was a literal band

was a literal band of brothers—a group of close male relatives who had lived in the same community their whole lives. During 3 decades of living with and studying the Yanomam? Chagnon now at the University of Missouri Columbia gathered reams of information about their marriages wars alliances and other relationships But some anthropologists said his 1968 ethnography Yanomam: The Fierce People exploited the tribe by breaking their taboo on using the names of the dead; others argued that its emphasis on violent encounters helped governments justify invasions of Yanomam territory Chagnon also faced criticism for infractions such as giving gifts including machetes to his closest Yanomam associates and thus distorting the social structure he aimed to analyze In 2000 journalist Patrick Tierney even accused him of worsening a measles epidemic among the Yanomam as part of a biomedical experiment The American Anthropological Association however cleared Chagnon of that and most other charges in 2001 and rescinded their remaining criticisms in 2005 For his part Macfarlan calls Chagnon’s data “one of the most unique data sets in the world” capturing the Yanomam at a time before outside influences had altered their way of life Listening to Chagnon’s extensive recorded interviews with his Yanomam informants assuaged any doubts he had about data collection Macfarlan says Macfarlan believes that his new view of how warriors benefited from becoming unokai could explain one of Chagnon’s most controversial findings In 1988 Chagnon reported in Science that unokais of every age had more wives and children than their nonunokai counterparts He hypothesized that being a warrior gave men high social standing and so made them more attractive as marriage partners and fathers His suggestion that warfare and violence are “adaptive” behaviors that help drive human evolution quickly attracted fiery criticism Some of those ideas are no longer so startling But in contrast to Chagnon’s focus on warriors’ reputations Macfarlan found that the key advantage held by unokais was that they “are plugged into this social scene” that allows them to make strong alliances outside of their immediate paternal family often in different villages That gives them access to their friends’ female relatives as potential wives They are “getting the resources and marriage opportunities of [their] allies” not their defeated enemies Macfarlan says The study shows that for the Yanomam and possibly other small-scale societies “warfare is about cooperation” agrees Stephen Beckerman an anthropologist and professor emeritus at Pennsylvania State University University Park He plans a similar analysis of alliances among the Waorani another small-scale society in the Amazon with a tradition of waging war Macfarlan acknowledges that Chagnon’s data don’t rule out the possibility that Yanomam warriors formed raiding parties with men who were already their in-laws confirming existing bonds rather than forging new ones In fact Hill notes men in many small-scale societies often prefer to ally with their brothers-in-law because by definition these men aren’t competing for access to the same women Although Hill doesn’t expect the new paper to sway any of Chagnon’s most committed critics he says it represents “a more subtle and nuanced view of human society” than the anthropologist has articulated in the past “It’s nice to see Chagnon reanalyzing some of his data 30 or 40 years later and coming up with a slightly different view of things”6-meter telescope in Chile. the follow up is not trivial, Omang Kumar.

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