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International Media Ethics News :
Special Investigation : Jared Diamond's Factual Collapse
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Jared Diamond's Factual Collapse:

New Yorker Mag's Papua New Guinea Revenge Tale Untrue'Tribal Members Angry, Want Justice
By: Rhonda Roland Shearer with Michael Kigl, Kritoe Keleba, Jeffrey Elapa
April 21, 2009 12:00 AM EST
 
Jared Diamond's Factual Collapse:
 
See Henep Isum Mandingo, last on right. He is angry that Jared Diamond, reowned UCLA scientist, Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author, published "lies" about him in The New Yorker. StinkyJournalism sent three researchers into the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) starting in July 2008 to fact-check Diamond's article, which ran a year ago today, in the April 21, 2008 issue of The New Yorker. We soon discovered that Henep Isum, an indigenous tribesman who was his main character, was NOT in a wheelchair with spinal paralysis as Diamond dramatically claimed. Yet Diamond wrongly published this error, as well as many others, including charging Daniel Wemp, the indigenous driver he used from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for his 2001-2002 bird research, with multiple crimes, including his assertion Wemp was a bloody warrior "thirsting" for revenge who personally paid for killers to do the "maiming of Isum." (credit: Michael Kigl, StinkyJournalism.org)
 

BREAKING NEWS:

  • Daniel Wemp and Henep Isum file a summons and sue for 10 million dollars in the Supreme Court of the State of New York--charge famed UCLA scientist and best-selling author Jared Diamond and Advance Publications (aka The New Yorker magazine and Times-Picayune newspaper) with defamation, April 20, 2009.
  • REVEALED: The New Yorker removed Diamond’s article from the open Internet last year after demand by Daniel Wemp’s lawyers (Lexis Nexis, EBSCO, Gale Group databases also complied with the take-down. Only abstracts remain).
  • The New Yorker fact checkers never contacted any of the indigenous Papua New Guinea people named in Jared Diamond’s article as unrepentant killers, rapists and thieves, before publication.
  • Henep Isum is not paralyzed in a wheelchair with a spinal injury, as Diamond claimed. He and Daniel Wemp, Diamond’s World Wildlife Fund driver in 2001-2002, and the only source for The New Yorker’s revenge story in Papua New Guinea, as well as dozens of tribal members and police officials, deny Diamond’s entire tale about the bloody Ombal and Handa war, calling it “untrue.”
  • Expert linguistic analysis and The New Yorker’s own admissions indicate the quotations attributed to Daniel Wemp, as spoken in 2001-2002, are fabrications.

UPDATE: 4/22/09, 7:16 a.m.: This article includes excerpts from a forthcoming 40,000-word report (Real Tribes / Fake History: Errors, Failures of Method and the Consequences for Indigenous People in Papua New Guinea) that will be released in the coming weeks. All interviews were recorded and were in English, the national language of Papua New Guinea, unless noted. Research methods are detailed at the bottom of this article. *

EXCLUSIVE : If Jared Diamond had changed the names of people and tribes and simply said that he was unsure if the stories he heard were true, Daniel Wemp, his single source for his tale of Papua New Guinea (PNG) tribal revenge, would not be in the danger that Diamond and his publisher, The New Yorker magazine, placed him in. This crisis was set in motion a year ago today, on April 21, 2008, with the publication in The New Yorker of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and renowned UCLA scientist's article, “Annals of Anthropology:Vengeance Is Ours: What can tribal societies tell us about our need to get even?” 

When Papua New Guinea researcher Michael Kigl, working with StinkyJournalism, went to Daniel Wemp’s Nipa home in the Southern Highlands, in July 2008 to ask him about The New Yorker article, he was shocked. Wemp had no idea that he or people he mentioned to Diamond in random stories about tribal warfare back in 2001-2002, would be publicly named, and worse, erroneously linked to heinous crimes.

Despite Diamond’s claims, Wemp was no Handa tribal leader, nor was Henep Isum a violent leader of the Ombals. Isum isn’t even an Ombal tribesman; he is a Henep, hence, his full name: Henep Isum Mandingo (tribal name, first name, last name).

In addition to tracking down Daniel Wemp, we also found Henep Isum. When Kigl first saw him, Isum was carrying a large bag of dirt over his shoulder. It turned out that Mandingo never had a spinal cord injury resulting in his being a wheelchair-bound paralytic, the result—or so Diamond claimed—of an arrow attack by Wemp’s hired assassins.

What did Jared Diamond’s fictional tale claim?

Diamond said that Daniel Wemp was a Chevron driver (untrue, he was a World Wildlife Fund [WWF] worker) who swapped stories with him during drives for his bird research. It was from the stories that Daniel told him on these trips that Diamond weaved his tale of two tribes, the Handa and Ombals, and their endless and futile violence based on a relentless “thirst” for revenge.

Diamond claims Wemp was the leader of a three-year effort to gain personal vengeance for the death of his beloved uncle Soll—who was only killed after an Ombal was angered when a Handa man’s pig wrecked his garden. In the six battles that he instigated, Diamond claims, Wemp tirelessly mustered and financially supported hundreds of warriors from 1992-1995, including providing comfort women for their sexual needs and stealing 300 pigs from enemies. All of this carnage and thievery, Diamond alleges, was brought about by Daniel Wemp’s obsessive “need to get even” for the death of his uncle Soll, who was destined to be a leader. Wemp selected Henep Isum, Diamond tells us, because he was the Ombal leader and counterpart. If Daniel Wemp’s assassins could kill Isum then his vindication and lust for revenge would be satisfied.

 


Daniel Wemp

 Here is photo of Daniel Wemp in his World Wildlife Fund office in 2001, the very year he was driving Dr. Diamond for his bird research and discussing PNG warfare.

In the end, after many failures and 30 people killed (a total of 47 killed, including 17 during the four years of fighting leading up to Soll’s death), Wemp finally triumphs and his killers manage to stick an arrow in Isum’s spine and paralyze him. Diamond claims Isum’s very public suffering as a wheelchair-bound paralytic for the past 11 years has made Wemp happy. He reports that Wemp even told Isum he was sorry. From the New Yorker article: “Occasionally, I go over to Isum, shake his hand, and tell him, ‘I feel sorry for you.’ But people see Isum. They know that he will be suffering all the rest of his life for having killed Soll. People remember that Isum used to be a tall and handsome man, destined to be a future leader. But so was my uncle Soll. By getting Isum paralyzed, I gained appropriate revenge for the killing of my tall and handsome uncle, who had been very good to me, and who would have become a leader.”

Daniel and Isum both have confirmed that they never met each other before Diamond’s article was published. Thus, there were no dramatic apologies by Daniel shaking Isum’s hand at Handa /Ombal basketball games, as portrayed in Diamond’s article. Isum also said that he never spoke to anybody [meaning Diamond or The New Yorker]. He never gave consent to anyone to use his name or his story of how he was wounded or paralyzed in the tribal fight. He said that he had never spoken to Daniel Wemp on any occasion during or after the fights.



Henep Isum Mandingo, shown here on the right, and in the distance, in the photo on the left, is obviously not confined to a wheelchair. He is a dignified man and former village peace officer. He stopped his hard physical labors of clearing land and carrying heavy sacks of dirt to pose for this image taken by StinkyJournalism team member, and local researcher, Michael Kigl. Image taken, August 2008, at Isum's home in Southern Highlands, PNG.


Joseph Kuwimb Hal, former primary school teacher and currently business development officer (Isum is Hal’s uncle from his mother’s clan) said, “The whole story and the story of how he (Isum) got injured is an opposing view and not correct. The society, we are not happy, we totally condemn that report on the article.” (Translated)

Jared Diamond’s “pig in a garden” war is a fictional composite constructed from random stories Wemp said he had heard.

The only correct facts in the entire story are the names of Wemp and Isum (although incomplete—their full names are: Henep Isum Mandingo and Hup Daniel Wemp) and the names of the tribes, Handa and Ombal. Isum is not a warrior but a former village court peace officer, still serving his community by building a ceremonial area for feasts and celebrations. (See images above.)

In his article, Diamond attributes getting the names of Isum Henep, the brothers of Fukal Limbizu and Wiyo, Soll—all the information about these years—from Daniel Wemp during their long car drives together in 2001-2002. StinkyJournalism found out—and this was confirmed by The New Yorker—that the only notes Diamond actually took of their conversations were back dated. That is, four years after the drives in the car with Daniel Wemp, Diamond re-contacted his “source.” By that time (May 2006), Daniel Wemp had a new job as an oil field technician at the Oil Search Ltd. They met at the company’s compound dormitories (again, Wemp was not a Chevron employee, as Diamond reported; Chevron sold their stake to Oil Search in 2003).

Even though Diamond’s article says the quotations by Wemp were made in 2001-2002, this was untrue. The several long and complex (and erudite) quotations attributed to Wemp—that Wemp vehemently denies saying—were apparently composited together by Diamond into a single narrative, along with bits and pieces of Wemp’s stories Diamond remembered from years before. Diamond could have easily checked facts with the Ombal driver who still works for WWF, and presumably, also still picks him up at the Moro airport at WWF behest as a perk for Diamond serving as a WWF board member in the U.S. for many years.



Diamond is on the Board of Trustees for World Wildlife Fund, USA. and operates out of their Papua New Guinea office to obtain services, such as drivers, like Wemp. Why didn't he ask the local WWF, to whom he uses to arrange transport to and from the Moro airport, to provide contact information for Wemp, who used to work there and everyone knows?

Wemp says, in one of dozens of phone interviews with StinkyJournalism since July 2008, “The facts are totally wrong in The New Yorker story. I have given all those stories to Diamond and those stories are very true and those names are not fake.” In other words, Wemp says he told the true stories to Diamond with real names but Diamond retold them wrongly by jumbling up information. By Diamond connecting false assertions of crimes to real people—all sourced to Wemp—he has put Daniel in danger among tribes, according to experts such as Dr. Nicole Clair Haley, Research Fellow, State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Project, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, who has worked in the Southern Highlands for 16 years.

Let’s examine just one example of the seriousness of Diamond’s errors and how he jumbled facts: Wemp told Diamond he lives in Nipa/Kutubu district (his mother was Nipa, his father a sub-clan of Handa). Diamond’s untested assumption was that Ombals and the Handa tribes live in Nipa, since Wemp does. In fact, they live in a completely different district, Komo-Margarima. The more serious error occurs when Diamond extrapolates his false premise that “Ombals and Handas are Nipa and live in Nipa” to devastating effect when also assuming that the Ombals and Handa tribes also raped and killed Huli along with their fellow Nipa [sic] tribesmen on a highway in 1997.

Nicole Clair Haley explained by email and phone, after reviewing Diamond’s article and StinkyJournalism interviews with informants: “Part of the confusion seems to have stemmed from the fact that Daniel – a member of Handa-Hup sub-clan--grew up and had been living at Nipa, and not at Margarima where the groups involved in the fight are from. That Diamond describes the combatant groups as being from Nipa seems to demonstrate his confusion regarding the facts of this case.”

Haley continued, “The roadblocks and ambushes, to which he (Diamond) refers, took place on the Highland’s Highway following the 1997 General Elections and the Court of Disputed Returns proceedings. They concerned the provincial as opposed to the open seat. Perhaps even more importantly, though, the events described took place in and around Nipa and not in Magarima, where …the Ombal and Handa live…This is common knowledge in the Southern Highlands Province (SHP).” 

SHP Map

The above political map shows that Nipa is far away from Margarima --the location where Ombals and Handa live and the place where the  "2 Kina" fight actualy took place in 1993. See L.W Hanson, B.J. Allen, R.M Bourke and T. J. McCarthy (2001) Papua New Guinea Rural Development Handbook, The Australian National University, Canberra, pages 89-97. Also see: Allen, B. 2007. "The setting: land, economics and development in the Southern Highlands," in Conflict and Resource Development in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Studies in State and Society in the Pacific. Edited by N. Haley and R. J. May, pp. 35-46. Canberra: Australian National University E-Press.

One can easily understand that members of the Handa and Ombal are angry they have been labeled killers and rapists of Huli women by Diamond and The New Yorker—accusations that spread widely when the article was posted on the Internet—when they were actually victims of the conflict cited!

George Lek Kuwimb , a Handa, who is now a motor mechanic instructor at Nipa Technical College and is also related to the Ombals, told StinkyJournalism PNG researcher Kritoe Keleba, during an interview: "The Magarima people do no do road blocks. The Nipa people, yes, they do road blocks but not in relation to the fight but it may be related to political differences or other differences. But it does not involve our politics too. Our politics is clean (implying there no history of fights or lawlessness after a candidate from the area loose election)."

George's brother, Mako John Kuwimb, a lawyer in PNG and a PhD candidate in law, living in Queensland, Australia wrote a 26-page analysis of Diamond's article. He said, “The Handa and Ombal clans are located some 6-10 kilometres away from the road the Nipas blocked. This is to say that the Highlands Highway that connects and services the Nipa-Huli area is quite far from the Handa-Ombal territory for members of these clans to travel through other clans’ territory in order to block the roads."

Kuwimb continued, “In fact, the blockade conducted by the Nipas against the Hulis resulted in looting and burning down of houses of people along the Highway on the Margarima side bordering Nipa. The raids were made by Nipas in their hot pursuit of the Hulis. Margarimas were innocent victims in this conflict."

“It is an outrageous insult to say they were involved in raping women and violence on the highway. The Ombals and Handa are outraged by this false claim,” Kuwimb said.


Chock-A-Block errors

Diamond’s many other errors range from mistakenly saying that two villages are tribes (Aralinja and Ungupi are villages) to creating an entire history of conflict between two tribes where only the smallest fragments of truth can be found and then traced back to the seeds of real events that actually took place.

When Diamond writes of the “pig in a garden” fight that took place in Nipa for three years, 1992-1995, between the Ombal and Handa tribes—part of what he claimed was a history of never-ending fights between them—this can be related to the single and relatively small conflict between the Ombals and Handa for approximately 3 months of fighting in 1993, called the “2 Kina fight.” (Kina is the PNG national currency valued then at about $1 dollar)

Of the dozens of people our research team spoke with, everyone agrees uniformly on basic facts: 2 Kina went missing while five youths gambled in Mt. Hagen in 1993. The Handa youth punched a Solpaem youth. So the fight started between the Handa and the Solpaem. The Ombals were not in charge of the war that later broke out but served only as allies.

All Ombals and Handas—and independent parties, such as the police—whom we spoke with agreed. There was no “pig in a garden” fight between the Ombal and Handa tribes, nor were there six battles during the years 1992-1995. There were no 300 pigs “sacrificed” or stolen, and there were no 30 war dead, or 17 dead in the years before.

Phillip Pungiam, senior constable at the Nipa Police Station, described the outbreak of violence in 1993: “The Ombal reported that a ‘ Two Kina’ (2 K) incident occurred in Hagen (Provincial Headquarters of Western Highlands Province, a neighbor of Southern Highlands Province), where they (youths) were involved in gambling (card game)….A problem arose involving youths of Ombal and Handa. And they didn’t completely solve the problem in Hagen instead brought it back to the village.”

Constable Pungiam again confirmed, “They fought until … two men from Ombal side died and two from Handa died. They confirmed this and reported it at the police station. The Ombal reported the case to the police and at around the same time too, the Handa reported. Their stories were same.”

Isum told Kelaba that the ‘Two Kina Fight’ started in Hagen…played cards for one ‘Two Kina’ [a monetary unit equivalent to $1US]. They fought over this [card game, Queen] and brought the problem here and fight began over this two kina. The Handa and Ombal fought [each other].”

A Ombal group of 23 men told Kelaba the history of the fight as beginning with a Handa boy breaking the jaw of one of their own members. They said: “He (Song Sowal, the boy injured) is the son of Soal. And down there [Handa area] … Kor Ungurip [is] brother of Paul La'a, the boy who broke his jaw). They broke this (touching their jaws). We told them to pay compensation and said [the] boy (victim) was alive so why should they pay compensation. We asked them at least you [Handa] give us one pig …for the blood [loss of blood from the injury]. When they refused to pay (compensation); that is how the fight started. The reason of the fight is this [the refusal to pay compensation]. We do not get into trouble for other things. When they didn’t pay, we waited until our patience was exhausted and we [started the] fight.”

