[Marxism] Putting words in a Papuan's mouth

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Apr 24 06:51:47 MDT 2009

 From today's Chronicle of Higher Education article:

They also present evidence that Mr. Diamond misleadingly presented his 
quotations from Mr. Wemp as if they were spoken during their car rides 
together in 2001 and 2002, when in fact they were all gathered during a 
single interview in Mr. Wemp’s office in 2006. And regardless of when 
they were spoken, the quotations are so polished that they were almost 
certainly not Mr. Wemp’s verbatim words, according to an analysis given 
to Ms. Shearer by Douglas Biber, a professor of applied linguistics at 
Northern Arizona University.



Unfortunately, I find Diamond’s reliance on the testimony of his 
subjects somewhat unreliable given what appears his tendency to put 
words in the Papuan’s mouth. Now I might be wrong, but somehow I find it 
far-fetched that a Papuan would have expressed himself to Jared Diamond 
in the words attributed to him in the New Yorker article:

"I admit that the New Guinea Highland way to solve the problem posed by 
a killing isn’t good. Our way disturbs our day-to-day life; we won’t be 
comfortable for the rest of our lives; we are always in effect living on 
the battlefield; and those feelings go on and on in us. The Western way, 
of letting the government settle disputes by means of the legal system, 
is a better way. But we could never have arrived at it by ourselves: we 
were trapped in our endless cycles of revenge killings."

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