Essay Review: Criticism: Fair and Foul, Mostly Foul

How to Cite

Bauer, H. H. (2013). Essay Review: Criticism: Fair and Foul, Mostly Foul. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 27(3). Retrieved from


Noble Savages: My Life among Two Dangerous Tribes—The Yanomamö and the Anthropologists by Napoleon A. Chagnon

Darkness’s Descent on the American Anthropological Association—A Cautionary Tale by Alice Dreger

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Anomalists know that being criticized goes with their territory, and that at times it is less substantive and more personally derogatory. But the same thing can be said about many controversies within mainstream disciplines. One instance concerns the anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon, who had studied isolated tribes in the Amazon, the Yanomamö, for about a quarter of a century when he came to national attention through being charged with major malfeasance, including responsibility for a measles epidemic fatal to many natives. The charges came in an article by Patrick Tierney (2000), soon followed and augmented by Tierney’s book-length disquisition (2001). The media coverage and reports of investigations by the American Anthropological Association left the clear impression that Chagnon had behaved badly and unprofessionally. Certainly that had been my own recollection, and a book review (Povinelli 2013) of Chagnon’s recent memoir, Noble Savages, did nothing to change that impression. However, this book review seemed so mean-spirited, and its accusations were so broad-brush and non-specific, that I resolved to read the memoir and try to make up my own mind.


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