It is not surprising that all parties agree to the basic facts of the initial conflict, as it is fundamental to maintaining the settlement that was reached among the multiple tribes (led by the two sides of Handa and Solpaem). According to tribal law, everyone has to agree on the basic facts of what happened to whom and how much—and stick to that agreement—or a new fight could break out. Anyone who changes the narrative would be violating the tribes’agreement and corresponding money paid based upon complex negotiations of who was injured or killed and how badly and—not unlike an insurance company’s evaluation—how much money needs to be paid to victims and victims families after the fight.

Diamond’s uses names uncle Soll, Limbuzu and Wiyo—well known victims of 2K fight

The names Diamond’s uses of the dead and injured, although incomplete, lead us back in time to the single conflict that involved fighting between the Handas and Ombals. These two tribes had previously—absent the three to six month fight in 1993—a peaceful relationship.

We know that Diamond refers to facts taken from the real war, as his New Yorker article mentions Uncle Soll, Limbuzu and Wiyo, real people who were killed or injured in the 2 Kina fight. Other than these three names, the remainder of the facts that Diamond presents are untrue. Only Sande (Mogan Sande Hameno), an Ombal ally that Diamond does not mention, was killed hours after battle. The three others –Handa’s Ken Soll and Fukul Limbizu, and Ombal ally, Kekel Ambiak—were not killed in battle but wounded and died months later. No Ombals died in the 2K fight.

Soll was not a close relative of Handa sub-clan Hup Daniel Wemp (Soll was a Ken Handa sub-clansman), nor was Wemp involved in any part of the 3-month conflict; he was out of the village the entire time. It is worth noting that Wemp, who was depicted by Diamond as a seasoned and bloodthirsty warrior, had only picked up a bow and arrow once in his life, when he was a teenager. He is now in his late 30’s but would have been too young to have been “owner of the fight” in 1992 (as Diamond asserts), in his early 20’s. Sponsoring a fight is expensive and this literal accountability helps keep everyone in check. (If American generals had to personally pay for fights out of their own pockets, do you think there would be so much warfare? Upon reflection, this is a wise PNG strategy that helps retard violence).

Summary of Diamond’s fictional history about the Ombal / Handa conflicts

Diamond stated in his New Yorker article that the two Southern Highlands “Nipa” clans, the Handas and the Ombals, were in an endless cycle of violence that had raged for decades. As they were from Nipa, when a Nipa political election did not go their way, they started “blocking highways” and “killing Huli men they found in the vehicles and raping Huli women.” Another time, when a Handa-owned pig plundered an Ombal garden, the resulting six battles, which took place from 1992 to 1995, left 300 pigs “sacrificed” and 30 warriors dead, including Daniel Wemp’s Uncle Soll, who was killed in one of the battles. Diamond wrote “in the four years of fighting leading up to Soll’s death, seventeen other men had been killed.”

An amazing coincidence, indeed, that then 32-year-old Daniel Wemp, Diamond’s driver in 2001-2002, turned out to be a seasoned warrior whose expertise was fighting. Daniel, according to Diamond, served “with the brothers of Fukal Limbizu and of Wiyo” as the Handa leader who was official “owner of the fight” of the 1992-1995 Handa/Ombal war. When Daniel was 22, reported Diamond, he was a master of logistics who, over a three-year period, hired and then cared for hundreds of mercenaries from 14 tribes in his relentless “thirst” for revenge. Diamond wrote, “Hiring, supporting, and rewarding all those allies was a complex logistical operation. Daniel had to feed them during the actual days of combat, to arrange for houses in which they could sleep, and even, as he delicately phrased it, ‘to provide ladies for the warriors when they were homesick.’” As he sought and failed to gain revenge for his Uncle Soll’s death, over three years, he personally arranged to steal 300 pigs from his Ombal enemies, and did “incessant plotting” of murder of Henep Isum, the owner of the fight for the Ombals. Diamond wrote, “By accepting the official role known as ‘owner of the fight,’ Isum took responsibility for the killing.”

Diamond told his readers that if Daniel murdered Isum, he would “exact appropriate” revenge for his beloved Uncle Soll’s death. After many failures of “personally orchestrating the shooting of Isum,” Daniel’s hired assassins finally shot an arrow into Isum’s spine that caused him to be paralyzed. With revenge achieved, Daniel was, at last, satisfied. Time passed and Isum suffered publicly, for 11 years. As Isum sat in a wheelchair, Daniel would approach Isum during Handa/Ombal basketball games and tell him how sorry he felt. But inside he was “unapologetic” and filled with “exhilaration and pleasure in expressing aggression,” having committed revenge with his own efforts instead of leaving it to the government. In the end, Diamond reported, the personal cost was only a matter of money. Daniel had to pay, by age 25, “the man who shot the arrow that paralyzed Isum” a total of “eighty pigs plus fifteen thousand kina,” a value of approximately, $40,000 to $60,000.

Diamond used this story about Daniel’s satisfaction with his revenge as part of his statement of a general theory about revenge in cultures. He contrasted Daniel’s happiness resulting from “New Guineans traditionally practiced unchecked violence against each other” with his own father-in-law’s unhappiness, when in post-Nazi Europe, he chose not to take personal revenge against his family’s killers and lived to regret it.

If The New Yorker and Jared Diamond are seeking truth, why do they refuse to call Daniel Wemp or the others?

The only time that The New Yorker spoke to Daniel Wemp was on August 21, 2008, when an interview took place between Daniel Wemp and Chris Jennings, New Yorker’s fact checker. At the start of the interview, Jennings asked, “Are the stories in the article accurate? Is it true?” Daniel answered, “Not accurate, not accurate.” Later in the same interview, Daniel reasserts his stories are real but Diamond’s are not. Daniel said, “Those stories that I gave him, it is all those stories that I gave him are those true stories, what had happened, the real names of the people.”

Emails from The New Yorker and a transcript of the phone conversation on August 21, 2008 between Daniel and The New Yorker fact checker, Chris Jennings, confirm that Diamond conducted only a single interview with Daniel Wemp for which notes existed, on May 29, 2006, and that Daniel was the single source for the narrative and specific facts in the article.

Jennings admitted the whole article is built only on the notes from May 29, 2006. Speaking to Daniel on August 21, 2008, Jennings said, “He [Diamond] met you previously in 2001 and made your acquaintance. And the notes, which he uses for this story, tell the specific details and the quotations of you, were when he spoke to you on May 29, 2006. And then on [inaudible] May 29th of 2006. And he took very long notes. He, didn't you know -- he wrote them while talking to you. And when [inaudible] the story, it's everything from what's put in the article, it's everything from what he wrote on that day with you.”

Jennings was, in all likelihood, not even working from Diamond’s original shorthand notes. He was reading Diamond’s translations from shorthand of the single interview from two years before (May 29, 2006), whose purpose was to simulate quotations and re-construct information supposedly supplied by Daniel Wemp in 2001-2002 while he worked as Diamond’s driver.

Daniel said that he and Diamond only discussed the Handa/Ombal conflict of 1993 a total of three times. The fact that Diamond took notes during only one interview with only one person, four years after their initial conversations in 2001-2002, is confirmed by Daniel. During two of the three or four times he was driving Professor Diamond for bird research forays during 2001-2002, no notes (or audio recordings) were taken. The third meeting, and the only time notes (no audio) were taken, on May 29, 2006, was also the final time Daniel heard from Diamond.

On May 28, 2006, the night before that final note-taking meeting, Daniel had received a note from an office receptionist that Dr. Diamond had called requesting to speak to him the following day (in the Oil Search camp, Wemp’s then job site) about the stories he’d told him four years before.

Oil Search Ltd

 Here is Oil Search Ltd, the location in PNG where Wemp worked 2003-2007. Diamond easily found Wemp there in 2006. Why did he tell New Yorkers fact checkers in 2008 that Wemp worked for Chevron ---when he knew full well that he worked for Oil Search and that Chevron left in 2003? Did Diamond suddenly forget where he sought out Wemp when he wanted to speak with him in 2006?

Here is the timeline for Daniel Wemp:

  • 1999-2002--Worked at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as driver and administrative worker (This is confirmed with WWF). He was assigned to drive Jared Diamond to and from the Moro airport. He drove Diamond and K. David Bishop, Diamond's companion, on 3 or 4 bird research trips during the time he worked for WWF. He also said he spoke to Diamond about warfare on only two occasions while driving him for bird research.
  • July 14, 2002 –Daniel Wemp resigned from WWF and was hired by Chevron as an oil field worker, process technician. (Confirmed with Oil Search). He never drove Diamond again.
  • Summer 2003--Chevron was sold to Oil Search Ltd. Wemp became oil field worker for Oil Search Ltd. 
  • May 28, 2006 -- Daniel Wemp received a note on his desk from Diamond by his computer in the Oil Search Ltd office. The receptionist placed it there after getting a phone call from Diamond.  The note said that Diamond wanted to come by the next morning to talk to him.
  • May 29, 2006 -- Diamond knocked on Daniel Wemp’s door (25A) at approximately 7:30 a.m. with K. David Bishop. They sat down in the area adjacent to Daniel’s room. Diamond had a red notebook and black pen and wrote in a "foreign" language Daniel could not read. (New Yorker lawyers later reveal it is “shorthand”). Diamond asked about the stories Daniel Wemp had told him more than four years earlier, in 2001-2002. Daniel was tired, having worked all night, and at 7:30 am he still had not slept. He was, therefore, impatient with the questions and flip with some of the answers. He assumed Diamond knew their talks were private and that the information he gave him was confidential due to its "sensitive" nature. During the two hours he spoke with Diamond that morning, Daniel can’t remember his interlocutor once telling him anything about a book. Daniel also stated he was never told about a journalism article in The New Yorker that would feature him and the other people he named. In fact, despite Diamond's claim that Wemp clearly knew that the information he was providing would be published, two WWF drivers, Philip Kayape  and Aloysius Pokaraija, who were present, confirm Wemp's claim that he asked them to leave and go to their rooms as the discussion he was having with Diamond and Bishop was private. Indeed, Nancy Sullivan, an anthropologist who lives in PNG and speaks Tok Pisin, asked Phillip Kayape about the May 29, 2006 meeting among Diamond, Bishop and Wemp. She asked what happened, and Kayape responded in Tok Pisin, "Secret tok tok, yeah."
  • July 7, 2007 –Wemp Left Oil Search job
  • April 21, 2008—Jared Diamond’s article appears in The New Yorker, both in print and on the Internet
  • December 9, 2008- "Justice Deferred" by Jarvis DeBerry, The Times-Picayune, republished the defamatory claims cited in The New Yorker article-- even after the owner was notified and complied with taking down the New Yorker article from its web site. . Both Times-Picayune and New Yorker are owned and published by Advance Publications.

Bill Kovach, founder of Committee for Concerned Journalists and co-author of seminal book The Elements Of Journalism, is considered one of the deans of journalism ethics. He made the following statement about The New Yorker in light of the Daniel Wemp case:

“I’ve read the material in the file you sent of your research on the article Vengeance Is Ours by Jared Diamond.  It is an impressive file raising important questions both about the science and the journalism involved. Although you have made it possible for me to verify your work by careful attribution to sources, I have neither the ability nor the time to do that so I will limit my comments to what I know from reading the article as it appeared in The New Yorker and what I believe is the critical question a journalist reading the article for consideration to be published should have addressed.

“My comments are based on 50 years experience in newspaper journalism and on the journalistic values laid on in The Elements of Journalism, a book Tom Rosenstiel and I wrote in 2001, that is based in part on information accumulated over two years in open forums with more than 3,000 people including 300 journalists in which we asked them how journalism differs from other forms of communication and why the public should care whether journalism survives in the new world of unlimited instant communication.

“The first responsibility of the editor is to assure what the reader will see in the article is the truth.  Therefore, the first reading would be to assure that the author’s assertions and conclusions have been authoritatively and clearly verified. In a case like this where the article was written by an award-winning scientist and presented under a subject head: “Annals of Anthropology,” the responsibility would be heightened since the reader should expect a careful, if not rigorously documented piece.

“Instead what was published is a complicated and in many ways confusing narrative based on what appear to be casual fragments of conversations in 2001 with a single source who claims to be an eyewitness. Around this single source narrative are woven assertions about what the social sciences tell us about such narratives. These fragments were knit together into notes taken later to produce the article that appeared in 2008.

“The narrator named a number of other participants in the event described that the author and the editor could have checked to verify the core narrative upon which the article was built.  If such fact checking was done it is not made clear to the reader.  A critical aspect of journalistic verification is transparency---what is made clear to the reader.  Few people today are willing to, nor should they be asked to, accept undocumented assertions from journalists. If there are others involved in the story, their agreement or disagreement should be noted and dealt with.

“Thucydides warned all of us of the need for verification when he wrote of his own efforts to verify the history he wrote in the 5th century B.C.: “With regard to my factual reporting of events…I have made it a principle not to write down the first story that came my way…different eyewitnesses gave different accounts of the same events, speaking out of partiality for one side or the other, or else from imperfect memories.”

Were fake quotations attributed to Daniel?

Daniel informed The New Yorker that he was misquoted. In his interview with Jennings on August 21, 2008, Daniel said, “The words that I have spoken during that time I can’t actually remember what words I have spoken, all these notes that he has taken [inaudible] …but I see that the English [inaudible]…on the article is not good enough for such person like me [inaudible]. It is a perfect English which is written on the article.”

Jennings’ answered, “Okay. So, you think that the words may not sound like your own words.” Though Jennings heard Daniel, The New Yorker had no interest in this serious charge.

One of the four reasons I cited for initially doubting the veracity of Diamond’s article was that the quotations seemed fake.

The official national languages of Papua New Guinea are English and two pidgin languages (Tok Pisin, and Motu). Daniel Wemp’s first languages are Angal Heneng and Tok Pisin; but his English is fairly good. There were no tape recordings, as previously mentioned, and Daniel and Diamond both spoke in English. So any claims that Daniel has made that he has been misquoted cannot be brushed off as due to bad translations. Daniel had a 10th grade education at the time he first spoke with Diamond. Could Daniel, whose second language is English, really have spoken in the manner that Diamond has indicated in the following paragraphs? Diamond attributed to Daniel the following statements:

“That requires nerve, judgment, and presence of mind, to select the right target, and not to panic and shoot the first man who moves into a shootable position, he said. Boys and young men are prone to make such mistakes and hence are excluded from the stealth parties.”

Or this:

"Isum was in the public fight, with his bow and arrow ready for a long-range battle, and he was shooting and dodging arrows in the open. He was concentrating on that public fight, looking at our men far away in the open, and he wasn't prepared for our attack from behind and nearby by one of our hidden parties. It was our group that had gone down along the side of the river that got him. Only one arrow hit Isum, but it was a bamboo arrow, flat and sharp as a knife, and it cut his spinal cord. That's even better than killing him, because he's now still alive today, 11 years later, paralyzed in a wheelchair, and maybe he'll live for another ten years. People will see his constant suffering. Isum may be around for a long time, for people to see his suffering, and to be reminded that this happened to him as proper vengeance for his having killed my uncle Soll."

Or this:

"I felt that it was a matter of 'kill or else die by suicide.' I was prepared to die myself in that fight. I knew that, if I did die then, I would be considered a hero and would be remembered. If I had personally seen the arrow go into Isum, I would have felt emotional relief then. Unfortunately, I wasn't actually there to see it, but, when I heard that Isum had been paralyzed, I thought, I have everything, I feel as if I am developing wings, I feel as if I am about to fly off, and I am very happy. After that battle, just as after each battle in which we succeeded in killing an Ombal, we danced and celebrated and slaughtered pigs. When you fight with thinking and finally succeed, you feel good and relieved. The revenge relieves you; now it can be your turn to help someone else get his own revenge."

