The Fake News About James Neel

Almost anywhere we scratched the surface, a tangle of funhouse falsity would erupt through.
– John Tooby
  1. Chapter 1 A Cautionary Tale

    Dr. James van Gundia Neel died of cancer at his home in Ann Arbor on the first day of February 2000. He was 84. He was promptly memorialized as one of the greatest scientists in the University’s history.

    He had been a pioneer in the study of human genetics. He investigated the genetic consequences of the atomic bombings of Japan. He founded U-M’s Department of Human Genetics and started one of the first clinics anywhere to help patients deal with genetic diseases. Long before the human genome project, he foresaw that genes would unlock medical mysteries. He showed how common killers such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension had arisen from genetic mutations that protected prehistoric people from shortages of food and salt. He discovered the gene that causes sickle cell anemia. He campaigned against environmental dangers to humankind’s fragile gene pool. He was awarded the National Medal of Science.

    But a few months after his death, a calamity fell on Neel’s reputation. He was accused of deliberately causing a deadly epidemic among indigenous villagers in the Amazon rainforest just to measure the effects on their genes. He was likened to Nazi scientists.

    Neel had been a tough man to argue with — brilliant, competitive, demanding, impatient with error and inexactitude. In a memorial after his death, two of his former students said they had often seen him “hold his own in discussions with persons of high technical skills, on issues within their areas of expertise, by dint of personality and a penetrating ability to focus on the main issues.” His mind had remained keen until the end of his life.

    But he couldn’t argue for himself now.

    What happened to his standing in science — the sudden assault on his honor and the painstaking resurrection of his good name — is a cautionary tale of what can happen when ideas become weapons and the appetite for outrage overcomes the search for truth.

    • Professor James V. Veel was a pioneer in the field of human genetics.
      Professor James V. Veel was a pioneer in the field of human genetics.
      Image: U-M Department of Human Genetics
  2. Chapter 2 The First Shot

    In Neel’s own discipline of human genetics, his reputation was sterling. The trouble started in anthropology, a notoriously contentious field, where a new battle in a long war erupted in the fall of 2000.

    The war had nothing to do with Neel. But in this new battle, to the astonishment of Neel’s colleagues in genetics and anyone else who knew him, his reputation would become collateral damage.

    It started with a 3,624-word email sent by two senior anthropologists — Terence Turner of Cornell and Leslie Sponsel of the University of Hawaii, Manoa — to the leaders of the American Anthropological Association.

    Turner and Sponsel warned that a long-buried scandal was about to burst into the open.

    “In its scale, ramifications, and sheer criminality and corruption,” the email said, this shameful business would be “unparalleled in the history of anthropology… This nightmarish story — a real anthropological heart of darkness beyond the imagining of even a Josef Conrad (though not, perhaps, a Josef Mengele) — will be seen (rightly in our view) by the public, as well as most anthropologists, as putting the whole discipline on trial.”

    Turner and Sponsel said the scandal would emerge with the publication of a book titled Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon. The author was a journalist named Patrick Tierney. A long excerpt was to run in the New Yorker magazine just before the book’s release. This would guarantee viral attention in other media. Turner and Sponsel had obtained an advance copy of Tierney’s book. (In fact they had acted as sources for Tierney, but they didn’t say so.)

    The central villain of Tierney’s tale — and the main target of Sponsel and Turner’s campaign — was Napoleon Chagnon, an anthropologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a man famous in his field as either a brilliant pioneer or a reckless rogue, depending on the observer.

    • Chagnon in the field.
      Chagnon in the field.
      Image: Antonio Mari
  3. Chapter 3 “Filthy, Hideous Men”

    Born and raised in Port Austin, Michigan, a tiny town at the tip of Michigan’s “thumb,” Chagnon had earned his Ph.D. at Michigan in 1966. (His family pronounced the name SHAG-non; friends called him Nap or Chag.) His life’s work was the deep study of a South American people called the Yanomamo. Of all groups on Earth, they were thought most closely to resemble the hunter-gatherers of prehistory.

