October 1, 2019

“Anthropologists go wrong, he wrote, when they ignore evidence that aggression among men in tribal societies is so highly rewarded that it becomes an inherited trait.”

“Yanomami life was one of ‘incessant warfare,’ he wrote. His data, collected over decades, he said, showed that 44 percent of Yanomami men over 25 had participated in killing someone, that 25 percent of Yanomami men were killed by other Yanomami men, and that men who killed were more highly esteemed and had more wives and children than men who did not. Dr. Chagnon dismissed as ‘Marxist’ the widespread anthropological belief that warfare in tribal life was usually provoked by disputes over access to scarce resources. ‘The whole purpose and design of the social structure of tribesmen seems to have revolved around effectively controlling sexual access by males to nubile, reproductive- age females,’ he wrote in his 2014 memoir, ‘Noble Savages.’ Other anthropologists rejected these assertions as exaggerated and even racist, saying they could do harm to the tribe by casting it in a bad light. Many argued that human behavior was best explained not by genetics and evolution but by the social and natural environments in which people live.“

From “Napoleon Chagnon, 81, Controversial Anthropologist, Is Dead/His studies of an Amazon people made them famous, and put him at the center of a scholarly storm” (NYT).

Back at the University of Michigan in the early 1970s, I had 2 friends who took Professor Chagnon’s class and ended up majoring in anthropology. As I remember it, they loved him, and they got lots of us talking about anthropology at the time. But see how anthropology is politically incorrect and invites suppression? There was a major attack on him, a book excerpted in The New Yorker as “The Fierce Anthropologist,” which I won’t attempt to summarize right now, but my understanding is that Chagnon was ultimately vindicated.

107 comments:

whitney said...

The Academia try to cancel Chagnon. It happened to him before there was even a name for it. He was a lifelong trendsetter

Hey Skipper said...

I read Noble Savages.

If you want proof that progressivism is totalitarian to the core, go no further.

iowan2 said...

Its genetics and environment. Both.
I do not carry enough degrees to understand what this academic pillow fight is about.

What axiom posits, only academia can get all frothy and and agitated over the inconsequential.

virgil xenophon said...

IIRC there has been/was a large divide between the "hard" science-based depts of anthro closely allied with archaeologic research methods and the "soft" sociological-based Anthro depts. Prime examples being the fierce academic battles to prevent findings being published about cannibalism amongst meso-American cliff-dwellers (based on physical scarring of cooking pots attributed to human bones) in the SW which went against the grain of the "noble savage" narrative about Amerindan life then long prevalent among sociological-based anthro Depts.

William said...

Anthropology professors had greater access to young, nubile women than Yanomami warriors. Then this "metoo" movement came along and botched the whole set up. Still, with proper adjustments such as participation in the "metoo" campaigns, access to these women can be maintained for a further period.

Bob Boyd said...

Invites?

rhhardin said...

Under what circumstances do people advance to acting white, is the question. Probably farming.

Jamie said...

I will never understand how the Holy Cause of Science is served by insisting that the answers to all questions are known in advance, and all we have to do is fill in the steps between.

Anthropology would love it if all societies unsullied by the corrupt and depraved West were peaceable kingdoms (ruled by Queens, of course) - and they'd love it if Natural Man were naturally tame. Thank God, we're not. The male more-or-less-half of us is predisposed to violence, the female more-or-less-half to trying to channel that violence into protection for us and our offspring. It's pretty much all we see throughout human history.

And we've been amazingly successful, we women, at that channeling, and you men, at creating and living within a civilization that further channels your (often necessary, in the past at least) violence into service to something larger than yourselves. But that civilization is *bad* somehow.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I don't know about vindicated, but he could have earned some respect, and proven his point, had he killed a few of his critics...

JML said...

Meriwether Clark] entry for 20 October 1804: I saw an old remains of a village on the side of a hill which the guide with us tells me that nation [Mandans] lived in. A number of villages on each side of the river and the troublesome Sioux caused them to move about 40 miles higher up, where they remained a few years & moved to the place they now live.

I was taking to one of the archeologists who was working a contract for us and he told me the most poignant site he worked was a burned out Navajo Hogan where the skeleton remains of a small child and a woman were found at the bottom of a well. There were also two Comanche (or Apache, can't remember which) arrow heads with them.

The Pecos Pueblo was not abandoned because of the Spanish, it was abandoned because of the Comanche.

Men are violent. Mankind is violent. And nature is a bitch.

Hagar said...

Same thing in studies of Pacific islanders, and if you could time travel back a couple of thousand years or more to when the populations in Europe or the Middle East was that sparse, you would have found the same there.

David Begley said...

Tribalism - in the political sense - is the organizing principle of today’s Dem party. Identify politics. Diversity is our strength.

And it ends in warfare.

Howard said...

On this issue, the Marine Corpse is solidly in the nurture camp.

Temujin said...

Sounds like the professor identified nature. And apparently other 'scientists' did not want nature correctly identified. They wanted it to step in line with their cultural narrative. I hate when science doesn't behave the way we demand it should. The way we make our living from it.

