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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)

  • 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. *

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82 Responses

  1. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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

  2. Anonymous says:

    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.

  3. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  4. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  5. ples223 says:

    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….

  6. mi tasol says:

    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.

  7. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  8. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  9. Amazilia says:

    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.

  10. mi tasol says:

    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.

  11. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  12. Steve Sailer says:

    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.

  13. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    It is only natural to question the motives of someone who is picking small points to attack or when they are going out of their way to have negative assumptions—like suggesting I did not share the research paper with my team before publication. Worse, saying I am a biased person and not treating my team with respect. This is an attack not a constructive or honest critique. An anonymous person is difficult to communicate with when they take nasty shots. They can say anything and not be held accountable–and when your name is there, you can not act in kind. I am holding this anonymous person accountable.

  14. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  15. Mako J. Kuwimb says:

    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.

  16. Mako says:

    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.

  17. Mako says:

    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.

  18. Mava says:

    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.

  19. Anonymousreader says:

    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.

  20. A student and a teacher says:

    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.

  21. Another Arizonan linguist (and anthropologist. of the non-hobby sort) says:

    "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.

  22. Another Arizonan linguist (and anthropologist. of the non-hobby sort) says:

    Mi tasol, Tok Pisin for "just me", how emblematic of Internet anonymity…

    How on earth could you NOT think this work poisons indigenous people? Are you not aware of how many forests have been felled to print in our libraries the overwhelming proof that the theft of indigenous lands and resources, 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? You may fault Shearer for not making the case strongly enough, but that you go so far as to doubt that it is even true shows that you are a victim of the arrogant mentality of those of us Westerners who think we are better than everyone else. This just in: Ecuador to lose trade status because it is protecting its people’s right to sue Chevron; American people still believe in "free" trade. How many more lives must be lost to maintain Western supremacy? And, to return to the principal theme, how many more indigenous people must be brainwashed into belief in their own inferiority?

  23. Another Arizonan linguist (and anthropologist. of the non-hobby sort) says:

    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.

  24. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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

  25. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  26. linguist.in.hiding says:

    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).

  27. Senhal says:

    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.

  28. jahigginbotham says:

    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/

  29. lita says:

    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!

  30. linguist.in.hiding says:

    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.

  31. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  32. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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?

  33. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  34. Still a student and a teacer says:

    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.

  35. linguist.in.hiding says:

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

  36. linguist.in.hiding says:

    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.

  37. JL says:

    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?

  38. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  39. doug says:

    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…

  40. Mi tasol says:

    "Times New Roman","serif";">In response to Another Arizonan linguist (and anthropologist. of the non-hobby sort):

    ‘Mi tasol, Tok Pisin for "just me", how emblematic of Internet anonymity…’ actually I was using it in the context of ‘me only’ as in ‘only my opinion’…

    “How on earth could you NOT think this work poisons indigenous people?’ I was not commenting on Diamonds work being poisonous or otherwise but the exaggeration in the article by Rhonda Roland Shearer and trying to make the point that if you are to criticise so vehemently then you should have your own work held up to similar standards. I was also concerned about the role of the PNG collaborators, but I’ll address that in response to some others comments. I don’t disagree with the principle behind the piece; I just think it is very poor journalism – exaggeration, inaccuracy, grammatical errors, spelling errors, factual errors. … about every mistake you can make! The subject matter itself was dynamite, what a shame it was not up to the journalistic standards that it demands of Diamond.

    ‘… but that you go so far as to doubt that it is even true….’ I never indicated I doubt that it being ‘true’ – you really need to read my posting more carefully before assuming what I say – I just deplore the sloppiness of the article.

    ‘…shows that you are a victim of the arrogant mentality of those of us Westerners who think we are better than everyone else.’ I’m please you describe yourself as an arrogant westerner. This is the only way to understand your assumption I am myself a “westerner’. My ethnicity is my business and irrelevant to my argument. Poor journalism is just plain poor whether I am from the Western Highlands or West Coast.

