America's Great Gun Game--what to take away


PDA






Danus ex
September 7, 2007, 04:20 PM
I've had some inquiries about my thread (www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=297709) on Earl McDowell's gun control book, America's Great Gun Game: Gun Ownership vs. Americans' Safety. This thread was closed weeks ago, but its legacy apparently lives on.

Let me emphasize one idea above all: if you viewed that discussion as an attempt to persuade Dr. McDowell, a battle of facts and logic, a way to determine who's "right" on that issue, or as a mere clash of incompatible ideologies, you might be correct, but you're not thinking big enough. The thread itself is ultimately a drop in the bucket.

Its effects are not. That thread benefitted both Dr. McDowell and THR from the get-go, and I'll tell you why.

Dr. McDowell got the following out of it:

1. A chance to interact with firearms enthusiasts. As far as I know, this is one of the few opportunities McDowell has had to face off with firearms enthusiasts. Pro-gun and anti-gun social spheres both exist and regularly bash each other, but said spheres rarely interact genuinely outside of stilted media "debates".

2. A chance to receive criticism. THR drowned McDowell in criticism and counter-arguments, which he will no doubt use to hone his future arguments.

3. Raw publicity. My thread unquestionably raised the profile of his book and generated a some sales, but did neither by a whole lot.

THR gets more out of this:

1. A chance to interact with a firearms detractor. Aside from unpleasant encounters with mouthy supermarket patrons or fearful family members, many of us on THR rarely cross paths with someone who's as anti-gun as we are pro-gun. Even when we do, the interactions are limited. This thread exposed THR members to the real (well, virtual) deal.

2. A chance to dole out meaningful criticism. Although some members wrote before thinking, most put real thought into their responses when confronted with a real person holding a real opposing view.

3. Swayed neutrals. Any neutral visitors monitoring that thread are likely to have been persuaded by THR members' arguments based not only on the quantity of replies, but the readiness to refute McDowell's claims (and not necessarily the successful refutation of his claims).

4. Doubting "antis". It's conceivable that at least one less-fervent anti-gun visitor began to doubt his or her position after reading that thread. The number of times this occurred is impossible to estimate.

5. More thought. An effect of sheer quantity, hundreds of THR members and guests thought about gun control and refined their thoughts about gun control more than they would have otherwise. One gun control advocate thought about gun control and refined his thoughts about gun control more than he might have otherwise. Tell me, which group permeates society in multiple levels and locations? THR. Which has a greater chance of affecting any change of mind or policy? THR.

6. Pride and confidence. Not only did most of THR behave itself, but locking horns with a full professor of rhetoric and established gun control advocate wasn't so scary, was it? Academics, intellectuals, even anti-gunners aren't really different from us, they are us.

7. New members. All roads seem to lead here. Not only did we have some members join specifically because of that thread, more are undoubtedly well on their way.

All in all, I'd say it was a success, albeit to an indeterminable degree.

:evil:

If you enjoyed reading about "America's Great Gun Game--what to take away" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Werewolf
September 7, 2007, 04:49 PM
THR gets more out of this:

1. A chance to interact meaningfully with a firearms detractor. Aside from unpleasant encounters with mouthy supermarket patrons or fearful family members, many of us on THR rarely cross paths with someone who's as anti-gun as we are pro-gun. Even when we do, the interactions are limited. This thread exposed THR members to the real (well, virtual) deal.The interaction was completely one sided. Mr. McDowell never responded to a single post or argument within with anything more than a half hearted acknowledgement that he'd read them but was too busy to respond. It seemed very much like that he was just gathering an audience for the presentation of his views without regard to ours. Pretty much why the thread was closed.

2. A chance to dole out meaningful criticism. Although some members wrote before thinking, most put real thought into their responses when confronted with a real person holding a real opposing view.
What the more erudite members wrote was little more than wasted bandwidth as Mr. McDowell ignored it all - completely.

The only real benefit accrued by the thread and to which you alluded is that some antis or neutrals may have learned something about RKBA, had a misconception or two dispelled or maybe were even swayed to our side.

camslam
September 7, 2007, 04:50 PM
No offense Danus, but I would have to take issue with your assertion:

1. A chance to interact meaningfully with a firearms detractor. Aside from unpleasant encounters with mouthy supermarket patrons or fearful family members, many of us on THR rarely cross paths with someone who's as anti-gun as we are pro-gun. Even when we do, the interactions are limited. This thread exposed THR members to the real (well, virtual) deal.

I would hardly call the interaction we had with Dr. McDowell as anything close to meaningful. I actually received one of his private messages and in my response to the good doctor, I have never heard anything more from him.

Also in looking at his limited posts, he never answered any of the logic, rebuttals, or counter arguments to his ideas in any kind of meaningful way.

I think the bottom line for most THR members was, "This is all you've got?" I hope he continues to represent the anti-gun crowd, because as usual, logic, facts, and truth usually win out over emotional thoughts.

I only speak for myself, but it seems all Dr. McDowell can offer is the same tired re-hashed arguments we have all heard before. Hardly meaningful.

average_shooter
September 7, 2007, 04:54 PM
I have to admit, I'm still waiting for replies to any of the questions posed to him. And I am sort of disappointed I didn't hear anything from him regarding my offer to meet face-to-face.

Frankly, and I don't mean to be rude here, but it all seems to me like we were interested in the debate and Dr. McDowell had no real interest. He pretty much just kept repeating his position without answering our questions, while we did refute his.

Also, it seems that the issue of his primary intent is still under question. The thread was locked "pending review." So apparently the issue concerning the true motive has not been resolved.

exar
September 7, 2007, 05:00 PM
The above post's pretty much sum up the extent of this "debate".