    At the age of just 30, Chagnon broke out of graduate-school obscurity with the publication of Yanomamo: The Fierce People in 1968. The book was based on his first years of observation among the 30,000-some Yanomamo, who lived in remote villages in the Amazon rainforest along the border between Venezuela and Brazil.

    He used the methods of ethnography he had learned at Michigan — participant-observation in village life; interviews; surveys. But the book’s style was more Indiana-Jones than doctoral-dissertation, including this sentence, which became infamous in anthropological circles: “I looked up and gasped when I saw a dozen burly, naked, filthy, hideous men staring at us down the shafts of their drawn arrows!”

    That style helped to make Yanomamo: The Fierce People a staple of undergraduate anthropology courses. Professors by the dozen assigned it so that students might glimpse the excitement of doing ethnography in faraway places. In time, it would sell nearly a million copies in several editions in the U.S. alone — unheard-of sales for an academic book. Documentary films of the Yanomamo made with Chagnon’s help bolstered his reputation and sales of the book.

    So Chagnon became one of the best-read anthropologists in the world. And among his colleagues, he became perhaps the most hated.

    To understand how that hatred spun out to tarnish James Neel, a little background reading is required.

  4. Chapter 4 State of Nature

    Chagnon’s ideas about human nature stuck in the craw of many, probably most, cultural anthropologists.

    The cultural anthropologist’s view is that human nature is nothing but culture. All human behavior, they would say, springs from the ideas that people develop to explain experience to themselves and others — beliefs and traditions accrued and passed on over many generations.

    In other words, human nature is not pre-programmed but learned; not hardware but software.

    As for “unacculturated” people like the Yanomamo, the cultural anthropologist’s view was that early humans living in a “state of nature” were fundamentally peaceful. They were uncorrupted by the evils of civilization — “noble savages” who epitomized humankind’s basic goodness.

    Napoleon Chagnon was speaking up for a very different idea about what makes humans tick. He certainly accepted the influence of culture on the way people behaved. But he posed a strenuous argument that the Yanomamo, supposedly the most representative survivors of early humanity, were anything but peaceful. In fact, he said, they “live in a state of chronic warfare.”

    Not only that, Chagnon said, but their violent way of life was in part the result of their genes. He argued that violence had been inscribed in Yanomamo behavior by natural selection — the evolutionary process that perpetuates traits conducive to a species’ chances of survival. Hardware, not software.

    From his detailed genealogies of Yanomamo clans and villages, he concluded that the trait of “fierceness” had developed among the tribesmen because men who killed their rivals took more wives and produced more children than men who didn’t. Then “fiercer” villages conquered villages of lesser fierceness.

    He later said he had written The Fierce People specifically to contradict the “garbage” he had learned in graduate school about “noble savages.” “I went down there looking for shortages of resources,” he told a reporter. “But it turns out they are fighting like hell over women.”

    Critics rose up to say Chagnon had oversimplified Yanomamo culture and exaggerated their propensity for violence; to call him a racist, even a “sociopath.”

    Their anger reflected a sea change in anthropology.

    By the late 20th century, many practitioners had turned against traditional research in their own field, which they now saw as a manifestation of racist colonialism. Chagnon, they said, was of that ilk. They said he had destabilized Yanomamo society by trading steel weapons and tools for demographic information; violated tribal taboos by demanding the names of dead relatives; and taken photos of Yanomamo people, another taboo. They said his portraits of the aborigines as inherently violent had fueled government campaigns against them in Brazil and Venezuela. In the eyes of these critics — Terence Turner and Leslie Sponsel among them — Chagnon had become a reckless renegade running amok in the rainforest.

    But he kept piling up data and publishing his research. As he did, he attracted support from scholars in other branches of science. They shared a belief in a theory called sociobiology.

