Won't Bellesiles ever give up?


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jsalcedo
February 6, 2004, 08:23 AM
Michael Bellesiles' book, "Arming America" is being re-published - unchanged
from the original. Included with the book is a 59-page pamphlet by
Bellesiles in which he responds to his critics.

As the Wall Street Journal says of the booklet:

"Much of the booklet is a repeat of the professor's creative excuses and
dissembling. He explains again about the flood [where his research notes
were destroyed] and helpfully assures us that he is not an agent of the
Zionist Occupational Government (though surely that is why the Bancroft
panel took away his prize, right?).

"But the most amusing parts of the pamphlet are those meant to support our
scholar's belief that he is up against a stubborn world that refuses to open
its mind to the truth. And his sense of persecution and righteousness is
very much on display. The very title of his book is taken from Job: 'Let me
be weighed in an even balance, that God may known mine integrity.' "

Story at:
http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/kstrassel/?id=110004653

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jsalcedo
February 6, 2004, 08:25 AM
Bellesiles Misfires
An antigun "scholar" as today's Galileo? Oh please, just shoot me.

BY KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL
Friday, February 6, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST

History has its fair share of persecuted geniuses, men who were ahead of their time and made to pay for it. There's the hemlocked Socrates, the house-arrested Galileo, the exiled Rousseau. And to this list of giants it seems that we are now expected to add the name of Michael Bellesiles.

Mr. Bellesiles is the former Emory professor who shook the scholarly world in 2000 with his book "Arming America." An academic bombshell, the tome went against long-held beliefs by claiming that few colonial Americans actually owned guns. This set off a riotous public debate over whether the Second Amendment was designed to protect individual gun rights. Mr. Bellesiles was showered with prizes and media praise, becoming an instant academic star.

That is, until his peers started looking into that little thing called research. Reputable scholars in the ensuing months tore apart his work on probate and military records, travel narratives, and other documents. Mr. Bellesiles, when asked to explain, provided ever-more outlandish excuses: that his notes had been lost in a flood, that his Web site had been hacked, that he couldn't remember where he'd found certain documents. The officials of the prestigious Bancroft Prize stripped him of his award, he left Emory and Knopf chose to stop publishing his book. Most of us sighed happily and figured that was the end of that academic scandal.

But oh, no. It turns out that Mr. Bellesiles is still riding his dead horse, his nonexistent guns still blazing. Soft Skull Press (which takes pride in putting out books that other publishers avoid like ricin) has not only agreed to reissue "Arming America" but has decided to release Mr. Bellesiles's latest response to his critics. This 59-page pamphlet, "Weighed in an Even Balance," is a spirited attempt by Mr. Bellesiles to turn himself into the world's latest misunderstood genius. As such, it's worth reading for pure entertainment value.





Much of the booklet is a repeat of the professor's creative excuses and dissembling. He explains again about the flood and helpfully assures us that he is not an agent of the Zionist Occupational Government (though surely that is why the Bancroft panel took away his prize, right?). He does acknowledge a few errors, but only after pointing out that "even the finest scholars . . . make mistakes." As proof, he cites one blooper in esteemed historian David McCullough's 1,120-page biography of Harry Truman.
But the most amusing parts of the pamphlet are those meant to support our scholar's belief that he is up against a stubborn world that refuses to open its mind to the truth. And his sense of persecution and righteousness is very much on display. The very title of his book is taken from Job: "Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may known mine integrity."

And that's just for starters. The pamphlet is sprinkled with quotations from thoughtful men, all meant to back up Mr. Bellesiles's argument that he is fighting the good fight. We hear from Isaiah Berlin: "Few things have done more harm than the belief on the part of individuals or groups . . . that he or she or they are in sole possession of the truth." One epigraph recounts that in the 16th century, Oxford used to fine any student who diverged from the teachings of Aristotle. We are clearly meant to envision a fiesty Mr. Bellesiles handing over his shillings to the dons.

