Collecting “Three Cups of Tea” posts
Posted on April 18, 2011 at 7:11 am
I’m still deciding what, if anything, I will write on this scandal. But in the meantime I thought I’d track the numerous posts springing up on the topic today. If you’re not familiar with the story, here is the original 60 Minutes report.
This post will be regularly updated with the most recent posts at the top. Please include links to related posts that I’ve missed in the comment section.
166. ‘Three Cups of Tea’ Lawsuit Could Open Path for Many Donors to Sue – Chronicle of Philanthropy
165. Three Cups of Tea highlights weaknesses in charitable rating systems – Good Intentions are Not Enough
164. Needed: 3 cups of compassion - The Lead
163. Nonprofit Authors Take Notes From ‘Three Cups’ Scandal - The Chronicle of Philanthropy
162. Greg Mortenson and CAI Roll Out a Defense – Outside Magazine
160. Greg Mortenson offers three weak cups of defense – Humanosphere
158. schools are not enough, or: how I got where I am today - hillary eason
156. Can’t Get There From Here – Outside Magazine
155. The Real Greg Mortenson – Chewy Chunks
154. NOW “Three Cups of Tea” is a Useful University Teaching Tool - Journey toward Justice
153. What Three Cups of Tea Teaches Us #1: Nonprofit Education Efforts Matter – Journey toward Justice
152. The Big Spill Over ‘Three Cups of Tea’ – Wall Street Journal
151. three cups of fiction - Schooling the World
150. 3 Cups Response from Afghanistan – The Social Change Collaborative
149. The Three Cups debacle – hudin
148. Tempest in Three Teacups: Magical Storytelling – crystalhayling
147. It’s Not About The Tea – Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR)
146. Advice for Donors to Greg Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute – The Philanthropic Family
145. Greg Mortenson and our false ideals about social change - Christian Science Monitor
144. If Nicholas Kristof doesn’t learn from Greg Mortenson, who will? – 5 for Fairness
143. Three Cups of … Well, We Thought It was Tea – Ethics Newsline
142. Lessons for Donors from ‘Three Cups of Tea’ – Wall Street Journal
141. Cult of ‘Three Cups of Tea’ Should Have Known Better - Rasmussen Reports
140. ‘More Than Good Intentions’ and ‘Three Cups of Tea’ – Good Intentions are Not Enough
139. ‘Three Cups of Tea’ Scandal Offers Lessons for Charities and Trustees – Chronicle of Philanthropy
138. A Book–But at What Price? - bnet
137. Three Cups of Tea update – Humanosphere
136. Three Cups of Me – Humanicontrarian
135. Mortenson II – Opportunities - Rug Pundits
134. Three Cups of Tea: A View From Waziristan - USALAMA
133. Two Schools in Afghanistan, One Complicated Situation – New York Times
132. How to Pick a Charity: Talk to Former Employees – Bridgid Slipka
131. The Mortenson Situation: Reminding us not to hero-worship in the social sector – Lessons I Learned
130. Why Didn’t You Say So? – View from the Cave – Asks why people that knew what was happening didn’t come forward sooner and how to prevent that in the future.
129. The Real Story - The Coming Prosperity – Highlights other groups working on education and development in Pakistan.
128. Three Cups of Tea Fallout – Coyote Blog – Urges caution in judging CAI and Mortenson until all the facts are in.
127. The Magical Myth of Instant Development – The Atlantic - “If we refuse to fund anything but the most ambitious products, we are vulnerable to con men, or starry-eyed optimists who don’t understand what they’re up against. We can’t transform the lives of the global poor overnight. We can make them better. But only if we are clear-eyed about the projects that we undertake.”
126. Lessons for Social Entrepreneurs from the Microfinance Crisis [and CAI] - Harvard Business Review – Looks at the problem of over-promising that the crash that comes when the truth is revealed.
