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The Sciences

A Cupful of Controversy

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorApril 20, 2011 5:18 PM


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Has mountain climber and best-selling Greg Mortenson of "Three Cups of Tea" fame been exposed as a fraud by CBS's 60 Minutes? Or is the segment that ran this past Sunday "seriously deficient" and "lacking in basic elements of fairness, balance, perspective, insight and context," as former Newsweek correspondent Daniel Glick target="_blank">argues? Glick, who is an accomplished magazine writer (and a good friend of mine), offers a spirited defense that is less a deconstruction of 60 Minutes' reporting and more a testimonial of Mortenson, based on a 1998 trip Glick made to Pakistan, where he met Mortenson "years before he hit national headlines." Glick recounts the experience and some of his impressions:

Mortenson was one of the more interesting people I had met in a lifetime of traveling and writing about interesting people. He was humble, dressed in a dirty shalwar kameez, and seemed about as guileless as anybody I had ever met, with an almost monkish disregard for consumerism or popular culture. He was a bit naïve, it seemed to me, but was obviously pleased with the bridge over the Braldu River that he had helped build, as well as the school in Korphe. Haji Ali and the other Baltis treated him with great affection and respect. He returned the gestures in word and deed. I spoke a lot with Mortenson about his new Central Asia Institute, and his idea to build more schools to provide opportunities for young girls to get an education. He told me the now-disputed story about his first visit to Korphe after his failed summit attempt on K2 "“ and his inspiration to build a school there. When we returned to the relative metropolis of Skardu, I sat in on meetings he held with local mullahs, and visited a vocational school for young women that Mortenson said he had helped to get off the ground.

I can't weigh in since I haven't watched the 60 Minutes episode yet, but for those who have been following the story, I thought I'd point out Glick's post.

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