We are treated to lecturing tracts about the benefits of scholarly disagreement, the complex nature of historical research and the need for academic exploration. And finally, in case readers still aren't getting his drift, Mr. Bellesiles sums it all up in his conclusion: "There are those who rest their very identity on the notion of a certain, unchanging past. The vision that society is unalterable is not just incorrect, it is dangerously undemocratic, and as such should be of concern to every modern historian."





In fact, the academic world is hardly a monolothic creature that resists all change. If it were, we'd still be trying to explain how the sun moves around the Earth. Most historians and scientists are wise enough to realize that new discoveries or interpretations hold out opportunity. But before they completely cast aside mountains of research, they usually demand some proof. Mr. Bellesiles's problem isn't that he's misunderstood; it's that he still hasn't given them any.
Or as the old saying goes: "To be a persecuted genius, you not only have to be persecuted; you also have to be right."

Tempest
February 6, 2004, 08:48 AM
The guy is so desperate it's actually pathetic. If he thinks he's going to somehow repaint himself as Galileo or Columbus, he's either delusional or desperate for attention - any kind of attention, including the negative kind.

"even the finest scholars . . . make mistakes." BAH! When I interviewed Clayton Cramer about Bellesiles last year, he said he found hundreds of "errors" and intentional misrepresentation, as well as source misrepresentation that couldn't be anything but deliberate. Puhleeze!

Here's the piece I did after my interview with Mr. Cramer (http://www.keepandbeararms.com/information/XcIBViewItem.asp?ID=3551)

KeepAndBearArms.com -- Throughout my college career I was lucky to have studied under some well-known, very knowledgeable history professors. These were men of integrity and vision, who taught their classes with passion and honesty. These learned scholars provided me with the tools I needed to seek the truth of the past and the willingness and interest to explore the lessons of my forefathers.

I graduated Johns Hopkins in the spring of 1993. During my four-year stay at Hopkins there were a few attempts to hijack history and political science by “progressives” who wanted to force students to specifically view the world through their ivory-tower, collectivist, let’s-change-history-to-suit-our-own-purpose glasses, instead of the students' own eyes. However, in the late 80’s and early 90’s the Hopkins student population was still considered relatively conservative. Students were unwilling to put up with revisionism and lies in favor of political agendas. The attempted hijacking of the curriculum was halted at its root with numerous well-placed comments in student newspapers, complaints to student advisors and snide remarks within earshot of these self-professed “progressives.”

I graduated with a lingering respect for historical scholars as people who relentlessly hunted for the truths of the past. There must be an obstinate integrity and ability to face facts when examining history. While it’s acceptable to have a political agenda in an attempt to support your own theories, it definitely is not OK to change facts to suit your purpose. It’s certainly not OK to alter the truth to support your personal or political agenda. And it’s certainly not OK to pass off fraud as fact in furtive hopes of betraying reality. Any historian who has been defrauded in such a manner would be seething, right? A scholar in search of the truth would certainly feel intellectually mutilated and incensed that a colleague would attempt to betray history in such a manner, right?

You’d think so.



CONDEMNING THE SEEKER


Clayton Cramer


Clayton E. Cramer is an unassuming, shy intellectual, whose interests run the gamut from computer science and astronomy to history and politics. He is an author, a historian, a software engineer, a husband and a father. He is a true Renaissance man, who tends to shy away from large crowds, and he’s a relentless Second Amendment rights activist, even though his interest in shooting is limited to keeping himself proficient enough to deter an assailant.

Cramer has a passion for history. He has an unyielding desire to find out the truth and he pursues that truth mercilessly and without prejudice. He is driven by a desire to know the facts and he’s not afraid to have history prove him wrong. He has the courage and conviction to dig deep and learn the truth, and he expects the same historical integrity from others in his field.

This is the man whom disgraced former history professor Michael Bellesiles – in a bout of acerbic hypocrisy – called “an ideologically driven polemicist.” This is the man who became a hero to many Second Amendment rights activists and something resembling the anti-Christ to the anti-gunners.

Why?

