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Using Scudder Missals Bombs

" the US Congress choose to ignore warnings 
from such informed scientists as myself "


rofessor Thayer Scudder of the California Institute of Technology (a school not known for its "soft" sciences) unhesitatingly claims to be THE world authority on "relocation," but has never adequately explained the sloppy scientific method, and distortions of data in his "authoritative survey" in the 1970s, conducted to "prove" his assertion that in the Navajo relocation "human rights were seriously violated." This slipshod research was documented in THE HOPI, by SMITHSONIAN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC and NATURAL HISTORY contributors Suzanne and Jack Page:

"One of the strongest statements [on relocation], often adduced by the Navajo government in support of its claims, was made by Professor Thayer Scudder of the California Institute of Technology, who, in March 1979 released a report under the auspices of the Institute of Development Anthropology, Inc., of Binghamton, N.Y., a private research group. Professor Scudder, two graduate students and six research aides during the Christmas Break in 1978 interviewed 118 Navajo to ascertain the amount of stress that relocation, or the threat of relocation was placing upon them ...

"There are a few [methodological] problems with this ... For example, five of the researchers engaged in the interviewing process were Navajo. Of these, four were employed at the time by the official Navajo land dispute committee. Scudder admitted that no effort was made to get a random sample; instead the interviewers just spoke to whomever they came across during the Christmas recess. Further, social scientists have pointed out that, in this situation, 118 subjects are too small a sample from this to make statistically valid extrapolations and generalizations.

"There is also a problem about the scholarly responsibility for this report. When queried, the president of the Institute for Development Anthropology, Inc., said the institute was not involved and had not participated in the study, and that the opinions arrived at were not those of the institute.

"... it should be noted that Dr. Scudder himself testified before both a federal court and the Senate Interior Committee as all this was brewing and said on those occasions exactly what he said in his 1979 report. A renowned expert on relocation in Africa, at the time of his testimony he admitted to not being an expert on the Navajo."

In his letter to the UN "Rapporteur" in 1998, Scudder said, in part: "Indeed, this forced relocation of over 12,000 Native Americans is one of the worst cases of involuntary community resettlement that I have studied throughout the world over the past 40 years ... Acknowledged as the Dean of community resettlement studies ... I was asked [in 1974] by the Navajo Nation to inform the United States Congress through testimony before the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs of my opinion that the still-to-be-passed Public Law 93-531 could be expected to have equally serious impacts on a majority of those involved ... I quote from the 1974 testimony in some detail to show that prior to passage of Public Law 93-531 the US Congress choose to ignore warnings from such informed scientists as myself ...

"Another aspect of this tragedy was the extent to which outsiders made the land dispute into a strictly Navajo-Hopi dispute when its origin was due far more to confused Federal Government involvement over an extended time period. The situation was made worst (sic) by the senior Democrat in the area (Udall) and Republican (Goldwater) advocating the Hopi Tribal Government position for personal reasons that had very little to do with the basic issues involved." (Dated Jan. 30, 1998)

Sadly, Dr. Scudder seems to have very little understanding of the Hopi point of view, as well. But then, they didn't HIRE him to testify on their behalf.

Scudder seems to have not merely "forgotten" his flawed methodology and questionable approach (remember, he was employed by the Navajo Tribe to prove a point), but has moved into the "scientific" discipline of long-distance psychoanalysis in the intervening decades. At least his claim to knowledge of the inner workings of the minds of Mo Udall and Barry Goldwater is every bit as credible as "such informed scientists as myself" can be. The reader is commended to Jose Ortega Y Gasset’s The Revolt of the Masses for a more thorough analysis of such ‘informed’ pedantry.

posted  24 February 2000

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