Margaret Mead Debunked?

Twink (
Sat, 20 Dec 1997 09:16:05 -0500 (EST)

At 02:39 PM 12/20/97 +0100, Guru George
<> wrote:
>There is also the famous case of Margaret Mead more or less making up a
>whole load of shit that influenced (especially leftist) sociology for
>years in her book "Coming of Age in Samoa".
>She painted a picture of Samoans as Noble Savages, the whole shebang
>(especially in regard to sexual freedom); actually, Samoans are if
>anything even *more* taboo-ridden than we are.
>Recently, one of her then-adolescent informers (now a grand dame in
>Samoan society) owned up to having teased Mead a *lot* in the course of
>her researches for the book!
>(Sorry I can't remember references, but it's quite a well known case in

The book is by D. Freeman and is titled _Margaret Mead and Somoa:
The Making and Unmaking of an Antropological Myth_ (1983). The
case if sometimes contrasted with that of Jane Goodall. Mead went
to Somoa (and elsewhere) and basically saw what she wanted to
see -- noble savages in the tradition of Rousseau.

Goodall, on the contrary, thought initially of chimp societies the same
way -- as nonhuman and, ergo, ideal, placid, etc. However, unlike
Mead, she eventually saw that her preconceptions did not fit the
data. Chimps not only had a hierarchical society, they warred, and
were even cannabalistic.

IMHO, Goodall was a scientist and Mead an ideologue. I'm surprised
it would even arise as a point of controversy on this list.

Daniel Ust