KBintheSLC
September 7, 2007, 05:03 PM
After reading the posts on that thread, I doubt the Doctor could substantiate any feasible rebuttal's to the swarm of logical and rational contradictions to his loosely assembled case.

MaterDei
September 7, 2007, 05:10 PM
The thread was a good learning opportunity for me. Dr. McDowell was a hugh disappointment. I was hoping to learn from him as well and got absolutely NOTHING.

Win some, lose some...

Danus ex
September 7, 2007, 05:15 PM
What the more erudite members wrote was little more than wasted bandwidth as Mr. McDowell ignored it all - completely.

Also in looking at his limited posts, he never answered any of the logic, rebuttals, or counter arguments to his ideas in any kind of meaningful way.

Gentlemen, you're thinking too small. You didn't actually believe THR could sway a hardened gun control advocate, did you? Those posts were far from wasted bandwidth, they provided the content that may have persuaded more visiting readers to support RKBA.

I would hardly call the interaction we had with Dr. McDowell as anything close to meaningful.

Ok I'll buy that and readjust my sentence: the thread was more meaningful than no discussion at all.

camslam
September 7, 2007, 05:18 PM
Ok I'll buy that and readjust my sentence: the thread was more meaningful than no discussion at all.

Agreed. However, the arguments and facts put forth by the THR members were extremely valuable to anyone that cares about 2nd amendment rights. Great job by the members.

El Tejon
September 7, 2007, 05:20 PM
What we need to take away from Earl the Pearl is that the anti arguments hold up like wet rice paper. He had nothing.

Hold your heads up and feel your strength and smile.:D

Standing Wolf
September 7, 2007, 05:31 PM
Frankly, and I don't mean to be rude here, but it all seems to me like we were interested in the debate and Dr. McDowell had no real interest. He pretty much just kept repeating his position without answering our questions, while we did refute his.

That's been the leftist extremist way for decades.

tydephan
September 7, 2007, 05:38 PM
Danus,

Since you brought the topic up again, and for the most part summed up the results of the discussion nicely, perhaps you can shed some light on what the purpose was originally for the thread?

Was it simply another venue to promote his book?

Was he conducting research on his opposition?

As noted by just about every member in this thread, it does not appear as though he was interested in scholarly debate, based on his lack of responses.

I just wonder what makes the zookeeper wonder into the lion's den...

No ill intent intended by this line of questioning, just honest curiosity.

alucard0822
September 7, 2007, 06:21 PM
I firmly belive that honest debate, with verifiable facts, and putting ones own position in a public forum to both substantiate your ideals while refuting the opposing position will quickly show the strength of your principles. Questioning ones own beliefs with the intelligence to be open minded and possibly even explore an alternate viewpoint are healthy and wise responses to debate.

I belive the many questions posted by Earl in OPs only, without any defense of his position, or factual rebuttal of ours proves to me the strength of our position on the RKBA. The fact that one of the most notable of the scholars and authors positioned against gun rights could not defend his position in the face of overwhelming logical rebuttal by people from all walks of life speaks volumes of THR and it's members.

I would like to think that Earl, as both a scholar and intelect would question his own beliefs and position, using both his inability to defend his position, and our eagernesss to both defend and promote ours with solid statistics and logic to form a new stronger opinion.

The measure of ones logic is not in a static post, inviting people to oppose you while ignoring their responses, it is in active rebuttal of their points.

I am both dissapointed and proud that one who has gained sucess with presenting his position, could not begin to refute ours, I was actually hoping for a worthy challenge.

Danus ex
September 7, 2007, 09:06 PM
Since you brought the topic up again, and for the most part summed up the results of the discussion nicely, perhaps you can shed some light on what the purpose was originally for the thread?

A fair question. The whole thing was my idea. Dr. McDowell emailed me when his book hit the presses and I asked him if I could introduce him and his book to THR. I told him how I thought things would shake out and outlined some potential benefits of the discussion. He okayed my plan and I proceeded.

I guess it was clear to me how the discussion might benefit both parties before I got things rolling. I'm not saying I'm omniscient or anything, but things unfolded similarly to what I expected after Dr. McDowell joined THR. It became a way for people to present their best arguments and hopefully attract more interested people.

And no, this wasn't concocted as some kind of data gathering technique, although what resulted could easily form data. A number of people also accused me of being McDowell's minion, but for the record I graduated from his department a while ago. We do unrelated work and McDowell wasn't even on my committee, although I did take two classes with him as an undergraduate.

JohnBT
September 7, 2007, 09:23 PM
I just read a few reviews of his book. Here's part of one:

"Author Earl E. McDowell urges the silent majority to become the vocal majority as he tackles the controversial topics of gun control and concealed carry laws."

Let's see, 230,000,000 guns and only 4 million NRA members and he's calling his side the silent majority?

Give me a break. That spin won't play.

John
NRA Patron Member
Member www.vcdl.org

Cacique500
September 7, 2007, 11:01 PM
After going back and reading all 16 pages I came away extremely frustrated with the whole exercise.

Your "Dr. Earl" reminds me of "Kelli" on the former brady blogs (whose comments have now been turned off due to the hammering they took from the pro-gun community). Whenever a serious question was posed, she dodged, juked, jinked, slithered, & wiggled. Her responses were "Brady Bunch sound bytes" and "emotional" and she would NEVER respond to any direct question posed to her.

I think the good Dr. is trying to drum up sales for his book and forward his anti-agenda - and I don't appreciate his refusal to engage in a debate. He just wasted everybody's time in a childish attempt to line his pockets and push his tired and debunked agenda.

If the good Dr. wants to come back and play in "our house" he's going to have to take the time and respond directly to the questions we've posed...that is a debate. It's very clear from the level of sophistication and knowledge here that he won't be able to debate THR members in a logical and straightforward manner about the gun control issue.