Fernandinande said...

My freshman (required humanity) anthro class used Chagnon's recently published "Yanomamo: The Fierce People", which I enjoyed.

(My conspiracy theory is that the American Antiscience Association changed the tribe's name to Yanomami because it sounds wimpier than Yanomamo.

Amusingly, the AAA fully supports Leowntin's falacy.

RigelDog said...

I highly highly recommend his 2013 book, "Noble Savages: My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes – The Yanomamö and the Anthropologists," which is a recounting of his years and years of work with the Yanomamo tribes and of the gradual rejection of his findings due to what we would now recognize as Marxist-based political correctness. Such an enjoyable book and so interesting to see the knowing blindness and character assassination practiced by those anthropologists who came after him. They just flat out refused to believe that his data and conclusions about kinship and violence had any validity, because it conflicted with the Marxist dictum that human behavior is tied strictly to materialism. Their version of materialism recognizes only struggle for limited natural resources and not other human motivations such as struggle for status and increased access to fertile women. Chagnon observed that, since their economic lifestyle was simple and access to unlimited land, water, and jungle resources was exactly the same for all tribes in the vast Amazon, the Yanomamo men compete for women. They raid other tribes and take women and they take any women they come across unprotected in the jungle. Women (and children) are the only limited "goods" and resources and they fight horrifically with each other and with other tribes to gain access.

rehajm said...

The whole purpose and design of the social structure of tribesmen seems to have revolved around effectively controlling sexual access by males to nubile, reproductive- age females

Has anyone checked if this guy pulled a fast one by just watching the deer wandering around campus?

Masscon said...

Narrative uber alles

Masscon said...

Narrative uber alles

TreeJoe said...

"Other anthropologists rejected these assertions as exaggerated and even racist, saying they could do harm to the tribe by casting it in a bad light"

If I could wave a magic wand, I would put an asterisk next to any "scientist" who rejects an assertion because it could be "racist" or "do harm...by casting it in a bad light"

Those are not statements made by scientists. They are statements made by marketers and politicians.

Fernandinande said...

The Academia try to cancel Chagnon.

The Fierce Cancelers: "The reaction against Christakis and her husband Nicholas—a Yale sociologist—was fierce."

RNB said...

We long ago left the Age of Science. Now we're in the 'Age of Science-y.' Or maybe 'ScienceLite.' Lysenko wins in the end.

whitney said...

There is an very good book about the state of anthropology and how it got there called Human Universals by Donald E Brown

daskol said...

One of the very best classes I took in college was an anthropology course in which the young professor had created a curriculum of Chagnon vs. Richard Lee (who posited peaceful African bush dwellers): we read their ethnographies and saw their films, examined the literature supporting and attacking each one, and discussed the implications of their research. That was before Chagnon had been "taken down" by the establishment of his field, but he was already provocative and controversial as he challenged what most academics wanted to believe. It was such an outstanding class I never needed to take another anthropology course, and when I did, it was extraordinarily disappointing.

chuck said...

When I read Margaret Mead's books I always wondered about what she was leaving out because she was clearly focused on promoting a particular interpretation. I find Chagnon more convincing, perhaps because his views of human nature are closer to my own. Which is to say, the safe thing for a person like myself who is unfamiliar with the subject is to put it on the maybe, maybe not stack of folders. I did admire Chagnon's courage in swimming against the PC currents.

daskol said...

Richard Lee was what everyone wanted to believe about human nature, and Chagnon was the guy who made such fairy tales we tell about ourselves impossible for grown people to believe. Seeing how that turned out for him made me grateful that I had abandoned pretensions of a career in social science. It makes an interesting hobby, but professionally it's part middle school lunch room and part snakepit.

Dave Begley said...

Before today and I had never heard of this Chagnon guy. Turns out Althouse was only one degree of separation from him and all sorts of people here have read his books. Color me Cornhusker.

BTW, the word "controversial" usually means a conservative or someone the Left doesn't like.

gilbar said...

surely, we see the same things (as this), anywhere we care to look?

Palestinian Suicide Bombers family's each received $28,000(?) Suppose their kids benefited?
In the US, during WWII; who would get more girls? A Fighter Pilot? A Cook? A 4F Quaker?

It wasn't until the Crazy Times, that American Girls started thinking that Draft Resistors were cool.
Even, What Those girls Really Wanted, was a Black Panther.

Now,
Who's having children?
Men from the 3rd Infantry?
Boys that stayed in College?

Hell! I'm sure the AntiFa boys are in it to get laid, too. I Know the MS13 men are

daskol said...

I'm glad for Chagnon that he lived long enough to see accounts settled in his favor. I followed the controversy closely over the years, and read the tendentious book that destroyed Chagnon's reputation as well as the series of revisionist articles that began to restore Chagnon's reputation and cast doubt over the work of his main detractors, including a thorough debunking of the scurrilous book that did him the most damage. I was gratified to see a few years ago some sympathetic pieces interviewing the old man and his wife and treating him as the emeritus he deserved to be. What a ride for a guy who personified the Indiana Jones field scientist persona.

gilbar said...