Because Clayton E. Cramer had the courage and tenacity to delve deeper into the fantastic claims of Michael Bellesiles and to uncover one of the biggest frauds perpetrated on the scholarly community ever! Bellesiles claimed to find a completely new and different version of America. He claimed gun ownership was very rare in our country’s early history. He claimed hardly anyone hunted, and that private ownership of firearms was uncommon, as the government didn’t trust the citizens to be armed. This was a completely new and different theory about life in early America – a theory anti-gunners, with their wild claims of a peaceful utopia if only guns were outlawed, were only too eager to swallow. However, Bellesiles’ Arming America was much more than its original hype touted.

“It was massive fraud!” Clayton Cramer exclaims. “We’re not talking about a few things that were left out. We’re talking quotes altered; we’re talking dates changed; we’re talking gross misrepresentations. And it wasn’t just in one area – it was everywhere! I have personally found many hundreds of examples of misrepresentations, altered quotes, dates changed, sources cited that he clearly didn’t actually read, and I haven’t even done an exhaustive examination of the book!”

What Clayton E. Cramer found was that Bellesiles’ spectacular claims about life in early America were fabricated. Bellesiles had perpetrated one of history’s biggest frauds, and had Clayton Cramer not come across some of the same sources Bellesiles claimed to use in his own work…

…had Cramer not been tenacious and curious enough to dig deeper and examine closer…

…Bellesiles would have gotten away with deceiving the scholarly community and every single person who bought and read his book.

One would have thought historical scholars would have been outraged with Bellesiles’ treachery. One would have thought a closer examination of his work would have immediately commenced. But no…

…the scholarly community was outraged with Clayton Cramer!

When Cramer first brought the allegations about Bellesiles’ fraud to several email lists for professional historians, he made himself very unpopular for a while. Bellesiles immediately responded that Cramer was not a professional historian, but someone with a political agenda. Two of the list moderators refused to allow discussion to continue on this topic. Only one list – the Early American History List – allowed discussion of Bellesiles’ work, and eventually historians had to grudgingly agree that there were some serious problems with his claims. Slowly but surely, the historical community began to realize it had been defrauded. Many, who initially defended Bellesiles realized they’d been had. Bellesiles was eventually stripped of the prestigious Bancroft Prize, the publication of his deceptive piece of fiction ceased, and his professorship a thing of the past. Bellesiles has been discredited and humiliated. Clayton Cramer is beginning to get some grudging respect from his colleagues. But his saga raises numerous issues within the scholarly community.



WHAT WENT WRONG?

Bellesiles reportedly once remarked in private that there’s a lot of fraud going on in history, because no one ever bothered to check sources. Indeed, Clayton Cramer agrees. There’s a certain amount of trust that’s endemic to the scholarly community, according to Cramer. Sources are rarely checked, as witnessed by Bellesiles’ use of numerous sources, which he had obviously never read. His intentional and obvious alteration of quotes and dates were right there in plain sight, but historians tend to trust their own, swallowing whatever is fed to them with a lackadaisical complacency. Many of today’s historians appear to hold personal and political agendas above truth and the examination thereof. This arrogance leads to sloppiness and an unwillingness to verify facts – either due to laziness or fear that the neat little world that’s been built by the “historian” in question will crumble when facts are introduced into the equation. It apparently never occurred to today’s historians that one of them would intentionally fabricate evidence, and most were too complacent to verify facts and check sources.

Indeed, the behavior of a number of Clayton Cramer’s colleagues after his discovery of Bellesiles’ deception amply illustrates this point. A UC Irvine history professor recently published a long ad hominem attack on Cramer himself in “The Nation.” Why? Apparently unable to refute the facts Cramer presented, he resorted to personal invective as retribution for the toppling of a colleague. Another professor from a university in the East warned Cramer, “You may be a fine historian, but you’ll never be a gentleman.” Apparently, in this alleged “scholar’s” eyes, truth should be sacrificed to political correctness and history itself can be butchered on the sacrificial altar of professional courtesy.

There are numerous lessons to be learned from Clayton Cramer’s experience with the Michael Bellesiles saga. Clearly the complacency that prevails in the historical community and the hostility of scholars when one of their own gets caught in blatantly unethical behavior points to a decreased desire to uncover the truth, fear and trepidation at the thought of having one’s theories disproved, a lack of intellectual curiosity, and a cowardly unwillingness to confront and expose a member of the community as a liar. No wonder today’s universities graduate sanctimonious, indolent cowards with little work ethic and a lack of initiative, integrity and intellectual inquisitiveness. If there’s anything that can be learned from the fraud that is Michael Bellesiles, it’s that the pursuit of truth must always outweigh any personal agendas or political schemes.