    Operating in fields ranging from psychology to zoology, sociobiologists argued that the process of natural selection, where animals evolve physical traits that help them survive, also shaped social traits — wolves hunting in packs, for instance, or bees hanging out in hives. And this theory applied to humans as much as to other species — that the evolution of human genes through natural selection plays a role in human behavior.

    To sociobiologists, Napoleon Chagnon’s field studies of the Yanomamo constituted evidence to support their work.

    To cultural anthropologists, sociobiologists were anathema, and Napoleon Chagnon was the worst of them.

    [The Yanonamo] live in a state of chronic warfare.
    – Napoleon Chagnon
  5. Chapter 5 Enter James Neel

    Back to Terence Turner and Leslie Sponsel — and James Neel.

    Armed with their advance copy of Patrick Tierney’s Darkness in El Dorado, Turner and Sponsel appear to have crafted a deliberate campaign to shred Napoleon Chagnon’s reputation. They timed their attack to begin just before the annual conference of the American Anthropological Association in San Francisco.

    They led off with a volley aimed not at Chagnon, but at Neel. Few anthropologists knew anything about the geneticist. But he, too, had spent years studying the Yanomamo, at times with Chagnon as his assistant and colleague.

    And if Neel’s work in the rainforest was described with a certain poisonous spin — and an audacious disregard of stubborn facts — he could be made to seem sinister.

    Citing their uncorrected proofs of Darkness in El Dorado, ­Turner and Sponsel said that in 1968, Neel — assisted by Chagnon — had given an unsafe measles vaccine to many Yanomamo and thus had “greatly exacerbated, and probably started, the epidemic of measles that killed ‘hundreds, perhaps thousands’…of Yanomami.” (Sponsel and Turner used that spelling of Yanomamo; even this tiny difference was code for which side of the fight an anthropologist was on.)

    They said Neel was driven by a diabolical belief in the same “fascistic eugenics” — the notion of breeding humans to weed out “undesirable” traits — that had been practiced by Nazi scientists.

    And they said Neel’s work (and therefore Chagnon’s, indirectly) had been funded in secret by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, which had sinister reasons for charting human genes.

    There were “many more episodes and sub-plots” to Tierney’s horror story, Turner and Sponsel promised, “almost equally awful” and mostly implicating Napoleon Chagnon. But it was Neel’s name that led their parade of horribles.

    Turner and Sponsel’s email ricocheted through the internet.

    Clifford Geertz, a major figure in anthropology, later described its impact in academe.

    “Though Turner and Sponsel later claimed, quite implausibly, that their letter had been a confidential memorandum not meant for general circulation,” Geertz wrote, “posting it electronically rendered it immediately available to just about anyone within the range of just about anyone else’s ‘forward’ command, and the howl of protest, outrage, glee, and Schadenfreude was vast and virtually instantaneous.”

    The howl of protest, outrage, glee, and Schadenfreude was vast and virtually instantaneous.
    – Clifford Geertz
  6. Chapter 6 Lost in the Fog

    The email made its rounds in mid-September 2000. The New Yorker’s excerpt from Darkness in El Dorado would not appear until October 9. The book itself had originally been scheduled to hit bookstores on October 1, but the publisher, W.W. Norton, for reasons that were not made clear, had postponed the release to November.

    So on the basis of the Turner/Sponsel email alone — not the New Yorker excerpt, let alone the book itself — major news organizations spotted a big story about darkness in the ivory tower. And they went with it.

    The headline in the respected Guardian (U.K.) on September 23 was the catchiest — “Scientist ‘Killed Amazon Indians To Test Race Theory’: Geneticist Accused Of Letting Thousands Die In Rainforest.” But there were other headlines nearly as eye-popping in the New York Times, TIME, “All Things Considered,” and many more news outlets.

    James Neel’s name was suddenly toxic. Efforts to fully understand the allegations, let alone to defend Neel against them, were swamped in storms of indignation.

