sponsel, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Hawaii, 
> Manoa. Chair of the AAA Committee for Human Rights 1992-1996 
> (sponsel@...) 
> 
> In re: Scandal about to be caused by publication  of  book by Patrick 
> Tierney (Darkness in El Dorado. New York. Norton.  Publication date: 
> October 1, 2000). 
> 
> Madam President, Mr. President-elect: 
> 
> We write to inform you of an impending scandal that will affect the 
> American Anthropological profession as a whole in the eyes of the public, 
> and arouse intense indignation and calls for action among members of  the 
> Association. In its scale, ramifications, and sheer criminality and 
> corruption it is unparalleled in the history of Anthropology. The AAA will 
> be called upon by the general media and its own membership to take 
> collective stands on the issues it raises, as well as appropriate 
> redressive actions. All of this will obviously involve you as 
> Presidents of the Association-so the sooner you know about the story that is 
>about to 
> break, the better prepared you can be to deal with it. Both of us have 
> seen 
> galley copies of a book by Patrick Tierney, an investigative journalist, 
> about the actions of anthropologists and associated scientific researchers 
> (notably geneticists and medical experimenters) among the  Yanomami of 
> Venezuela over the past thirty-five years.  Because of the sensational 
> nature of its revelations, the notoriety of the people it exposes, and the 
> prestige of the organs of the academic establishment it implicates, the 
> book  is bound to be widely read both outside and inside the 
> profession. 
 
 As both an indication and a vector of its public impact, we have learned that 
> The New Yorker magazine is planning to publish an extensive excerpt, timed 
> to coincide with the publication of the book (on or about October 1st). 
> 
> The focus of the scandal is the long-term project for study of the 
> Yanomami 
> of Venezuela organized by James Neel, the human geneticist, in which 
> Napoleon Chagnon, Timothy Asch, and numerous other anthropologists took 
> part. The French anthropologist Jacques Lizot, who also works with the 
> Yanomami but is not part of Neel-Chagnon project, also figures in a 
> different scandalous capacity. 
> 
> One of Tierney's more startling revelations is that the whole Yanomami 
> project was an outgrowth and continuation of the Atomic Energy Comissions 
> secret program of experiments  on human subjects James Neel, the 
> originator 
> and director of the project, was part of the medical and genetic research 
> team attached to the Atomic Energy Commission since the days of the 
> Manhattan Project. He was a member of the small group of researchers 
> responsible for studying the effects of radiation on human subjects. He 
> personally headed the team that investigated the effects of the Hiroshima 
> and Nagasaki bombs on survivors,. He was put in charge of the study of the 
> effects of atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and later was involved 
> in the studies of the effects of the radioactivity from the experimental A 
> and H bomb blasts in the Marshall Islands on the natives (our 
> colleague May 
> Jo Marshall has a lot to say about these studies in the Marshalls and 
> Neel's role in them). The same group also secretly carried out experiments 
> on human subjects in the USA. These included injecting people with 
> radioactive plutonium without their knowledge or permission,in some cases 
> leading to their death or disfigurement ( Neel himself appears not to have 
> given any of these experimental injections). Another member of the 
> same AEC 
> group of human geneticists and medical experimenters, a Venezuelan, Marcel 
> Roche, was a close colleague of Neel's and spent some time at his 
> AEC-funded center for Human Genetics at Ann Arbor. He returned to 
> Venezuela 
> after the war and did a study of the Yanomami that  involved administering 
> doses of a radioactive isotope of iodine and analyzing samples of 
> blood for 
> genetic data. Roche and his project were apparently the connection 
> that led 
> Neel to choose the Yanomami for his big study of the genetics of 
> "leadership" and differential rates of reproduction among dominant and 
> sub-dominant males  in a genetically "isolated" human population. There is 
> thus a genealogical connection between the  the human experiments carried 
> out by the AEC, and Neel's and Chagnon's Yanomami project, which was from 
> the outset funded by the AEC. 
> 
> Tierney presents convincing evidence that Neel and Chagnon, on their trip 
> to the Yanomami in 1968, greatly exacerbated, and probably started, the 
> epidemic of measles that killed "hundreds, perhaps thousands" (Tierney's 
> language-the exact figure will never be known) of Yanomami. The epidemic 
> appears to have been caused, or at least worsened and more widely spread, 
> by a campaign of  vaccination carried out by the research team, which used 
> a virulent vaccine (Edmonson B) that had been counter-indicated by medical 
> experts for use on isolated populations with no prior exposure to measles 
> (exactly the Yanomami situation). Even among populations with prior 
> contact 
>  and consequent partial genetic immunity to measles, the vaccine was 
> supposed to be used only with supportive injections of gamma globulin. 