I’m one of many who hope that the new generation of historical scholars will have the courage and intestinal fortitude to pursue the truth, instead of languidly sitting back and swallowing the party line with slack-jawed compliance. History demands the courage to uncover the truth. Anything less is a disservice to history, to academia and to truth itself.

Mulliga
February 6, 2004, 10:25 AM
Bellesiles is referenced extensively in Sugarmann's horrible book, "Every Handgun is Aimed at You." Lies, bigger lies, and the lying liars who tell them...

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=62473&highlight=josh+sugarmann+every+handgun

This is the guy people like Sugarmann and Feinswine love - rewriting history to fit their agenda. Definitely related to the smearing of the FF as slave-owners and to the smearing of TJ as an adulterer - sure, it might be true, but it doesn't diminish the men or their accomplishments/ideals.

Bill Hook
February 6, 2004, 12:17 PM
Do you think anyone is actually buying his book in any quantity?

Travis McGee
February 6, 2004, 12:18 PM
Most mainstream academic historians didn't CARE that the book was one giant fraud and lie. They agreed with his anti-gun agenda, so the fact that his book was one long lie never mattered to them, and it still doesn't matter. That's why they're angry at Cramer for revealing the lie to the gullible public.

Mike Irwin
February 6, 2004, 12:21 PM
"He does acknowledge a few errors, but only after pointing out that "even the finest scholars . . . make mistakes." As proof, he cites one blooper in esteemed historian David McCullough's 1,120-page biography of Harry Truman."

There's a big difference...

True scholars don't base their entire body of work on severely flawed research tactics, misrepresentations, and falsehoods.

McCullough's book on Truman may have contained a "blooper," but Arming America contains more "bloopers" than facts.

Pretty incredible column from a very respected member of the press.

Moondancer
February 6, 2004, 12:32 PM
This is the guy people like Sugarmann and Feinswine love - rewriting history to fit their agenda. Definitely related to the smearing of the FF as slave-owners and to the smearing of TJ as an adulterer - sure, it might be true, but it doesn't diminish the men or their accomplishments/ideals.

It just irks me no end when I talk to (primarily Democrats) people who use this as reason to downplay the FF's accomplishments BUT WHO SEE NOTHING WRONG WITH BILL CLINTON'S INFIDELITIES! "But he was such a GOOD president! Why look at JFK, even he had his little pecadillos! You can't hold their little escapades against them, not when you look at the big picture! Come on, get over it! Everybody does it!"

Idiots!

TallPine
February 6, 2004, 03:14 PM
How come all these guys are named "Michael"

as in ...

Michael Moron
Michael Bullsh...

:confused:

agricola
February 6, 2004, 03:20 PM
Bellesiles’ spectacular claims about life in early America were fabricated. Bellesiles had perpetrated one of history’s biggest frauds.

surely an overreaction?

tyme
February 6, 2004, 04:12 PM
Do you think anyone is actually buying his book in any quantity?
Nope. Thankfully.

Amazon.com sales rank: 809024 (that's pretty terrible for a book, except for limited-audience academic-type books)
Amazon.com rating: 1.5/5 stars

Boo hoo.

Malone LaVeigh
February 6, 2004, 04:16 PM
surely an overreaction? Not when your universe revolves around one issue. (Not picking on anyone in particular here... I didn't even read all of the posts enough to know who's being quoted.)

Stand_Watie
February 6, 2004, 04:43 PM
I blame Bellesisles for bringing Clayton Cramer's work to my attention, so he has accomplished something good:D

jsalcedo
February 6, 2004, 04:54 PM
Bellesissy had done a lot for our cause with his careless and blatant
fraud because the liberals ate up his book and acted like Moses himself brought it down from the ivy tower.

When exposed, the anti gun ninny establishment went fleeing like the filthy, diseased cockroaches that they are.