The New Yorker and Jared Diamond deceived the public by falsely presenting statements supposedly said by Daniel on May 29, 2006 (which Daniel denies) as quotations of what Daniel supposedly said in 2001-2002, during three car rides. All the quotations in the New Yorker article are attributed to Daniel during car rides—none are attributed to his speaking at his workplace dormitory in 2006, at Oil Search Ltd. Oil Search is not mentioned.

Journalist, professor and media ethicist, Edward Wasserman, Knight Professor in journalism, Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, Washington and Lee University, stated, “I mean, if he [Diamond] has reconstitute[d] these conversations years later, then in The New Yorker, he had an obligation to indicate that much to the reader.”

Linguist Douglas Biber studied Daniel’s quotes and actual speech

I wrote to linguist Professor Douglas Biber, Northern Arizona University, Applied Linguistics Program, an expert on measuring the differences between written and spoken language. I asked, “With verbiage, such as ‘and hence...’ imbedded within long, numerous and supposedly spoken quotations, my common sense perspective was cued to doubt. My impression was that I am reading written English and not spoken English. The wordings seem too perfect and seemed to me what I recognize as written English word choices and sentence structures…Therefore, I seek more objective, forensic methods in order to determine by linguistic analysis whether or not the quotations as presented indicate written or spoken roots.”

Dr. Biber’s initial impression was that the quotations were academic writing, but he needed to do a final analysis to quantify it. On the phone, he said, "I don't know any university professor that would talk like those quotations."

He also wrote, “You're certainly right that those quotes contain many grammatical characteristics that are typical of writing but rare in conversation.”

 DESCRIPTION OF 'CORPUS LINGUISTICS' FIELD AND METHODS : Excerpted from Dr. Biber's report:

“Over the last 25 years, a research approach has been developed for the empirical analysis of such grammatical characteristics. Referred to as ‘corpus linguistics’, the approach is based on the analysis of very large collections of natural texts from thousands of individual speakers and writers. Computer programs aid the analyses, which result in descriptions of the grammatical features that are especially frequent, features that are typical, and features that rarely occur. In addition, by comparing corpora with different kinds of texts, it is possible to contrast the grammatical characteristics that are usually found in conversation to those usually found in academic writing (or any other spoken or written varieties).

"The most comprehensive grammatical description of English undertaken from this perspective is the 1,200-page Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English (LGSWE; Biber et al. 1999).

"…The research for that project is based on analysis of a very large corpus that represents four major varieties: conversation, fiction writing, newspaper writing, and academic writing. For example, the sub-corpus for conversation includes c. 6.4 million words, produced by thousands of speakers. The sub-corpus for academic writing includes 5.3 million words from 408 different texts. Computational / quantitative analyses of these corpora allow us to make strong generalizations about the grammatical characteristics that are frequent or rare in conversation, contrasted with the features that are frequent/rare in academic writing."

Dr. Biber explained that for his analysis he did a “3-way comparison”:

1.) “a quantitative analysis of the grammatical characteristics of Diamond’s quotes [i.e., the quotations attributed to Daniel Wemp as his spoken words in the 4/21/08 New Yorker article]”

2.) “a quantitative grammatical analysis of Daniel Wemp’s actual speech [verbatim transcripts of speech produced by Daniel Wemp collected by Rhonda Roland Shearer]”

3.) “the research findings from the LGSWE [large-scale corpus analysis of conversation and academic writing].”
Dr. Biber concluded, “Taken together, the linguistic analyses indicate that it is extremely unlikely that The New Yorker quotations are accurate verbatim representations of language that originated in speech. To put it simply, normal people do not talk using the grammatical structures represented in these quotations. However, these quotations do include several grammatical structures found commonly in academic writing, suggesting that the quotations were produced in writing rather than being transcribed from speech.”

Dr. Biber’s analysis revealed that the occurrence of “Adjective and/but adjective (e.g., tall and handsome)” was (emphasis original): “100 times more frequent in Diamond quotes than in speech.”

He also stated that the “Preposition + Relative pronoun (e.g., each battle in which we succeeded in killing an Ombal)” was “100 times more frequent in Diamond quotes” (emphasis original).

He further concluded, “These comparisons show the magnitude of the discrepancies between the grammatical style of normal conversation contrasted with the grammatical style of the Diamond quotes. To find one of these grammatical features in a normal conversation is noteworthy. To find repeated use of this large constellation of features in actual spoken discourse, some of them occurring c. 100 times more often than in normal conversation, is extremely unlikely. In contrast, these are all features that are typical of academic writing, suggesting that they have their origin in writing rather than actual speech.”

In summary, Dr. Biber wrote, “Other corpus studies (e.g., the book University Language; Biber 2006) have shown that these same features are rare and exceptional in even academic speech, including university lectures. In contrast, what we find in the Diamond quotes is the pervasive use of a suite of grammatical constructions, which are all rare in conversation but common in formal writing. This constellation of grammatical characteristics is also strikingly different from the grammatical style of the verbatim transcripts of speech produced by DW [Daniel Wemp]. In sum, the analysis strongly indicates that the Diamond quotes are much more like discourse that was produced in writing, reflecting the typical grammatical features of formal academic prose, rather than verbatim representations of language that was produced in speech.”

What has New Yorker or Diamond done in response to StinkyJournalism’s revelations?

After my initial inquires, and forcing the issue that they had a duty to at least speak to Daniel, (facts which are detailed in my forthcoming 40,000 word report), suddenly, and without advance notice, The New Yorker escalated their stonewalling, and dispatched their in-house attorney, Lynn Oberlander, to write me, instead of their public relations department or editor to address Daniel’s complaint.

When they finally spoke to Wemp, they had the fact checker who failed to do the fact checking in the first place, as the person assigned to call Wemp—one time. The August call did not go well as would be expected.

Oberlander wrote: “I understand that you left a message for one of our fact-checkers, indicating that we missed some potential errors during our discussion with Mr. Wemp. We gave Mr. Wemp several opportunities [in the one phone call, clarification mine] to describe any issues he had with the article, and he seemed quite certain that he had covered everything that was of concern to him; nevertheless, we understand that you believe there are other errors that were not raised.”

The transcript of the actual interview with Jennings contradicts Oberlander’s representation of Daniel’s satisfaction. It provides evidence of Daniel’s claim that he was very upset during the phone call and this clouded his judgment. (Provoked by Daniel’s displeasure, Jennings apologized to Daniel at least three times. Acknowledging there was a problem, he told Daniel, “I’m very sorry that you are in an uncomfortable situation.”)

When Oberlander continued to refuse to fact check me by phone and insisted that my final written report be prepared by September 5, 2008, to meet their deadline for doing corrections that they intended to quickly publish, I temporarily, as an emergency measure, obtained UK lawyers for Daniel Wemp, who soon obtained relief for Wemp who was frantic and wanted the articles down from the Internet as he felt his life was in danger. (A notion that I have since confirmed with multiple experts). Thankfully the article was removed by New Yorker from the Internet, at least for non-subscribers. The lawyers for Wemp also asked the three data bases The New Yorker content is distributed in--Lexis Nexis, EBSCO, Gale Group--to also comply. They did. Only abstracts remain  .  

Since The New Yorker failed before publication to call these named individuals—a basic fact-checking step—one would think that given their fact-checking procedures, and the seriousness of the alleged errors, that they would be interested in obtaining leads and other information from me so that they could call these people immediately. But no fact checker ever called me or Daniel again, and the editors refused to meet with me, stating, “We’re very busy working on future issues.”

The New Yorker has continued to assert that they have “acted in good faith.” Their attorney wrote, “We have responded with honesty and an openness to collaboration on determining whether there are errors in the article.” However, the historical record—the complete set of email exchanges—proves their behavior is in sharp contrast to their words. Their sacred duty is to “seek the truth and report it” but they fail to do so today, as they did before when publishing overwhelming and harmful errors of fact. 

I started off wanting only to verify the facts in The New Yorker article, but the magazine’s and Diamond’s unwillingness to take over the situation when the problems in the reportage emerged and to deal with Daniel Wemp directly, led to my refusal to abandon him in his time of great need. Daniel Wemp would not be in any position to fight for his rights alone. I felt compelled to try to help him. I saw how they previously and conveniently distorted and took out of context part of his statement that his "story is very true,” even after hearing him on tape tell Jennings that Diamond's version of his story was “inaccurate, inaccurate.”

From their inaction, I could see they did not want to hear the truth, let alone do a serious and independent investigation. If my written report would be the sole source for The New Yorker’s corrections -- given their disinterest in pursuing the truth, and their ill-treatment of their main informant by not giving him the respect and proper hearing he deserved -- that raised the bar and burden unfairly onto me to do an authoritative report myself, when it was their mess, and their responsibility to investigate and correct their errors.

The Society of Professional Journalists' SPJ  Code of Ethics cites under a major heading that journalists need to: "Seek Truth and Report It" and "Be Accountable."

Journalists should:

  • Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
  • Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.

If The New Yorker did not give named tribes and individuals an opportunity to respond before publication, they surely had an even higher obligation to do so after being informed by me that their report had numerous errors. Their journalistic duty is to seek truth. They were told in a September 2, 2008 email from me, "Daniel was not ‘owner of the fight’ for Handas nor was Isum ‘owner of the fight’ for Ombals." I provided photographs of Isum, showing he stood upright and walked unassisted. I quoted my researcher as stating "only the names and locations are true."

I also wrote (emphasis original), "I am willing, as I mentioned, to speak to someone there to provide preliminary research results. If recorded and transcribed you are able to circulate it among your stakeholders… To correct the record, I have never refused to detail or respond regarding my assertions of errors." I further explained, "I am not finished with my investigation but can provide information--have a fact checker--or someone call me (record, transcribe and circulate among you--that's what I do). I am not a supplicant required to meet your deadlines. I do not have time, desire or ethical obligation to write a footnoted report for you. Dr. Diamond and you need to do your own research."

So why didn’t The New Yorker or Diamond collect information that I offered in order to contact Isum and the real owners of the fight for their own investigation if they were, in fact, "seeking truth"? The New Yorker has refused to call Wemp again, despite all the verbal and written requests made in his behalf. In his July 17 statement to The New Yorker, Daniel said: "I would at least want Jared on the phone. I would like to talk to him personally so that we could all talk together and sort out this problem so that the article would be removed from The New Yorker because it is very sensitive in my area."

Despite all academic norms for transparency, scientific requirements for "full disclosure," and journalistic and academic responsibilities to one’s sources, Diamond has refused to speak to Daniel Wemp. He has not answered any questions about his methods and data since my first email to him on April 30, 2008.

Edward Wasserman, the Knight Professor in Journalism in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at Washington and Lee University and well-known media ethicist, said, “In the circumstances you’re describing, he [Diamond] has a real obligation to make it plain to the person he’s talking to, particularly an unsophisticated source, what it is that he’s talking to them for, and what use he proposes to make of the man’s comments … there’s nothing very – you know, subtle about that. That’s a bright line obligation that he has.”

Wasserman added, “Now, all I can say is that if Diamond conducted the interview with this guy without telling what the interview was for, without even telling him it was an interview, then he did something wrong, that the guy has a right to know that he’s talking to somebody for publication, and it really doesn’t matter anymore whether it’s scientific publication or periodical publication, because you have this seamless information network called the Internet, where stuff can be very easily – you know, easily accessed through search engines. So, regardless of whether it was The New Yorker, or The New York Daily News, or some obscure scholarly journal, you still have to tell the guy what this is all about, because everybody has a right to control their words and have some control or some knowledge of what their words or image is going to be used for.”

Consequence for Tribal members of libels

Jack Caldwell, for example, writes in his blog (emphasis mine): “Tribes fighting tribes for control of resources, for revenge, and for the sheer thrill of being young and vicious. Here is a haunting picture from The New Yorker that has just published a superb piece by Jared Diamond in which he traces the deeds of Daniel Wemp in the New Guinea Highlands as he goes about organizing his relatives to kill in order to revenge the killing of his 'beloved paternal uncle Soll.”'  

Jarvis DeBerry, of the Times-Picayune, on December 9, 2008, wrote a column that cited Diamond’s New Yorker article and quotes Daniel Wemp. DeBerry wrote,”Jared Diamond, best known for his book ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ displays more of his trademark curiosity in an April edition of The New Yorker when he talks to Daniel Wemp in the Highlands of New Guinea about avenging his uncle's 1992 killing. It took him three years, but Wemp finally made things right by organizing a battle that left his uncle's killer paralyzed.”

He explained that Daniel “lust[s] for payback” and he justifies violence as a way of becoming a hero. DeBerry quoted Diamond’s article where Daniel described his lack of remorse about harming Isum that DeBerry characterized as “bloodlust”: Daniel said, "I thought, I have everything, I feel as if I am developing wings, I feel as if I am about to fly off, and I am very happy." DeBerry also cites Daniel’s admission of a crime: “ ‘I wanted to obtain vengeance myself, even if it were to cost me my own life,’ Wemp said. Even if he had died, ‘I would be considered a hero and would be remembered.’ "

DeBerry concluded, “In New Orleans somebody would have put Wemp's face on a T-shirt and proclaimed how he kept it gangsta to the very end.” He cites what Diamond wrote in his article that "Daniel's methods might seem quite familiar to members of urban gangs in America, and. . . peoples of other countries where tribal ties remain strong and state control weak,” and concludes, “If, as Diamond says, the lust for payback is never stamped out in an orderly society, imagine how it must rage here where ‘state control’ is so weak. Imagine what it feels like when people believe that the only justice that exists is the justice they carry out.” (It is surprising that Advance Publications owners of both The New Yorker and Times-Picayune would allow this second defamation to take place in December 2008 after The New Yorker article was removed from their web site.)   

Dan Jorgensen, a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Western Ontario, is an expert on Papua New Guinea. He noted that Diamond’s “pig in a garden” debacle has put people at risk. Professor Jorgensen said, “In fact, there are lots of other criticisms one can make and should make about his [Diamond’s] work, but one of the things that is clear is that the guy is not a professional anthropologist, and there are all kinds of things he does, and I regard – your concern about using somebody’s real name, for example – as a big one. And I just automatically assumed, ‘Well, of course it’s not the guy’s real name,’ because nobody would ever do that, right?”

Jorgensen continued, “And see, that’s the kind of thing no professional anthropologist – I mean, that would be default assumption, okay? If nothing is said you automatically assume it’s a pseudonym, and for all kinds of absolutely crucial, ethical reasons, and sometimes people really want you to use their real names.” In this circumstance, a mix of “real names and some pseudonyms are used.” Jorgensen said, “One of the things that upset me more than anything else was the Annals of Anthropology thing there, because that’s not Annals of Anthropology. That’s false advertising.”

Nonetheless, internal evidence in Diamond’s article indicates that he and his editors knew or should have known the dangers of the article for Daniel and the other identified individuals whom Diamond named as having committed serious crimes. The article depicted a violent culture in PNG of never-ending revenge. Diamond quoted Daniel specifically stating how dangerous it is to identify killers. He wrote, “Even if the side achieving the kill does know, it is always careful to keep the killer’s identity secret. For that reason, the target of Daniel’s revenge was not Soll’s killer but another Ombal man, named Henep Isum, who had organized the fight for the Ombals.” Does it, then, make any sense that Daniel would casually identify himself as personally plotting to kill Isum with hired assassins?

Yet Diamond states that this is true, giving the exciting illusion of privileged knowledge; that the man he was talking to—his driver—was a secret killer. However, with publication there is no secret, even in the jungles, due to the Internet. With the information provided in the article, Diamond and The New Yorker editors were aware—or should have been aware—of the dangers for Daniel. Diamond even wrote about the specific risks to Daniel, with total disregard that the article would only compound additional risks. Diamond wrote, “But it continued to concern Daniel, who was now, of course, a target for Ombal revenge. He told me that Ombal men tried for several years to kill him and three other Handa clansmen who had been fight-owners, but they never succeeded.”

