The Yanomami Scandal
By David Maybury-Lewis
Now, in a recently published book whose advance copies and excerpts in The New Yorker have created a furor, Patrick Tierney, an investigative journalist, has accused both Neel and Chagnon of committing serious abuses against the Yanomami.
Chagnon interprets his evidence to show that the Yanomami are fierce and warlike and that they fight over women. These conclusions are enthusiastically believed by many sociobiologists who know little about the Yanomami or about South American Indians but welcome Chagnon’s analysis as lending support to their theories about the nature of primitive man and of human nature. Chagnon poses as the scientist "telling it like it is," but since the way he tells it is challenged by large numbers of reputable anthropologists, including some who have also studied the Yanomami, Chagnon’s interpretation should not be accepted without question.
For more on the subject, see Savage Indians and Uncivilized Indians.
Below: Zagar, a Yanomami-style savage who eats a pet bird because he's totally ignorant of civilized customs.