    ‘Are you not aware of how many forests have been felled to print in our libraries the overwhelming proof that the theft of indigenous lands and resources, ‘ Yeah, alas I am. Ironically, Diamond’s early ecological and conservation work may have contributed to forests not being felled. Although it did not result in direct conservation that I am aware of, his work may have inspired a groups of conservation biologists to work in that field. I think you might be interested to ask PNGean and West Papuan conservationists if they were in anyway inspired by his work. This is not a simple good and evil story, I’m afraid. (Now I will be accused of defending Diamond, see my other post – I gave up on his popular stuff years ago)

  41. doug says:

    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).

  42. Mi tasol says:

    "In response to Another Arizonan linguist (and anthropologist. of the non-hobby sort):

    ‘Mi tasol, Tok Pisin for "just me", how emblematic of Internet anonymity…’ actually I was using it in the context of ‘me only’ as in ‘only my opinion’…

    “How on earth could you NOT think this work poisons indigenous people?’ I was not commenting on Diamonds work being poisonous or otherwise but the exaggeration in the article by Rhonda Roland Shearer and trying to make the point that if you are to criticise so vehemently then you should have your own work held up to similar standards. I was also concerned about the role of the PNG collaborators, but I’ll address that in response to some others comments. I don’t disagree with the principle behind the piece; I just think it is very poor journalism – exaggeration, inaccuracy, grammatical errors, spelling errors, factual errors. … about every mistake you can make! The subject matter itself was dynamite, what a shame it was not up to the journalistic standards that it demands of Diamond.

    ‘… but that you go so far as to doubt that it is even true….’ I never indicated I doubt that it being ‘true’ – you really need to read my posting more carefully before assuming what I say – I just deplore the sloppiness of the article.

    ‘…shows that you are a victim of the arrogant mentality of those of us Westerners who think we are better than everyone else.’ I’m please you describe yourself as an arrogant westerner. This is the only way to understand your assumption I am myself a “westerner’. My ethnicity is my business and irrelevant to my argument. Poor journalism is just plain poor whether I am from the Western Highlands or West Coast.

    ‘Are you not aware of how many forests have been felled to print in our libraries the overwhelming proof that the theft of indigenous lands and resources, ‘ Yeah, alas I am. Ironically, Diamond’s early ecological and conservation work may have contributed to forests not being felled. Although it did not result in direct conservation that I am aware of, his work may have inspired a groups of conservation biologists to work in that field. I think you might be interested to ask PNGean and West Papuan conservationists if they were in anyway inspired by his work. This is not a simple good and evil story, I’m afraid. (Now I will be accused of defending Diamond, see my other post – I gave up on his popular stuff years ago)

  43. JL says:

    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?

  44. JL says:

    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.

  45. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  46. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

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

  47. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  48. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  49. JL says:

    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.

  50. JL says:

    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.

  51. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  52. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  53. JL says:

    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.

  54. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  55. JL says:

    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?

  56. doug says:

    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.

  57. doug says:

    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.

  58. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  59. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  60. Nancy Sullivan says:

    In clarification: I have a PhD abd, all but dissertation. This simply means it is an un-defended PhD.

  61. nancy says:

    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.

  62. Fannington says:

    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.

  63. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  64. Mako says:

    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?

  65. Mako says:

    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!

  66. bonnie garner says:

    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.

  67. bonnie garner says:

    -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.

  68. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  69. cubeb says:

    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.

  70. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  71. cubeb says:

    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.

  72. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  73. lapunblongples says:

    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’).

  74. lapunblongples says:

    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.

  75. schmandt says:

    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.

  76. edward says:

    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.

  77. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

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

  78. christophe verlinde says:

    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.

  79. Rhonda Roland Shearer says:

    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.

  80. Dave says:

    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)

  81. robert says:

    great story, great article, great journalism. r

  82. captaingrumpy says:

    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.

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