Science gone wrong (9)


I recently read a book in my cultural anthropology course that really turned me off. I have high regards for the sciences and treasure the scientific method for multiple reasons. In this reading, however, I was not only angry but saddened that a line of work was carried out in the name of science.

The story was written about a cultural anthropologist, Naploeon Chagnon, who visited the amazon to study a tribe called the Yanomamies. The Yanomamies are a primitive and indigenous tribe. Chagnon went and began to take their blood samples, and even inject them with plutonium and other materials. Though he may have justified his reasoning to choose them as a control group, I was totally disturbed by his going into a culture and completely playing his American card wrongly.

There needs to be a line drawn for anthropologists and any researcher for that matter. One should not be able to pull a science card to justify the harm of an other human being. This didn’t even happen to long ago, If I’m not mistaken, he still exists and is a professor. He was commissioned to go to field work for a researcher, Neel, who was a part of a different scientific initiative. Hopefully, this publically told story will help future researchers not use their sophisticated methods to contaminate a population.

One’s culture should not be taken or tested ever, especially for scientific exploratory reasons. This is not necessarily a tech related ethical dilemma, but the same mindset of superiority used for the harm of a less sophisticated tribe that we see unfold in Darkness in El Dorado can still be prevalent in the workplace.

It may not be as physical as taking blood, or injecting plutonium, but it could lead one to be verbally aggressive, and abruptly interrupt the existing culture.


One thought on “Science gone wrong (9)

  1. Hi Anita,

    I agree. I read part of the book too and was not happy with the fact that this actually happened. I’m just curious as to how this was all approved of and how he wasn’t stopped due to unethical practices. How did people approve of this and see it as an ethical practice?


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