> 
> It was known to produce effects virtually indistinguishable from the 
> disease of measles itself.  Medical experts, when informed that Neel and 
> his group used the vaccine in question on the Yanomami, typically 
> refuse to 
> believe it at first, then say that it is incredible that they could have 
> done it, and are at a loss to explain why they would have chosen such an 
> inappropriate and dangerous vaccine. There is no record that Neel sought 
> any medical advice before applying the vaccine. He never informed the 
> appropriate organs of the Venezuelan government that his group was 
> planning 
> to carry out a vaccination campaign, as he was legally required to do. 
> Neither he nor any other member of  the expedition, including Chagnon and 
> the other anthropologists, has ever explained why that vaccine was used, 
> despite the evidence that it actually caused or at a minimum greatly 
> exacerbated the fatal epidemic. 
> 
> Once the measles epidemic took off, closely following the vaccinations 
> with 
> Edmonson B, the members of the research team refused to provide any 
> medical 
> assistance to the sick and dying Yanomami, on explicit orders from 
> Neel. He 
> insisted to his colleagues that they were only there to observe and record 
> the epidemic, and that they must stick strictly to their roles as 
> scientists, not provide medical help. 
> 
> All this is bad enough, but the probable truth that emerges, by 
> implication, from Tierney's documentation is  more chilling. There was, it 
> turns out, a compelling theoretical motive for Neel to want to observe an 
> epidemic of measles, or comparable "contact" disease, or at least an 
> outbreak virtually indistinguishable from the real thing-precisely the 
> effect that the vaccine he chose was known to cause-and to produce one for 
> this purpose if necessary. This motive emerges from Teirney's 
> documentation 
> of Neel's extreme eugenic theories and his documented statements about 
> what 
> he was hoping to find among the Yanomami, interpreted against the 
> background of his long association with the Atomic Energy Commission's 
> secret experiments on human subjects.  Neel believed that  "natural" human 
> society (as it existed everywhere before the advent of large-scale a 
> gricultural societies and contemporary states with their vast populations) 
> consisted of small, genetically isolated groups, in which, according 
> to his 
> eugenically slanted genetic theories, dominant genes (specifically, a gene 
> he believed existed for "leadership" or "innate ability") would have a 
> selective advantage, because male  carriers of this gene could  gain 
> access 
> to a disproportionate share of the available females, thus reproducing 
> their own superior genes more frequently than less "innately able" males. 
> The result, supposedly, would be the continual upgrading of the human 
> genetic stock. Modern mass societies, by contrast, consist of vast 
> genetically entropic "herds" in which, he theorized, recessive genes could 
> not be eliminated by selective competition and superior leadership genes 
> would be swamped by mass genetic mediocrity. The political implication of 
> this fascistic eugenics is clearly that society should be reorganized into 
> small breeding isolates in which genetically superior males could emerge 
> into dominance, eliminating or subordinating the male losers in the 
> competition for leadership and women, and amassing harems of brood 
> females. 
> 
> A big problem for this program, however, was the tendency, generally 
> recognized by virtually all qualified population geneticists and 
> epidemiologists, for small breeding isolates to lack  genetic 
> resistance to 
> diseases incubated in other groups, and their consequent vulnerability to 
> contact epidemics. For Neel, this meant that the emergence of genetically 
> superior males in small breeding isolates would tend to be undercut and 
> neutralized by epidemic diseases to which they would be genetically 
> vulnerable, while the supposedly genetically entropic mass societies of 
> modern democratic states, the antitheses of Neel's ideal 
> alpha-male-dominated groups, would be better adapted for developing 
> genetic 
> immunity to such "contact" diseases. It is known that Neel, virtually 
> alone 
> among contemporary geneticists, rejected the genetic (and historical) 
> evidence for the vulnerability of genetically isolated groups to diseases 
> introduced through contact from other populations. It is possible that he 
> thought that genetically superior members of such groups might prove to 
> have differential levels of immunity and thus higher rates of survival to 
> imported diseases. In such a case, such exogenous epidemics, despite the 
> enormous losses of general population they inflict, might actually be 
> shown 
> to increase the relative proportion of genetically superior individuals to 
> the total population, and thus be consistent with Neel's eugenic program. 
