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Fall from Grace: Arming America and the Bellesiles Scandal
Yale Law Journal ^ | 4/26/2002 | James Lindgren

Posted on 08/27/2002 12:05:50 PM PDT by ArcLight

Since the book’s publication, scholars who have checked the book’s claims against its sources have uncovered an almost unprecedented number of discrepancies, errors, and omissions...Arming America is changing the way that some historians think about their own profession and how some scholars in fields allied to history regard historical research and publishing. Understanding this book and the scandal it generated is important for scholars and teachers across the social sciences, humanities, and law. Any graduate or professional student who aspires to be an academic might profit by exploring the twists and turns of the Bellesiles scandal.

(Excerpt) Read more at instapundit.com ...


TOPICS: Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: banglist; bellesiles; guns; lies
This is a PDF file of a fascinating article...
1 posted on 08/27/2002 12:05:50 PM PDT by ArcLight
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To: *bang_list
Interesting read. Not wanting to offend his fellows in his profession and risk incurring the ire of a "fellow intellectual collegue", Lingren is careful to frame Bellesiles' "work" in terms of "error".

Not being so constrained by diplomacy, I can call Bellesiles lame effort at reinventing history for what it is: a blatant fraud.


2 posted on 08/27/2002 12:27:23 PM PDT by Joe Brower
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To: ArcLight
When this thing came up I thought it was BS. My family fought in King Phillips War. 1649, 40% of the White population in NE dead, the various French and Indian wars, many New Englanders and Southerns Dead, The Reveloution in upstate NY.

The Common denominator is that all citizens in NE and the South were milita members and required by law to keep 100 rounds and a firelock and to train periodicly. The third oldest unit in the US Army is the Essex Regement, 101 Infantry, Mass National Guard, 1680.

3 posted on 08/27/2002 12:31:16 PM PDT by Little Bill
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To: BurkeCalhounDabney; Rockitz
ping
4 posted on 08/27/2002 12:37:21 PM PDT by Rytwyng
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To: Joe Brower
Not wanting to offend his fellows in his profession and risk incurring the ire of a "fellow intellectual collegue", Lingren is careful to frame Bellesiles' "work" in terms of "error".

I noticed that, as well. Why is the word "Liar" so taboo nowadays?

5 posted on 08/27/2002 12:39:07 PM PDT by Rytwyng
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To: Little Bill
When I wrote a review of the book for Amazon.com, I used the examples of artwork and literature. A head of household seemed to always have a picture of a gun in his hands or somewhere in the background.
I wonder how long Emory College is going to support their scandal.
6 posted on 08/27/2002 12:40:40 PM PDT by Shooter 2.5
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To: Shooter 2.5
If you look at pictures taken in the West in the 1860 and 1870s', over the fire place there was lots of guns. When the Feds pulled out of the west during the War Between the States, the milita took up the slack, my Great-granddads served in the Second Utah Volunteer Cav, during this period.
7 posted on 08/27/2002 12:53:55 PM PDT by Little Bill
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To: ArcLight
What a devastating critique!

It is testimony to the political correctness that reigns on university campuses that this fraud hasn't been ridden out on a rail clad in tar and feathers.

However, some good may come of Bellesisles' writing - an honest debate on axe control. On the one hand, we'll have the pro-axe rights group claiming that "Axes don't kill people - people kill people." On the axe-control side, we'll have the gnashing of teeth about the need for axe control, for the children, of course, and about the deadly, semi-automatic form of the axe, the chainsaw.

8 posted on 08/27/2002 12:57:47 PM PDT by white trash redneck
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To: Rytwyng
Why is the word "Liar" so taboo nowadays?

Now, now. If we used the word "liar" everytime it was deserved, people would start to think that Democrats and Academics were incapable of ever telling the truth. We can't have that!

9 posted on 08/27/2002 12:58:29 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy
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To: ArcLight
Interesting article.

The poor b@stard who wrote it felt compelled to give his gun grabbin' bona fides at the start. I guess he didn't want to be called a "foaming at the mouth, racist, intolerant, homophobic, insensitive, gun loving, right wing, extremist conservative".