The untruths in The New Yorker article by Dr. Jared Diamond are already poisoning the future of indigenous peoples. Mako John Kuwimb, Handa clansman must publish a peer-reviewed paper before being able to finalize his PhD degree after four years of study. The referee notes for Kuwimb cites Diamond's article as evidence of violence of Handa in SH PNG [Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea]. The anonymous reviewer suggests that Kuwimb is somehow not honest about his area's violence (" the actual circumstances of Papua New Guinea today" pg.3 ) and uses Diamond's article to support this assertion. He/she writes: "The author comes from Handa village (the subject of an essay by Jared Diamond in the New Yorker, 21 April 2008), not far from the production facilities in the oil fields of Southern Highlands Province in Papua New Guinea (not discussed)." (pg.4) The key words are "not discussed."

He/she goes on to further suggest the fact of the violence of the Handa area (that Kuwimb should know about and should have mentioned) in their conclusion: "The paper neither mentions the conflicts of local origin that have resulted in the rise of a gun culture, failed elections, the destruction of most social services, and the imposition of various States of Emergency over the last decade, nor the local political salve that was apparently agreed to in 2008 by the national government and the Southern Highlands oil and gas owners – to form a new Hela Province in 2010. The Southern Highlands has massive social and political problems, and so will Hela Province, but few can be blamed on legislative drafting dating back 120 years."

In other words, the only evidence the reviewer offers for this assertion of violence in the Handa area (that he/she suggests Kuwimb should have mentioned as he is a Handa!) is the Diamond article that, in fact, and unbeknownst to the reviewer, is full of untruths and libels.

Why would Kuwimb discuss an un-peer-reviewed article in The New Yorker magazine in the first place? He certainly would not mention it as it is full of objective factual inaccuracies and libelous assertions. And yet there it is, cited in the peer review simply because Dr. Diamond's and The New Yorker's prestige is powerful—and, therefore, extremely dangerous when wrong. They have soiled the reputation of the Handa and Ombals and individual clansmen and they need help to defend themselves. This case could set an example around the world that just because people are indigenous does not mean the powerful can come into their area and export lies about them for profit. (Diamond's agent was trying to sell lecture bookings using Daniel Wemp's and the Handa and Ombal's names and these false stories [of their murderous and raping behaviors along a Hwy as "Nipa tribes people" when they are not Nipas and live 4 or 5 hours away from said Hwy] for $25,000 each).

Let this case be a cautionary tale warning others around the world that such "academic" exploitation will no longer be tolerated and will be exposed by the international community, who will stand up along with the victims of such painful lies.

UPDATE:04/22/09: 9:34am: We corrected the spelling of Mt. Hagen and removed Dr.as title from long time-PNG scholar, Nancy Sullivan's name. Sullivan explains: "I have a PhD abd, all but dissertation. This simply means it is an un-defended PhD."  We regret the error. 

UPDATE:04/27/09:11:26pm : Due to an editing error, John Kuwimb was named George Kuwimb, his brother. (Mako) John wrote the words instead of speaking them. We regret the error.

*  Research Methodology?   StinkyJournalism vs. New Yorker & Diamond 

Pamela Maffei McCarthy, The New Yorker deputy editor, wrote in an August 15, 2008 letter (emphasis mine), “When our first choice of source is not available, we must rely on the next, and in this case we consulted a large number of experts in the various fields the material touches on.

One of those experts was Alex Golub, assistant professor at University of Hawaii at Manoa, an anthropologist and expert on PNG who writes for Savageminds.org. Golub said that, indeed, a fact-checker spoke to him for “about 15 minutes” and only asked general questions. He said, “They asked me some general questions about what is PNG like and what is tribal fighting like and this kind of stuff, it didn’t have anything to do with the actual case [or] details of the actual case.”

Golub continued, “No one asked me anything about whether the guy was in a wheelchair or any dates or anything like that. It sounds like from what you’re saying that they never really bothered to do that at all at any level.” 

In contrast to what The New Yorker apparently did, my method for field work focused on the details. “Could it be true?” was not good enough. “Was it true?” was the clarion call. Either Isum was paralyzed with a spinal injury in a wheelchair or he wasn’t. The mission was clear.

I began that mission by contacting two local indigenous researchers recommended by two American scientists who have worked in PNG for many years. Through PhD anthropologist, Nancy Sullivan, an anthropolgist and consultant who has lived and written about PNG for many years, I was introduced to Divine Word University (DWU) journalism professor Brother Michael McManus. McManus, in turn, suggested I contact his student Jeffrey Elepa whose thesis was on peace and compensation. Elepa was from the Southern Highlands and spoke the dialect. Through environmental scientist Andrew Mack, PhD, who lived in PNG for many years (co-author with Paige West, PNG expert, associate professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University; “Ten Thousand Tonnes of Small Animals: Wildlife Consumption in Papua New Guinea, a Vital Resource in Need of Management [.pdf],”, I was introduced to one of his researchers, Michael Kigl) .

Elepa and Kigl did not know each other, and the data they collected were only compared after they completed their research. This was a key component of my research plan. If Elepa and Kigl came back independently with the same or similar stories from the area, the constancy itself would further indicate overall accuracy. I soon added a third researcher, Kritoe Keleba, who worked for Sullivan, just to have a final push for additional informants we were not able to locate previously, and to obtain medical records from Isum and check with the police station about their reports. Keleba did not know my other two researchers. 

The goal was to interview multiple informants from all sides (Handa, Ombal, neutral parties). Persons named in Diamond’s article were of special interest as well as the fight “owners” or village leaders. All interviews were to be tape-recorded and photographs taken for documentation when possible. Our team of three field researchers (Michael Kigl, Kritoe Keleba, Jeffrey Elapa), interviewed and verified the article's numerous errors with 20 sources, a number that includes Daniel Wemp, the actual tribal owners and organizers of the fight and police who worked the 1993 case. Field interviews include two groups of men: one, a Henep group with 23 members, and the other, an Ombal group with 17 members, who acted as a Greek chorus adding comments as certain informants spoke. I personally conducted over 300 phone and email interviews with over 80 anthropologists, scientists and journalists with expertise in ethics and/or Papua New Guinea, as well as indigenous informants.

 

 
External Links
External Links to Web Posts and Press Coverage on Jared Diamond /New Yorker Controversy
MSM :
New Scientist : "Comment: Human subjects, human rights"
Publico [Portugal] : "Work signed by famous scientist can be a fraud: Article's ethics and veracity leave Jared Diamond and New Yorker in difficulty"
ScienceMag.org : "Plaintiffs in Jared Diamond Defamation Case File New Papers"
  "Exclusive: Defendants in Jared Diamond Case Deny All Accusations"
  "Vengeance' Bites Back At Jared Diamond"
Reuters : "Art Science Research Laboratory's StinkyJournalism.org, with SavageMinds.org, Essay Series 'The Pig in a Garden' Explores Jared Diamond, The New Yorker Controversy"
  "Science Mag's Scoop Follows Tribesmen's $10 million Libel Lawsuit"
AOL NEWS : "Art Science Research Laboratory's StinkyJournalism.org Releases Report: Expert Linguist Concludes New Yorker Quotations Attributed to New Guinea Tribesman Are Likely Fabrications Written by Jared Diamond"
Columbia Journalism Review : "New Yorker Under Siege"
Knight Science Journalism Tracker : "Science Mag: Ruckus, and a lawsuit, over Jared Diamond's report from Papua New Guinea for the New Yorker"
DailyBruin.UCLA.edu : Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and UCLA professor, sued for defamation
TheNational.com.pg: (PDF) : "US $10mil Lawsuit: Tribesman sues New Yorker Mag" DIRECT LINK
Chronicle of Higher Ed : "Research Subjects Sue Jared Diamond, the Author and Professor, for $10-Million"
ABC News /Associated Press : "Author Jared Diamond sued for libel"
New Zealand Herald : "Revenge of the Tribesmen"
NYPost.com : "TRIBAL 'LIBEL' AMBUSH-THE NEW GUINEANS VS. THE NEW YORKER"
TheAustralian.News.com.au : "Story of deadly blood feud sparks $14m claim"
Guardian.co.uk : "New Guinea tribesmen sue The New Yorker: Tribesmen this week filed a $10m lawsuit for defamation over an April 2008 article"
Forbes.com : "New Guinea Tribe Sues The 'New Yorker' For $10 Million: They challenge a story depicting them as rapists, murderers and pig thieves."
  "Fresh Legal Jab At The New Yorker : Papua New Guineans raise damages demand in libel suit to $45 million; "Preppie Murder" lawyer Jack Litman takes on case"
Journalism.co.uk : "Papua New Guineans now suing for $45m in Jared Diamond/New Yorker case"
  "The $10m lawsuit against the New Yorker - Papua New Guineans challenge Jared Diamond article"
HartfordAdvocate.com : "The Pig in the Garden: Jared Diamond and the New Yorker"
Huffington Post : "Papua New Guinea Tribesmen Step Up Lawsuit Against New Yorker"
  "New Guinea Tribe Sues The New Yorker For $10M"
Gawker.com : "New Guinea Tribesmen Would Like to Bankrupt The New Yorker"
Ciencia [Brazil] : " Papuans process biologist Jared Diamond: Author of the bestseller 'Guns, Germs & Steel' invented history on tribal war in the magazine 'The New Yorker' "
Jutarnji.hr [Croatia] : "Science and Human Rights: Intellectual scandal: Famous scientist and author Jared Diamond in New Yorker magazine violated human rights people from Papua New Guinea"
UK Times Online : "The Jared Diamond lawsuit: return of a bitter old controversy?"
Associated Press (AP) : "New Guinea tribesmen sue author Jared Diamond for libel"
Blog :
Teaching Anthropology : "My Jared Diamond Post at Crooked Timber: Just Because...."
io9.com : "Jared Diamond Sued by New Guinea Natives for Crimes of Anthropology"
Team Crikey : "Tribal warfare, anthropology, journalism and lies"
Adventures in Ethics and Science : "Are you a scientist or a journalist here? Either way, you're bound by ethics"
Bioephemera : "paradigm shift: fact-checking (journalism) vs debugging (programming)"
  "Jared Diamond hides behind the 'it wasn't science' defense"
  "The Diamond Mess"
LouisProyect.wordpress.com : "The latest developments in the Jared Diamond scandal"
  "Jared Diamond, the New Yorker Magazine, and blood feuds in PNG: conclusion"
  "Jared Diamond, the New Yorker Magazine, and blood feuds in PNG: part 1"
  "Jared Diamond, the New Yorker Magazine, and blood feuds in PNG: part 2"
  "Jared Diamond, the New Yorker Magazine, and blood feuds in PNG: part 3"
ChrisNavin.wordpress.com : "From The Chronicle Of Higher Education: Jared Diamond"
SavageMinds.org : "Vengeance is Hers: Rhonda Shearer on Jared Diamond"
  "Kuwimb's Letter to the New Yorker"
  "Jared Diamond is diluting my brand"
  "Melanesian vengeance, western vengeance and natural vengeance"
  "Updates of Jared Diamond and Daniel Wemp"
  "Mako John Kuwimb and Paul Sillitoe on Diamond’s ’Vengenace’ piece"
Blogs.Nature.com : "Will vengeance be theirs? New Guineans seek $10 million for defamation'"
Spinuzzi.blogspot.com : "Participants can respond. Uh-oh."
Millicent and Carla Fran : "Jared Diamon's Creative (Non)Fiction and Nostalgic Anthropolog
Slatest.Slate : "New Guinea Tribesman Demands $45 Million From The New Yorker"
USC Annenberg : "Brandon Reynolds: The reports of my war are greatly exaggerated."
ElephantJournal.com : "Jared Diamond: Is There Room for Mindfulness in Social Science? ~ Kelsi Coia"
Footprint : "Yes, Mr. Jared Diamond, "Vengeance is Ours" : A Case Study of a Public Intellectual "
The Unruly of Law : "New Yorker Mag Faces $45m Libel Suit from New Guinea Tribesmen"
The Dynamic Earth : "Jared Diamond in Trouble"
Natures/Cultures : "Hey Guess what?"
Sociological Confessions : "Facts"
The Center of International Media Ethics : " Informed Consent and the Use of Pseudonyms"
Disinformation : "Jared Diamond's Noble Savage Collapse"
Nieman Storyboard : "Jared Diamond, The New Yorker and the awkwardness of anecdotes"
PeopleOfColorOrganize.com : "Lawsuit A Reminder of Jared Diamond Criticisms"
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great story, great article, great journalism. r

Comment by robert | Sep 14, 2009 at 10:46 AM EST

I think it is a case of a snotty nosed American,writing a story about a backward jungle tribe,and not thinking it would be checked in any way.I think it is the epitome of gerontocracy.The so called jungle tribe are a well educated community with a very good knowledge of life in more capitalistic countries.

Comment by captaingrumpy | Dec 3, 2010 at 07:04 PM EST

Here are my 5 ct. (please repect my 1st amendment rights and do not engage in legal warfare with me): (1) Diamond was naive; (2) the New Yorker story was sensationalism - ususally sells well; (3) Wemp alledgedly told tall stories, ok in his culture, but not in the "First Word"; (4) stinkyjournalism alerted the PNG tribes to the New Yorker article, thereby overlooking that this very act might set off new warfare. Conclusion: it would behoove all parties to tone down, withdraw lawsuits - people would kill just for the smell of money- and go on with life.

Comment by christophe verlinde | May 26, 2009 at 02:02 PM EST

Here is my response to your points:

1) I find it improbable to think-- a full professor, at age 71, who is worldly-wise with every award imaginable (Pulitzer, National Academy of Science, MacArthur fellow, National Medal of Science) and a trained scientist that has every possible contact from his elite status in Papua New Guinea-- is so naive that his research method for an unpublished war is one person from one side of the alleged war.

2) Give you this one, agreed. But likely more complex than this. It is like a plane crash. Many things had to go wrong at once for this debacle to have happened.

3) Evidence indicates otherwise.

4) New Yorker's Annals of Anthropology article was published end of April 2008. We spoke to Wemp mid- July. After New Yorker said they "thoroughly fact checked" the article--which turned out not to be true (I asked if they contacted Isum)--we went in with this belief that at least they knew. So we did not "over-look" anything. We were deceived and set up (sand-bagged) by The New Yorker in my view.

If we hadn't contacted them in July 2008, Handa lawyer, Mako John Kuwimb and close friend of Wemp, would have independently found the New Yorker, and would have pursued it if we did not exist.

He was outraged by the libels against him and his tribe. (They said his tribe were rapists of Huli women after all--who wouldn't be upset).

We can prove he would have known without us as he even received a peer review for a submitted paper (for his PhD in law) that cited Diamond's New Yorker article--and specifically suggested he was not honest as he did not mention the violence in his Handa area that the reviewer was aware of due to Diamond's New Yorker article. The referee wrongly believed Diamond's account of the tribe's violence was accurate .

5. New Yorker and Diamond "stand behind the story"--even though they are wrong and these men are not criminals. They admit no wrong and refuse to retract and apologize since July 2008 to right before April 20 2009, when the lawsuit was filed. These men have the human right to defend their reputations. The allegations are out there in the world via the Internet--one Google search at an internet cafe or library around the world names them as criminals.

New Yorker and Diamond's work is known and discussed in universities in Papua New Guinea. Do I really have to say that people are educated there and the educated lawyers, doctors, economists discussed and debated --say for example, the infamous New Yorker Obama cover ? Well, that is the fact.


Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | May 26, 2009 at 02:43 PM EST

One point I would like explained: Why is this a defamation case, and not a case of straight libel? I would think they would get a better court hearing, since one of the considerations in deciding a libel case is whether the story is true.

Comment by edward | May 26, 2009 at 08:23 AM EST

I am NOT a lawyer but I think they are the same thing? Any lawyers out there should comment.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | May 26, 2009 at 08:47 AM EST

Libel is a type of defamation (along with slander). You can't sue someone in NY State Court for simply "defamation"; you must specifcy if it's libel or slander (there may be other, more archaic types of defamation i'm not thinking of right now - those are the two main ones)

Comment by Dave | Jun 6, 2009 at 11:01 PM EST

-I realized I posted this under a reply- it was intended to be here.