125. “Three Cups of Tea” : Doing Good is Hard Work – Forbes – “CAI and Mortenson will do well to learn that aligning vision with outcomes is a tough job, but for those with a heart for the poor, it is the only way forward.”
124. Three Cups of Regret - CARE2 – Discusses the fact that Mortenson is one of many out there with outrageous goals, but development doesn’t come quickly and it doesn’t come from the work of a single person.
123. 60 Minutes expose on Three Cups of Tea is weak – and wrong. – Daniel Glick
122. Questions Linger Over ‘Three Cups of Tea’ Author Mortenson’s Tales, Charity – PBS – Video
121. Greg Mortenson’s dizzying fall from grace - The Guardian – Discusses the lawsuits against Mortenson
120. 3 Cups. 2 Perspectives. - The Social Change Collaboratory – “This is less of a story of “he said, she said,” and more a story of two perspectives that coexist within one field of poverty alleviation.”
119. show me a hero and i’ll tell you a tragedy - h-5inc.
118. Why Mr. Kristof needs a new editor – Foreign Policy – Discusses Kristof’s support of Mortenson and his reluctance to criticize Mortenson.
117. Good vs. Honesty in the Mortenson Debate - The Cleanest Line - “If it sounds like I’m defending the guy, maybe I am, at least at some level. Here, I find myself stepping away from my typical knee-jerk, black-and-white view of means and ends. Maybe I still want to believe in heroes. But let’s be clear: I don’t excuse his improprieties, whether willful or ignorant (and I’ve donated to the CAI, as well as to specific rural schools in Pakistan). The man has flaws. To what degree and how true the accusations, we’re not yet sure.”
116. No Sh!t – Tales from the Hood – Comments that there’s nothing new revealed in this scandal.
115. Weak enforcement of rules on U.S. charities – Reuters – Discusses the lack of oversight of nonprofits and fraud or mismanagement.
114. ‘Three Cups’ Scandal Raises Questions About Charity Regulation – Chronicle of Philanthropy
113. Three Cups of Tea: A teachable moment? – Humanosphere – “But it’s a dangerous business when you start confusing yourself with your cause.”
112. Three Cups of a Bitter Tea – John Connell - Mulls over the controversy and asks three questions.
111. Greg Mortenson’s flawed one-man mission in Pakistan – Poverty Matters, The Guardian – Asks why Moretenson didn’t partner with or even mention the local organization funding education. Why did Mortenson have to be a one-man show.
110. The US swallowed these cups of tea to justify its imperial aims - The Guardian - “But perhaps the most intriguing – and most serious – aspect of the Mortenson myth is that his “one-man mission to bring peace” is a continuation of a western drive to “civilise” the world. His parents were Lutheran missionaries in Tanzania. Mortenson describes grinding poverty and ancient tribal customs: it’s a patronising form of orientalism.”
109. Tea and the “narrative of Terror” – Aid Watch – Compares the narrative in Three Cups of Tea with Mountains Beyond Mountains.
108. How the U.S. military fell in love with ‘Three Cups of Tea’ - Washington Post - “The U.S. military was just dying for his story to be true,” said Celeste Ward Gventer, who was a senior civilian adviser to the U.S. military in Baghdad during some of the darkest days of the Iraq war. “They were dying to believe that this one guy learned the culture, earned the Afghans’ respect and helped them build a better society.”
107. Lessons in Nonprofit Ethics from Three Cups of Tea and 60 Minutes - Goalbusters – Uses CAI as a case study in nonprofit ethics.
106. ‘Three Cups of Tea’ success has come crashing down amid questions and investigations - Oregonlive.com – Looks into who actually wrote the book and whether the author was lied to.
105. Really, Greg Mortenson, Really - Wronging Rights – Runs down a list of thoughts on CAI and Greg Mortenson.
104. 3 Lessons to Learn From Greg Mortenson and L’Affair Cups of Tea – UN Dispatch – “While the charges against Greg Mortenson are incredibly disappointing, it’s not a sign that we should give up all efforts to support good work in the world. There are plenty of good charities out there, and there was no shortage of early signs that CAI wasn’t one of them.”
