Mead-Freeman debate

Mark D. Fulwiler (
Tue, 23 Dec 1997 13:18:30 -0700

Damien Broderick wrote:

> At 09:56 PM 12/21/97 -0700, Mark Fulwiler wrote:

> >The current issue of Skeptic magazine (Vol. 5 No. 3) has an article by
> >Derek Freeman about Margaret Mead.

> The problem with this cite is its partiality. As I understand it,
> Freeman's standing is hardly secure. He might well be correct - I have a
> lot of sympathy for his analysis - but I'd like to see an array of
> commentary from several sides of the controversy, not just Freeman
> repeating himself. Incidentally, the noted Australian playwright David
> Williamson recently had some success with THE HERETIC, a stage
> dramatisation of the Mead-Freeman scandal (which has Freeman's imprimatur).
> Williamson, formerly a sardonic but engaged chronicler of the left, has
> lately been adopting a different position, with plays dealing with
> malicious and deceitful claims of sexual harassment by a young female
> student against her male university teacher, and the supposed failures of
> `multiculturalism' and attacks on the English literature canon by evil
> postmodernists.
> Damien Broderick

For another perspective on this issue, you might read "The History of Samoan Sexual
Conduct and the Mead-Freeman Controversy" in the "American Anthropologist" (98:555-567).
Interestingly, Freeman's response to the article was not published by the magazine. Not
a good sign if you think the Mead defenders are interested in real scientific debate and
not just preaching to the choir.

Mark Fulwiler