10 posted on 08/27/2002 1:03:03 PM PDT by TC Rider
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To: Rytwyng
I was a history major and later a trial lawyer, so maybe I can shed some light on this. Among scholars, as among lawyers, the bald word "liar" is instinctively avoided.

With scholars, there is a tradition of courtesy, which Lindgren avoids breaking by just setting out his facts. Notice how Lindgren tried to approach Belleisles and was repeatedly rebuffed (and insulted). He carefully recounts all this.

When I first began trying cases, I was told by older lawyers NEVER to call a witness a liar in front of a jury. They think you're mean if you do that. Just get the facts out, and let the JURY decide he's a liar . . . they like it better if it's THEIR decision. I think Lindgren wants his reader to make the final call. It's a slam dunk, anyhow.

To my added shame, not only am I a lawyer (albeit an honest one . . . they do exist) but I graduated from Emory University. I have already written the chairman of the History department, but received no reply. If we don't keep the heat on Emory they will whitewash this whole thing . . . .

11 posted on 08/27/2002 1:05:12 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother
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To: ArcLight
Wow...the author, a self described gun loather, has ripped Bellesiles a new one by examining the orginal documents and shining the light of truth on 'em.

The NY Times in response has said nothing. Columbia University, which awarded Bellesiles the Bancroft Prize has made him Dean of the History department. /sarcasm

12 posted on 08/27/2002 1:05:13 PM PDT by Drango
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To: ArcLight
HTMF file of article here
13 posted on 08/27/2002 1:28:14 PM PDT by Leisler
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To: AnAmericanMother
You took the words out of my mouth. If you call someone a liar, the normal reaction is that you must be mean and out of control. "Liar" is a fighting word. It gets people riled up so they become unwilling to look at the evidence. It's better to demonstrate that someone is lying, calmly and factually. Then let people draw their own conclusions and persuade themselves.
14 posted on 08/27/2002 1:29:58 PM PDT by Cicero
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To: AnAmericanMother
You put it very nicely. Although my primary field as a graduate student was European intellectual history, I also studied military history and American history. Historians simply don't call each other liars -- for the simple reason that traditionally, even if one is pressing one's ideological case, historians don't falsify evidence or intentionally distort it. Push it as far as it can go on your side, sure, but acutally lie or cite it for the opposite proposition? Not done. In one seminar I participated in, some 30+ years ago, someone was caught out by the rest of us at intentionally misrepresenting evidence. The very liberal professor, after closely questioning the guilty party, asked them to withdraw from the seminar and suggested they find something else to do before they were asked to withdraw from the graduate program.

This is the fruit of 30 years of Howard Zinn and his ilk, placing ideology over accuracy.

15 posted on 08/27/2002 1:30:47 PM PDT by CatoRenasci
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To: Rytwyng
Liar!

All interested parties are invited to request clarification. See Alamo Girl entries for examples.
16 posted on 08/27/2002 1:40:48 PM PDT by PoorMuttly
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To: white trash redneck
On the axe-control side, we'll have the gnashing of teeth about the need for axe control, for the children, of course, and about the deadly, semi-automatic form of the axe, the chainsaw.

Don't minimize the problem! A chainsaw is a full-auto!

17 posted on 08/27/2002 1:44:43 PM PDT by Gumlegs
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To: CatoRenasci
You are absolutely correct.

My undergraduate years were in the early 70s, when the older professors were still what I call "classical liberals" - or liberals with honor, if you will. My concentration was in military history, but I did a lot of classics as well. No professor in either the History or Classics department would tolerate fudging or hiding the ball . . . and CERTAINLY not when every "error" was in favor of the student's thesis, as in Belleisles's case.

Those old guys are now retired or deceased (I read with sorrow that the wonderful Dean of the Chapel at my college, Ernest Gordon, recently passed away) and the young Turks are unabashed polemicists for whom truth is secondary to ideological purity.