By the way Dr. Earl, since you're capturing and analyzing our comments, know this:


Whatever laws you try to pass to infringe on my rights to keep and bear arms will not be successful and you will NEVER get my firearms. Never. We have a little saying at The High Road...Molon Labe!

Euclidean
September 7, 2007, 11:27 PM
I will say this much. I give Dr. McDowell credit for actually having the sand in his craw to actually register, and try to in at least a very limited way defend his position.

I do not believe that he ever managed a substantive defense, but to be fair his stance is indefensible.

And if the show was on the other foot, would I have had as much patience trying to deal with a forum full of Brady zombies?

But at the very least, he could have responded substantially to at least one member. I understand he doesn't have time to address every point made in 16 pages.

Azidiot
September 7, 2007, 11:37 PM
Please correct me if I am wrong, but didn't Danus ex originally request a 'debate'?
From what I could tell, there was NO debate. Just the good doktor repeating his nonsense while refusing to engage reasoned, intelligent, referenced arguments. That in and of itself makes one suspect "troll". JMHO.

Azidiot

Soybomb
September 7, 2007, 11:42 PM
6. Pride and confidence. Not only did most of THR behave itself, but locking horns with a full professor of rhetoric and established gun control advocate wasn't so scary, was it? Academics, intellectuals, even anti-gunners aren't really different from us, they are us.
I get the feeling that most of us posting here are relatively experienced with debating gun control proponents. The vast majority of those proponents are at least willing to engage in debate for some time. Also don't forget that many posters here are academics, intellectuals, or from a wide variety of other fields that require a little bit of debate skill. You make it sound like everyone is a turnip farmer scared of talking to "book learned" people. I think for there to be any horn locking McDowell would have needed to take on some of the criticsm of his work.

I don't know what your relationship with him is but if you know him personally I would feel like he deserves some shame. You gave him a little publicity on his book and the opportunity to defend his work and sway people to his side. All I saw was him hawking his book and taunting the membership without doing them the courtesy of responding to their critism. He deserves a scolding from you like you would a friend you take to a party who acts inappropriately.

BridgeWalker
September 8, 2007, 12:08 AM
Pretty much all I got from it was that most antis assume they are smarter, wiser, and better educated than us redneck, backwoods freaks. We didn't change his opinion because our arguments are so simple.

A simple argument works better at demonstrating truth. A complex argument involved statistics and oh, yeah, excessive rhetoric, works better at demonstrating the brilliance of the arguer, at least to himself.

Iow, it doesn't matter than our arguments were better. His arguments were more complex. To some academics (apologies to the academics present, heck, some of my best friends are profs. :p), complexity demonstrates intelligence. Truth matters less than sophistication.

Note, for example, that the guy's few posts focused on how very busy he is with his very important work and he can't possibly waste too much time or energy doing much other that working on his very important work and buying coffee with our dimes. It's just different languages. We speak reality, he speak sophistry.

(Oh, and ftr, I'm not a lawyer yet, just an ex-teacher and a second-year law student :))

JKimball
September 8, 2007, 12:08 AM
I thought it was one of the best threads I've seen in the short time I've been on THR. I'll always be glad that I can refer to it as a resource and even refer others to it.

Baba Louie
September 8, 2007, 12:27 AM
Being brought up to "keep your mind open to everything and closed to nothing" I was really hoping to learn something from Dr. McDowell's book and/or "Pearls" of wisdom in the thread.

Granted, at Earl's request via pm, I looked into Homer Cummings, so I can say I did learn something. (Thank You Earl) I don't know how much of that information will be useful, but I did keep a somewhat open mind. (for the record, I'm against packing the courts either way, preferring balance)

I failed to be swayed by the language and tests in the book... so perhaps my mind is not as open as it should or could be in that regards. The reasoning contained therein gave little, if any, historical background on why crime and public dissent skyrocketed in the 20's and 60's other than political assassinations, both actual and attempted, even tho' I think I know the answers. Though I am at the beginning of going through the bibliography to see what seeds I can gather, my fear or caution of another Bellisiles appears to be unfounded.

As someone who will read just about anything on Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Franklin, Adams (John and Sam) and the action and ideas that allowed those very few men to successfully found, form, and create an idealogoy that is so... right, so correct or enlightened, based on law, equality and liberty, men who literally threw away the concept of "Safety" by their very actions... well, darnit anyway, I guess when it comes to personal liberty, my own self preservation and well being, I choose to follow their path and have no intention of laying down my weapons because a few thousand citizens each year choose to not comply with the law, equality and liberty. Those that choose suicide by firearm... I'm sorry. Life does suck sometimes.

Nor will I implicitly and blindly trust the word of most government employees, such as college professors or fatcat elected oligarchs (loaded words, eh?) who know what is best for me and preach empty dogma. Instead I will continue to challenge them to open discourse, to teach me why their way is the best way. As long as they too are willing to listen and learn.

I can be taught when I am in error. I can be swayed by better thinking when clearly defined and defended as opposed to ad misericordiam or ad populum rhetoric.

So Danus ex, thank you for that thread and that introduction. I'm still waiting to learn that I was blind but now can see. Why are we this way and the rest of the world that way (condition yellow vs condition white)?

Poper
September 8, 2007, 12:49 AM
He deserves a scolding from you like you would a friend you take to a party who acts inappropriately.

Danus ex, I want to emphasize how appropriate the above quote really is. If I were you, I believe I would be embarrassed.

You came here and asked if this board would engage in a civil debate. We welcomed "Earl the Pearl" readily. However, real debate was ignored, and as I said early on in response to your original query, it was unlikely High Roaders would welcome a lecture. It is plainly evident the majority of THR's responding members did not appreciate his condescending lecture. Please! Count me among them!