You did a great job tackling Diamond's bogus article. Scrambling and fabricating history to support the relief revenge provides increases ignorance. Using unsuspecting people, naming them is worse yet. If Diamond did this with my family, I would be horrified. Revenge would not assuage the humiliation. A strong show of righting my family's history and integrity as publicly as it's "wronging" would only begin a healing process. Thank you for your dedicated work, which respects an existing, agreed upon set of values and ethics. It seems uncovering plus carefully documenting this breach of ethics by Diamond and The New Yorker required a dedicated team. Unfortunately the error in Forbes, even with correction has added to the mistaken belief that Wemp said that Diamond's stories were true. However, I see where you have made the correction, (Wemp never told your researchers that the stories Diamond wrote were true) and it still gets repeated in error. Once an error is made it is hard to get it undone. This is exactly what the gentlemen from PNG and their families will suffer from. Diamond and the New Yorker have yet to take hold of the many areas of their responsibility here, now that is stinky journalism.

Comment by bonnie garner | May 5, 2009 at 10:15 AM EST

We are having trouble with our new comments system...we thank you for your patience. In addition, be forewarned -- SOCK PUPPETS NOT ALLOWED

NOTICE: If you pretend to be two different people, using two (or more) different pseudonyms, when you are actually one person (presumably to give the false appearance that more people than one is commenting) your comment(s) and pseudonyms will thereafter be blocked.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | May 5, 2009 at 11:22 AM EST

JL, I verify every quotation Rhonda attributes to me. Rhonda seeks to correct my clan's history Diamond distorted. I stand to verify and stand by all that Rhonda writes and quotes now or in the future because I provided those information. Can you get Diamond to verify his quotes from Daniel as you have tasked Rhonda to do, and to which I'm responding? If you cannot, then you probably have a personal agenda against Rhonda. The difference between Diamond's article with Rhonda's is that Daniel denies all that Diamond attributes to him, whereas all the quotes Rhonda attributes to me are correct and true.

Now, when you are attacking Rhonda as you do in your persistent comments, you are attacking the angel who is helping us, helping us to stand up against an internationally renown author who published outrageous allegations about my clan and its members in a reputable journal, who failed to verify and fact-check it. Your comments are helping me and my clans to be more determined not to entertain or welcome any foreign researcher into our area because they don't care about the truth. Thanks for your contributions!

Comment by Mako | May 2, 2009 at 09:38 PM EST

Do you honestly expect anyone to believe that:

The Handa and Ombal clans are located some 6-10 kilometres away from the road the Nipas blocked", or

In fact, the blockade conducted by the Nipas against the Hulis resulted in looting and burning down of houses", or "The raids were made by Nipas in their hot pursuit of Hulis"

are themselves absolutely verbatim transciptions of what George Lek Kuwimb said? Come on: no one speaks like that, even people who are used to giving interviews. Those quotes sound at least as 'fake' as Diamonds.

Are you willing to post recordings of your interview with Mr. Kuwimb so that we can check your own accuracy? If not, why not?

Comment by JL | Apr 27, 2009 at 05:31 PM EST

Good catch! I looked up the interviews and found that indeed you are right. This was, like in Diamond's quotations, academic writing. There was an editing error. It was John Kuwimb, not his brother, George, who wrote these statements is his careful annotations of Diamond's article. See for yourself. It is all there--in his own written words-- in his long letter that was published recently in The Australian. We regret the error.

Thanks for pointing this out! We appreciate it.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 27, 2009 at 08:10 PM EST

Not so fast.

First of all, it is not accepted practice to change an article that has already been published or posted, to fix mistakes that others have pointed out, without flagging the change and explaining what you originally said, and why you changed it. To do so is to cover up your own history of mistakes. (And no, including the comment at the bottom doesn't count: many people don't read them, especially as newer comments become stacked on top of it; and the article, if it is recirculated, will very probably not include comments at all.) Before you accuse others of journalistic impropriety, make sure you have adequately addressed of your own.

Secondly, the relevant section in your article now ends ""It is an outrageous insult to say they were involved in raping women and violence on the highway. The Ombals and Handa are outraged by this false claim," Kuwimb said." But the second sentence does not occur in the original document, or if it does (I couldn't find it), it certainly doesn't occur immediately after the first. Did you make it up? Where does it come from? And, of course, Kuwimb didn't 'say' anything: he wrote.

Thus, even when your mistakes are pointed out, your corrections are both unethically conducted, and contain further mistakes. This sort of thing wouldn't pass muster at a high school newspaper; they are preposterous in a document that purports to analyze and criticize someone else's journalism.

Finally, the document by Kuwimb that you refer me to has dozens of errors, many of them stemming from the author's claim that Diamond has made one or another assertion that he has not, in fact made. Here are two:

On page 10, point 1: "The obligation is not mandatory. It is voluntary." -- Perhaps, but nowhere does Diamond say it is mandatory. He describes it as a "responsibility", which is consideably less binding. I have a responsibility to feed my dog twice a day, but I wouldn't describe it as "mandatory". Indeed, I would describe it as 'voluntary'.

Again on page 12, the author says that Henep Isum's first name is Isum. But surely Diamond is well aware of that, which is why he refers to him as 'Isum". Just so: Daniel's first name is Daniel: Diamond is referring to many, if not all of these people by their first names.

So it seems that what we have here is a litany of accusations which are, in many cases, fabricated on misreadings of Diamond so blatant that they seem deliberate. Kuwimb's letter is not a reliable document, and should be viewed with considerable skepticism -- and yet, you seem to have swallowed it whole. Why?

Comment by JL | Apr 28, 2009 at 07:29 AM EST

I note that you do point out, at the bottom of the article, that you have changed George to John, but not that the quotes come from a document rather than an interview -- which, after all, was the point of my first post -- i.e., that the quotes did not seem to be a verbatim transcription of speech.

Comment by JL | Apr 28, 2009 at 07:32 AM EST

It is clearly noted both in the comment response to you and in the passge itself.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 28, 2009 at 11:12 AM EST

Between the comment responding to you, and the update all information is there.

It was an error of the name. And I link to the source document. Updates for corrections are a standard convention that only some use--for example --The Forbe's article has corrections--that they made--as we requested, and there is no transparency. No one knows unless they compare versions. So I feel good about how we handled this . We corrected, we said "regreted the error", we desribed what the correction was (It was an editing error-- John not George's name) and that you were right to detect that it was written not spoken words. I also provided the source document.

The sentence you accuse me of making up is there if you look carefully .

Here is the paragraph from the draft version that we received before John sent out his final 4/21/09 version :

"In fact, the blockade conducted by the Nipas against the Hulis resulted in looting and burning down of houses of people along the Highway on the Margarima side bordering Nipa. The raids were made by Nipas in their hot pursuit of the Hulis. Margarimas were innocent victims in this conflict. It is an outrageous insult to say they were involved in raping women and violence on the highway."

Again, all I can say is we are honest about our errors and correct them. We are always happy to improve our work. You state: "...surely Diamond is well aware of that, which is why he refers to him as 'Isum'." Why would you assume that? He only got Henep Isum's name from Wemp and believes, wrongly, he is an Ombal. He does not mention Isum's last name--Mandingo--but uses Wemp's last name. So in Daniel's case he uses first name, last name and in Isum's case he uses tribal name, first name.

But I suggest that you take that up with New Yorker and Diamond and judge their response--whatever that may be--in comparison to ours to you, where we answer.


Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 28, 2009 at 10:46 AM EST

No, I'm sorry, you're still not addressing your own malpractice. You don't seem to have read my comment at all carefully. Let me try again:

In your quote from Kuwimb, you quote him as saying, "". The Ombals and Handa are outraged by this false claim

He does not write that. It is not in the pdf you link to, and it's not in the paragraph you just quoted here in the comments. It isn't there. He does not say anything about whether the Ombals and Handa are outraged. This is the second time I have had to point this out to you. It is very simple: you have attributed words to him that he did not write, and not insignificant words, either.

Again, let me be perfectly clear about this: you have falsified a quote. Indeed, you continue to post the false quote even after it is pointed out to you, and even after your own documents show that the quote is invented. -- Not paraphrased, but entirely made up. This is Amateur Hour stuff. You are not "honest about your errors", nor do you "correct them". You don't even seem to aknowledge them when they're staring you in the face.

You're in no position to criticize the New Yorker, or any other magazne or newspaper, when you allow such an obvious and blatant blunder to stand uncorrected.

Comment by JL | Apr 28, 2009 at 11:37 AM EST

I do not have time to search through all my documents to find the exact version of John's letter that this exact quote came from, nor do I have to. JL, the easiest thing is: I will ask Mako John Kuwimb to verify his statement here in the comments or provide the version of the letter as that will be easier.

Meanwhile, you better get busy with Jared Diamond --who has no notes or recording for those 2001-2002 car ride quotations--and hold him accountable, since you are so vehement and insisting on having the source documentation for a statement of fact (Ombals and Handas ARE upset about being accused of rape) in a quotation that is undisputed by Mako John Kuwimb.


Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 28, 2009 at 01:03 PM EST

Oh, but I'm afraid you do have to. So far you have managed to make not one, and not two, but three seperate errors in one paragraph -- a paragraph that I, a casual reader (neither journalist nor anthropologist), with no real stake in the dispute, immediately found suspicious. You misidentified a source, misidentified the means by which his quotes were transmitted, and fabricated one part of that quoute. All in one paragraph: this is simply astonishing.

If you can prove that the quote I call fabricated does indeed appear in one or another document -- and does appear, as you quoted it, directly after the sentence you have preceding it -- that is, that you can find an independant source where the sentence "The Ombals and Handa are outraged by this false claim" appears immediately after "...violence on the highway", then you may perhaps be able to knock this number down to two. But I doubt very much that you will find such a source, and you will look even worse for trying to bluff your way through with a cover-up. (Nor, by the way, will I accept an assertion from Mako John Kuwimb that he did make the second statement as proof of anything. His motivation to dissemble is too powerful. I would need to see a copy of the letter.)

So that would leave 3 significant errors in one paragraph, which naturally leads a reader to ask, How many other parts of your essay are similarly sloppy and made up? I don't have time to go over it all myself, but I must say, your authority has dwindled down to almost nothing.

That same reader might well ask, too, why I've had to tell you about these blunders three times, now; and you still haven't admitted to all of them, or fixed them all.

Finally, I see no reason at all to believe you when you say it is "a statement of fact" that "Ombals and Handas ARE upset about being accused of rape" -- for that is exactly what is under dispute: that they are outraged, and that Kuwimb provided you evidence of that.

As far as I'm concerned, then, your credibility is just about all gone. Again, if I found so many blunders in one paragraph, there is reason to believe the others may not be much better. If you can find a way to try to convince me, again, that I'm wrong, I'm willing to believe it. But so far your decriptions of sources, means of transmission, and the content of the quotes themselves are so suspect that you're in danger of being toppled from your high horse.

Comment by JL | Apr 28, 2009 at 02:13 PM EST

Since the quote comes from (Mako) John Kuwimb, he is the one that can defend it. As far as the two other points --they remain small despite your evident desire to make them large. George's name was mistakenly added instead of his brother's. Not conspiracy or motive there--it happened in the copying and pasting of excerpts from the large report. John's letter had drafts. (Mako) John will verify that the quote is correct.


I think it telling that you take such efforts to attack me for such small errors, that I have corrected, and yet, at the same time... You ignore that :

1. Diamond has no notes or recordings for his 2001-2002 quotes attributed to Wemp as New Yorker admits.


2. Diamond's quotations are denied by Wemp as not spoken by him.

3. Dr Biber's analysis supports Daniel that he never said the numerous long quotes and that they were written by Diamond.

4. The facts in the quotes are wrong and not fact-checked by Diamond or The New Yorker as they admit.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 28, 2009 at 03:42 PM EST

The quote does NOT come from Kuwimb. That is the entire point. It is not in his letter. It comes from you. Where did you get it? Don't say "from his letter" because it is not there. Good God, can you not understand this?

Comment by JL | Apr 28, 2009 at 03:52 PM EST

JL, you kill me "You're in no position to criticize the New Yorker, or any other magazne or newspaper, when you allow such an obvious and blatant blunder to stand uncorrected.". Like any nits you pick here are helping defend TNY. You only help make it clear TNY and you are total a**hats.

Comment by schmandt | May 23, 2009 at 07:39 PM EST

And, no, again: the orignal error was not just in misattributing a quote (though you did that, too). It was in claiming that a quote was given in a (presumably verbal) interview, when in fact it was written in a document. Inasmuch as you make quite a fuss about the possibility that some of Diamond's quotes may not represent actual speech, this error of yours is directly relevant and should at least be acknowledged.

Comment by JL | Apr 28, 2009 at 11:42 AM EST

This is hardly a comparable issue to what Diamond did. You make this non existent gotcha a point that does not exist. Evidence indicates that Diamond fabricated quotes that he wrote --He did not mistakenly use Daniel's written statement instead of his oral interview. Daniel denies saying the words and the content in them and a linguist analysis supports that Diamond wrote these quotations that Diamond assigns as spoken by Daniel. Mako John and his brother said these words--one in writing and one in speech. The point is they don't deny they said these things. Nice try though. You do not reveal your identity which is suspect.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 28, 2009 at 12:34 PM EST

JL, Come and interview George Kuwimb and find out for yourself whether he has spoken those words. The difference with Diamond is that Daniel denied making those words Diamond attributed to him. George has not denied the words attributed to him. How can you not see the difference?

Comment by Mako | May 2, 2009 at 08:52 PM EST

Despite the 'revealed: NY removed article from web' (why do i need a popup window to paste something?), Diamond's article is available on the web to anyone who registers with an email address (there isn't even a confirmation link).

archives.newyorker.com/

Comment by jahigginbotham | Apr 26, 2009 at 06:26 PM EST

The pop up box says for "subscribers." If you are a subscriber then you can access it. Before Wemp's lawyers wrote The New Yorker, the article was up on the site with no subscription needed for all the world to see. (Wemp wanted the damaging article down). I saw the letters from New Yorker that confirm they complied at least partially as I explained in the article.The three data bases (including Lexis) have removed it.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 26, 2009 at 08:46 PM EST

NB: 'Annals of X' is how The New Yorker typically heads their 'specialist' articles, so I doubt anyone was attempting to trade off the name of the academic journal Annals of Anthropology.

Comment by Senhal | Apr 26, 2009 at 05:48 PM EST

Dr. Diamond is only known as a scientist, and not as a journalist. The title say Annals of Anthropology--why would anyone think that this article is anything else but anthropology?

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 26, 2009 at 09:06 PM EST

One thing that I found slightly troubling was Dr. Biber's methods of analysis. I have little formal training in linguistics, and of that, it is mainly English as it is spoken in the so-called Settlement Colonies in addition to basic grammar and semantic type work. However, I am currently teaching EFL (English as Foreign Language) and have a lot of experience with English as it is spoken by non-native speakers. Dr. Biber's application of corpus linguistics to Daniel's case seems like comparing apples to oranges. When he writes that some linguistic element is “100 times more frequent in Diamond quotes than in speech,” I have to assume he means "than in [the spoken language of the average native speaker]". As someone who has spent a lot of time working with non-native speakers, this seems like an inappropriate comparison. Often, speech patterns from L1 (the student's native language) will be recreated in L2 (the target language) unconsciously. These can be small things. For example, my students in Turkey usually produce "every time" when they intend to indicate "always" because the Turkish lexical unit meaning "always" is "her zaman", literally "every time", whereas in English "every time" does not indicate "always"--it indicates "every instance", which in Turkish would be rendered "her kes", "her defa" or something along those lines (depending on register--"her kes" being the most common in spoken Turkish). Another small example is that advanced native Turkish speakers of English tend to use the words "appropriate" and "suitable" far more than any English speaker would (they are mentally translating the word "uygan" or its near synonym "müsait"). These words are more common in written English than spoken English, however, in Turkish these words have a broader meaning (including but not limited to appropriate, convenient, suitable, proper, available, favorable, friendly, etc.).

