Tonight the Perpetual Notion Machine rebroadcasts a show that originally aired on Feb. 2, 2006. Distinguished professor of anthropology Neil Whitehead was our guest. Generally, Neil studied indigenous peoples in the isolated regions of the Amazon rainforest, and their often brutal tribal practices. Thus, he was interested in the human nature of violence, and wrote two books on the subject called Violence and Terror: Imagination and the Unimaginable and just Violence. According to Neil, as he mentions to PNM reporter and interviewer John Helgeson, the attitude toward violent acts depends on one’s perspective. For instance, we condemn a ruthless ruler’s or tyrant’s subjugation and killing as despicable. Yet, we seem to accept torture of an enemy as necessary and justified. In another sense, we have sympathy for the victims of violence. But yet, when a victim seeks violence on his/her attacker for revenge, that seems okay. This show also had a Science News Roundup segment presented by Bill Scanlon.
Unfortunately, this was the only time Neil was a guest on PNM. He passed away in 2012. UW-Madison Communications wrote a nice tribute to Neil at the time of his passing.