Poper

Ieyasu
September 8, 2007, 02:35 AM
Danus ex originally posts:
I present this here to expose THR readers to a well-researched and thought-out argument for gun control, instead of the passionate whining and misinformed arguments we normally find.
Ieyasu responds:
You claimed what McDowell wrote was well researched and thought-out. I disagreed. And to repeat, it's not because we are on different sides of this issue.
Ieyasu shows Danus ex errors, not differences of opinion in McDowell's writings. Danus ex never responds to that, but posts this:
To me, the most interesting parts of this discussion are the points where modes of thinking simply don't mesh. Those moments where you say to yourself "sheesh, how can Earl think that way!" while at the same time, Earl might be thinking "sheesh, how can Ieyasu think that way!" when both of you are discussing the same exact subject
To which Ieyasu responds:
Huh? I must be missing something. There was no exchange between us, Danus ex. You don't seem to be paying attention. I'm calling into question the misrepresentation of two court cases. Neither of you guys addressed that.
In other words Danus ex, it's not how someone "can think that way," it's how somebody gets the facts wrong and refuses to even discuss it!

Danus ex also originally posted:
I also wish to distinguish people who are anti-gun from people who are pro-gun control
Ieyasu responded:
The professor is clearly anti-gun, if you've been paying attention, but as mentioned let's deal with one item at a time.
Also Danus ex was asked several times whether he had read the book. I never got an answer.

Conclusion: Danus ex and the professor have a lot in common.:barf:

Ieyasu
September 8, 2007, 02:41 AM
alucard0822 writes:
The fact that one of the most notable of the scholars and authors positioned against gun rights could not defend his position...
alucard0822, please, please, tell us where you contracted the notion that the professor who posted here is "one of the most notable of the scholars and authors positioned against gun rights."
*SIGH*

Robert Hairless
September 8, 2007, 06:16 AM
Hasn't anyone else realized yet that Earl E. McDowell's book is self-published?

Its publisher is Iuniverse.com, a company that is in the business of producing and distributing books that their authors pay them to bring into the world. Such a company is sometimes called a "vanity press."

Here's a link to Iuniverse.com (http://www.iuniverse.com/) in case you want to pay to have your own work appear in print.

And here's a link to Earl E. McDowell's page on the University of Minnesota web site, (http://www.writingstudies.umn.edu/people/facExp.php?UID=mcdow001) where you can read his credentials, background, and experience in teaching and research. Judge for yourself his qualifications to be given a moment's attention as a distinguished scholar for a work he subtitled "An Outline of the Need for Increased Federal Legislation." See if you can find his background in firearms, safety, politics, law, government, history, or federal legislation--any subject related to the book he published.

Why is anyone surprised that Professor McDowell did not hold up his end in what was supposed to have been a debate?

Dr. Dickie
September 8, 2007, 07:35 AM
As others have said.
It really WAS monstrously informative.
Over 30 years and the anti-gun crowd still has no rational, demonstrative argument or position. They are pseudo-intellectual, simple-minded socialists who believe they can run your life better than you can--end of argument on their part.
You cannot debate something with someone who has no rational basis for their belief.

alucard0822
September 8, 2007, 10:22 AM
Ieyasu:
please, please, tell us where you contracted the notion that the professor who posted here is "one of the most notable of the scholars and authors positioned against gun rights."



because the good doctor and Danus told us so ;), I appolagise for neglecting to turn off my sarcasm completely. (should have put this little guy in there to clarify:scrutiny:)

Baba Louie
September 8, 2007, 11:43 AM
OK. I've got to chime in one more time here. Whenever I post, I take the time to proof it three times and "Preview Post" before I hit "submit" to correct my spelling at least (I'm no speed typist). (Also to tone down my snarkieness)

So please forgive the following snark (or take it for what it is worth)

I absolutely could not believe the number of misspelled words (more than one) posted by a man learned and titled with a PhD. Perhaps I'm too fussy about that point. Probably. Certainly. But if someone is an educator by profession, for some strange reason, I expect their spelling, at the very least, to be exact. I tend to think "sloppy work old boy", and wonder if that trait runs true to other facets in their communication skills.

I apologize if that peeve of mine is personal or offensive to anyone who reads this as I am no spell checking police enforcement officer, simply an observer. I might even agree at times with Andrew Jackson's quoteIt is a damn poor mind indeed which can't think of at least two ways to spell any word.based on the writer's education level. It simply lessens the impact of the message in my mind. (there's that closed mind again Baba)

Back to AGGGWomen, however, should know that that guns should be feared more than intruders and that a gun in the home increases the danger to women and children. WAGV reports several important facts. Among them: ...having a gun in the home makes it three times more likely that a family member will be killed by a gun. [snip] The organization suggests that parents should make sure that their children understand that "guns are real and kill people." [snip] The organization stresses listening to your children and explaining to them the consequences of being around guns.Fair enough to a point.

Guns are real. Granted. Guns are real and kill people. Point of discussion could be in order here. But there was none. Guns, like sticks and stones, can be used by one human to harm or kill another human. Or, Guns, like other tools, can be used to offend or used to defend. Guns, like kitchen knives, require some training and careful use, and should be put away from those not trained or able to discern right from wrong.

(OK. Thrice checked, most spelling fixed. Snarkieness toned waaaaaay down. Is it snark ie ness or snark y ness?;))

Art Eatman
September 8, 2007, 11:53 AM
If the good professor's book has anything in common with his few comments here, I'm afraid that his research was not a widespread exploration of the subject. He seems to have stayed with sources which supported a pre-existing opinion. My view is that like all too many students, "He didn't do his homework."