    Here and there, scientists asked for more information about the charges against Neel.

    From Boston, the medical ethicist Diane Paul, an expert on eugenics, asked W.W. Norton, publisher of Darkness in El Dorado, for proofs of the text so that she might examine the serious charges against Neel. But, as she later wrote, the publisher said no “on the grounds that an agreement with the New Yorker magazine restrained them from releasing copies before publication.” Diane Paul counter-argued that the publisher “had effectively made it impossible to address the accusations now widely circulated as a result of actions by their own pre-publication reviewer [Turner and Sponsel]).” But still Norton’s answer was no, there would be no more advance copies.

    In North Carolina, Samuel L. Katz of Duke University, an eminent pediatrician-virologist who had developed the principal vaccine against measles, was getting phone calls and emails demanding his opinion of the accusations against Neel.

    Katz sent an open letter to the leaders of the American Anthropological Association about the Turner/Sponsel email. “Their comments regarding Neel’s use of the measles vaccine are totally incorrect.” He said he hoped his email would be used “in any place or fashion where…it may be helpful in aborting the posthumous assassination of Jim Neel.”

    But Katz’s protest vanished in the fog of war between tribes of anthropologists. The New York Times would soon headline its coverage of the affair: “Anthropology Enters The Age Of Cannibalism.”

    News organizations spotted a big story about darkness in the ivory tower. And they went with it.
  7. Chapter 7 The Assault on Neel

    On October 9, 2000, the New Yorker published its lengthy excerpt from Darkness in El Dorado. Clamoring readers finally could examine Patrick Tierney’s own account — parts of it, anyway — rather than relying on the Turner/Sponsel email.

    Titled “The Fierce Anthropologist” (a play on the subtitle of Chagnon’s book), the excerpt was a collection of anecdotes and accusations purporting to show, among many charges, that Chagnon’s depictions of Yanomamo violence were “greatly exaggerated;” that his data was error-ridden; that he stirred up conflict among the tribesmen by trading steel tools for the data he needed; that the Yanomamo feared and hated him; and that his misdeeds eventually got him thrown out of the Amazon by indignant Venezuelan and Brazilian authorities.

    But Tierney’s charges against James Neel were even more damning.

    This much was uncontested: In the early 1960s, Neel had conceived the idea of conducting genetic research among people living as humans had lived before agriculture. His interest went to the core of how humans evolve; he wanted to know how the genetic makeup of such a group affected their evolutionary advantages. This led him to the Yanomamo and to Chagnon, who had already spent time with the group. Neel enlisted Chagnon as a partner. While Chagnon continued his ethnographic studies, he would help Neel collect what he needed for his genetic studies — samples of blood and urine, family histories and other data. In 1968 they went to the Amazon together, along with other research assistants. (It was true that Neel’s research was funded in part by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. Tierney hinted this was nefarious, when in fact it was simply part of the AEC’s effort to understand the effects of atomic radiation on human genes.)

    Then came Tierney’s main assault. He asserted that Neel was “a self-professed eugenicist” who believed that large democratic societies, by allowing free breeding, were stifling natural selection and thus promoting the genetic deterioration of humankind. Neel was conducting genetic studies of the warlike Yanomamo, Tierney said, to find a gene for male leadership, and thus pave the way for the improvement of homo sapiens.

    That was Tierney’s first strike against Neel. The second, even worse, was the assertion that Neel had triggered “the worst epidemic in Yanomami history” by giving them a faulty measles vaccine that killed thousands of villagers who contracted the disease as a result of the vaccine. Tierney implied that Neel gave the vaccine not to save Yanomamo lives but to see how they would react to it. He called it “an exercise in preventive medicine,” Tierney said, and the results were disastrous.

