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Media Cannibals

19 Sep

Media watch devoted their entire episode on the 18th of September to analysis of this embarrassing stoush between channel 7 and channel 9. Until next monday, you can view this week's Media Watch online, the transcripts should be up for a bit longer than that.

Perhaps my only criticism on the Media Watch coverage is that they focused mostly on the content of the fight between the two channels, but didn't look so much at how ridiculously improbable the scenario was. I guess a follow up on this Paul Raffaele character, and a real discussion of life and hardships of people living in Papua (AIDS springs to mind...amongst many other issues), is content for a real news show rather than a show that critiques the media...

incidentally...I love the title "why 7 ate 9"

previous posts:

Who are the cannibals?
"First Contact" experience?


Dear Mr Honeyman,

I've just read your comment in your blog about the Wawa incident being, "ridiculously improbable" and am surprised that a man of science would make such a blunt statement without checking primary sources. I live in Sydney and am easily contactable.

What I find ridiculously probable is the alacrity of people such as yourself, and those white Australian anthropologists who claimed to have significant knowledge of the Korowai culture without ever having been anywhere near there, to leap into a discussion and brandish your ignorance and prejudice without bothering to check the facts at source.

I also find it sadly tragic that you and the white anthropologists and journalists who cast doubt on the story judged, from a distance of a few thousand kilometres and in the safety of your homes and offices, that you knew better than Wawa's uncles. In effect you called them liars.

They pleaded with me to save Wawa, especially after another of his uncles was murdered at their village, Yafufla, a few weeks after we'd been there. You demonstrably believed you knew better than them about the, "ridiculously improbable" threat to Wawa, and thus your comment shames you.

Who am I? you seem to ask in your blog. You may want to consult my book, ‘The Last Tribes On Earth,’ praised by, among many others, one of the US's most renowned anthropologists; a Sydney Morning Herald book reviewer; and one of the 20th century's seminal thinkers, Alvin Toffler.

You may also wish to consult one of the world's foremost indigenous tribal experts, Sydney Possuelo, the former director of the department of remote Indians in Brazil, about my credentials.

Sydney took me to visit a Korubo clan in an Amazon rainforest otherwise forbidden to outsiders. Because of our many discussions on that trip about our experiences over four decades among tribal people, and the many difficulties they face, and his later reading of my book, we are now firm friends.

I'd be happy to pass on his email address to you. I should warn you that Sydney doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

I can smile wryly at your comment in the blog because, luckily, blatherers such as yourself did not prevent Wawa's rescue, and he's now far away from danger, I repeat at his uncles' request. The contrast in the photos of a fearful Wawa at Yafufla, and now very happy in his new home are very pleasing.

However, if you had your way, it's clear from your comment in the blog that the little boy would still be back at Yafufla, still deeply traumatised by the suspicion that he was a khakhua and still under threat, guarded 24 hours a day by his uncles.

sincerely, Paul Raffaele

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The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.

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