Lemme say this about that: Had this been a doctoral dissertation, he'd not have wanted me on the review board. :D

Art

Ieyasu
September 8, 2007, 12:08 PM
Ieyasu:

Quote:
please, please, tell us where you contracted the notion that the professor who posted here is "one of the most notable of the scholars and authors positioned against gun rights."


because the good doctor and Danus told us so , I appolagise for neglecting to turn off my sarcasm completely. (should have put this little guy in there to clarify)

That's a relief! Thanks for clarifying.

I usually catch even the slightest hint of sarcasm however the way it was written, I took it straight, since this followed in the same sentence: "could not defend his position in the face of overwhelming logical rebuttal by people from all walks of life speaks volumes of THR and it's members."

Ieyasu
September 8, 2007, 12:14 PM
Hasn't anyone else realized yet that Earl E. McDowell's book is self-published?
Yep, though I refrained from commenting on that and his areas of expertise. I'd rather attack the message than the messenger. I have read very well-written pieces by so-called unqualified authors and garbage by "well-credentialed" experts.

igor
September 8, 2007, 05:36 PM
Let me re-emphasize that Earl the Pearl's appearance was bad form indeed. No show for the promised debate, just belittling and IMHO downright sneering remarks :mad::scrutiny:.

No content whatsoever, and the same seems to apply for his "work" as well (yes, I took some of my precious time to read what's available online). Rhetoric is all about form, not necessarily substance! The prof was definitely all show, no go.

And Danus, you did seriously hype him and failed to deliver. Mild-to-medium shame on both of you :scrutiny::rolleyes::neener:.

Robert Hairless
September 8, 2007, 10:08 PM
I think that approach sounds more reasonable than it is, Ieyasu, and members of this forum are better able than most others to know why it isn't.

Those of us interested in self defense, for example, know that it's dangerous to ignore signals telegraphing that something isn't right. That fellow wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants on the hottest day of the year might be a stockbroker trying to lose a few pounds, but if he also slips his hand into his waistband as he approaches and appears to be nodding at someone behind you, then takes a few quick glances to your right and left, it is a good idea to get away from that messenger before he delivers his message.

When something doesn't look right, smell right, or behave right the overwhelming odds are that it is not right. What happened here, I think, is that forum members were manipulated into giving a significant platform for the promotion of a vanity press book by an author who has no claim to be read on a subject in which he has no standing. If McDowell had self published a book on The Elements of Self Defense that advocated shooting people because they dressed differently, lying to the police, fabricating evidence, and concealing crimes, I doubt--and I hope--that forum members would resist any suggestion that they debate those ideas with him. My guess is that a moderator would terminate such a debate fasterthanaspeedingbullet. Now, as was predictable, McDowell has some degree of standing because of his invited appearance here.

It should be obvious that McDowell wrote a book on a subject for which he has no apparent credentials and no background, about which he seems to have only derivative information, and with which he seems to have no training in the techniques of researching, investigating, and evaluating sources of varying degrees of value on this complex, controversial, and extremely important subject. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.

That's the context for my previous note that McDowell's book is self published. Reputable publishers of scholarly books and editors of responsible academic journals have manuscripts on controversial subjects evaluated by several experts in the field and consider their reports before publishing. The idea is to subject the product to quality testing before--not after--it is presented to public view and for the author to meet any reasonable objections he might have overlooked.

The most likely possibilities to me are that either McDowell's book was submitted to and rejected by reputable publishers or he decided to skip them entirely. I don't discount the possibility that he sought the opinions of friends, sympathetic colleagues, and others with opinions similar to his, but I simply would not believe that he got tough evaluations from established scholars such as John Lott who would have challenged him. McDowell appears to have done research that satisfied himself, formulated opinions that he judged to be good, wrote them as he pleased, and paid to have the result published. Of course it is possible that such a message could be better than such a messenger, but the probability surely is infinitesimal. In the United States of America everyone has an opinion about everything, but I hope it is not undemocratic or elitest to suggest that not all opinions on any subject have equal value. If I'm wrong, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy deserves more respect for her opinions about firearms than I'm inclined to give her and Michael Moore is a cutting edge intellectual.

The subtitle of McDowell's book is "An Outline of the Need for Increased Federal Legislation" but I'm not aware of any evidence that McDowell has more than a general awareness of firearms, law, federal legislation in general or firearms legislation in particular, politics, government, or anything else that could give his opinions substance. For me this book is a rather sad curiosity with no claim to be read or given any attention.

What I do see is evidence that McDowell's pronouncements on the subject matter of this book are of much less value than most. Look at its front cover in the attached illustration for a significant clue to what I mean. Where a reputable book publisher might use that cover to attract readers by proclaiming the author's distinguished work on the book's subject, McDowell's vanity press book cites him as "Author of Interviewing Practices of Technical Writers and Research in Scientific and Technical Communication." There's substantial disconnect here between the book's subject and the author's claim to be read on it.

According to the University's web site McDowell is a semi-retired professor in its Department of Writing Studies. His Ph.D. is in "Speech Communication." His research experience is in "employment cycle interviewing, including employment, appraisal, disciplinary and exit interviews." His teaching has been "courses in interviewing and research in scientific and technical communication." And his specialties are:


Technical communication apprehension

Technical communication programs

Employment cycle interviewing

Conflict

Gender and psychological sex

International aspects of technical communication

Comparison of U.S. and Japanese students on different communication variables


"Professor McDowell," according to his University web page, "is currently on 50% time phased retirement." From the slight available evidence--the slightness of which itself is suggestive--I cannot evaluate a claim that McDowell is, or was, a distinguished rhetorician but I doubt it. McDowell looks to me like someone who spent his academic career teaching students in the writing department how to handle interviews, write resumes, and such--what some academics call "service courses." Somebody has to do them but better you than me, and rarely are they the province of distinguished scholars. Now on his way to full retirement, McDowell has set forth in a new direction, an argument for more federal gun control. Igor's comments, above, hit the mark.