    Why would Neel do this? Tierney said he could “only speculate about Neel’s personal motives.” But he suspected that Neel wanted evidence to challenge the prevailing medical view that isolated groups like the Yanomamo were especially susceptible to epidemic diseases. 

    * * *

    The annual conference of the American Anthropological Association in San Francisco that November turned into an angry carnival. Two three-hour sessions were devoted to Patrick Tierney’s accusations.

    In the first, Tierney himself listened as dueling panelists — foes of Chagnon versus friends — exchanged bitter charges. Chagnon and his allies were said to be guilty of “detestable, colonial ‘arrogance,'” according to the reporter from Nature. His defenders excoriated his enemies for uncritical acceptance of a book they said was shot through with errors, misjudgments and lies — and which none on either side had read.

    In the second session, several dozen anthropologists lined up at microphones to declaim for three minutes each. “After all the panel members had spoken,” Nature reported, “a visibly shaken Tierney defended his book, asking ‘everyone to work together’ to address the issues raised in it. ‘Hopefully, we can find some light from this darkness.'”

    Fat chance of that.

    • Patrick Tierney used his book to assail James V. Neel as “a self-professed eugenicist.”
      Patrick Tierney used his book to assail James V. Neel as “a self-professed eugenicist.”
  8. Chapter 8 Counterpunches

    Even before Darkness in El Dorado reached book stores, skeptics had begun to look hard at Tierney’s excerpt in the New Yorker.

    On November 15, the Associated Press knocked down the claim that Neel’s vaccine had endangered any Yanomamo. “The accusation is almost certainly false,” the wire service said. “Leading epidemiologists interviewed by the AP believe that what Neel is accused of is scientifically impossible.”

    Ten days later, the anthropologist John Tooby, a colleague of Chagnon’s at UCSB, eviscerated Patrick Tierney in a long piece in Slate.

    He said the Turner/Sponsel email had alarmed him. As president of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, which counted Chagnon as a member, Tooby was obliged to investigate. He knew nothing of James Neel, he said, and he conceded that Chagnon was his friend, but “how much do we really know about the person in the next office?”

    So he had acquired his own proofs of Darkness and begun to study them, starting with the accusations against Neel. Soon he called measles experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By the time he heard Darkness had been nominated for the National Book Award, he had concluded that “the book should have been in the fiction category.

    “When examined against its own cited sources,” Tooby wrote, “the book is demonstrably, sometimes hilariously, false on scores of points that are central to its most sensational allegations. After looking into those sources, I found myself seriously wondering whether Tierney had perpetrated a hoax on the publishing world. Of course, only he knows… But the book does seem systematically organized to do exactly that. And, to a frightening extent, it has succeeded.”

    Tooby said experts assured him the allegation about genocidal vaccinations could not be true, since the vaccine Neel gave to the Yanomamo had never caused a case of measles.

    Then he had gone to Neel’s 1994 autobiography, Physician to the Gene Pool. Contrary to Tierney’s claims that Neel was both a eugenicist and a Reaganite conservative, “it turns out that Neel has been a fierce opponent of eugenics since his student days;” that he had coined a new concept, “euphenics,” a doctrine for protecting all peoples from genetic hazards so that “each individual maximizes his genetic potentialities;” and that he was a fan of the Democrat Al Gore.

    “Once I had seen Tierney’s most attention-getting claim crumble,” Tooby said, “I started through the galleys of his book systematically, evaluating it against available sources with the help of various colleagues. Almost anywhere we scratched the surface, a massive tangle of fun-house falsity would erupt through.” And on he went, knocking down one Tierney claim after another.

    The New Yorker, vaunted for its fact-checking department, published an unusual retort, quibbling with Tooby’s wording about Chagnon but saying nothing about Patrick Tierney’s attack on James Neel.

    Meanwhile, the University of Michigan had been doing its own fact-checking.

