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Art Science Research Laboratory’s StinkyJournalism.org, with SavageMinds.org, Essay Series “The Pig in a Garden” Explores Jared Diamond, The New Yorker Controversy

May 7, 2009

NEW YORK, May 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following was released today by Art Science Research Laboratory:

Heard about the controversy? Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond and the estimable New Yorker magazine are in hot water:

  • New Guinea tribe sues the New Yorker for $10 million. They challenge a story depicting them as rapists, murderers and pig thieves.” — Forbes.com
  • “Author Jared Diamond sued for libel.” — Associated Press
  • “Research subjects sue Jared Diamond, the author and professor, for $10 million.” — Chronicle of Higher Education

StinkyJournalism.org, a media ethics project sponsored by the Art Science Research Laboratory, and SavageMinds.org, a group blog devoted to “notes and queries in Anthropology” announce the publishing debut of a new series of essays, simultaneously co-publishing on both web sites, titled, “The Pig in a Garden: Jared Diamond and The New Yorker.” This series, edited by Rhonda Roland Shearer, Sam Eifling and Alan Bisbort, addresses the allegations made against Diamond and The New Yorker, and the issues that they have raised, from the perspective of several different disciplines. “The Pig in a Garden” will feature essays and commentaries by scientists, environmentalists, linguists, journalists and media ethics experts who have reviewed the charges and the evidence against Diamond and the New Yorker amassed by StinkyJournailsm.org.

In her contribution to the series, anthropologist Nancy Sullivan places some of the blame for the scandal on her own profession. As she notes, “It is our fault as anthropologists that no one has picked up the ball Margaret Mead dropped, and produced enough popular cultural anthropology in recent years. Jared Diamond is just filling the vacuum we left.”

“The Pig in a Garden” is aimed at reclaiming some of that popular audience that has been lost since the days of Margaret Mead to unqualified “experts” like Diamond, author of bestselling books like Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse, that offer an incomplete and sometimes erroneous view of indigenous cultures.

The scandal began when Diamond published an article in the April 21, 2008 issue of The New Yorker that purported to be from “The Annals of Anthropology.” That article, headlined “Vengeance is Ours: What can tribal societies tell us about our need to get even?,” has not only sent shockwaves through Papua New Guinea’s “tribal societies, the allegations of its ethical violations, unverified and unsourced “facts,” and fabricated quotations have also raised troubling issues about the professions of science and journalism. Diamond’s article and The New Yorker‘s decision to publish it without properly fact checking has, claim indigenous peoples, also caused demonstrable harm to individuals in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The back story: On April 20, 2009, one year after the article’s appearance in The New Yorker, two of the individuals named and accused of capital crimes in “Vengeance is Ours,” Daniel Wemp and Henep Isum, filed a $10 million defamations lawsuit against Diamond and Advance Publications (which owns The New Yorker) in the Supreme Court of New York. Whether vengeance will be theirs is now in the hands of the legal system.

In the meantime, StinkyJournalism.org and SavageMinds.org aim to keep the issues raised by Diamond’s New Yorker article alive on the Internet with the series “The Pig in the Garden.” Contributors include Nancy Sullivan, anthropologist and consultant who has lived in PNG for more than two decades; Andrew Mack, biologist who has also lived and worked in PNG; Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, anthropology professor and editor of Ethics and the Profession of Anthropology; linguist Douglas Biber; anthropologists Deborah Gewertz; Glenn Petersen, and Alan Bisbort, journalist and author of Media Scandals (Greenwood Press).

For more information:

Rhonda Roland Shearer, Art Science Research Laboratory director, Publisher StnkyJournalism.org 62 Greene Street, New York, New York 10012, phone: 212-925-8812, FAX: 212-925-0459

http://www.asrlab.org, rrs@asrlab.org

Alex Golub, an anthropologist who oversees SavageMinds.org, email golub@hawaii.edu

Art Science Research Laboratory, www.asrlab.org, a not-for-profit, co-founded by Shearer and her late husband, Harvard Professor Stephen Jay Gould, has a non-partisan journalism ethics program in which students work with professional researchers to promote the media’s use of scientific methods and experts before publication. They also publish investigations of factual errors and ethical breaches by media outlets, www.StinkyJournalism.org . Alexa lists StinkyJournalism.org as 17th-20th among most visited media watchdogs. (In context, American Journalism Review vacillates between 14 and 16th on list.)

SOURCE Art Science Research Laboratory


Source: newswire