Jim March
February 6, 2004, 05:03 PM
Agricola, it's NOT an over-reaction. "Fraud" hardly encompasses the degree of male bovine droppings we're dealing with here.

Here's a link to Clayton's SHORT overview of problems found:

http://www.claytoncramer.com/TheImportanceOfFootnotes.PDF

He has a whole collection of stuff on this, including links to a series of newspaper articles, at:

http://www.claytoncramer.com/unpublished.htm (check the "Arming America" section).

A late-2002 court decision by a 3-judge panel of the 9th Federal Circuit had to be recalled and the Bell-liar references pulled after the scandal came completely unglued (Reinhardt's decision in Silveira vs. Lockyer).

BowStreetRunner
February 6, 2004, 05:28 PM
how this guy even convinced any historian that these ideas were true is beyond me
all you would have to do is haul out the militia acts of pretty much every state during the revolution which said that all able bodied men needed a firelock, bayonet, cartridge box and cartridges, sword, hangar, hatchet, etc........
some people just need to believe that our national gun culture is an aberration and a cyst upon the land
BSR

Malone LaVeigh
February 6, 2004, 06:12 PM
Agricola, it's NOT an over-reaction. "Fraud" hardly encompasses the degree of male bovine droppings we're dealing with here. I think he was responding to "one of history's biggest".

HunterGatherer
February 6, 2004, 06:31 PM
Not when your universe revolves around one issue. (Not picking on anyone in particular here... I didn't even read all of the posts enough to know who's being quoted.)Darn those folks who focus on truth. :rolleyes: I think he was responding to "one of history's biggest".When one considers that the "professor" lost his job (virtually unheard of) at Emory, his Bancroft prize (totally unprecedented), and that his publisher dropped him like a hot rock, I'd say there is no exageration.

Standing Wolf
February 6, 2004, 07:32 PM
Bellesiles is the one leftist extremist academic in a thousand who's been caught trying to pass off socialist fraud as history. The other 999 are still getting away with it.

publius
February 6, 2004, 08:37 PM
surely an overreaction?

Enjoying your classical history lesson over in another thread, farmer. Why no details here? Maybe you could provide us with a short list of historians who have made a similarly big splash, and been similarly disgraced?

Cosmoline
February 6, 2004, 08:48 PM
surely an overreaction?

Well perhaps if the author intended to write "one of the biggest frauds in all of human history." I suspect the meaning was more along the lines of "one of the biggest frauds in the history of the study of history." And that it is. Retracting the Bancroft Prize is pretty amazing. He duped a lot of very Ph.D.'s, and I can't think of anyone who was able to wow so many scholars so quickly, only to fall from grace just as quickly.

4v50 Gary
February 6, 2004, 08:55 PM
Cramer doesn't have a PhD in history, does he? If he doesn't, academians aren't likely to take his work seriously even though his work is correct. It's the elitist mindset of academia.

BTW, I've read Cramer's book By the Dim and Flaring Lamps: The Civil War Diary of Samuel McIlvaine and enjoyed it.

Tempest
February 7, 2004, 10:46 AM
Amazing, isn't it? Someone who DOES have a PhD in history perpetrates one of academia's biggest frauds, and he's still defended by a few elitist ignoramuses in the field, likely because he's one of their own.

Meanwhile, Cramer, who doesn't have the three little letters after his name, who is an incredible historian anyway, gets the shaft from these losers.

c_yeager
February 7, 2004, 11:25 AM
I think he was responding to "one of history's biggest".

Well, technically speaking EVERYTHING qualifies as ONE OF histories biggest. It's just a matter of how far down the list it is :neener:

Jeff Thomas
February 7, 2004, 01:03 PM
Oh, this is amusing ... thanks for the laugh.

I pray that Mr. Bellesiles continues on so for a long, long time. He is definitely one of the best examples of the "intellectual" anti-self defense lobby. This is why they are losing ... they are intellectually bankrupt, and their arguments are based upon emotion and propaganda, without logic or honest historical perspective.

And, using "Soft Skull Press" no less ... and some people wonder if there is a God? ;) [It is for real ... soft skull press (http://www.softskull.com) ... look about 3/4 of the way down the page.]