The fact that Emory is stalling this debate and trying to whitewash even so blatant a cheat and fraud as this horrendous book, instead of debating whether to drop Belleisles off the top of Woodruff Library or tie him to the Seaboard tracks down at the railroad depot, is proof enough for me. :-D

18 posted on 08/27/2002 1:46:39 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother
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To: AnAmericanMother
It's not just Emory that should be red-faced over this. Look at all the prominent periodicals and authors that gave glowing reviews to this piece of unabashed fiction. Wills should be ashamed of himself, were he even capable of the emotion.
19 posted on 08/27/2002 2:11:11 PM PDT by borkrules
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To: borkrules
Frankly, I don't blame them so much as I blame his department head and whoever supposedly peer reviewed his work.

Reviewers can't anticipate that somebody would engage in wholesale alteration and even manufacture of "data". I agree that the liberal gun control mavens (and I include Wills in that bunch - like the ACLU, he only supports the parts of the Bill of Rights he agrees with) jumped all over this book with way too much glee. They were so anxious to believe that it clouded their judgment. But, on the other hand, unlike scholars in the field, they had no way to check Belleisles's falsified data.

20 posted on 08/27/2002 2:14:53 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother
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To: AnAmericanMother
Perhaps shame is the wrong emotion. But certainly, I would think, embarassment and not a little anger at having been used so effortlessly by this obvious fraud.
21 posted on 08/27/2002 2:22:15 PM PDT by borkrules
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To: ArcLight
A very long and utterly devastating read. Thanks for linking it. From the article:

…In the earlier colonial period, Gloria Main and Anna Hawley both found more guns than tables or chairs or stools. When men could afford to buy a gun, they did. This suggests either that they were very useful tools or that they had an important social meaning (for example, to reinforce their owners’ masculinity or provide peace of mind) – or both.

I note here that the author's antigun bias lingers; the idea that reinforcing one's masculinity ranks in importance with keeping one's scalp attached is a little arch for my taste. We get a repetition of this every time an anti-gun zealot suggests that gun ownership is compensation for some deep underlying psychological pathology - it's so deeply ingrained in their concept of firearms ownership that they never question it.

This is one of the final paragraphs of the article, and I pass it along without comment because none is needed:

The book and the scandal it generated are hard to understand. How could Bellesiles count guns in about a hundred Providence wills that never existed, count guns in San Francisco County inventories that were apparently destroyed in 1906, report national means that are mathematically impossible, change the condition of guns in a way that fits his thesis, misreport the counts of guns in censuses or militia reports, have over a 60% error rate in finding guns in Vermont estates, and have a 100% error rate in finding homicide cases in the Plymouth records he cites? We may never know the truth of why or how Arming America made such basic errors, but make them it did.

Whew...

22 posted on 08/27/2002 2:53:16 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: AnAmericanMother
To my added shame, not only am I a lawyer...

I have always said, "Lawyers are like guns, you can get rid of all of them, just take mine last."

23 posted on 08/27/2002 2:57:51 PM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: Tijeras_Slim
AAM: To my added shame, not only am I a lawyer...

TS: I have always said, "Lawyers are like guns, you can get rid of all of them, just take mine last."

Lawyers are like handguns -- everyone claims to hate them, until they suddenly need one!"

24 posted on 08/27/2002 3:49:06 PM PDT by Rytwyng
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To: Tijeras_Slim
"just take mine last."

Do you remember that really good article that was on FR about a year ago? The author told the anti to take his gun. Don't send someone else to do it. The anti should do it. He should have the courage of his convictions. Don't send a police officer or soldier. If the anti-gun person has the stupidity that he thinks that guns in the hands of lawabiding citizens are the problem then he should be the one having the courage to go door to door. Don't send someone to support his beliefs.

It was a great article. I don't know who wrote it.

