fws boas2 9-21-07 - Anthro 125 Snakes in Tombs...

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9/26/07 Anthro 125 Snakes in Tombs: Archaeologists as Spies The question of morality in science has always been hotly debated. There are some who view scientists as the noblest followers of the noblest goal of all: the search for truth. Others view the pursuit of science as a career like any other, with opportunities for advancement, some of which may involve loosening one’s morals. However, situations, even in science, are rarely as clear-cut as this distinction. These two viewpoints are expressed through the thoughts and actions of two famous archaeologists: Sylvanus Morley, who performed spy work in tandem with archaeological research, and Franz Boas, who published a letter exposing and denouncing Morley’s espionage. Though Morley’s actions can be considered unethical from a scientific perspective, Boas’ reaction to Morley’s doings was not purely as the result of his repulsion to Morley’s compromise of his professional integrity. As an American archaeologist working in Central America during World War I, Sylvanus Morley was in a prime position to survey the Central American coastline for German U-boat outposts. After receiving a grant to perform research on lost Mayan temples in Honduras, Guatemala, and other Latin American regions, Morley volunteered his services to the Office of Naval Intelligence, the predecessor to the American Central Intelligence Agency (Harris and Sadler, 2003). The issue arises from the fact that Morley
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