RNB said...
We long ago left the Age of Science. Now we're in the 'Age of Science-y.' Or maybe 'ScienceLite.'


Robert A Heinlein pointed out that: 'Man is not a rational animal; he is a rationalizing animal'

John henry said...

Aren't "nubile, reproductive age women" a "scarce resource"?

Why is fighting over them any different than fighting over oil?

John Henry

daskol said...

Before that class I was, without even realizing it, a tabula rasa/Rousseauian believer, or really assumer, of a kindly human nature. Initial exposure to Chagnon's hard-edged view of people had me looking for ways to discount his research and to restore a Richard Lee, hippie-like view of people spoiled by the material world around us, a world of our own creation. At that point, though, I'd seen enough of the world that it dawned on me that the Richard Lees of the world told soothing tales for children, and that when you looked clearly at the data, whether ethnogoraphy of isolated tribes or the history of the western world, things were grimmer than I would have liked.

Sebastian said...

"Other anthropologists rejected these assertions as exaggerated and even racist"

But doesn't the accusation itself presuppose the privilege of western anthropologists to impose their standards, according to which the violent pursuit of women is "bad," so that any unvarnished portrayal of such customs is "racist"?

(See, Quaestor, I did it again: using prog language ("privilege"!)--but of course for a non-prog purposes.)

Bruce Hayden said...

“And we've been amazingly successful, we women, at that channeling, and you men, at creating and living within a civilization that further channels your (often necessary, in the past at least) violence into service to something larger than yourselves. But that civilization is *bad* somehow.”

I find it amazing that anyone can seriously question the innate violence of males, and, esp, in this case, human males. Male violence has, over millions of years of evolution, resulted in increased breeding opportunities, as well as more descendants surviving long enough to also breed successfully.

The interesting facet here though is that the male on male violence is higher than the human norm, and their society is apparently polygamous. I would suspect that the two go hand in hand, since in a primarily monogamous society, killing males within the society either deprives women of mates, or deprives widows the required support for their kids.

I was thinking about chicken and eggs here, about which came first, the polygamy or the high male mortality, and concluded that they probably evolved together. One of the main drivers for 19th Century Mormon polygamy was the high male mortality, primarily due, in that
case, to the travails of settling one of the more arid and inhospitable states, and also probably males murdered by non Mormons before their migration to what is now Utah. There, the primary problem addressed by polygamy appears to have been widowhood, with second wives most typically being “duty wives”, who were widows with children who needed to be supported. Which is to say that high male mortality will often drive a closed society towards polygamy. But polygamy requires a gender imbalance to be relatively stable, as we see even today in this country, in fundamentalist Mormon enclaves that still practice polygamy - excess young males are driven off while their female peers are hoarded. They can be driven off, because they are surrounded by over 300 million Americans with whom they share a common tongue, etc. in a closed society, where the excess males cannot be easily driven off, the alternative is to cull them, which is a nice way to say that either the excess males need to die, or polygamy needs to go.

It is the gender imbalance that creates the problem. And male testosterone without mating opportunities results in increased violence. One of the likely corollaries of this is that China in particular, but also possibly India, currently has a sexual imbalance, due to their One Child policy. This is one reason that many expect China to continue their expansionary ways.

Fernandinande said...

"The Ax Fight" (1975) research by Napoleon Chagnon on Yanamamo people of Amazonian rain forest.

I love this chick egging them on - "He said we had blemishes!"

Kay said...

What I see here is the roots of civilization.

mockturtle said...

Sounds like the professor identified nature. And apparently other 'scientists' did not want nature correctly identified.

Temujin has it right. Even a perfunctory reading of history makes it clear that Chagnon is basically correct. But one must view 'civilization' as an attempt to subdue man's primal instincts and is not necessarily a bad concept. There will always be a tipping point between individual freedom and violence.

Bay Area Guy said...

I always liked the phrase "Noble Savages". Thought it was unusually cheeky for academics to use it.

Howard said...

Anthropology is not a science.
https://www.thoughtco.com/is-anthropology-a-science-3971060

Big Mike said...

So bad boys are the ones that get laid in primitive tribes just like in 21st century America. Good to know.

CJinPA said...

Imagine spending decades among dangerous tribes, doing original research, and having it turned against you by a mob made up mostly of people who rarely leave the safety of campus.

Attacking this kind of science improves professional and social status. Until that dynamic changes, expect more of it.

traditionalguy said...

I know what. Why not make it mandatory that college Professors and Administrators spend 100 hours a year in reeducation classes watching Scot Peterson UTubes.

greg said...

What a coincidence, the Yanomamo all have bowl hair cuts. What does it mean?

Michael K said...

Rousseau convinced the French revolutionaries the savages were noble.

Soon after, they built the Guillotine and began chopping off the heads of those who disagreed.

wild chicken said...

Mead was BSed by those Polynesian girls, apparently. She believed everything they told her. Lol.

Mead was the shit when I took Anthro but fell off her throne soon after.

Quaestor said...