103. The Heroic Lie: A Brief Inquiry into the Fake Memoir – The Rumpus – Talks about the movement to more and more exaggerated stories. ”He wanted to be heard. That meant turning away from the quieter, more terrifying province of truth.”
102. Creative Non-Fiction is Lying. Lying Kind of Bites. – The Nervous Breakdown – “In other words, if a helpful research scientist needs to be massaged into a Taliban terrorist in order to demonstrate plucky American virtue, so be it.”
101. Three Cups of Tea… and a Coffee Cake of Lies (Why the Book Does Not Make Sense) - Geographic Travels – ”What I will comment on is why I felt Three Cups of Tea had a bogus message.”
100. Poor Managing of Good Intentions? – Ordinary Contradictions - “But right now, knowing the little that I know, I give him kudos for doing something.”
99. Embattled “Three Cups Of Tea” Author Finds Support In Unlikely Quarters, – Radio Free Europe – “Shigri also faults Mortenson for focusing largely on building infrastructure without concentrating on the education that would be provided in these buildings: ”He only focused on constructing schools. He failed to ensure their sustainability and [proper] management,” he says. ”He also failed to ensure a high quality of education in these institutions.”"
98. Mortenson’s half-truths – Dawn.com - “Rather than society questioning whether good intentions truly equaled good aid, we gave him a platform, feeling warm and fuzzy for the part we indirectly played in saving schoolchildren.”
97. True Stories of Brewing Tea in Afghanistan – The Activist Writer – Provides links to locally produced films explaining life in Afghanistan.
96. Economical with the truth? – The Economist - Pulls apart the linguistics behind Mortenson’s statements.
95. Grammar, time, and truth – Language Log – Examines Mortenson’s claim that the Balti language only has a vague concept of tense and time. “What seems to be most variable here is not the concept of time but rather the concept of truth, which varies not so much across cultures as across individuals.”
94. We Never Kidnapped Greg Mortenson – The Daily Beast – And interview with the man Mortenson says kidnapped him.
93. WHAT MORTENSON GOT WRONG – The New Yorker – Discusses how Mortenson’s approach and writing was all about himself and the quantity of his work. Compares this with another aid worker with a very different style.
92. 3 Cups of Orientalism – Savage Minds – “The problem with the approach taken by the US military and 3 Cups is that it wants us to think about culture without thinking about power, and I don’t think that can ever work.”
91. Why Three Cups of Tea Won’t Save Afghanistan – Huffington Post – “These literary controversies point to a problem in our collective American psyches: our attraction to narratives in which Western do-gooders jet off to exotic countries to singlehandedly “save” the less fortunate.”
90. Simple, complicated and complex perspectives on accountability and Three Cups of Tea controversy - Genuine Evaluation – Discusses the lack of evaluation and action at CAI and the need for good processes, especially in complex situations.
89. ‘Three Cups of Tea’: Is the publishing industry to blame for fabricated memoirs? - Christian Science Monitor – “In the age of Oprah and celebrity reality television and true tales, everyone wants a spokesperson for some horrible incident or … tragedy. A lot of writers feel forced into making a memoir of something that might more accurately be called fiction.”
88. Montana charity run by hospitalized ‘Three Cups’ author pledges ‘full transparency’ – Washington Post – Family friend steps in to run CAI while Mortenson is hospitalized.
87. Narratives Are Not Enough - Next Billion – Talks about issues of transparency in the aid industry.
86. Three bitter cups of tea – Open Hands – “It’s not wrong to believe a dream. But it is wrong to believe the dream will happen easily.”
85. Q&A David Oliver Relin – Etude – A 2008 interview with the author of Three Cups of Tea “That’s been the only negative thing about this whole adventure for me. After I turned in the manuscript, I received a galley back from the publisher with two names on it. It was published that way over my objections.”