    The book is demonstrably, sometimes hilariously, false on scores of points that are central to its most sensational allegations.
    – John Tooby
  9. Chapter 9 Michigan’s Answer

    Soon after the Turner/Sponsel email, U-M officials began to investigate the charges against Neel and Chagnon. Like others, they were unable to obtain an advance copy of the book from the publisher. Representatives of the provost’s office, the Medical School, the Department of Anthropology and the general counsel’s office, among others, convened. They paid particular attention to the accusations about the measles vaccine. They dug out and read Neel’s research logs and writings, including Neel’s memoir.

    The inquiry’s files, now at U-M’s Bentley Historical Library, remain closed to researchers. But there was apparently no disagreement about the findings, which were summarized as follows: “The evidence uncovered by our review supports the conclusion that the claims are false. We are satisfied that Dr. Neel and Dr. Chagnon, both among the most distinguished scientists in their respective fields, acted with integrity in conducting their research, and that their medical care of the Yanomami and their attempts to halt the spread of a pre-existing measles epidemic through vaccination were humane, compassionate and medically appropriate.”

    U-M’s investigators found persuasive evidence that:

    — When Neel learned of the measles outbreak, which had begun before he even reached the region, he acted quickly to contain it, vaccinating many Yanomamo himself and providing more doses for use by missionaries and health officers;

    — The vaccine he used was appropriate and safe; it had never caused a single death;

    — Rather than standing back to watch the epidemic’s effects, as Tierney claimed, Neel followed his standard practice — to give medical care before proceeding with his genetic research;

    — Neel never conducted radiation studies on the Yanomamo.

    Finally, the U-M investigators confirmed that Neel had never supported the selective breeding of humans to support only “desirable” traits. Quite the contrary, said Provost Nancy Cantor: He “strongly supported maintaining the rich diversity of the entire human gene pool.”

    The American Society of Human Genetics did its own probe of Tierney’s charges and concluded they were “gross misrepresentations and basically false.” And the National Academy of Sciences, which had elected Neel in 1963, said Tierney’s “factual errors and innuendoes … do a grave disservice to a great scientist and to science itself.”

    It’s too bad more people didn’t see a research note that appeared in an obscure academic newsletter even before Darkness in El Dorado went on sale.

    It was written by Diane Paul of the University of Massachusetts, the same historian of science who had asked Tierney’s publisher for an advance copy of Darkness so she could check out the Neel accusations. When rebuffed, she found someone else who had a copy, then studied it closely.

    It was true, Paul said, that Neel, like many geneticists, was concerned about the genetic future of industrial society as it moved toward dangerous overpopulation. To take one example of the questions he raised: He went to study the Yanomamo in part to check out his theory that isolated aboriginal groups were more likely than industrial societies to evolve toward greater intelligence. And yes, he favored genetic screening that would enable parents to abort early-term fetuses with inherited defects.

    But none of that made him a eugenicist, Paul wrote. Indeed, Neel had emphatically rejected all eugenic notions of selective breeding; opposed any form of coercion in reproductive choices; and argued for strict environmental regulations to guard against man-made genetic mutations.

    “To publicly associate Neel’s views with those of Josef Mengele, Auschwitz’s ‘angel of death,'” Paul wrote, “is not just wrong; it is obscene.”

    [James Neel] strongly supported maintaining the rich diversity of the entire human gene pool.
    – Provost Nancy Cantor
  10. Chapter 10 Glass Houses

    So why did Patrick Tierney attack James Neel as he did?

    Tierney conceded in Darkness in El Dorado that although he had started his career as a journalist, he now saw himself as a social activist on behalf of aboriginal peoples — still a writer, but writing on behalf of a cause. In his commitment to that cause, he may have allowed his ends to justify his means — to believe that twisting the truth was justified if a bad man could be brought down.

    It appears Tierney may have been persuaded that Napoleon Chagnon was a bad man by Catholic missionaries in the Amazon who had battled with Chagnon on many issues. So he set out to discredit Chagnon. Where was Chagnon vulnerable? One target was his association with James Neel. If suspicions could be raised about Neel’s measles vaccine, then Chagnon would be tarred with the same brush.