Many argued that human behavior was best explained not by genetics and evolution but by the social and natural environments in which people live.

Argued is a generous word. Whinged is more apt.

What else can one expect from the neo-Marxists? Theses are the same people who insist that some people are born into the wrong bodies.

MD Greene said...

The definition of a pioneer is a guy with an arrow in his back.

Ken B said...

Even in that excerpt we see the weakness of the attacks on his research: The problem is what other people might believe.

buwaya said...

Bedtime!

Anyway, contrary to what some have said, this is important, proximately valuable stuff Chagnon was studying, and about which his opponents were bitching. In dollars and cents really.

Nothing is more economically valuable than human competence and productivity. No free-floating idea (not that there ever is one) matters as much as the ability to exploit it. That makes personnel management and hiring, for a business, or human resource development, for a society, the most important, most fundamental task of all. For a manager personnel are the key to success, and hiring and training are his most pressing tasks. This has steadily gotten more, not less difficult over the years.

Understanding human nature is critical. Its very sad that this is being pushed aside by whats left of Western culture, being as it has become a politically poisoned region of research.

Caligula said...

"Dr. Chagnon dismissed as ‘Marxist’ the widespread anthropological belief that warfare in tribal life was usually provoked by disputes over access to scarce resources. ‘The whole purpose and design of the social structure of tribesmen seems to have revolved around effectively controlling sexual access by males to nubile, reproductive- age females,’

Which is just to say that access to reproductive-age females remains the ultimate "scarce resource," and therefore access to material resources is important only to the extent that it promotes this access. But this, unfortunately, is a truth that contemporary anthropology dare not acknowledge, lest anthropologists find themselves in opposition to those who set the limits of what's acceptable in academic discourse.

Ultimately anthropology's origins inevitably lie within the penumbra of colonialism: an Original Sin that can never be expunged by any amount of virtue signaling or fealty to contemporary political orthodoxy. The remaining question is whether contemporary anthropology will thus sacrifice whatever scientific validity it retains on an altar of political correctness in an inevitably vain attempt to atone for its sins.

GRW3 said...

This discussion reminds me of Tom Wolfe's book "The Kingdom of Speech". In particular the second half where Everett's discoveries in South America challenged Noam Chomsky's assertions about language. The reviews all focus on Wolfe's lack of "understanding" evolution and how under deep investigation some of Chomsky's theory could be found in Everett's tribe. (OK, but Chomsky asserted his theory was be all, end all not just a potential factor.) As I see it, the real problem with the reviews is that they miss Wolfe's actual theme - Hubris. Darwin was an important English scientist, how could they give the credit to some hick from the sticks. Chomsky is a "god" in some circles (particularly in his head) so how dare anyone present evidence that calls question to his theory. Sounds like hubris is alive and well in anthropology too.

bagoh20 said...

"Many argued that human behavior was best explained not by genetics and evolution but by the social and natural environments in which people live.“

And those social and natural environments then obviously evolve the genetics in a society that rewards certain behavior with more fertile and nubile chicks, man. And round and round it goes.

Higher education must make the obvious too difficult to accept.

bagoh20 said...

Lately it seem that PC culture prefers to swim upstream against the facts.

tim in vermont said...

"Other anthropologists rejected these assertions as exaggerated and even racist, saying they could do harm to the tribe by casting it in a bad light. “

Why do I get a picture of William Jennings Bryant from the movie Inherit the Wind thumping his thumb on his Bible and imagining it a devastating answer to Darwin?

The “feminist hypothesis” is that everything that is happening is "happening for the benefit of men" is close to the truth, even if it is a rather sad expression of an intellectual inferiority complex, what’s happening is usually for the benefit of “certain men.” There a lots of men getting kicked out of the gene pool by early death of lack of mating opportunities here who are more victims than anybody else.

By the way, that hypothesis when applied to feminism itself is close to the joke men often make about feminism which is that it was invented by horny teenage boys.

Wince said...

Other anthropologists rejected these assertions as exaggerated and even racist, saying they could do harm to the tribe by casting it in a bad light. Many argued that human behavior was best explained not by genetics and evolution but by the social and natural environments in which people live.“

In other words, 'Yay! Trump'?

FBI Says Murder And Violent Crime Both Declined In 2018

File this under “good news that won’t make too many headlines”; the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s released its Uniform Crime Report for 2018, and violent crime, including murder, declined significantly last year.

The 2018 statistics show the estimated rate of violent crime was 368.9 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, and the estimated rate of property crime was 2,199.5 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. The violent crime rate fell 3.9 percent when compared with the 2017 rate; the property crime rate declined 6.9 percent.

The violent crime rate in 2018 was the lowest this country has seen since 1971, when there were 396 violent crimes per 100,000 people. And unlike the 1970’s, when violent crime was on its way up, the trend since the early 1990’s has been towards a safer society. The nation’s violent crime rate in 2018 is less than half of what it was at its peak in 1991, which is fantastic news that will largely be ignored by our fear-mongering media.

The Drill SGT said...