84. ‘Three Cups of Tea,’ Spilled – Kristof from NYT – “As we sift the truth of these allegations, let’s not allow this uproar to obscure that larger message of the possibility of change.”
83. Truth and Lies: Where to Draw the Line? – Yips and Howls – “Can we ever get our writing (or life or work) right? Probably not. But I don’t like to see the difficulties involved be an excuse for not trying.”
82. Storms and tea cups – Economist
81. I Refuse to Title This with Three Cups of [Whatever] Pun – Eating Stuff – Talks about how this scandal hits on many of the major issues with aid and development.
80. Mortensen, Madonna and Saving the World - Smorgasblurb – Compares how we treat people that have “good intentions” with how we treat other professionals where intentions are not important – results are.
79. LESSONS IN TRANSPARENCY FROM GREG MORTENSON – Beyond Profit – “The issues of anecdote-driven impact measurement and lack of transparency are not unique to CAI, but rather are issues that the social sector has been battling for years.”
78. Solving Afghanistan and Pakistan over a cup of tea – Reuters – Asks why no one in the U.S. military challenged the book and the prominence of one man.
77. The Greg Mortenson Scandal: One University’s Bitter Cup of Tea – TIME – A university about to award an honor to Mortenson waits to see how the scandal unfolds.
76. Three Cups of Tea: The Pakistan and Afghan side – BBC - Sends people on the ground to check on what the locals thing of CAI’s work.
75. IT KEEPS GETTING WORSE: Greg Mortenson’s ‘Three Cups Of Tea’ Web Of Lies Grows - Business Insider – reflections from a conversation with the writer that interviewed Mortenson for the Outside article (post #29)
74. Three cups of controversy: Lessons from Greg Mortenson, “60 Minutes,” and the Central Asia Institute – Titus on Mission – An interesting take on the controversy from a religious perspective.
73. Three Cups of Tea: Is life really that simple? – Every tongue – Looks at how we portray the people we’re trying to help and what our contribution really is.
72. Why “Three Cups of Tea’s” lies don’t really matter – Slate – Looks at the issue of financial mismanagement at CAI.
71. How many cups of tea again? – Drinking Chiyaa – Talks about a water project that went wrong and the factors that are necessary for a successful project.
70. Three Empty Tea Cups? Possibly – Forbes – “Men and war have already closed enough doors for women and girls. Let us not give Mortenson that much credit.”
69. Three Cups of Bull: Greg Mortenson and the value of truth – Restless Native Blog – A reporter that wrote one of the first articles about Mortenson recounts how the article came about and how he feels now.
68. Montana AG to investigate Greg Mortenson charity – CBS News
67. Philanthropy reconsidered - International Herald Tribune – “What is most troubling about these revelations is how they show a dangerous conflation of pomp and circumstance with philanthropy.”
66. Greg Mortenson and the perils of super-sizing… – 5 for Fairness - Talks about our need to super-size everything, so we super-sized Mortenson as well.
65. Cup Half-Empty – Foreign Policy – The emotions behind movements and what it takes for successful educational development programs.
64. The Greg Mortenson Case’s Fallout for Women – The Daily Beast - Asks how the scandal will impact funding for girls education.
63. Three Cups Of T. Friedman – WhoWhatWhy – Highlights Friedman’s coverage of Mortenson and says “We need to examine the uses of major media for propaganda purposes, and what responsibility, if any, host publications have to consider the impact of giving such propaganda their platform, without any due diligence.”
62. Three Cups of BS - Foreign Policy - Talks about all the issues with CAI and all the people that knew about them and asks why no one spoke up earlier.
61. Three Cups of Tea: Another Wake Up Call for the Nonprofit World? – Faux pas – Suggests that nonprofits take a moment to examine their own practices.
60. Two Cups Short of a Full-Service - Easily Distracted - “The thing we all really need is a sharper understanding of the development industry and a wiser appreciation of how our own desires for sweeping messianic transformations are as much of a target market as any other consumer demand.”