    Shortly after the Darkness scandal subsided, David Stoll, an anthropologist at Middlebury College, pondered Tierney’s motives. Stoll — who had majored in anthropology as a Michigan undergraduate — was a fan of Tierney’s first book, a 1990 pop-anthropology narrative titled The Highest Altar: Unveiling the Mystery of Human Sacrifice, in which Tierney tells of ritual sacrifices as still practiced by modern-day shamans and witches in the high Andes. In that book, Stoll noted, the writer had likened his efforts to inveigle information from his sources to the strong-arm methods of Napoleon Chagnon himself. “Like Chagnon,” Stoll writes, “he becomes persona non grata to some of his hosts, to the point of setting off a riot with his camera. Yet he persists even though he realizes his investigation could endanger the people helping him.” Perhaps, Stoll said, Tierney attacked Chagnon in Darkness in El Dorado as a way of atoning for his own sins as a “civilized” investigator of pre-modern practices.

    “They can both be accused of sensationalism and, in their powerful writings, both describe how they exploited the power differential between themselves and their subjects,” Stoll writes. “Needless to say, they are not alone is some of these respects. More than a few anthropologists, and quite a few more journalists, live in the same glass house.”


    In 2002, the American Anthropological Association chastised Chagnon in a lengthy report, but in 2005 rescinded its findings, saying its investigation had been poorly conducted. In 2012 Chagnon was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, a high honor that did much to restore his standing in his field. In 2014 he struck back at his enemies in a memoir titled Noble Savages: My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes, the Yanomamo and the Anthropologists. He died in September 2019 at the age of 81.

    In the field of human genetics, James Neel’s name is held in the highest regard. At U-M, the Medical School honors his memory with the annual James V. Neel Lecture in Human Genetics; the James V. Neel Genetic Counseling Fellowship; the James V. Neel Doctoral Fellowship; and the James V. Neel Distinguished University Professorship of Internal Medicine and Human Genetics.

    It is hard to find out anything about Patrick Tierney’s life since 2000. He has not published a book since Darkness in El Dorado.


    Sources include: Yanomamo, by Napoleon A. Chagnon; Physician to the Gene Pool: Genetic Lessons and Other Stories by James V. Neel; Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon and “The Fierce Anthropologist,” New Yorker, 10/9/2000, by Patrick Tierney; Yanomami: The Fierce Controversy and What We Can Learn From It, by Robert Borofsky et al; “Genocide Claims Against Geneticist Are Disputed,” (Associated Press), Los Angeles Times, 10/15/2000; “James Neel, Darkness in El Dorado, and Eugenics: The Missing Context” by Diane Paul and John Beatty, The Society for Latin American Anthropology, 11/1/2000; “Anthropologists in Turmoil Over Allegations of Misconduct” by Rex Dalton, Nature, 11/23/2000; “Jungle Fever” by John Tooby, Slate, 10/25/2000; “Response to Allegations Against James V. Neel in Darkness in El Dorado, by Patrick Tierney,” American Journal of Human Genetics (70: 1-10, 2002); “My Regrets about Controversial Anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon (RIP)” by John Horgan, Scientific American, 9/27/2019; “The Altar Boy and the Anthropologist” by David Stoll, Anthropology News, April 2001; “Life Among the Anthros” by Clifford Geertz, New York Review of Books, 2/8/2001; “Anthropology Enters the Age of Cannibalism” by Daniel Zalewsky, New York Times, 10/8/2000; “Napoleon Chagnon, Controversial Anthropologist, is Dead at 81” by Cornelia Dean, New York Times, 9/30/2019.

    Read the Turner/Sponsel email.

    Read the University of Michigan statement.

    • Chagnon's 2014 memoir.
      Chagnon's 2014 memoir.