Note to Feminists. That peaceful, natural village existence before civilization that you seek, means being drug around by your hair by the guy who just killed your previous mate.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

"My conspiracy theory is that the American Antiscience Association changed the tribe's name to Yanomami because it sounds wimpier than Yanomamo."

I believe the currently accepted name is "Yanomamx".

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

Nubile Savages

Narr said...

You guys get up too early. I remember Chagnon and all that, and though IAMNAA I am an historian and a sentient creature. Almost everything we knew then, and almost everything we have learned since, is on Chagnon's side.

The anti-Chagnon side had a hybrid argument. The behaviour C described didn't happen, and if it did it was only because of material scarcity. (Yeah, material scarcity of hawt wimmin.)

Someone mentioned leaving Science behind, but I don't think that's quite it. Science has always been embedded and entwined with Scientism or as said, ScienceLite. Chemistry/Alchemy, Astronomy/Astrology, Psychology/Freud et.al., Sociology/Marx et.al., History/History Channel.

Narr
In civilized and organized societies, men don't have to freelance for nookie

Earnest Prole said...

Capitalism ruins everything, especially its enemies.

walk don't run said...

"The whole purpose and design of the social structure of HOLLYWOOD seems to have revolved around effectively controlling sexual access by males to nubile, reproductive-age females,"

Memoirs of Harvey Winstein

"The whole purpose and design of the social structure of the ELITE seems to have revolved around effectively controlling sexual access by males to nubile, reproductive-age females,"

Memoirs of the late Jeffrey Epstein

Etc, Etc.

john mosby said...

A few years ago, a fellow named David Good wrote a memoir of his life as the son of an anthropologist and a Yanomamo woman. His mother left the family when the kids were quite young and went back to the jungle, even though as a man-less woman she was doomed to continual rape. This seems to be at least one anecdote of evidence to support Chagnon.

JSM

Anthony said...

Anthropology (cultural) has been largely useless for decades because of politics. I started in 1980 (archaeology) and even then the cultural anthropologists were insufferable. It's been all downhill from there, so much so that by the early 1990s I had completely given up on the entirety of anthropology (save for some good work still being done in archy and bio-anth) because the discipline had become explicitly political.

Trouble with American archaeology is that it was connected to cultural anthropology early on; as Willey and Phillips stated in 1958, "American archaeology is anthropology or it is nothing". It has largely suffered the same fate accordingly.

Chagnon and Neel got the shaft for not being politically correct, although they were largely vindicated in the Great Tierney Smear back a few years ago.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Many argued that human behavior was best explained not by genetics and evolution but by the social and natural environments in which people live.“

Why not just admit the obvious....all factors are in play when forming human behaviour.

Genetics and Evolution
Natural Environment
Social Environment

None of these act in a vacuum or independently of each other.

khematite said...

Speaking of which, whatever happened to the lawsuit against UCLA anthropologist Jared Diamond for his 2008 New Yorker article "Vengeance Is Ours," in which he described indigenous people in Papua New Guinea ensnared in a culture that dictated an endless cyclel of back-and-forth revenge killings?

"On 20 April, well-known biologist and author Jared Diamond was sued in the Supreme Court of the State of New York for allegedly defaming two tribesmen from Papua New Guinea whom he described in The New Yorker as having engaged in a violent "revenge war." The lawsuit, which also names as a defendant Advance Publications Inc., the owner of The New Yorker, demands at least $10 million in damages. It follows a yearlong investigation led by artist Rhonda Roland Shearer, the widow of evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, who directs a journalism ethics program that publishes a Web site called Stinkyjournalism.org."

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/872

Clyde said...

‘The whole purpose and design of the social structure of tribesmen seems to have revolved around effectively controlling sexual access by males to nubile, reproductive-age females,’ [Chagnon] wrote in his 2014 memoir, ‘Noble Savages.’

Not so different from the Epstein scandal, is it? Men of wealth and power want nubile, reproductive-age females. We just have laws that they can't be that nubile. If men didn't want to have sex with teenage girls, there wouldn't be laws against it.

Yancey Ward said...

Chagnon was guilty of seeing the obvious and saying so.

The other men here can speak for themselves, but I will just state it flat out- I have, at times in the past, fantasized about killing sexual rivals. It never proceeded to any actual violence, but the thought was there and it was very tempting at times, and I am about as mild and non-violent a person as you will find. That fantasy arises from somewhere deep in the animal part of my brain, and I think my control of it is probably largely cultural nurturing, not nature.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

chuck When I read Margaret Mead's books I always wondered about what she was leaving out because she was clearly focused on promoting a particular interpretation

Exactly. This is the way that academia today works.

1. Start with a premise. Your pet theory.
2. Cherry pick the facts to fit your theory. Toss out or ignore things that don't fit.
3. Stomp on anyone who presumes to question your theory or your methodology.
4. Do a victory dance and ask for more grants from people who want to buy into your fantasy...I mean theory.

M said...

Mating partners are a resource. If a society rewards you for killing off or intimidating weaker males into allowing you more access to females that is a resource males are fighting for.