> However this may have been, Tierney's well-documented account, in its 
> entirety,  strongly supports the conclusion that the epidemic was in all 
> probabilty deliberately caused as an  experiment designed to produce 
> scientific support for  Neel's eugenic theory.  This remains only an 
> inference in the present state of our knowledge: there is no "smoking gun" 
> in the form of a written text or recorded speech by Neel. It is 
> nevertheless the only explanation that makes sense of a number of 
> otherwise 
> inexplicable facts, including Neel's known  interest in observing an 
> epidemic in a small isolated group for which detailed records of genetic 
> and genealogical relations were available, his otherwise inexplicable 
> selection of a virulent vaccine known to produce effects virtually 
> identical with the disease itself, his behavior once the epidemic had 
> started (insisting on allowing it to run its course unhindered by medical 
> assistance while meticulously documenting its progress and the 
> genealogical 
> relations of those who perished and those who survived) and his own 
> obdurate silence, until his death in February, as to why he carried 
> out the 
>  vaccination program in the first place, and above all with the lethally 
> dangerous vaccine. 
> 
> The same conclusion is reinforced by considering the objectives of the 
> anthropological research carried out by Chagnon under Neel's initial 
> direction and continued support. Chagnon's work has been consistently 
> directed toward portraying Yanomami society as exactly the kind of 
> originary human society envisioned by Neel, with dominant males (the most 
> frequent killers) having the most wives or sexual partners and offspring. 
> If this pristine, eugenically optimal society could be shown to survive a 
> contact epidemic with its structure of dominant male polygynists 
> essentially intact, regardless of quantitatively serious population 
> losses, 
> Neel might plausibly be able to argue that his eugenic social vision was 
> vindicated. If the epidemic was indeed produced as an experiment, either 
> wholly or in part, the genetic studies on the correlation of blood group 
> samples and  genealogies carried out by Chagnon and some of his students 
> thus formed integral parts of this massive, and massively fatal,  human 
> experiment. 
> 
> As another reader of Tierney's ms commented,  Mr. Tierney's analysis is a 
> case study of the dangers in science of the uncontrolled ego, of lack of 
> respect for life, and of greed and self-indulgence. It is a further 
> extraordinary revelation of malicious and perverted work conducted under 
> the aegis of the Atomic Energy Commission. 
> 
> Tierney's revelations begin, but do not end, with the 1968 epidemic. There 
> are many more episodes and sub-plots, almost equally awful, to his 
> narrative of the antics of anthropologists among the Yanomami. Enough has 
> been said by this time, however, for you to see that  the Association is 
> going to have to make some collective response to this book, both to the 
> facts it documents and the probable conclusions it implies.There will be a 
> storm in the media, and another in the  general scholarly community, 
> and no 
> doubt several within anthropology itself. We must be ready. Tierney 
> devotes much of the book  to a critique of Napoleon Chagnon's work  (and 
> actions). He makes clear Chagnon has faithfully striven, in his 
> ethnographic and theoretical accounts of the Yanomami, to represent 
> them as 
> conforming to Neel's ideas about the Hobbesian savagery of "natural" human 
> societies , and how this constitutes the natural selective context for the 
> rise to social dominance and reproductive advantage of males with the gene 
> for  "leadership" or "innate ability" (thus Chagnon's emphasis on Yanomami 
> "fierceness" and propensity for chronic warfare, and the supposed 
> statistical tendency for men who kill more enemies to have more female 
> sexual/reproductive partners). He documents how all these aspects of 
> Chagnon's account of the Yanomami are based on false, non-existent or 
> misinterpreted data. In other words, Chagnon's main claims about Yanomami 
> society, the ones that have been so much heralded by sociobiologists and 
> other partisans of his work, namely that  men who kill more reproduce more 
> and have more female partners, and that such men become the dominant 
> leaders of their communities, are simply not true. Thirdly and most 
> troublingly, he reports that Chagnon has not stopped with cooking and 
> re-cooking his data on conflict but has actually attempted to  manufacture 
> the phenomenon itself, actually fomenting conflicts between     Yanomami 
> communities, not once but repeatedly. 