Regards from TX

HunterGatherer
February 7, 2004, 02:51 PM
and some people wonder if there is a God? :evil:

MeekandMild
February 7, 2004, 02:54 PM
I am still laughing at his basic premise, that there were few guns in early America because they weren't listed in probate records. It sounds like a whole lot of BS to base his entire book on this.

Anyone who has ever had an ancestor die knows that the vast majority of personal guns are either given out to the children and grandchildren as living gifts before they die or are given by the widow or "disappear" before the end of the wake.

IMHO it is a rule of thumb that guns, family Bibles, personal jewelry and other personal wealth items seldom are probated.

Mike Irwin
February 7, 2004, 07:10 PM
Meek,

Exactly.

When I first heard about this, I scared up some of the wills from family records of my direct descendants who died over the last 120 or so years.

Not hard to do since both families basically crashed to earth like meteors and didn't stray very far from the crash site for nearly 250 years. :)

Anyway, I know of roughly 12 firearms that have been passed down through both sides of my family.

Not a SINGLE ONE appeared in the wills of those individuals who owned them. They were all passed father to son, or in a couple of cases brother to brother.

In fact, despite the fact that many of my ancestors were farmers and attached to the land, no firearms at all appear in any of the wills.

Using the criteria developed by Mr. Bellesiles (sorry, he doesn't rate the honorific Dr. or Prof.), my family obviously owned NO firearms at any point in our history.

Yet, I have my Great Grandfather's .32 US Revolver Co. solid frame, my Father has another Great Grandfather's .32 H&R breaktop, my Uncle has my Grandfather's .25 Baby Browning, his .32 Columbian breaktop (holy crap, all the .32s in my family!), his H&R single shot 12-gauge, and the caplock long rifle that belonged to either my great great or greatx3 Grandfather.

Those are just a few of the guns owned by members of my family, and which passed without recordation because they were passed on before the owner died.

The same is true with many of the firearms that belong to friends. Before his Grandfather died, my friend Chuck received his Ithaca Model 37 and a couple of rifles.

Art Eatman
February 7, 2004, 09:49 PM
I won't get count individual guns, but what I got from my uncle and my father weighs out close to 300 pounds. :)

Art

Chupacabra
February 7, 2004, 10:16 PM
I work in a library and I was browsing through the catalogue today.

We have THREE copies of Bellesile's book.

Guess how many of John Lott's books we have...?








...One. :cuss:


I gotta get out of that place.

:banghead:

c_yeager
February 8, 2004, 01:56 AM
And i bet the only reason the have Lott's book is because some gunny donated it to help enlighten the masses. How much you wanna bet that the Bellesile book was outright purchased with their funding? Nice thing about where we live though Chup, you only have to drive about an hour in any direction to find civilization again :D

Chupacabra
February 8, 2004, 02:43 AM
Over the last few years I've had a couple of students come to the circulation desk, checking out books concerning "gun-control." I gently recommend John Lott's books, as the books they're checking out look suspicious... :uhoh:

One thing that does give me hope though....

John Lott's book (More Guns, Less Crime) is currently checked out.

None of Bellesile's are. :D


you only have to drive about an hour in any direction to find civilization again

Amen to that!

HunterGatherer
February 9, 2004, 03:23 AM
I won't get count individual guns, but what I got from my uncle and my father weighs out close to 300 pounds.LMAO

Mk VII
February 9, 2004, 05:05 PM
Dr. (later Sir Cyril) Burt was one of the leading child psychiatrists of his generation. His work on ‘The Backward Child’ can still be found on library shelves. Burt’s view was that intelligence was inherited, not acquired, and that’ nature not nurture’ was the deciding factor (this oversimplifies his thesis, which was more complex than this). He based his arguments on his published studies of identical twins separated at birth and brought up separately (something which was commoner in the days when abortion was less available and adoption more frequent). Professional colleagues had their doubts, particularly over his claims to have found so many pairs of separated twins around the world, but it was not until Burt’s papers were examined after his death that it became clear to any fair-minded observer that he had faked his data to match his conclusions.

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