The Chagnon and Sahlins controversy

Quite a story here about the recent Marshall Sahlins resignation from the National Academy of Science (NAS). Most of the story (and comments) are about Chagnon and his scientific validity, but Sahlins also points to a second reason for his resignation, which interests me more, namely the NAS’ continuing involvement in military projects:

Sahlins further noted his objection to several recently announced collaborationsbetween the NAS and the U.S. military. One of the projects involves “measuring human capabilities” and “the combination of individual capabilities to create collective capacity to perform”; another seeks to study “the social and organizational factors that present external influences on the behavior of individuals operating within the context of military environments.” Both have the stated goal of utilizing social science research “to inform U.S. military personnel policies and practices.”

Because of “the toll that military has taken on the blood, treasure, and happiness of American people, and the suffering it has imposed on other peoples,” Sahlins said, “the NAS, if it involves itself at all in related research, should be studying how to promote peace, not how to make war.”

It’s unusual I think to go to these lengths to protest military involvement, and as such that alone is worth noting.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s