If one were to run the usage of these advanced non-native speakers against a corpus, the results would of course not fit perfectly with the spoken language of a native speaker and there would almost certainly be areas where the register of the advanced non-native speaker skewed toward a higher register (for example, non-native speakers are necessarily less likely to use slang and contractions and the relaxed grammar of a spoken language even as they approach fluency). Though Dr. Biber has clearly done important work dealing with corpus linguistics, in this case the comparison of Daniel's words against a general English corpus is (in my view) less important than the comparison of Daniel's alleged words against his real words. For a poorly written discussion of this and related phenomena see, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interlanguage_fossilization
and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interlanguage.

As a further illustration, I have had a friend from Singapore (a native speaker of English, though conforming to the local standard rather than the British or American one) who had a fantastic habit of using "whereby" in his spoken language in places where I would never use it. "The Hapsburg Empire battled the Ottoman Turks whereby the Austrians expelled the invaders from Hungary." In formal speaking (such as a university class), he would use it I would estimate several hundred times more often than I would in my spoken language. If transcribed and compared to professor Biber's corpus, his consistent usage would be marked immediately as suspect and conforming more to the written standard than the spoken one--however, when compared to a corpus of his actual speech, it would clearly be seen as simply a feature of his personal idiolect.

While the quotes from Diamond's article strike me as altered, the facts cited do not strike me as the most convincing way to demonstrate that. Apparently, Biber's three step method compared Daniel's alleged word against his verifiable words, in the article you only show a comparison of the disputed words with a general corpus. Presumably, this is because these are used because they seem more convincing. However, they mean little if Daniel used adjective+conjunction+adjective or preposition+relative pronoun constructions frequently in his confirmed interviews, but they would be very telling if Daniel never used either construction in his discussions in the preparation of this report.

Comment by A student and a teacher | Apr 24, 2009 at 05:44 PM EST

"A student and a teacher" is right to be concerned about misuse of corpus linguistics, but I think what Dr. Biber did was to compare Diamond's allegedly fabricated quotes with Wemp's actual transcribed conversations which were collected by Shearer. This is a problem because it ignores the fact of wild intra-individual variation, or "register shifting" if you want to find it on Wikipedia - i.e., each of us can switch between a whole lot of different styles, and there is no guarantee that the styles contained in Diamond's quotes and in Shearer's transcripts would be the same, or have similar proportions of certain constructions. Diamond's lawyer would be sure to hit on this point in court. But I doubt Biber's method will be the only one used. Diamond is clearly a fraud, and I can echo Jorgensen's outrage that this man uses the journal title Annals of Anthropology fraudulently and calls himself an anthropologist while using methods, ethics and interpretive tactics that have been utterly rejected in our discipline due to the harm that they caused in the past.

Comment by Another Arizonan linguist (and anthropologist. of the non-hobby sort) | Apr 25, 2009 at 12:04 AM EST

Yeah, I'm pretty sure Biber did both comparisons--my concern was the only one published in the short report is (it seems) a comparison between the informant and a linguistic corpus of written, academic English. Ooo and harsh words for my word choice "register shifting". Most of my training is in the History of Religion(s) (I am preparing to apply to grad schools now) and register is the term I've most frequently encountered in anthropological writing about ritual. Wikipedian, ouch! Scorned by a field I so admire! Also calling Diamond a "fraud" seems harsh--it implies a lot about his previous work as well. Guns, Germs, and Steel is one of the first books that made academic pursuits seem badass to me. When my envirnomental engineer girlfriend was depressed about the drudgery of her work, I gave her the Turkish translation of Collapse. "Jared Diamond clearly fabricated this story" or calling the article a hoax strikes me as a more accurate analysis than Diamond a fraud, which refers to the person rather than the work.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing the big, full report.

Comment by Still a student and a teacer | Apr 27, 2009 at 04:13 AM EST

Our full report --forthcoming--will include Dr. Biber's whole analysis. I did not want to bog down this brief (albeit, long 10,000 word article) with too much detail. This section on Biber's work is an introduction.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 25, 2009 at 08:32 PM EST

Whatever the case against Diamond and The New Yorker may be, the paranoid and highly excitable tone of this article is only going to make it harder to take seriously. I am not an anthropologist and don't really wish to comment on those aspects of this story, but I am a lawyer and in my view the legal aspects of this matter are being handled in an extremely amature-ish and unprofessional way. For example, I have read that the complaint filed against Diamond and The NYer avers that they accused the tribesmen of "serious criminal activity and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, including murder." Intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress are legal causes of action, but accusing someone of either one is not. So it doesn't make any sense to word the complaint that way. And if the only lawyers you found who were willing to pursue this case are indeed that amateurish, you really ought to question why you are so confident that you do have a case here. Likewise, these lawyers seem to have done a very poor job of explaining to you what is happening. It is nothing to crow about that the tribesmen "filed a summons." They have sued, yes, but saying that they "filed a summons" doesn't make the fact that they have sued of any more legal significance. It just makes it sound like you are very excited by this whole process but don't know much about it. Nor is it of any significance that The NYer removed the article from the internet upon being sued over it. That's quite routine and it's not any sort of legal admission of wrongdoing.

Comment by Anonymousreader | Apr 24, 2009 at 10:06 AM EST

I think your article raises some disturbing points, but is unfortunately rather disturbing itself. Your inaccuracies and tendency towards exaggeration suggest you may be guilty of some of what you accuse Diamond of doing – poor journalism. I will not give an exhaustive list of what is poor about your work, but rather illustrate the point with two examples. You state, ‘The untruths in The New Yorker article by Dr. Jared Diamond are already poisoning the future of indigenous peoples’. This ‘poisoning’ turns out to be a student getting a bad review of a manuscript because he did not cite Diamond’s article. You imply this student could fail his degree ‘after four years of study’ because of this, but no one fails a four year degree because they did not cite one article! The student is an indigenous person. It would need whole tribal groups to be publishing in peer-reviewed journals and ignoring Diamond’s work for it to be ‘… poisoning the future of indigenous peoples’. But this is all minor compared to your treatment of one of your co-authors, an indigenous person himself. It is disturbing that you describe Michael Kigl as "one of [an expatriate scientist’s] researchers". Michael is a researcher in his own right, a founding member of an indigenous research organisation and a colleague of the scientist mentioned. After heading off into a remote and difficult place to gather data for you story, surely Michael deserves more respect than this.

Comment by mi tasol | Apr 22, 2009 at 09:14 AM EST

Thank you for writing. I must say I don't understand what you mean about how I have mistreated one of our team by saying he is, well, one of our team of researchers. The words YOU insert into mine are YOUR WORDS--NOT MINE. Namely "[an expatriate scientist’s]" .

Michael Kigl was introduced to me by a scientist and by the group you mentioned (which I suspect you are part). I was introduced on the basis that he did research for this group and the scientist-- making it accuarate to say he was one of his researchers. No disrespect intended.

As to your other point, I believe that Diamond's inaccuarcies are poisonous and harmful in many ways.--including my one surprising example of a peer reviewer citing Diamond's article. I could list more examples to support my claim, but calling people murderers and rapists when they are not, is prima facie, poison and libel per se. I don't think I sensationalized the gravity of what Diamond has done. But you are entitled to your opinion.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 22, 2009 at 10:04 AM EST

You do not seem to appreciate my input despite your thanks. I feel I need to make a couple of points again. First. Your original essay says, ‘Through environmental scientist Andrew Mack, PhD, who lived in PNG for many years… I was introduced to one of his researchers, Michael Kigl‘. Regardless of how you spin it, Michael Kigl is NOT ‘one of’ Dr Mack’s researchers, as I pointed out. Michael is a researcher in his own right. Kigl may have been one of Mack’s team some years ago, just like I was a student of my elementary school teacher many years ago. I’m not anymore, and nor is Michael. I reduced your paragraph quoted above to ‘one of [an expatriate scientist’s] researchers’ for the sake of brevity. (Yes you are right to say ‘The words YOU insert into mine are YOUR WORDS--NOT MINE. Namely "[an expatriate scientist’s]’”) I used this insertion of ‘an expatriate scientist in place of ‘his’ because it is accurate and highlights the disturbing way in which the Papua New Guinean (Kigl) is somehow defined in terms of the expatriate (Mack). I am confident Dr Mack would not describe Mr Kigl as ‘his’. You seem to object to my description of Dr Mack as ‘an expatriate scientist’. This is a FACT. I made this point because your language betrays what seems to me a neo-colonist and patronising attitude towards Papua New Guineans. About your ‘research plan’ you state, ‘Elepa and Kigl did not know each other, and the data they collected were only compared after they completed their research. This was a key component of my research plan’. Do you feel it is ethical that your Papua New Guinean collaborators did this work without a full understanding of your plan? It may be a good ‘blind’ study design that scientists like Diamond would approve of, but is it the ethical journalism that you expound, particularly when collaborating with indigenous people? To me it reads rather like blind worker bees working away on a queen’s grand plan. Perhaps a more ethical approach would have been to discuss this project openly and fully with Michael Kigl, Kritoe Keleba and Jeffery Elapa and then have them contribute fully as true co-authors and be acknowledged as such. I think this can be settled by you answering a simple question: Did you show Michael Kigl, Kritoe Keleba and Jeffery Elapa a full draft of your essay before it was put on the website? I would be very interested to know, and the answer would be most revealing.

Second. I agree with you when you say ‘I believe that Diamond's inaccuracies [sic] are poisonous and harmful in many ways’. That was NOT my point. My point was that as your article reads you said Diamond was “… already poisoning the future of indigenous peoples’ [my emphasis] and then you gave an example of one student - hardly ‘peoples’ - that got a bad review of a manuscript – hardly a poisoned future! My point was that your work is inaccurate and you exaggerate – basically the poor journalism that you accuse Diamond of, albeit far less serious. And my point stands.

I suggest you swallow your pride and describe Michael Kigl as a researcher in his own right and think carefully about how you ‘collaborate’ with and view indigenous people in the future. I hope for your sake you do, because after the anthropologists get over their glee at seeing Diamond roasted as he is in your revealing article, they might just turn their talents on deconstructing your work, and then you’ll get worse than this – Diamond might poison but some of the anthologists interested in PNG have razor sharp wit and acid tongues!

P.S. Your suspicions are wrong: I am not part of any group that works with Michael Kigl.

Comment by mi tasol | Apr 22, 2009 at 05:19 PM EST

I really do appreciate you writing. We have a difference of opinion. You are anonymous and hiding your identity --which is your right, but it is unfair because neither I nor other readers can judge your motives for such anger over a seemingly small slight that certainly is unintentional. With all due respect, Michael as a scientist in his own right, can speak for himself ...then why are YOU treating him as if a child that can not?

You obviously don't know what you are talking about because my team knew my plan to have people not speak to each other until a later date as part of the project. It seems to me you are looking for bad things to say ...why?

As my article states, it is comprised of excerpts from the large report that was send to all three researchers long ago --with feedback received. I will no longer answer any more personal questions about my team and working relationships--It would be wrong for me to reveal information about people who work for me. For example, it would be unfair to them for me to reveal who did or did not do what in our group efforts.

You think I was sensational by stating that the article is already poisoning peoples' minds...However, the student who had the peer reviewer mention Diamond's article is my source and HE SAID THIS HIMSELF. Again, you have a right to your opinion. But I feel that you are being very unfair to our team and disrespectful without basis of the fine job we have done to reveal the truth that Handa and Ombal people are not the murderers and rapists that Diamond has claimed.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 22, 2009 at 07:26 PM EST

I write this in response to the comments by the anonymous 'Mi Tasol'.

My name is Mako J. Kuwimb. I am a final year PhD student at James Cook University, Australia. I read Diamond's article published 21 April 2008. It is about my clan. We had a tribal fight in 1993, when I was a final year law student at UPNG. Diamond interviewed Daniel Wemb, and based on it, wrote a story that mentions real names of people and places but confuses with the cause of the fight. He alleges my clansmen raped many women and killed many pigs during the fight. Diamond's article also wrongly includes political conflict between the Nipas and Hulis as part of that fight. He also says we are from Nipa, while we belong to Margarima. There are other inaccuracies.

Rhonda has an NGO organisation based in New York that checks the facts of reported stories. If you read her full story, which I did, she came across a story of sighting some wierd animals in the jungles of PNG. In the course of following that story, she came across Diamond's article, and got in touch with some lecturers at University of Divine Word at Madang, who referred her to a student from the Southern Highlands who did a dissertation on conflicts. With their consent, as I understand, the student was engaged to travel to my village to interview my people on the history of tribal fights that Diamond wrote about. The cause of the fight on my side (Handa clan) is the son of one of my brothers. My elder brother told the researchers to contact me here, so through her PNG contacts, Rhonda contacted me.

Rhonda forwarded the interviews her associates did among my people. I checked and verified their statements. I then called Daniel and asked whether what he told Diamond was true. Daniel admitted he had conversations with Diamond while he was working with as a driver with World Wildliffe Fund at Moro. He told general stories about tribal fights in the highlands, one of which was the fight our clan fought in 1993 when he was driving Diamond around on his birdwatching trips. Out of these conversations Diamond published his article.

I wrote to The New Yorker and Diamond pointing out all the factual inaccuracies in the article, and asked them to remove the article because it distorts the historical facts of my clan, and paints my clan as part of the Nipa clan who fought the Hulis during the 1997 election, among others.

Daniel and Henep Isum are suing The New Yorker and Diamond for defaming them in the article.

Before Rhonda published her article which you provide your comments, I read it and verified it as far as its factual contents are concerned.

In my view Rhonda's work is useful because it exposes inaccurate reporting and distortion of history and facts as Diamond's article does of my clan's history.

I was the student who sent an article for publication in a peer-reviewed journal as part of the requirement of my PhD dissertation. The issue of my article is on state ownership of minerals and petroleum versus customary ownership in PNG, and how the State is enriching one small group of specially selected landowners without sharing PNG's rich resources benefits equitably with the rest of Papua New Guineans. I uncovered the historical roots of the problem to colonial legal policies, and suggested rethink of the current policies. An anonymous referee commented that I failed to point out to problems of local origin like gun culture and tribal conflicts such as that written by Diamond instead of regretting about what happened over 120 years ago during the colonial days.

If you read the whole background story, you will note that Rhonda and her NGO are providing a very useful service to expose inaccurate reporting and portraying highlanders in general, and my clan in particular, as some savage people hellbent on committing heinous crimes.

In so far as Rhonda's use of Kigl and others, and seeking proper acknowledgment of his contributions, etc., perhaps it is advisable that Kigl take that up with her on a personal basis as they seem to know each other. My understanding is that Rhonda used different people at different times to avoid the accusation that the researchers colluded and collaborated their stories, so it is for the sake of independent verification that no contacts were allowed before the research.

We have not paid Rhonda for her services. It is part of her non-profit organisation to assist and expose false reporting. As I said, apart from her comments, I verified the facts in her article.

The issue you raise, as I see, is not one about accurate reporting but about proper acknowledgement and token of appreciation, which are matters I suggest Kigl and others should personally take up with Rhonda.

Sapos yu laikim sampela bekgiraun infomesen, mi bai wanbel tasol long salim ikam. Mi tenk yu long Kigl na ol narapela brata i helpim mi na ol lain bilong mi.

Comment by Mako J. Kuwimb | Apr 23, 2009 at 05:33 PM EST

Let's take a second to remember what Rhonda has done here, and what a service she's provided by exposing this approach to cross cultural analysis as exploitative, especially when its assumed that global media will never make it back to the subject. Whether Diamond or Shearer are journalists, whether they have explicit knowledge of the case in question or not, seems less important than the fact that Diamond has staked a claim in talking freely about other cultures without considering the impact, and Shearer is working doggedly to call people up on this hubris.

Comment by nancy | Apr 30, 2009 at 01:23 AM EST

Your comments about Rhonda are misconceived. Rhonda has done a great service to our people in exposing the factual inaccuracies of Diamond's article. Had it not been for Rhonda's efforts, Diamond's article would have remained to be read and cited by other readers whose minds can be, and could be poisoned to view Daniel my clansmen as bloodthirsty savages. My article was already seen in that light, which I sent to be published by a peer-reviewed journal. Your comments seem to portray Rhonda as exploiting Michael Kigl. Why has Kigl not complained about that as Daniel did about Diamond? And how can you accuse someone like Rhonda who is so generous and considerate to corrrect a totally fabricated and false story of a highlands clan? I wonder why you have not made similar remarks about Diamond's article. By the way, if Michael is a researcher in his own right, has he appointed you as his spokesperson? Michael and others have been properly acknowledged as the co-authors of the article, and there is nothing lacking, so your comparison about Diamond exploiting Daniel to that of Rhonda co-authoring an article is a total mismatch.