This happens in all polygamous societies. This is why all Islamic countries end up being unstable. You can’t let the more powerful and wealthy males hoard all the females without causing social unrest and violence. The Christian church enforcing monogamy is the bedrock of every human advancement in Western Civilization that came after.

Quaestor said...

Skylark writes: Why do I get a picture of William Jennings Bryant from the movie Inherit the Wind thumping his thumb on his Bible and imagining it a devastating answer to Darwin?

The character was called Matthew Harrison Brady rather than William Jennings Bryant mainly because the defender of Genesis in the film is considerably more blockheaded than the actual prosecutor of John Scopes. The fictional town of Hillsborough was presented as much more bigotted than the actual Dayton, Tennessee, probably because Dayton is a Southern town and the playwrights and filmmakers were all leftwing types more concerned to indict Joe McCarthy and Whitaker Chambers than William Jennings Byrant (a minor hero to the American left thanks to his opposition to America's entry into the Alliance against the Central Powers in 1917). The actual history of the Scopes Monkey Trial is much more subtle than Stanley Kramer's overheated screed.

JAORE said...

The Yamomamo are right about women.

[That was the name when I took anthro classes,just like all engineering majors did.]

readering said...

Plaintiffs dropped their lawsuit over the Diamond New Yorker piece.

Michael K said...

the widow of evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, who directs a journalism ethics program

Gould, of course, was the proponent of the "Blank Slate" concept underlying the theory of the "new Soviet Man" and Lysenkoism in Anthropology.

wildswan said...

Any professor who gets money for research is investigating some current topic in his own field but as time goes by this significant background can be lost. The background controversy being investigated by Chagnon and his associate, James V. Neel, was whether human violence had a Darwinian meaning, i.e., whether violence was a genetic trait of the fittest leading to survival of more descendants. As Tierney says in The Fierce Anthropologist "Perhaps Chagnon’s most enduring achievement was explaining the Yanomami’s seemingly savage behavior in a way that shed new light on natural selection. In 1988, he published an article in Science entitled “Life Histories, Blood Revenge, and Warfare in a Tribal Population,” in which he reported that the Yanomami men who murdered had twice as many wives and three times as many offspring as non-murderers had. ... This paper had considerable impact beyond the field of anthropology. Edward O. Wilson and other sociobiologists accepted it as important evidence of the genetic origins of human violence." from The Fierce Anthropologist, Patrick Tierney, New Yorker October 1, 2000. This theory would imply that European success in the last two centuries was based on a propensity to murder, rather than on the Industrial Revolution, which is indeed what those now graduating in the social sciences think. So success, really for Chagnon in this moment.

But then what was the controversy?

Chagnon's associate was James V. Neel, a geneticist, who was trained by menber of the American Society of Human Genetics, Curt Stern, and who wrote several articles for the journal of the American Eugenics Society (AES). He was a eugenicist working with members of the AES all life but it has never been shown that he was a member of the AES and probably will not be. Eugenics is a complex phenomenon existing in history which has gone through several phases which are illustrated by the varying outlooks of the leadership of the AES. In Neel's time that leadership was founding and popularizing Planned Parenthood and International Planned Parenthood partly on the basis of a fear of planet-destroying over-population caused by minority birth-rates world-wide. In that context it might seem a slam dunk that Neel would try to reduce Yanomamo numbers which was the thesis of Darkness in El Dorado. That was the controversy.

As I say, eugenics is a complex phenomenon. It is possible that Neel did not agree with the trend of the AES in his own time - why didn't he join the group his associates were in? It's entirely possible that what concerned him was how to keep a group going (which is the trend of most current eugenics) and that he wanted to save this Indian group from the measles and his attempt went wrong because he used the wrong type of vaccine. Possibly then his story is a cautionary tale about meddling, or social engineering if you will, using new and untested techniques on powerless social groups. (Of course, no one who believes in Chagnon's theory, would meddle in that way with a powerful group able to retaliate, aware of the attempt and, evidently by reason of their success, crammed with murder genes.)

Quaestor said...

khematite writes: Speaking of which, whatever happened to the lawsuit against UCLA anthropologist Jared Diamond...

According to Wikipedia: In 2013, The Observer reported that the lawsuit "was withdrawn by mutual consent after the sudden death of their lawyer.

In other words, a manufactured tort by a greedy lawyer representing people hardly able to appreciate the legal situation. One can imagine the shyster's schpiel: Yu kisim pe liklik cargo. Mi kisim pe gaiman grinpela pepa pekpek.

bagoh20 said...

"A few years ago, a fellow named David Good wrote a memoir of his life as the son of an anthropologist and a Yanomamo woman. His mother left the family when the kids were quite young and went back to the jungle, even though as a man-less woman she was doomed to continual rape. This seems to be at least one anecdote of evidence to support Chagnon."

How bad of a husband does a guy have to be for that to happen? Maybe she was a sex addict.

mockturtle said...

Buwaya asserts: Nothing is more economically valuable than human competence and productivity. No free-floating idea (not that there ever is one) matters as much as the ability to exploit it... Understanding human nature is critical. Its very sad that this is being pushed aside by whats left of Western culture, being as it has become a politically poisoned region of research.