I don't understand why people here lend McDowell a hand to accomplish what we don't want.

Ieyasu
September 8, 2007, 10:38 PM
On the other hand Robert Hairless, as I mentioned in my previous post, it's quite possible (and been done) for someone outside their field of expertise to write credibly on a subject. Sure he couldn't get his book published, but this by itself doesn't mean the material was deficient. Again, I've seen it both ways. Good material initially rejected, complete garbage peer reviewed and critically acclaimed.

Aim for the heart first -- attack the message, as posters here did. The message itself was factually incorrect. After that, it's fine to show that the messenger is not worth paying attention to. It was obvious that he was an academic gadfly.
I don't understand why people here lend McDowell a hand to accomplish what we don't want.
Other than Danus ex, who still refuses to engage, who helped McDowell? (Except for one member who, inexplicably to me, hastily bought the book.)

Robert Hairless
September 9, 2007, 12:34 AM
I do agree that it's possible for someone to write credibly outside their field of expertise, Ieyasu, and I've seen it done. What I've never seen before, though, is for such a person to be invited to address a rather significant forum as if he had written credibly when all the signs pointed in the opposite direction.

Again, although it might sound reasonable to say "evaluate the message" it is not reasonable in this situation because it lends the message a claim to be taken seriously. McDowell has no such claim and all the outward and visible signs pointed in that direction instead of any other.

Gun control advocates are no great rarity. The rarity here, I think, is for a self published gun control advocate to be donated a notable platform for self promotion of his gun control work when it has no obvious claim even to be read.

With that perspective as background I confess to being taken aback by your statement that "the message itself was factually incorrect." There was no reason to anticipate another outcome. All evidence predicted this one. It's nice to suggest that there potentially are great rewards in looking for gold in every unmined field but the chances of finding it are small.

I suppose that part of what I am trying to say is that it would have been smarter to know what McDowell had written before inviting him to debate or participating in such a debate. Look through the pages of that debate and my notice my absence.

As for who here besides Danus ex helped McDowell, you did and so did everyone else who dignified his position by suggesting that he might have something of value and was worth debating. I didn't.

Now McDowell can say, truthfully, that his work was considered so important that he was invited to debate it on perhaps the most influential forum for gun owners. I know of no other gun control advocate who can make that statement. McDowell now has a claim to be read and taken seriously. This forum has done for him what in the normal course of events he probably could not have done for himself. Had McDowell merely shown up one day, announced that he had paid to have his gun control book published, and offered to debate it with members here I doubt that he would have caught few or no fish.

I've witnessed the making of a reputable gun control advocate in an astonishingly short time. The publication date of his book was July 7, 2007. Within a few weeks he had staked out a discussion of it here.

The accomplishment was rather cleverly done and the achievement is noteworthy. I've learned a lot from watching this performance.

Ieyasu
September 9, 2007, 12:53 AM
What I've never seen before, though, is for such a person to be invited to address a rather significant forum as if he had written credibly when all the signs pointed in the opposite direction.
I don't know about the "never before" part, but I agree with the rest of the sentence.
Again, although it might sound reasonable to say "evaluate the message" it is not reasonable in this situation because it lends the message a claim to be taken seriously.
I disagree. Refuting claims does not mean they are necessarily taken seriously.
I suppose that part of what I am trying to say is that it would have been smarter to know what McDowell had written before inviting him to debate or participating in such a debate.
*LOL* Tell that to Danus ex.
As for who here besides Danus ex helped McDowell, you did and so did everyone else who dignified his position by suggesting that he might have something of value and was worth debating. I didn't.
I figured you'd say that. I get tired of repeating myself, however...

On the original thread I said we shouldn't bother responding to the guy for similar reasons you give. However, other THR posters gave their reasons why they felt it was important to respond. They convinced me that you and I were wrong. I won't repeat their reasons here.
Now McDowell can say, truthfully, that his work was considered so important that he was invited to debate it on perhaps the most influential forum for gun owners
McDowell now has a claim to be read and taken seriously.
You're kidding right??? I thought I was dealing with someone grounded in reality until I read those two statements. This board doesn't carry diddly squat in academic circles. I can't believe I have to say that. Please tell me I misunderstand....I'm left speechless...
I've witnessed the making of a reputable gun control advocate.
Okay, ha ha. Sorry, I took you seriously. Not very funny as far as sarcasm goes, though.

Robert Hairless
September 9, 2007, 03:20 AM
I suspect that we share some common ground in viewing this debacle, Ieyasu, but we obviously differ in a few more or less significant respects that would take some distance to reconcile. But good enough is sufficient for me.

Your last message made me realize that our differences might arise from different perspectives on Internet gun forums. I don't consider them academic arenas and I'm not concerned with Earl E. McDowell's scholarly reputation on the subject of gun control. He's evidently slipping off the tail end of his academic career so I doubt if he has aspirations to begin another.

Unless McDowell is even less grounded in reality than I, or unless there has been a sustained hard freeze in Minnesota that chilled the brain of his Dean more than is usual and necessary for that position, he should know that a vanity press book is no asset in academic circles except those of Ruritania. So your comment that "This board doesn't carry diddly squat in academic circles" reveals more about your vision than mine or his.

I've been talking exclusively about constructing an aura of legitimization for McDowell and his work in gun control circles and with those who feed in them. It's a much larger and more significant corridor than the halls of academe for this issue. Few people committed to one extreme or another are likely to change positions anyway. Smart money tries to sway parts of the larger population who are in the middle or somewhere between the committed extremes. They are millions of people who don't participate in forums like this, wouldn't do so, wouldn't wade through old messages here if they did, and will never know that McDowell's appearance here was a fiasco for him.

