Skip to comments.Education of a Nobel Laureate on Gun Control
Posted on 01/02/2014 7:58:18 AM PST by marktwain
In the early 1980's, I found myself working on a graduate degree at the University of Wisconsin. The University had a Nobel laureate among the faculty, Dr. Howard Temin. I had already made the decision to fight for the second amendment. Although I thought the cause was lost, I could not in good conscience give up. I could not live with myself if I did not do what I could to preserve the Constitution and the rule of law. I had just finished a tour of duty, I had taken an oath, and I had meant it.
It was a vastly different time. Florida had not passed concealed carry. The demographics looked bad. The number of hunters was falling, and it was hard to see how we could energize sufficient second amendment supporters without a new generation of hunters. There was no Internet. There was no conservative talk radio. I took the formation of CNN as a hopeful sign that we might get some diversity in the media. Personal computers were just starting. I had a friend who ran an IBM 360 in his basement as his PC. I learned to program on cardboard punch cards.
One day, reading the local paper, I saw a letter to the editor from Dr. Temin. He was pushing for more infringements on the second amendment, and his assumptions were simply wrong, so I decided to see if I could enlighten him. Being able to place, "Nobel laureate" at the end of a letter to the editor is a powerful argument from authority, and I wanted to stop his misinformed but politically correct attacks.
For those of you who do not know, Madison, Wisconsin is sometimes known as Berkley, Midwest. Progressive politics is endemic to the academic environment. I suspected that the Nobel Prize winner had simply inhaled his opinions about guns and gun legislation with the overall political attitude on campus. I have found that it is almost never worthwhile to disrespect the opposition, especially when you know little about them. I respectfully telephoned Dr. Temin and questioned him about his letter to the editor. I had a copy of Don Kates' book, "Restricting Handguns: The Liberal Skeptics Speak Out". It had only been out for a couple of years, and it was full of powerful and nuanced articles that tore apart the progressive premises for "gun control", which at the time, meant only "handgun control".
In my short conversation with the Nobel laureate, I found that he had done no research on the subject, and asked if he would be willing to look at a book about it that I could lend him. He said yes. I met him when I delivered the book. You could see the intensity in the man; he was focused, focused like an Olympic athlete. His life was organized around his research, his time was extremely valuable, he spent his life on what he believed to be important. I have often wondered if someone else had asked him to write the letter to the editor.
Two weeks later, I asked if he had finished the book. He said that I could pick it up. I did so, and when I was at his office, I asked him if he had read it. He said that he had skimmed through it. I asked him if he had learned anything. He said "I learned not to write about things that I do not know anything about." I never saw another letter to the editor from him.
I learned a few things from this experience. First, that much of our opposition is operating from pure ignorance. Everyone is ignorant. "We are all just ignorant about different things", as Mark Twain once said. The second was a reinforcement that it pays to respect someone who disagrees with you. Maybe they do not deserve your respect, but that is not an easy or quick thing to establish. It also pays to try to get inside of your opposition's head. I knew that the Nobel laureate was a scientist, a good one. What real scientist can resist looking at data that he has not seen? I had not read Dale Carnegie yet, but it only made sense to make Dr. Temin's assimilation of information easy and non-confrontational.
While this was not a momentous victory in the battle to restore the second amendment, it was a victory. No more letters to the editor appeared pushing for more infringements with "Nobel laureate" at the end. It is of such small events that real victories are made.
Don Kates deserves a great deal of credit. He is still contributing valuable research. His book was a turning point, developing serious arguments in a format that academics could easily understand and accept. He is the first that I know of who started to recruit and encourage people to write academic articles for law journals, documenting the history of the second amendment, and destroying the "progressive" mythology that had been built about it since 1905.
©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch
Thanks for posting this.
Liberal fascists are particularly good at projection. They constantly accuse their opponents of what they are openly doing. The idea that the NRA created an individualist myth of the second amendment is an almost exact inverse of what really happened. It was liberal fascists who created the "collective right" myth, starting with the Kansas Supreme Court decision of 1905.
Only the truth persists longer than lies.
I hold an adjunct faculty appointment at a community college, which gives me the opportunity to interact with a number of young people—Something I enjoy.
My lectures are an open forum in which any topic may be brought up for discussion, provided two rules are followed: 1) Class members will treat one another with respect; and, 2) Discussion will be based on facts, not emotion.
It takes my students a while to get used to this but, invariably, my objective is achieved—My students come to realize that there are at least two sides to every argument; and the side that many of them reflexively support (i.e., liberal) has very little in the way of objective data behind it.
Madison 2nd Amendment ping — 1st person account
FReep Mail me if you want on, or off, this Wisconsin interest ping list.
For anyone writing a program on punch cards..
.do not drop the deck!
Those of us who remember punch carding programs (hello, PDP-8!) recall that we drew diagonal lines with a magic marker on one long and one short side of the stack.
Then if you dropped the stack, you could get them back in order fairly quickly.
Saving for reference.
Disarming registered democrat voters and supporters would go most of the way to making the US the least violent country in the world.
That beats relying on sequence numbers.
Mother, that’s funny - the same I thought about the old card days :) Glad to see another Okie around here.
Which reminds me of this great quote: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”. — Winston Churchill
Which reminds me of this great quote: A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.. Winston Churchill
Sorry, mc5cents, but that quote is generally attributed to Mark Twain; further, I believe it's likely Churchill would have written "trousers" rather than "pants."
Then if you dropped the stack, you could get them back in order fairly quickly.
I had occasion to use an H-P calculator with an X-Y plotter and a card reader, and a friend of mine was helping me with the job.
Mike was impressed when he saw the lines I drew on the edges of the card decks and I explained what they were for. He was even more impressed when we finally did drop a deck - and we were readily able to sort it back into order.
Certainly youd rather not have to do it; it was worth being careful with those decks, for sure.
Prior to key punching the "Holrath" cards the new blank cards were stored in cardboard boxes that held 1000 cards in a single stack, the perfect size to carry your program (Fortran II) and some additional blank cards. I noticed the computer lab staff all used card boxes to carry their program decks, another trick was to use a black felt tip laundry marker to draw a diagonal line across the deck. The line trick was mostly for show as they had yet to teach us to use the card sorter and sort a deck using the line numbers. Life got considerably easier...
We kept them in boxes and fastened with rubber bands. I did drop part of a deck once, but it was just the top few cards and didn't take long to put back together.
The 1905 link proved informative:
Glad you found it useful.
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