59. Greg Mortenson’s Lasting Lessons on Afghanistan – The Daily Beast – “To the degree that Mortenson’s writings have convinced officers and soldiers to be patient and listen to the people they aim to protect, I applaud the words of the author—whether they turn out to be fact or fiction.”
58. The ‘Three Cups of Tea’ Scandal and My Greatest Concern – Good Intentions Are Not Enough – Provides a run down of the common aid issues this scandal highlights as well as the potential problems caused by using charitable advertising activities in schools.
57. Fallout from the “Three Cups of Tea” expose - Missoula Independent
56. Three cups of sincerity – International Herald Tribune – Talks about the danger of the saviour narrative in humanitarianism.
55. An Important Message from Dining for Women regarding CAI - Dining for Women – Discusses their own experience donating to CAI and their unmet request for financial reporting.
53. “Three Cups of Tea” and the Stories We Tell – The New Yorker
52. Mortenson – Remote Narratives – Rug Pundits – Written by someone else involved in school building in Pakistan. Looks at how Mortenson over uses the term “remote” and it’s impact.
51. Three Cups of War and Confusion – The New Yorker
50. All Cups, No Tea – Aid Watch
49. Ten sips from “Three Cups of Tea” starting in Seattle - Humanosphere – Boils down Krakauer’s booklet into quick bullet points.
48. Three Shots of Vodka – Tales from the Hood – A critique of Three Cups of Tea written in January. Argues that the book is not a realistic example of how aid really works.
47. Not Even His Cause Was Worthy - Michael Maren – “You don’t need a building to have a school”
46. Lessons learned from ‘Three Cups of Tea’ - Justice for all - A good summary of the major issues and way forward.
45. FOUR CUPS OF TEA – Alex B. Hill – Discusses his own experience on a school building trip.
44. Stones Into Dollars: Why Greg Mortenson’s Math Doesn’t Add Up – Huffington Post – Looks at the money made from book sales and what Mortenson claims he’s making.
43. Pakistan Does Have an Education Crisis Despite Questions About Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea – Brookings – An in-depth look at Pakistan’s education system and the challenges that exist.
42. Thought of the Moment - Planning the Day
41. Three Cups of Humble Pie – Marianne Elliott – Discusses these four questions
1. Questions about ‘truth’ in memoir
2. Questions about the effectiveness of Mortenson/CAI’s approach to education programming
3. Questions about our obsession with the ‘Great White Hero’ in development/humanitarian/aid narratives
4. Questions about the management, especially financial, of CAI
40. three cups - The Theology of Joe
38. The dangerous game of the Three Cups of Tea author and his nonprofit – Nonprofit Spark – “I think Mr. Mortenson is playing a very dangerous game, whether he knows it or not, and somebody’s going to get hurt. I hope it won’t be American soldiers.”
37. The Tea Test – Brett Keller – Proposes that all NGO advertising material should be looked at as though it were translated into the local language and shared. How would people react to how the nonprofit is portraying them.
36. Three Cups of Tea – Four Cups of Bullshit… – The adventures of an expat house husband – A very upset former supporter of Mortenson talking about non-sexy projects and pennies donated by school children.
35. Is Three Cups of Tea Writer Greg Mortenson a Fraud? – The Daily Beast
34. Three Cups of Tea – A Critical Review - Islamic Insights – Written last August, this review seriously questions the cultural messages sent by Mortenson in his book.
33. Destroying Reader Loyalty – PW Beyond Her Book – Discusses how thousands of school children were made to read “Three Cups of Tea” and have been lied to through this process. What do you then say to the children, what damage is done?
32. Three cups of Tea filled with Inaccuracies – RateVin – Discusses the problem with supporting organizations led by celebrity figures rather than quiet and competent ones.
