Begley, Sharon; Carey, John; and Robinson, Carl. "In Search of the Real Samoa," Newsweek,
14 February 1983, p. 56.
Here is Newsweek's account of the flap about Margaret Mead's work in Samoa. This whole
thing came up with the announcement by the Fellows of Harvard that they were soon to publish a
new book (Derek Freeman's, Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an
Anthropological Myth) which was severely critical of Mead's methods of studying adolescents in
Samoa. Among the most important of the criticisms: she brought her presuppositions to her field
work and allowed them to dominate her conclusions. It should be recalled that Margaret Mead is
a leading environmentalist, a student of Franz Boas, and takes a rather clear positon regarding the
nature-nurture controversy. For his part, Derek Freeman is a champion of nature, an hereditarian.
This article is not about the book so much as it is an explanation of the meaning of the flap.
Newsweek's position is quite simple: "The truth probably lies somewhere between Mead's
position and Freeman's views."
Newsweek has it that "Mead certainly had her preconceptions. She left America at a time when
bigotry had been made legitimate by biology... But if Mead had a bias, the same is precisely true
of Freeman... The collision between him and Mead is personal as well as part of the
nature-vs-nurture debate in anthropological circles."
"Both Mead's and Freeman's books illustrate the truth that what fieldworkers see often depends
on the personal prism they filter it through." This is a sensible report on the whole issue.