Your attack on Rhonda who is helping the simple villagers to set their history straight, on behalf of Michael who fully consented to work with her, and your failure to level similar criticism against Diamond is incomprehensible. It suggests you probably have other motives other than to make some constructive contribution.

Comment by Mako | Apr 24, 2009 at 04:27 AM EST

I am final year post-graduate student in Australia. Mr Mi tasol cowards hid behind pen names,you may say that you're protecting your identity. The fact is you are a coward if your are Papua New Guinean intellectual, who's interest are you representing. If Rhonda who is of no relations to Papua New Guineans,but have taken up the fight, at her owns expenses to correct the inaccuracies of Diamond's poisonous article by having it removed from the New Yorker. The false informations could well have been used for citations by academians and researchers. WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE to set the record straight? Rhonda should be acknowledged for exposing foreign researchers.

Diamond and all his credentials means nothing to me, the fact is he is long way away from truely understanding the cultural and social diversity and aspect of Papua New Guinean way of life. He really did not know what he was writing apart from good grammatical structure normally found in academic writing. Normal people do not talk using gramatical sturcture. Grammatical structures are found in academic writing suggesting the quotations, clearly these are produced in writing rather than being transcribed from speech.

In my view confusing narartive based on what appears to be a casual fragments of conversations with single source is totally unreliable or misconstrued for ones own interest. Diamond failed to verify with other people and locations in the events describe and mentioned in the article. All there is are unfounded opinions and assertion from Diamond.

Diamond's actions suggest foreign Researchers use Papua New Guinea diverse culture and history etc, to gain prestigious awards and pHD without proper research carried out. No wonders this world is full of fake researchers.


Comment by Mava | Apr 24, 2009 at 07:43 AM EST

Associated Press, "Author Jared Diamond sued for libel" By SAMUEL MAULL


PING Back for Forbes.com article : New Guinea Tribe Sues The 'New Yorker' For $10 Million:

They challenge a story depicting them as rapists, murderers and pig thieves. By Dirk Smillie

Also see Jennifer Marohasy's blog Jared Diamond Just Keeps Making It Up

Newser ping back : " 'Bloodthirsty' New Guinea Tribesman Sues New Yorker"

Strange Herring Blog ping back , "New Guinea Tribesman Sues New Yorker Magazine, Says His Enigmatic Cartoon About Poststructuralist at a Bar Was Published Without Proper Attribution" by Anthony Sacramone,

We Interrupt Blog ; Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) ; Newstin blog ping back, SocialMedian pingback ;


Drudge Report ; Gadling.com

NY Post (AP) ;

JinaMoore.com

SavageMinds.org / The Louis Proyect Blog ; Foreign Policy Blog ; New York Magazine

Huffington Post News editors...ping back ;

E Taiwan News




Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 21, 2009 at 07:40 PM EST

This work is important but contains its own errors; for example, Nancy Sullivan does not hold a Ph.D. -- as is clear from her own online CV:

http://www.nancysullivan.org/curriculumvitae.htm

Mt. Hagen is mis-spelled.

Comment by Anonymous | Apr 22, 2009 at 04:56 AM EST

Thank you so much for the feedback. I will correct the errors asap!

Here I was just listing the errors in the Forbes.com report and asked for corrections from them...and we have mistakes too. We just have to try even harder...as to Forbes' errors about our report-- For example, they spelled Mandingo's name incorrectly (Mandigo).

Also, Forbes suggested that Wemp's translated interviews could be a problem --when there were no translations needed as they were always in English, as I stated in the above report. I hope Forbes corrects their errors... like we are going to do right now.

UPDATE: 4/22/09 9:45am: Forbes.com wrote us to say corrections will be made.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 22, 2009 at 06:27 AM EST

Update: Forbes made corrections except the misspelling of Mandingo's name and the false statement that Wemp told our team that Diamond's stories are true. Wemp NEVER said that Diamond's story was true.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 22, 2009 at 07:29 AM EST

Finally some over-exaggerated lies about the "savage" people of PNG exposed! It's a complicated culture that varies so much over the island and yet westerners spend a few years there and they think they understand it *sigh*. I'm Papua New Guinean and even I don't have a full grasp of the intricacies of my particular culture, let alone the other cultures within PNG. I am so glad Diamond has been exposed as a fraud and I hope he gets done over for it the way my people were!

Comment by lita | Apr 26, 2009 at 07:39 PM EST

Yes, he is a fraud.

Nevertheless, he wanted all but good for the PNG culture and people in general, judging by what he wrote.Just read it.

All his misguided "knowledge" just masks his general humanity towards Papuans which is apparent in his writings.

He is wrong but his heart is with the papuans, generally.

Comment by linguist.in.hiding | Apr 26, 2009 at 07:53 PM EST

Thanks for all of your comments. The disrespectful way Diamond has treated his informant is not addressed in your comment above. Diamond has refused to speak to Daniel Wemp since Daniel's July 17 discovery that Diamond said he was a murderer, etc. in a magazine on the Internet. Indeed Wemp once thought Diamond was his "friend." Not anymore. Wemp requested to speak to Diamond many times as he had valid questions to ask him like --"why didn't you tell me my name would appear in a a magazine?" Diamond's action (or lack of them) are in steep contrast to a belief that he is a humanitarian with a big heart.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 26, 2009 at 09:35 PM EST

In this you are perfectly correct. It is a shame and totally unforgivable. Thank you for clearing the issue.

Comment by linguist.in.hiding | Apr 27, 2009 at 05:13 AM EST

At the end of the day, how much evidence do we have that Daniel Kemp never told Diamond any of these stories? How did Diamond get the names right if Daniel Kemp, or others, never told Diamond any of this? And, if Daniel Kemp was telling Diamond tall tales, well, that sounds like Daniel Kemp's fault. As convincing as it may sound that one tribe is humiliated by the accusations, and claim it was the other tribe which did the raping and pillaging, at the end of the day this is all he said/she said. Rhonda, honey, you are wasting your time. And how many New Guinea highlanders read the New Yorker? $10 million is just preposterous...Try talking to a Serbian about the Balkan war sometime, or a Chinese about the China-Viet Nam war...

Comment by doug | Apr 27, 2009 at 11:26 PM EST

One thing that stood out as being factually inaccurate in the above was when you wrote "All parties agreed on the basic facts of the incident..." Diamond reported the fight was between the Ombal and the Handas. You then quote someone as claiming the fight was between the Handa and the Solpaem, implying Diamond got his facts wrong. But then in the next paragraphs, you reverse 180 degrees and quote two others saying that the fight indeed was between the Handa and Ombals, and that two of each died... Then you quote someone, contradicting what you've just told your readers, that "their stories were the same" -- even though their stories you've quoted were not even remotely similar.

So, you have just either defamed the Solpaem, or defamed the Ombals... (or defamed Diamond).

Comment by doug | Apr 27, 2009 at 11:49 PM EST

I believe the text is clear. Diamond said the fight was lead by the Ombals (Isum as leader) against the Handa (Wemp as leader). Ombals were allies and Isum is not an Ombal but a Henep--all stated in the article. .

I did not imply Diamond got his facts wrong on this-- I say he did get it wrong. The two youths that fought were Handa and the Solpaem. The fight leaders were from both those tribes.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 28, 2009 at 11:35 AM EST

Help me Rhonda...

The article above quotes constable Pungiam "a problem arose involving youths of Ombal and Handa"... "two men from Ombal side died and two from Handa died".

Then we have Isum telling Kelaba "the Handa and Ombal fought [each other]."

Elsewhere in the article, we have it written that the fight actually started out between the Handa and Solpaem, and you write in your reply that the "Ombals were allies".

That is a clear contradiction. Perhaps you should clarify.


Comment by doug | Apr 29, 2009 at 06:36 PM EST

One side was Ombals, Henep, Solpaem (the Solpaen were the owners of the fight because their youth was injured, the others are allies) against the other side; the Handa (their youth hit the Solpaen man, they owned the other side, others were allies), Suma.

That said, I can say any number of combinations and still be correct if I select one tribe from each side. For example, I can say the Ombals fought with the Heneps; or I can correctly say the Heneps fought (against) the Handa and I can even say, the Solpaen fought the Handa.

So, the police officer was indeed correct when he said the Ombals fought the Handa or that two died on the Ombal side and two on the Handa.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 29, 2009 at 07:53 PM EST

First of all it is rude to address me in the manner you did. If you want me to respond to you do not do it again. Next I make it clear that Wemp told Diamond stories and that Diamond picked and chose among them to create his inaccurate narrative. You write: "And how many New Guinea highlanders read the New Yorker?" If you read the article you will learn that Diamond's article was cited in a Handa PhD students peer review to critique him. The "$10 million" is a standard lawyers use as it leaves open the limits of that Court. If you read more carefully it is actually larger than $10 million. I am told this number is a rubber stamp convention lawyers use.

You may not mind, but I feel the people of Papua New Guinea should be treated justly. It is simply not okay to exploit for profit (lecture fees , book sales) false claims about named individuals and tribes that wrongly make them out as killers and rapists.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 28, 2009 at 11:28 AM EST

A couple things --- if any of my "friends" sued me for $10 million, we would no longer be friends. And the same is true for everyone else. I don't know why we are to expect Diamond to be best buds with a guy who is trying to shake him down for $10 million (or more than $10 million)...

Second point: I find the notion that Diamond was merely exploiting these people for money absurd. Diamond made millions on his books, and is now in his late 60s. The amount of money he was likely paid to write the New Yorker article was pocket change... The story you are telling here does not really wash.

On the contrary, I think people are curious about your motives.

Let's be clear -- you have introduced no evidence that Daniel Kemp never told Diamond any of this. You introduced no evidence that Diamond just made this up "to exploit and profit off of the New Guinean people." You have introduced no evidence that the people involved were harmed in any way.

Comment by doug | Apr 29, 2009 at 06:48 PM EST

Daniel first asked to speak to Diamond back in July 2008...you may note that the lawsuit was filed April 20, 2009. That's 9 months time, surly enough for Diamond to pick up the phone to telephone Wemp.

Claiming that someone is a murderer when it isn't true is called libel per se. This is not a shake-down. That is rude and a biased thing to say. If you want to comment on this site you need to behave. This is your second warning.

First of all Diamond is in his 70's, --CHECK YOUR FACTS. Second, there is no known correlation between the reduction of greed with age that I am aware of. Moreover, there is no correlation between making millions and the sudden loss of desire to make more. Diamond was advertising Daniel Wemp's name and The New Yorker story on his lecture agents web site--who books his lectures for $25,000 each.

These are not my words--THEY ARE YOUR WORDS-- "to exploit and profit off of the New Guinean people."

You also say: "You have introduced no evidence that the people involved were harmed in any way.
"

Do I have to really explain that calling people rapists, murderers and thieves is harmful?

I really think you should do some homework on libel. What Diamond has done is called libel per se, as stated in the summons (emphasis mine).

libel per se

n. broadcast or written publication of a false statement about another which accuses him/her of a crime, immoral acts, inability to perform his/her profession, having a loathsome disease (like syphilis) or dishonesty in business. Such claims are considered so obviously harmful that malice need not be proved to obtain a judgment for "general damages," and not just specific losses.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 29, 2009 at 08:20 PM EST

Goodness gracious! As a complete outsider who has gathered considerable insight from Dr. Diamond's writings over the years, I was very interested to hear about the New Yorker article and the Highlanders' lawsuit. I was even more intrigued by the idea of this website, since as anyone with special interest and experience in any area of knowledge is aware, the media often gets its facts very wrong. A website that investigates and publicises media errors is therefore performing an important service to the community.

That being the case, I was really taken aback by the comments I've now read from what appears to be the person heading up this website, Rhonda Roland Shearer. I managed to read almost all the way through the comments section on the Diamond article, with increasing dismay, but I'm afraid I just couldn't carry on beyond Shearer's Apr 28, 11:28am comment. I realise this is Rhonda's website, and she can do whatever she wants with it, but if she wants to gain kudos for her cause of exposing bad journalism, it is essential to behave in an objective, even-handed manner, modeling the sorts of behaviours we all expect of the journalistic profession.

I have no real axe to grind re. the Diamond issue. However, I am a specialist in a field that is currently the subject of some unfortunately poor journalism, which has left much of the world thinking something about a particular animal species that based on the facts turns out not to be wholly the case. I was very much considering submitting an email spelling all this out and asking for help in publicising some of the statistics that aren't being reported in relation this story.

However, I now realise that if Rhonda Roland Shearer handles herself with my the story the way she has in such an open and public way on this site with the Diamond issue, discerning people with open minds are likely to be put off by her own emotionalism and lack of objectivity. To put not too fine a point on it, judging from what I've read here, she lacks the one essential element necessary to be successful in exposing untruths - personal credibility.

Comment by Fannington | May 1, 2009 at 09:35 PM EST

RE my Apr 28, 11:28am comment : I will not allow men to speak to me in a disrespectful manner ("Honey") nor will I abstain from firmly answering what I perceive is a biased comment (a suggestion that PNG people are too ignorant to read the New Yorker).

Your willingness as an anonymous person, to make such a sweeping statement about me (that I lack "personal credibility"), when my every comment is on the record under my own name, is cowardly and speaks for itself.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | May 1, 2009 at 10:52 PM EST

You did a great job tackling Diamond's bogus article. Scrambling and fabricating history to support the relief revenge provides increases ignorance. Using unsuspecting people, naming them is worse yet. If Diamond did this with my family, I would be horrified. Revenge would not assuage the humiliation. A strong show of righting my family's history and integrity as publicly as it's "wronging" would only begin a healing process. Thank you for your dedicated work, which respects an existing, agreed upon set of values and ethics. It seems uncovering plus carefully documenting this breach of ethics by Diamond and The New Yorker required a dedicated team. Unfortunately the error in Forbes, even with correction has added to the mistaken belief that Wemp said that Diamond's stories were true. However, I see where you have made the correction, (Wemp never told your researchers that the stories Diamond wrote were true) and it still gets repeated in error. Once an error is made it is hard to get it undone. This is exactly what the gentlemen from PNG and their families will suffer from. Diamond and the New Yorker have yet to take hold of the many areas of their responsibility here, now that is stinky journalism.

Comment by bonnie garner | May 3, 2009 at 06:09 PM EST

This is an important piece, I agree very important. However you definitely need a good proof reader to go over this –– there are multiple errors throughout the text (beyond Sullivan and the spelling of Hagen) which take away from its sense of seriousness and power.

Also, in terms of a larger point, PNG is an extremely difficult place to get one's story "straight." I'm sure Prof Golub et al spoke to that. Especially, Highlands PNG has a very oral culture, and people "stori" as a way of socializing, entertaining, joking and welcoming as well as sharing important information. Having great oratorical skills is a prerequisite of being a Big Man (chief) of a clan. It is not at all unusual to get an exagerrated tale as Diamond apparently got during his drives with Wemp. This doesn't mean it's okay for him to print it and suggest that it's real or truth or evidence about people running around PNG pell mell raping and killing and pig slaughtering. But it is a real difficulty of working on the ground faced by Western researchers since Malinowski. It can take many, many years of finessing and listening and asking questions in many different ways to get the "accurate" story.

Again, not excusing Diamond, I think his behavior is immoral in publishing that piece in the New Yorker. It read like garbage at the time. However, your own article would feel more substantive and less like "gotcha" if you had spoken to some of the real heavy-hitters in PNG anthropology and Journalism about what it's like to fact gather in the Highlands' provinces. I miss the quotes from the reporters and editors at the Post-Courier about how they gather news; I miss the quotes from some of the real anthropologists (Marilyn or Andrew Strathern, Gillison, Weiner, West, Golub) who've worked in the Highlands about gathering their own field notes and the difficulties inherent in sifting out "facts" from other kinds of subjective truths. It is not uncommon in the Highlands for someone to tell you something one day and then the next day tell you something completely different and think you are being limited when you point out the contradiction. "Em i stori tasol" –– literally "it's just a story" is what you get a lot when you try to "fact check."