I'm currently re-reading Atlas Shrugged.

wildswan said...

Anybody would say we are some combination of body and mind, genetics and culture. But in the literature of the social sciences that general statement gets tied to precise statistics and to the Darwinian theory of natural selection. The statistics and the Darwinian interpretation are controversial.

(I'm placing "soul and religion" under "culture" to avoid irrelevant controversy and anyhow that's where the social sciences put them.)

bagoh20 said...

I'm not sure exactly why, but the word "nubile" sends a thrill up my leg - quietly and secretly beneath my sharply pressed pant leg. Giggity!

Big Mike said...

@khematite, this is from Wikipedia:

“In 2008, Diamond published an article in The New Yorker entitled "Vengeance Is Ours",[21] describing the role of revenge in tribal warfare in Papua New Guinea. A year later two indigenous people mentioned in the article filed a lawsuit against Diamond and The New Yorker claiming the article defamed them.[22][23][24] In 2013, The Observer reported that the lawsuit "was withdrawn by mutual consent after the sudden death of their lawyer."

Carol said...

What I see here is the roots of civilization.

More like pre-civilization. A lot of people seem to be nostalgic the hunter-gatherer life. They call themselves anarchists.

I've been reading Against the Grain by a writer who seems to think that the 4,000 years of sedentary grain cultivation with hunter-gathering prior to the first recorded states was pretty damn neat - no government, no taxes, no dragooning into service to dig irrigation ditches or build tombs.

After that I read a Phyllis Chesler book, which mentioned Jane Goodall's observation that alpha female chimps eat the babies of their rivals, slowly and with great relish. Only a sympathetic male chimp could stop these hijinks. So Chesler observed - in passing - that maybe that was the reason for the patriachy, protected our children from predators. Ya think?

Overall I suspect pre-civilization was great for young guys and alpha females but was no place for old men, women, or children.

I'll take my civilization, thanks.

ken in tx said...

I read an anthropology article that explained the connection between polygamy and slavery in sub-Saharan Africa. Because the tribal elders had a monopoly on the available women, the young unmarried males became disruptive trouble makers. Tribal chieftains rounded them up and used them as foot solders in local wars or sold them down the river as slaves. Captives in war were also made slaves or sacrificed to their gods. It's all connected to polygamy.

Kirk Parker said...

daskol,

"peaceful African bush dwellers"

LOL!

I have no doubt there were, somewhere, "peaceful African bush dwellers". I say this because there were also, without a doubt, peaceful Amerinds (e.g. the Paiute, though in actuality they were only relatively peaceful compared to some of the other tribes in the Southwest.)

But I lived in the area conquered by the Zande (a brief wiki note on the life and times of their last king). NOT peaceful.

Kirk Parker said...

Dear Ghu! Jared Diamond is actually an accredited anthropologist with an academic gig at a major university??? Gag me... gag me with a thousand spoons.

JaimeRoberto said...

A buddy of mine is part Arapaho. The Arapahoes were one of the Comanches' biggest targets. When was a kid, if someone in the family had diarrhea, his grandmother would say "What's the matter? You got the Comanches after you?" The noble savage is a myth.

Paul said...

Survival if the fittest is natures way of having the best breed. Aggressive behavior is part of that survival trait. The strongest tribes dominate. Hence tribes prized great warriors. And at war aggressive behavior wins. Hence it is in our DNA. It was bred into it for tens of thousands of years at the least!

Paul said...

Survival if the fittest is natures way of having the best breed. Aggressive behavior is part of that survival trait. The strongest tribes dominate. Hence tribes prized great warriors. And at war aggressive behavior wins. Hence it is in our DNA. It was bred into it for tens of thousands of years at the least!

Michael K said...

I'll stop by tomorrow to see if the Althouses are back.

Nichevo said...

John henry said...
Aren't "nubile, reproductive age women" a "scarce resource"?

Why is fighting over them any different than fighting over oil?



Not fungible.

chickelit said...

Char Char Binks said...Nubile Savages

Leni Riefenstahl was deeply into Nubian Savages in her later years or vice versa.

tim in vermont said...

"Why not just admit the obvious...”

If ever an honest historian wades through the records of our time “Why Didn’t They Just Admit the Obvious?” might be the title of his work?

But remember, it’s conservatives who aren’t being “serious."

Rockport Conservative said...

I live in South Texas, I have some, not much Hispanic heritage and 4% Native American Heritage per both Ancestry and 23&me so I hope I will not be seen as a biased anti-illegal when I put forth my thoughts on this.

We know the Aztecs and other central American natives were very brutal. I have discussed this with my sisters several times and our theory is the illegals, and even the legals. who indulge in anger and jealousy by random and targeted brutal attacks may just be genetically disposed to such behavior. The cartels are playing this out even as I type this.

I am aware there is no way any grant money could be spent on studying anything that would show this as an effect of genes, however, we know many personality traits do exist in our genes. So, I as an almost 83 year old, thinking woman am just throwing this out there for consideration.

