Ignoble Savages

Noble Savages: My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes—the Yanomamö and the Anthropologists, by Napoleon A. Chagnon. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2013, 544 pp., $32.50 hardbound.

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  1. 1.

    Lawrence Keeley, War before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 174.

  2. 2.

    Edward O. Wilson, Sociobiology: A New Synthesis (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1975). Wilson is a member of the National Association of Scholars and sits on its advisory board and that of Academic Questions.

  3. 3.

    Napoleon A. Chagnon, Noble Savages: My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes—the Yanomamö and the Anthropologists (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2013), 384.

  4. 4.

    Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy: And Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (1945; New York: Book-of-the-Month Club, 1995), 486.

  5. 5.

    Glynn Custred, “The Anthropological Association Meets Heart of Darkness,” Heterodoxy 8, nos. 9 and 10 (January/February 2001), 13, available at http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/Articles/2001%20jan-feb.pdf.

  6. 6.


  7. 7.


  8. 8.

    Cited in Michael D’Antonio, “Napoleon Chagnon’s War of Discovery,” Los Angeles Times Magazine, January 30, 2000, http://articles.latimes.com/2000/jan/30/magazine/tm-59065.

  9. 9.


  10. 10.


  11. 11.


  12. 12.

    Cited in Chagnon, Noble Savages, 400.

  13. 13.

    See Daniel Lende, “Anthropology, Science, and Public Understanding,” blog posting, Neuroanthropology: Understanding the Encultured Brain and Body, December 1, 2010, http://blogs.plos.org/neuroanthropology/2010/12/01/anthropology-science-and-public-understanding/. See also Jacob Lee, “AAA New Long-Range Plan Drops Reference to Science,” blog posting, Open Anthropology Cooperative, November 24, 2010, http://openanthcoop.ning.com/profiles/blogs/aaa-new-longrange-plan-drops.

  14. 14.

    Nicholas Wade, “Anthropology a Science? Statement Deepens a Rift,” New York Times, December 9, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/10/science/10anthropology.html.

  15. 15.

    Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963), 33–42.

  16. 16.

    Raymond Aron, The Opium of the Intellectuals (1955; New York: Norton, 1957), 265.

  17. 17.

    Martin Malia, The Soviet Tragedy: A History of Socialism in Russia, 1917–1997 (New York: Free Press, 1994).

  18. 18.

    Émile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, trans. Joseph Ward Swain (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1915).

  19. 19.

    E.E. Evans-Pritchard, Theories of Primitive Religion (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1965).

  20. 20.

    Patrick Tierney, Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000).

  21. 21.

    Terry Turner and Leslie Sponsel, email message to Louise Lamphere and Don Brenneis, 2000, archived at Anthropological Niche of Douglas W. Hume, http://anthroniche.com/darkness_documents/0055.htm.

  22. 22.


  23. 23.


  24. 24.

    List of charges cited in Chagnon, Noble Savages, 443–44, 448–49. See “Working Papers of the American Anthropological Association El Dorado Task Force Submitted as a Preliminary Report,” November 19, 2001, archived at Anthropological Niche of Douglas W. Hume, http://anthroniche.com/darkness_documents/0577.pdf, and “Recommendation for Investigation of Darkness in El Dorado (Peacock Report), American Anthropological Association,” January 21, 2001, archived at Anthropological Niche of Douglas W. Hume, http://anthroniche.com/darkness_documents/0612.pdf.

  25. 25.

    See, for example, “Setting the Record Straight Regarding Darkness in El Dorado—A Statement from Bruce Alberts, President of the National Academy of Sciences,” November 9, 2000, archived at Anthropological Niche of Douglas W. Hume, http://anthroniche.com/darkness_documents/0538.htm, and International Genetic Epidemiology Society, “Commentary on ‘Darkness in Eldorado’ by Patrick Tierney,” Summary, February 9, 2001, archived at Anthropological Niche of Douglas W. Hume, http://anthroniche.com/darkness_documents/0589.pdf.

  26. 26.

    Alice Dreger, “Darkness’s Descent on the American Anthropological Association: A Cautionary Tale,” Human Nature 22, no. 3 (September 2011): 236–37, http://anthroniche.com/darkness_documents/0615.pdf.

  27. 27.

    Cited in ibid., 234.

  28. 28.


  29. 29.

    Ibid., 235.

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Correspondence to Glynn Custred.

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Custred, G. Ignoble Savages. Acad. Quest. 26, 479–492 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12129-013-9393-0

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  • Measle
  • Structural Violence
  • American Anthropological Association
  • Enlightened Intervener
  • Field Ethnographer