30. Greg Mortenson Redefines “Doing One’s Best” – Ethan Casey – A defense of Greg Mortenson
29. Greg Mortenson Speaks – Outside Magazine - An interview with Moretenson about the controversy.
28. ‘Three Cups of Tea’ author threatened with lawsuit for defamation - CNN – The man Mortenson accused of kidnapping him, Mansur Khan Mahsud, is taking legal action.
27. Three-cup Monte – Line of Departure – A scathing criticism of Mortenson and his influence on the military.
26. Stranger than fiction: What we’re really losing with Greg Mortenson’s fall – need to know on PBS – Talks about Mortenson inspiring people to focus on what the local people need and want.
25. Three cups of tea and compassion - Stories of Conflict and Love – “I resolve to extend some compassion to Mortenson. His work and life story still ignite something inside me.”
24. Tea, lives, and trust - Philanthropy 2173 – Discusses the discrepancies between charitable ratings for CAI.
23. Your Origin Story: Myth, Factual or In Between? – Rally the Cause -Making sure your origin story is rooted in fact.
22. Why Three Cups of Tea are Not Enough – TIME – Author visited a school of Mortenson’s and found it empty because there were no teachers to teach.
21. Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way – Byliner – John Krakauer’s story available free via kindle until April 20th. – A must-read for anyone really interested in this topic.
20. Your Media Relations Can Make or Break Your Charity – It’s that Simple – About.com – Provides advice for nonprofits in handling the media.
19. Greg Mortenson: Not a Publishing Scandal – Beatrice.com – Points out that there were indications from the start that Greg’s story might not be accurate.
18. Disillusioned by Mortenson – Stratosphere – Provides advice for donors when giving
17. Publisher of ‘Three Cups of Tea’ to Conduct Review – New York Times
16. CBS And The Central Asia Institute – Charity Navigator – Explains where they stand with their CAI rating and how their rating system works.
15. More Than A Fancy Name Or Good Story - Desiree Adaway – Talks about the lack of financial oversight for both CAI and Madonna’s Malawi school and the most important roles of the governing board.
14. Good things for the wrong reasons - Radar Lake – “Personally, I’m not sure how I feel. I’d rather people did the right things for the right reasons but what if the benefits of having people do good things for bad reasons outweighs the harm in being dishonest (if it were even possible to measure that)? I, unfortunately, have no answers for you.”
13. Disruption isn’t just for Entrepreneurs: The Three Cups of Tea lesson – Forbes – Talks about the founder syndrome and how we need to focus on the impact of the nonprofit and not the person that started it.
12. Three cups of tea. And a lot of bullshit? – The Road to the Horizon – Explains why he didn’t like 3 Cups of Tea from the start.
11. The problem with “Three Cups of Tea” and the 60 Minutes attack – Kelsey Timmerman – Asks why 60 Minutes didn’t try to answer why Mortenson did what he did. And states “If half of what he’s written is true, he’s a great man. I suspect we’ll discover in the next few weeks if he’s greater than his flaws.”
10. Greg Mortenson: Three cups to the wind? – Humanosphere – An overview of the controversy with links.
9. Is Three Cups of TeaWriter Greg Mortenson a Fraud? – The Daily Beast
8. Three More Cups of Tea, Please – Michael Maren – Six points from watching the 60 minute piece with his son who donated pennies to the cause.
7. Three Cups of Truth – Huffington Post - Discusses our need for a hero and how the focus needs to be on the work instead.
6. Eureka and Other Myths – Solar Sister – Discusses the pressure by the media to have a great origin story.
5. ‘Three Cups of Tea’ Author Defends Book - New York Times
4. Mortenson in his own words – A View from the Cave – Shares CAI’s answers to some of 60 Minutes’ questions.
3. Three Cups of … - penelope m.c. – Discusses the scandal and expresses hope that this is an opportunity for CAI to improve their practices.
2. Three cups of lies? – A View from the Cave – Introduces the Mortenson scandal.
1. The Miseducation of Thomas Friedman - Mosharraf Zaidi – A 2009 post putting the work of CAI into perspective, worth including in this list as well.