And yes I know there are many other current cultures that are just as brutal. I also know those are very insular cultures which do not allow other genes unless they are taken from the conquered women.

tim in vermont said...

"But doesn't the accusation itself presuppose the privilege of western anthropologists to impose their standards,”

That was Jonathon Haidt’s insight, that he was imposing his own standards on the culture he was observing, and once he realized it, it helped him to understand conservatives even though he was a liberal. His reward? Banishment from liberal society, just as if he were a member of some primitive tribe.

Unknown said...

I love this chick egging them on - "He said we had blemishes!"

It gets better. Later on she says "You're all descended from pus and pimples! You all come from the Village of Pimples!"

As they say, it takes a village.

NMObjectivist said...

I recommend the book "Before the Dawn" by Nicholas Wade on the idea that human genes can change more rapidly than generally thought. In one case he talks about how the “kill your neighbor” behavior was bred out of humans when cities started. People had to get along with strangers there and living in cities was very advantageous. The ones who wouldn't change were driven out and had fewer surviving progeny. And there are other interesting cases. A good read.

Narr said...

As for nubile savages-- "First rule--'Respect the local customs, old boy. what what!'"

I'm not sure war per se (as we modern Westerners imagine and to some degree practice it) is at all baked in to the species (though it probably is). I am sure that violence and conflict are. Civilization is about managing and controlling violence for social and collective ends, but tribal and hunter-gatherer groups are caught in a different web and have a different set of practices.

In both civilized and uncivilized (sue me) societies, there are instances where males are expected to live up to some standard of macho, however attenuated, but in the two types the opportunities, risks, and rewards are largely or completely different.

The War Nerd (haven't seen him lately, but then I haven't looked) used to lay out the realities of group conflict, a.k.a. as war, in Sub-Saharan Africa. On one level it's all about resources, on another its just old-school nasty: mass and I mean mass rape, and as much butchery of rivals as possible--exactly the kind of war us modern Westerners have the most trouble imagining.

Narr
(And like to pretend is unusual)

FullMoon said...

A few years ago, a fellow named David Good wrote a memoir of his life as the son of an anthropologist and a Yanomamo woman. His mother left the family when the kids were quite young and went back to the jungle, even though as a man-less woman she was doomed to continual rape. This seems to be at least one anecdote of evidence to support Chagnon.

Here is a link to an article. Even has a pic of Mom with a bone in her nose.

title="Return to the rainforest: A son's search for his Amazonian mother" href="https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-23758087">Return to the rainforest: A son's search for his Amazonian mother

tim in vermont said...

There’s a country song about a Mexican girl at a border bar who likes to seduce men and get them into fights with her well muscled boyfriend that they don’t know about until he shows up. I wonder if it’s a true story based on a girl from that tribe?

J. Farmer said...

The first thing I ever wanted to be was an archaeologist. And I am still fascinated by the subject, and by biological anthropology. Cultural anthropology is a more amorphous field, and I am still not sure I know what it even means. How people with a shared identity live together, I suppose. People have a capacity for all means of shared identities: kinship, gender, nationality, language, religion, and in more recent times, sexual predilections.

chickelit said...

Carol wrote: A lot of people seem to be nostalgic the hunter-gatherer life. They call themselves anarchists.

In other words, they are "romancing the Stone Age."

daskol said...

Wow, wildswan that was an impressively detailed deconstruction of the Turley v Chagnon kerfuffle, as the eugenics background and Neel’s medical work, besides Chagnon’s having taken Yanomamo lovers, were the weak points exploited but Chagnon’s enemies. But that all came about after decades of persistent scholarly argument against his Hobbesian conception of humanity from the Marxist school. When Chagnon’s scholarly work withstood that critique they went after him personally.

mockturtle said...

Chickelit @4:31 & 8:32: Nicely done.

AZ Bob said...

This post and subsequent comments have been stimulating to read. Maybe our host could find a suitable tag for it.

Yancey Ward said...

J. Farmer said...

"The first thing I ever wanted to be was an archaeologist."

Me, I just wanted Karen Allen to kiss my booboos.

Lewis Wetzel said...

When writing an essay, the usual advice is to start with the general and work to the specific, or start with the specific and work to the general.
This is essentially what anthropologists do, and the result is disastrous. People are not essays, they create essays as a sort of short hand for the human experience. You can't say that people are violent because society is violent, and that society is violent because people are violent.
The exception to the vector of essays is Montaigne, the man who invented them, who starts with some topic, digresses far and wide, and then returns, finally to the topic without concluding anything in particular. Montaigne's essays are not meant to teach any lesson, but to entertain and illuminate by ruminating frankly upon a topic he finds interesting, such as the psychology behind male impotence, or the tendency of people who speak bravely to act cowardly.

Kirk Parker said...

Lewis,

Your 1:39am makes no sense whatsoever. Could you recast it somehow in ordinary civilian language? ;-)

gerry said...

Me, I just wanted Karen Allen to kiss my booboos.

What part of the anatomy is that?