Also, I think the fact that proving Diamond fabricated is a strong enough argument on its own for justifying the existence of your research. Having lived there, recently, I find it hard to believe that the New Yorker article will cause tribal war in the Southern Highlands. Especially once Wemp explains that not only was he misquoted and exploited for Diamond's own financial gain, he wasn't a paid informant. I can't really imagine anyone who lives there or is from there looking you straight in the eyes and telling you that Jared Diamond's nonsense is going to cause clan warfare.

Jared Diamond's article is exploitative and TNY's response to you is cowardly. But hopefully work like yours will make exploiting PNGers and other people who live in rural places around the world for personal gain more difficult. Or at least make the Diamonds of the world think twice before they spin fairy tales for publications like The New Yorker....

Comment by ples223 | Apr 22, 2009 at 08:14 AM EST

Thanks you for your complex and thoughtful feedback.

My 40,000 plus word report will go into more of what you say is missing from this short article --which is still 10,000 words!

I have talked to several reporters and editors at the Post Courier, PNG's largest newspaper, and worked with them on another case advising on how they could get verification done for scientific claims by scientists before they publish.

It is also true that story telling is popular oral tradition in the SHP area. In my investigation, as I explain even in short report was that everyone's telling of the 2 K fight was remarkably uniform among enemies, friends and Gov. officials we spoke with. It was only later I came to realize why this was so. It is the settlement and compensation practices that make keeping one's story straight vitally important. Any departure to the agreed upon narrative could rekindle a fight.

My information from people who work in the area on warfare and compensation is that Daniel is in real danger. Furthermore, there has been talk that Diamond himself may want to be circumspect before going back to PNG and not settling this ugly affair. He may also be subject to pay-back for what he has done.

Frankly , I really don't think I am required to contextualize what I am doing within the history of anthropology. My push-back on that point, that this is a job for anthropologists. My focus is on measurable errors and blessedly they exis in nature and are possible to detect! For example, Isum is in a wheelchair or he is not. His medical records offer good, solid data. The quantity of informants and their status as neutral or one-sided parties all came into play.

The irony is, Diamond never talked to any of the people that he names. We tracked them down. Anthropologists have allowed an unqualified interloper into their ranks.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 22, 2009 at 10:30 AM EST

Diamond is not an anthropologist, he is a biologist. He did quite a disservice to people in PNG in this article. Hope the people involve are compensated.

Comment by Amazilia | Apr 22, 2009 at 02:56 PM EST

So, it sounds like Mr. Wemp told Dr. Diamond a lot of tall tales about what a tough guy he is and Dr. Diamond believed him.

If so, I'm not sure that Mr. Wemp sounds like he has much of legal claim to damages, but maybe his lawyers figure that if The New Yorker settles for, say, 1% of $10 million, well, that's a lot of money in PNG.

Comment by Steve Sailer | Apr 23, 2009 at 02:47 PM EST

With oil and gas, even gold on their lands there is a lot more money there than you think. I am not a lawyer but the fact that Diamond took no recording or notes in 2001-2002, makes it a little difficult to prove that he heard all these wrong facts from Wemp--but I am sure that is the first line of defense to try.

However it does not work. We wrote about the Orlando magazine feature on an artist that made all his background up and they did not fact check. The editor admitted they were wrong and apologized to readers. I don't think there is an escape for Diamond on this duty to fact check.

Also you forgot about Henep Isum. He never met Diamond nor did fact checkers speak to him --so absolutely no excuse there. The New Yorker and Diamond should settle this thing before their reputation for accuracy is lost.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 23, 2009 at 04:41 PM EST

Actually, Mr. Sailer's classic victim blaming is a good reason for you to have put the story in more of its ethnographic context, Rhonda. I agree it's not your job to talk about the whole history of anthropology, but talking about the difficulties ples223 raises is very crucial not only from an anthropological perspective, but from the perspective of making a convincing case and preempting your rhetorical opponent. People could easily hear Sailer's argument and be convinced because they are already prejudiced in favour of Western social science and against (fill in colonial adjectives here) "tribesmen" suing for cash. In my dealings with indigenous North Americans, both as a researcher and as a friend, I have known of many instances where victims of bad research raised their voices and were ignored or even brutalised by white society and the "free" press. We Westerners would rather ask one another about questions that concern indigenous people, than ask an indigenous person themselves: to understand an indigenous person requires that one respect their culture first! In terms of the convincingness of your evidence, it would make sense to talk about exactly how Diamond may have come up with his fictional quotes - and how there are similar methods used in the social sciences all the time - AND, crucially, how HIS method was not excusable, unlike these other, similar methods, for ethical, pragmatic, citational and other reasons.

Also, as a linguist, I should let you know it's not ok to call Tok Pisin a "pidgin". Although the word Pisin comes from English "pidgin", the English word "pidgin" refers to a language without native speakers that is only used as a lingua franca - clearly not the case for Tok Pisin, which has millions of native speakers, of which Daniel Wemp is one. This is a minor issue, but we don't want to compound the disrespect that has already been done to PNG by calling one of its national languages by a name that was true at one point in history but is no longer true and has negative connotations. The word used in linguistics for the type of language Tok Pisin has become is "creole", but this word has negative connotations in popular usage as well. Perhaps it's best not to use either word, but to talk about Tok Pisin as a Melanesian mixed language based on mostly English vocabulary from the colonial period.

These are little nitpicks. Overall, I think that both my disciplines (linguistics and anthropology) owe you a great deal of thanks for your tireless exposé, and I assure you a storm is brewing at the American Anthropological Association over this stuff. I only hope that our response will get as much publicity as Diamond has, but you and I both know that's not likely. Thank you.

Comment by Another Arizonan linguist (and anthropologist. of the non-hobby sort) | Apr 25, 2009 at 12:38 AM EST

Another Arizonan linguist- Thank you for your comments. They are very helpful indeed. Why don't you write to me as well as submitting a short essay for a series that we intend to turn into a book of commentaries regarding this debacle in two fields of journalism and science ? rrs@asrlab.org

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | Apr 25, 2009 at 08:10 PM EST

PLEASE STOP LYING ABOUT LINGUISTICS Another Arizonan linguist (and anthropologist. of the non-hobby sort)! Diamond has done that more than enough.

> But I doubt Biber's method will be the only one used.

I really can't see how you could circumvent the problems with other evidence when the question posed, as I understand it, is "Is this the way the person in question spoke?". It most certainly is not.

> Diamond is clearly a fraud

That he is.

> utterly rejected in our discipline

The publishing of the name of the informant is not, in itself, rejected in "our" discipline (even if it includes some character description, even if negative). This actually helps young field workers. Here I do not care about what the law or proper manners or whatever says, but I speak of my own experience, and this can be verified at least in the linguistics literature. The next book is but one instance of it (mostly anthropological, or whatever!):

http://www.amazon.com/Searching-Aboriginal-Languages-Memoirs-Worker/dp/0226154300

> the destruction of indigenous cultures and the colonisation of indigenous minds start with the conviction on the part of Westerners that they are superior? In what way do Diamond's lies not reinforce this supremacism?

To be fair, my and others' impression is that Diamond's views are generally diagonally opposed to the view you represented here.

> its ethnographic context

What are you now? An ethnographer?!? (Please, no lame discussion about anthropologists and ethnographers, please, please, pretty please...)

> against (fill in colonial adjectives here) "tribesmen"

Here I could kiss you for gratitude! I really really really really hate it when people talk about tribes! It is almost never true! What, why not the New York tribe of the English? It makes as much sense.

BTW. "New Yorker Mag’s Papua New Guinea Revenge Tale Untrue…Tribal Members Angry, Want Justice ". EVERYBODY! PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT TRIBES! You do not understand the concept! And even if the concept applies, it is of passing importance. Thank you!

> I have known of many instances where victims of bad research raised their voices and were ignored or even brutalised by white society and the "free" press

Don't take my criticism as against that. I hate those vultures with a vengeance! And even those with perfectly good research but malign interests (not that there are many...).

> to understand an indigenous person requires that one respect their culture first!

No, it does not. Same rules apply. I do not respect a violent sociopath (culture) a bit, even if she was an indigenous person. She would be a good informant nevertheless, but respect...

> as a linguist

I really doubt that you are one, your ideas are rather marginal.

> it's not ok to call Tok Pisin a "pidgin"

This should be known more. Alas for ignorance :-(

> Although the word Pisin comes from English "pidgin", the English word "pidgin" refers to a language without native speakers that is only used as a lingua franca

You do realize, that this is maybe not the correct etymology? "As a linguist" you should also know that etymologies are quite irrelevant in most contexts, including this comment section (BTW, the stupid practise of Wikipedia of having "etymologies" everywhere does not help).

> clearly not the case for Tok Pisin, which has millions of native speakers

Don't lie! This might be true in the future, and, alas, probably is. Nevertheless, native speakers amount to maybe a million. Second language speakers is what you wanted to say.

> of which Daniel Wemp is one

I think the sources say differently.

> Perhaps it's best not to use either word, but to talk about Tok Pisin as a Melanesian mixed language based on mostly English vocabulary from the colonial period.

I really really really really really don't believe you are a linguist. First of all, calling a creole a mixed language is just replacing one usage (technically correct, even if it has negative connotations) with a fraudulent one. And that fraudulent usage strengthens a really really really really really really really really really really stupid layman fantasy of "mixed languages". There are maybe 13 mixed languages out of maybe 8000. Do you really want to make the relative amount of loan words one of the criteria of calling a language a mixed language? If yes, further discussion is pointless (and, "as a linguist" you should know why).

Comment by linguist.in.hiding | Apr 26, 2009 at 01:39 PM EST

CORRECTIONS

>> clearly not the case for Tok Pisin, which has millions of native speakers

> Don't lie! This might be true in the future, and, alas, probably is. Nevertheless, native speakers amount to maybe a million. Second language speakers is what you wanted to say.

Furthermore, as I have checked the facts, even the amount of one million native speakers seems not to hold. And my predictions have also not that much currency.

> Do you really want to make the relative amount of loan words one of the criteria of calling a language a mixed language?

They are not loan words in all cases. I don't actually know, what to call them. Maybe "words from different source languages" might be better?

Anyway, I find it strange that "a linguist" knows what a pidgin is, knows what a creole is but doesn't know what a mixed language is.

Comment by linguist.in.hiding | Apr 27, 2009 at 10:36 AM EST

Sailor, you don't seem to get the point. Daniel was exploited by Diamond. Diamond misunderstood Daniel. Diamond misinterpreted and misreported him. How dare you protect Diamond as if Daniel was at fault? Even if Daniel told Diamond the stories, they were not meant for publication and profiteering. You seem to be thinking in terms of money. What's money compared to tarnished reputation and good name, not only of Daniel, but several clansmen? At least we can prove Diamond's publication is fabricated, false and restore the record of our history, instead of leaving it out there to be cited by others as if it is the truth. At least a good name is better than millions.

Comment by Mako | Apr 24, 2009 at 04:05 AM EST

ples223---Having 'recently lived in' PNG you would then be aware that your 'heavy hitters' mentioned all did brief fieldwork stints in the country and left long ago to manage careers elsewhere, and in the Stratherns' case, rarely if ever come back for follow-up work. Dan Jorgensen is one of the few real heavy hitters in PNG because he does do applied and follow up work, of the sort Sullivan has committed a career to, and the only sort that really makes a difference in PNG. None of the other authors noted even direct their text to PNGuineans, but for the most negligible nods, and even carry bookflap images of themselves posing as some insider site-gag to other anthropologists (referencing another text or ethnographic film while being 'in the field').

Comment by lapunblongples | May 21, 2009 at 10:01 PM EST
In clarification: I have a PhD abd, all but dissertation. This simply means it is an un-defended PhD.
Comment by Nancy Sullivan | Apr 30, 2009 at 01:13 AM EST

With respect, a Ph.D. "abd" is not any kind of official designation, and "ABD" can be used to mean anything from "passed qualifying exams but never started a dissertation" to "wrote dissertation but hasn't defended yet," including "failed her defense." Without a dissertation, you're just a grad student (or an ex-grad student). The fact is, a defended disseration is the defining element of a Ph.D., and if you haven't defended you have not earned the right to be labelled a Ph.D. Calling yourself one, even with the parenthetical hedge "abd" is a misrepresentation. This is not intended to cast any doubt on your expertise or on the correctness of your claims, just this particular credential.

Comment by cubeb | May 17, 2009 at 11:05 AM EST

This topic has been exhausted --and even is now blocked on SavageMinds.org. Since you are anonymous yourself, and yet questioning the transparency and honesty of Nancy I find it ironic.

For the Record, as posted on SavagemInds.org:

"Nancy Sullivan’s NYU PhD advisers write letters of support over the years knowing full well her degree status as PhD (abd)—hence why, with their support and from others top members in anthropology, she recently won a Guggenheim.

"Therefore these claims of fraud (even suggesting that she needs to apologize to NYU) are outrageous libels and make no sense as well as serve as cruel distractions from what is real about Nancy and her work. She has earned her way in spades: It’s all on her web site: Her many grants, her work for the PNG government, her authorship and editing of books with Divine Word University, her company that trains Papua New Guinean ethnographers, her whistle-blowing reports of manufacturing plants, labor issues, corruption, and conservation in PNGand her articles about virtually all aspects of PNG popular culture. PNG Anthropologists say she speaks Tok Pisin like a native Papua New Guinean, such is her competence."

Fraud or misrepresentation is when you are intentionally hiding something. Nancy says right there "abd" and it says Dr.

Her NYU adviser and others who have supported her work, under their real names, and know her personal situation, also know her web site and the CV when recommending Nancy. The CV has remained unchanged for many years, as Bonnie Garner found from her research on WayBackMachine.org. It is out in the open. You have a problem with it and say so, that's fine.

But that is a much different case than calling someone a fraud or someone who is trying to "misrepresent" as you claim. Fraud and misrepresentation speaks of intent to deceive and hiding the truth. Everyone who looks at her CV sees the score--it says "abd."

I am sure if we knew who you were, and you stood up and used your real name instead of hiding it (I guess you could call this fraud as it is intentional) we could find your work and pick nits too if we were mean spirited. But you are not taking any risk of that are you?

Many people, including myself, believe it is unethical to post libelous accusations --for example, saying that Nancy is someone who is intentionally misrepresenting herself--while shielding themselves from similar scrutiny via a false identity.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | May 17, 2009 at 11:51 AM EST

I'm not anonymous--you can contact me via this email and I'll be happy to supply personal information--and I'm not questioning either her honesty or her transparency. (And, I should add, I don't believe there's some magical authority you acquire when you get a Ph.D. I have one and I'm well aware of my intellectual deficiencies. I'm sure Ms. Sullivan's experiences on the ground in PNG vastly outweigh those of many researchers with a less hands-on history--like Jared Diamond.) I'm simplify trying to clarify a small point of usage about what is implied by a Ph.D., because there *are* people who believe in that magic status. But I'm sorry if I gave the impression I was trying to paint her as dishonest--"misrepresentation" was a poor choice of words on my part.

Comment by cubeb | May 17, 2009 at 12:42 PM EST

Thank you very much for your honest and sensitive response. Point well taken. Apology appreciated and accepted. I am sure Nancy who has been rather traumatized by all this, I sure will appreciate it too. It was no big deal to her either (PhD or PHD [abd]) for her role as a consultant outside the academy working and living in the field for so many years. I see PhD abd used throughout the Internet in varying contexts. It is an established convention--whether or not people approve of its use, is another issue.

Comment by Rhonda Roland Shearer | May 17, 2009 at 02:16 PM EST

I can understand why she's traumatised. Her lightly veiled description of what was actually a violent rape turns into a clusterfk about her credentials. Unbelievable.

Comment by lapunblongples | May 21, 2009 at 10:38 PM EST
 
 
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