> 
> In his film work with Asch, for example, Chagnon induced Yanomami to enact 
> fights and aggressive behavior for Asch's camera, sometimes building whole 
> artificial villages as "sets" for the purpose, which were presented as 
> spontaneous slices of Yanomami life unaffected by the presence of the 
> anthropologists. Some of these unavowedly artificial scenarios, however, 
> actually turned into real conflicts, partly as  a result of Chagnon's 
> policy of giving vast amounts of presents to the villages that agreed to 
> put on the docu-drama, which distorted their relations with their 
> neighbors 
> in ways that encouraged outbreaks of raiding. In sum, most of the Yanomami 
> conflicts that Chagnon documents, that are the basis of his interpretation 
> of Yanomami society as a neo-Hobbesian system of endemic warfare, were 
> caused directly or indirectly by himself: a fact he invariably neglects to 
> report. This is not just a matter of bad ethnography or unreflexive 
> theorizing: Yanomami were maimed and killed in these conflicts, and whole 
> communities were disrupted to the point of  fission and flight.(Brian 
> Ferguson has also documented some of this story, but Tierney adds much new 
> evidence). As a general point, it is clear that Chagnon's whole Yanomami 
> oeuvre is more radically continuous with  Neel's eugenic theories, and his 
> unethical approach to experimentation on human subjects, than appears 
> simply from a reading of Chagnon's works by themselves. 
> 
> Chagnon is not the only anthropologist mentioned in Tierney's narrative. 
> Some of his students, like Hames and Good, are also dealt with (not so 
> unfavorably). The F French  anthropologist, Jaques Lizot, also gets a 
> chapter. He has had nothing to do with Neel or Chagnon (in fact has been a 
> trenchant and cogent critic of their work), but he has an Achilles heel of 
> his own in the form of a harem of Yanomami boys that he keeps, and showers 
> with presents in exchange for sexual favors (he has also been known to 
> resort to young girls when boys were unavailable). On the sexual front, 
> there are also passing references to Chagnon himself demanding that 
> villagers bring him girls for sex. 
> 
> There is still more, in the form of  collusion by Neel and Chagnon with 
> sinister Venezuelan politicians attempting to gain control of Yanomami 
> lands for illegal  gold mining concessions, with the anthropologists 
> providing "cover" for the illegal mine developer as a "naturalist" 
> collaborating with the anthropological researchers, in exchange for the 
> politician's guaranteeing continuing  access to the Indians for the 
> anthropologists. 
> 
> This nightmarish story  -a real anthropological heart of darkness beyond 
> the     imagining of even  a Josef Conrad (though not, perhaps, a Josef 
> Mengele)--will be seen (rightly in our view) by the public, as well as 
> most 
> anthropologists, as putting the whole discipline on trial. As another 
> reader of the galleys put it, This book should shake anthropology to its 
> very foundations. It should cause the field to  understand how the corrupt 
> and depraved protagonists could have spread          their poison for so 
> long while they were accorded great respect throughout the Western World 
> and generations of undergraduates received their lies as the introductory 
> substance of anthropology. This should never be allowed to happen again. 
> 
> We venture to predict that this reaction is fairly representative of the 
> response that will follow the publication of Tierney's book and the New 
> Yorker excerpt. Coming as they will less than two months before the San 
> Francisco meetings, these publication events virtually guarantee that the 
> Yanomami scandal will be at its height at the Meetings. This should 
> give an 
> optimal opportunity for the Association to mobilize the membership and the 
> institutional structure to deal with it. The  writers, both emeritus 
> members of the Committee for Human Rights, have arranged with Barbara 
> Johnston, the present chair of the CfHR, that the open Forum put on by the 
> Committee this year be devoted to the Yanomami case. This seemed the best 
> way to provide a venue for a public airing of the scandal, given that the 
> program is of  course already closed. With Johnston's consent, we have 
> invited Patrick Tierney to come to the Meetings and be present at the 
> Forum. He has accepted. He has also agreed to have a copy of the book ms 
> sent to Johnston, for the use of the CfHR. We have also 
> tentatively  agreed 
> with Barbara that the CfHR should draft a press release, which the 
> President (either or both of you) could (if you and the Executive Board 
> approve) circulate to the media. There are obviously human rights aspects 
> of this case that make the CfHR appropriate, but the Ethics Committee, the 
> Society for Latin  American Anthropology, and the Association for Latina 
> and Latino Anthropology should also be notified and involved, 
> separately or 
> jointly. These obviously do not exhaust the possibilities--- a lot of 
> thought and planning remains to be done. Our point is simply that the time 
> to start is now. 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> Rosemary Gianno, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Sociology/Anthropology 
> Rhodes 
> Hall Keene State College Keene NH 03435-3400 USA 
> 
> rgianno@... Phone: (603) 358-2510 Fax:   (603) 358-2184 
> 
> 
> George Aaron Broadwell,  g.broadwell@... 
> Anthropology; Linguistics and Cognitive Science,