Thursday, July 8, 2010

Michael Bellesiles – Still a Jerk!

Beware the lettered academic with an agenda. The most common excuse offered by fellow academics is that their paper/treatise/book/propaganda flyer is “peer reviewed.” And who, precisely, are their peers? Mostly they are same collection of liberal campus activists who share their insane and lying propositions. It would appear that they sit around the faculty lounge, look for the most outrageous lies which support their otherwise untenable assertions and then grant that least valuable of endorsements—“peer review.”

When the average bear evaluates an opinion he might review the numbers, check for source and accuracy, weigh the conclusions as affected by verifiable facts and then render an opinion based on that information. This is not the criteria for a faculty peer review. It would appear that to qualfy for that position at a prestigious university, he must share conclusions with the author, and the weight of his conclusions upon society are the hall marks of his aims.

Bellesiles was a professor at Emory University in Atlanta and authored “Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture” in 2000. Critics summarized the book as “guilty of unprofessional and misleading work.” Columbia University had awarded the book a Bancroft Prize which, upon close examination, they rescinded in 2002. He resigned under fire from Emory.

Among the failures and misleading statistics found in the book were the following:

* purported to count guns in about a hundred wills from 17th- and 18th-century Providence, Rhode Island, which had not existed because the decedents had died intestate (i.e., without wills);

* purported to count nineteenth-century San Francisco County probate inventories, which had been destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire;

* reported a national mean for gun ownership in 18th-century probate inventories that was mathematically impossible;

* misreported the condition of guns described in probate records in a way that accommodated his thesis;

* miscited the counts of guns in nineteenth-century Massachusetts censuses and militia reports,

* had more than a 60% error rate in finding guns in Vermont estates; and

* had a 100% error rate in the cited gun-related homicide cases of seventeenth-century Plymouth.

Shucks, anybody could make a few mistakes like these. One might assume that having committed such an egregious attempt to skew statistics to establish a false premise would render an author unfit to have the opportunity to publish further material. One would be wrong. From his perch at Central Connecticut State University as an adjunct professor of history comes his latest effort: “1877: America's Year of Living with Violence” from The New Press.[22]

Anyone looking for confirmation of the accusations leveled upon Bellesiles in the first circumstance will be rewarded by the apparently unverifiable citations in his new offering. Now that he has established his credentials as a serial prevaricator, he offers a tale of a student who lost a close relative in Iraq in combat. Fact checking Bellesiles has now become a cottage industry and a raft of people are eagerly jumping to the occasion to discredit him one more time. It’s not certain whether he will claim another flood as the culprit in destroying his data. He may now rely upon the ubiquitous “I misspoke.” When all else fails, if he can not certify the truth of his allegations he can always say “the dog ate my homework.”

Since Bellesiles has insisted upon writing fiction in non-fiction offerings, he will fit right in with those on the left who share his feelings. So far, we have not noticed the “peer revue” crowd jumping on his bandwagon.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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