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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
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An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
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Anthropologists Slam Using Social Scientists in Mideast Wars
3 December 2009 3:54 pm
Since 2007, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has deployed teams of anthropologists and other social scientists in Iraq and Afghanistan. The goal is to make better military decisions based on an improved cultural understanding of those countries. DOD officials claim the initiative—known as the Human Terrain System (HTS) program—is working, and has already helped defuse conflict in many areas. But in a report released today at its annual meeting in Philadelphia, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) says what HTS teams do in the field should not be confused with anthropology. They say anthropologists should not participate in this work, regardless of whether it helps the military.
"Human terrain teams in the field cannot in any reasonable sense of the word be carrying out anthropological field work," Robert Albro, chair of the panel that produced the report, said at a press conference this morning. Unlike what anthropologists typically do, the report notes, HTS units help to gather intelligence that, in all likelihood, is then used to kill people or cause harm. The program "blurs so many ethical lines," Albro says.
This is not the first time that the discipline has criticized the HTS program, which involves some 400 people, including at least 6 Ph.D. anthropologists. In the fall of 2007, shortly after the program was launched, AAA's executive board called it "an unacceptable application of anthropological expertise." Today's report, based on interviews with both DOD officials and those in the program, reinforces that position. "Anthropologists cannot properly function within human terrain teams," says Jim Peacock, one of the authors.