It doesn't matter that he didn't or couldn't defend his position here. What matters is only that within a few weeks after this first book of his advocating gun control McDowell was invited to debate it. When the vested opposition invites a new player on the scene to appear so they can debate him, that player must be important. Who, after all, would waste time on a gadfly of such little significance that he had to pay his own book into print--unless, of course, that book is the kind of work you've been describing as worthwhile despite the author's lack of previous standing in the field.

I'm surprised to see you say that others here "convinced me that you and I were wrong." They must be much more accomplished at argument than I am because I'm unable to convince you that you're wrong about anything, and I can't fathom how they would make you believe that I was wrong before now. I am again impressed. :)

I've enjoyed this discussion.

Ieyasu
September 9, 2007, 03:49 AM
It doesn't matter that he didn't or couldn't defend his position here. What matters is only that within a few weeks after this first book of his advocating gun control McDowell was invited to debate it. When the vested opposition invites a new player on the scene to appear so they can debate him, that player must be important.
Your post makes perfect sense up until this point (and not just because I disagree. ;) )

Some kid just out of college asks a professor to respond to comments on a message board -- professor posts -- members respond. That doesn't mean said professor is important. You've committed a huge non-sequitur.
Who, after all, would waste time on a gadfly of such little significance that he had to pay his own book into print--unless, of course, that book is the kind of work you've been describing as worthwhile despite the author's lack of previous standing in the field.
Again, this is why I don't think you're serious. People on this board respond to trolls as well. The board literally lights up when a troll appears. The troll doesn't magically receive some "aura" of respect. Trolls have no previous "standing in the field," etc. Employing your logic, trolls must be important too since they get such a huge response.

Come clean, man. Admit you're not serious about the professor acquiring an aura of respect by folks responding to him. I'd sure like to know how that mechanism works. *SIGH*

Edited to add: It would have swelled his head more if nobody had responded. He'd claim victory. Either way the size of his "aura" would remain the same. ;-)

Robert Hairless
September 9, 2007, 04:01 AM
A man walks into a bar, finds a vacant stool, sits and orders a beer. The bartender serves him. At that very moment both are startled by the sight and sounds of another patron banging his head against the wall.

"Hey you," shouts the bartender. "Why are you banging your head against that wall?"

The headbanger pauses for a moment to reply: "Because it feels so good when I stop."

I feel really good now, Ieyasu, and don't want to spoil the moment for the sake of trying to get you to understand that I am not talking about academia, not talking about trolls, and not talking about any of the other things you've deluded yourself into believing.

Sayonara.

Ieyasu
September 9, 2007, 04:14 AM
I am not talking about academia, not talking about trolls, and not talking about any of the other things you've deluded yourself into believing.

You've shown no mechanism by which responding to a professor on a message board somehow, in your own words, "construct[s] an aura of legitimization for McDowell and his work in gun control circles and with those who feed in them." (Except maybe in his own head [and yours], but not responding would have done same [to him, but not yours]).

thexrayboy
September 9, 2007, 08:09 PM
A review of the positions and beliefs espoused by Mr. McDowell would tend to reinforce my postion in regards to people who are anti 2A and coincidentally usually described as being in the "liberal" end of the political spectrum. These people have made a long standing societal platform and for many a political career out of using emotions and feelings as a basis for societal change and legislative action. Facts, rationality and reality are irrelevant to them. They stake out a belief and then proceed to gather facts, figures and evidence that can be used to support that belief rather than to follow the established pattern of using available data to form and prove or disprove a belief in something.

I find it mildly amusing the the liberal side of society, which tends to denigrate religion and faith is so easily swayed to follow the banners of beliefs that are based soley on emotion and wishful thinking. Beliefs that are readily countered by logic, reasoning and objectively measured facts.

230RN
September 9, 2007, 10:49 PM
Robert Hairless:

Hasn't anyone else realized yet that Earl E. McDowell's book is self-published?


I asked about that very early in the thread.

I also touted my strong suspicions that the whole affair was a marketing ploy, again, early in the original thread.

I, too, however, felt that, omitting a lot of the miscellaneous posts, the thread was a temendous resource and I learned a lot. I was sore disappointed, though, that the Professor did not present any substantive counters to our questions/arguments. I left the thread with the impression that the Professor did not want to engage in a meaningful discussion, but only wanted to generate "rhetoric."

And sales.

Sorry if that doesn't sound very High Road, but I learned long ago back in NY to look for the "angle."

And, frankly, I am wondering along the same lines in this particular thread.

I calls 'em like I sees 'em. Witness my post # 110 on this page:

http://thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=297709&page=5

Post # 110

Pardon my Brooklyn-bred street smarts/"paranoia," where one is trained from birth to always be alert for the "angle," but it looks to me like this is a backhanded marketing ploy --and a clever one at that.

For, after all, it is pretty likely that many anti-gunners peruse this forum, and would thereby be alerted to the fact that the book is available.

Beats an author tour. I'm curious as to whom the publisher is --a "Vanity House," perhaps?

Well, whether it's really an intentional marketing ploy or not...

..that's the way it looks to this old Brooklyn Coot.

------------
Footnotes:

1. I am always put off when someone says he "own/owned N guns but," as if someohow that qualifies them as sympathetic to the spirit and explicit provisions of A2.

2. (Elided as no longer relevant.)

jfh
September 9, 2007, 11:40 PM
"...You cannot debate something with someone who has no rational basis for their belief."