25 posted on 08/27/2002 4:25:34 PM PDT by Shooter 2.5
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To: ArcLight
Bookmarked in the fervent hope that someone will be so foolish as to cite Bellesiles in my presence...
26 posted on 08/27/2002 6:54:19 PM PDT by Interesting Times
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To: TC Rider
I guess he didn't want to be called a "foaming at the mouth, racist, intolerant, homophobic, insensitive, gun loving, right wing, extremist conservative".

You forgot "hater", as in "he's a hater", or "he's a hater from way back."

27 posted on 08/27/2002 9:32:43 PM PDT by TheErnFormerlyKnownAsBig
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To: AnAmericanMother
The fact that Emory is stalling this debate and trying to whitewash even so blatant a cheat and fraud as this horrendous book, instead of debating whether to drop Belleisles off the top of Woodruff Library or tie him to the Seaboard tracks down at the railroad depot, is proof enough for me. :-D

Does the leadership at Emory actually think they can drag this out so long that the gun nuts like me would actually forget about it?

28 posted on 08/27/2002 9:38:19 PM PDT by TheErnFormerlyKnownAsBig
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To: big ern; AnAmericanMother
Does the leadership at Emory actually think...

LOL

The longer the "review" committe takes, the more the personal stench from Belleisles starts to linger on the Emory faculty.

29 posted on 08/28/2002 6:39:28 AM PDT by Drango
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To: Drango; big ern
I'd say the residents of the City of Decatur (which is down the prevailing wind from Emory) are starting to sniff the air and wrinkle their noses . . .

Guess I'll have to write the History chairman again. You'd think he'd take SOME notice of an alumna, wouldn't you? Maybe he's getting a large volume of mail, or maybe he's just too embarassed to write back.

30 posted on 08/28/2002 6:54:38 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother
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To: Rytwyng; Tijeras_Slim
Ain't it the truth!

When you need a lawyer, all them lawyer jokes ain't so funny no more . . . :-D

Unfortunately, the rotten, greedy, & incompetent lawyers seem to get all the press. Nobody ever says anything about the foot soldiers who do just ordinary garden variety legal work, represent their clients well, and don't get paid a whole lot of money. No excitement in that, I guess. And of course the decent lawyers suffer the most from the jack-legs, 'cause we have to deal with them every day and they annoy us as much as they annoy everybody else. Plus we get tarred with their brush to boot!

31 posted on 08/28/2002 6:59:16 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother
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To: AnAmericanMother
Guess I'll have to write the History chairman again. You'd think he'd take SOME notice of an alumna, wouldn't you? Maybe he's getting a large volume of mail, or maybe he's just too embarassed to write back.

When you write the History chairman, you may want to cc the Alumni Department, you know the ones that are always begging for money. They won't ignore you.

32 posted on 08/28/2002 7:44:02 AM PDT by TC Rider
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To: TC Rider
...you may want to cc the Alumni Department...

I say CC the local newspaper and let the bright light of publicity shine where the sun don't.

33 posted on 08/28/2002 8:16:45 AM PDT by Drango
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To: Drango
You wouldn't say that if your only paper was the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Urinal/Constipation to locals.) Any pro-gun letters wind up in the circular file and never see the light of day, except of course if a semi-literate KKK member writes in, in which case they feature the letter prominently with a self-righteous response from the editors.

The rag is almost uniformly liberal (the owner is a raving nutter leftie) and rabidly anti-gun. The editors don't think the 2nd Amendment applies to anything but the National Guard (but just in case it does, they want it repealed.) They don't even think people should "have guns for hunting". As though the Second Amendment had anything to do with hunting.

34 posted on 08/28/2002 11:27:35 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother
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To: AnAmericanMother
"Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet...I'm hunting tywants." ;>
35 posted on 08/28/2002 11:32:01 AM PDT by Semaphore Heathcliffe
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To: Interesting Times
Bookmarked in the fervent hope that someone will be so foolish as to cite Bellesiles in my presence...

Only if you hang with PBS viewers.

Bumpo to expose these left wing history revisionists, like Doris Kearns Goodwin.

36 posted on 08/28/2002 11:35:42 AM PDT by 1Old Pro
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