Well, in one sense, I agree with you--but I've also reached the conclusion that we have to learn to debate with irrational people. We can debate with them, and in doing so we hopefully can limit the influence and the power they have.

About twelve years ago I sought out Paul Wellstone at the MN State Fair in the Fair DFL Booth and lectured him on the intellectually- and morally- bankrupt efforts of the gun-control crowd as demonstrated by creating a political definition of firearms ('assault weapons.') I chastised him for being an academic who commited himself to supporting those efforts, and that I was ashamed to see an academic from 'my school' debase himself with that kind of sophistry. IIRC, he had no good reply, other than something about benefitting the community.

The exchange was short; his union-based Goon Squad escorted me from the pavilion as soon as Wellstone directed his attention elsewhere.

I re-tell this anecdote simply because it was, after all, an attempt to engage with irrational beliefs. If we don't continue to do that, the pro-gun crowd is going to lose ground.

It's that simple.

Jim H.

IA_farmboy
September 9, 2007, 11:48 PM
I've finally took the time to read the portion of Dr. McDowell's book that was accessible on the internet. I also participated in the "debate" that started this all and even received a PM from the good Doctor as a result. This is what I took away...

I found his writing to be uninteresting and almost amateurish. One thing that sticks out in my mind is that he mentions getting hundreds of letters, pro and con. He puts some of them in his book. He picks a very thoughtful and eloquent letter from someone supporting gun control. He also picks four very rude and unintelligent letters that are against gun control. I would think that someone that claims to be a professional writer and master debater could do better than that.

He talks of murder, suicide, and firearm accidents. He then equates those to firearm regulation. I saw little in his writing to connect the two. The assumption is made that only firearms are involved in murder and suicide. While a firearm must be present for an accident to occur with a firearm that is quite leap to claim firearms must be taken from many. Of course a firearm is dangerous, otherwise it would not be very useful. By the way that also describes automobiles, power tools, and kitchen appliances. They are useful precisely because of the damage they can inflict, rendering them "safe" would render them useless.

I have been told that only when one can debate both sides of an argument does one truly understand the topic. I don't believe that. In most cases one can come to a conclusion that no matter how much one debates one must come to one conclusion. I've seen some seriously absurd topics come up for debate. One I am reminded of is on a video concerning pollution and global warming. There was actually a debate to outlaw chlorine. The element chlorine. Some one posed a law to outlaw an element. That would be difficult to enforce as it occurs naturally.

I dislike debates that try to convince others of the correctness of one side. I prefer what some call a "Socratic Debate" where one does not try to debate a preconceived notion with a person of an opposing notion like most debates but instead people discuss a topic and try to come to a mutually agreed upon conclusion.

I've had some socratic debates online and face to face, none of them a formal debate. They are very stimulating and I learn as much as I teach. A socratic debate never truly ends, it continues as new information is discovered and new views added. I've seen a bit of information on both sides of the debate on gun control and I have come to my own conclusion. I reconsider my position as I discover new information. I have not seen any new information presented by Dr. McDowell. His arguments, like many others on firearm control and registration, is heavy on emotion and light on facts.

I'd like to see Dr. McDowell return and participate in a socratic debate. I'd like to see him convince me, and anyone else that wishes to participate in socratic debate, that there is such a thing as being pro-gun-control while not being anti-gun. I find it hard to believe such a middle ground exists, at least as far as law is concerned. This debate should not be difficult for a professional writer, master debater, and someone so highly educated.

Dr. Dickie
September 10, 2007, 09:21 AM
I re-tell this anecdote simply because it was, after all, an attempt to engage with irrational beliefs. If we don't continue to do that, the pro-gun crowd is going to lose ground.

It's that simple.

I agree jfh, didn't mean to imply we shouldn't engage them, just that true debate is not possible. That anecdote is a great example. Tell the truth, if and when they push you aside with no rational discourse, it makes them appear smaller not you. Great job!

Carl N. Brown
September 10, 2007, 03:34 PM
The most interesting book I read on the Civil War was a
self-published book. But it was written by a history buff lawyer,
who did not use Dr. or Prof. in his byline. For an academic to
self-publish almost a hobby book is somehow .... strange.
But his ideas should stand or fall on their merits, not on
their packaging. Still, the book would be more credible from
a university press.

Can Prof. Earl E. McDowell point to any articles by him on law,
criminology or history published in a peer-reviewed, refereed
journal devoted to those subjects? I know, that has not stopped
Tim Lambert, professor of computer graphics, from lambasting
Donald B. Kates on HistoryNewsNetwork or John Lott on Wikipedia
on the subject of gun control. Heck, the lack of academic credentals
hasn't stopped me from opining, but I do it as a layman, without
color of office.

Author Earl E. McDowell urges the silent majority to become the vocal majority

Personally, I do not believe it is a silent anti-gun majority versus a vocal
pro-gun minority. I think it is a vocal anti-gun minority versus a vocal
pro-gun minority. (OK, BIG pro-gun minority).

James Wright demonstrated in Under the Gun (Aldine, 1983) that the
majority of folks in America support the right to own a gun, support
moderate laws to try to prevent misuse, but also oppose laws that
restrict ownership for lawful purposes.

England is an example of where a vocal anti-gun minority steamrollered
over a silent pro-gun minority while the vast majority were indifferent.
Remember England. If we are to preserve our rights, we must remain
the vocal minority. We should do so by marshalling our arguments with
a view to convert the majority, and not to give in to a siege mentality
of us v them.

Brad Johnson
September 10, 2007, 04:39 PM
I'm afraid that his research was not a widespread exploration of the subject. He seems to have stayed with sources which supported a pre-existing opinion.

Add a sticky star to Art's report card!

Brad

If you enjoyed reading about "America's Great Gun Game--what to take away" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!