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July 11, 2010

Uh-Oh: Michael Bellesiles At It Again?

Michael Bellesiles last work of "history" was a proof, he alleged, that early America had in fact never had many privately-owned guns, and that our "gun culture" was an invention of relatively recent vintage.

His evidence for this surprising proposition was a meticulous accounting of probate records, which he carefully combed through to find that very few Americans owned a gun at their deaths, at least in the first hundred years or so of the Republic.

He got some major awards and was instantly lauded as important historian. The political-education complex loved him.

One problem: the probates he supposedly checked showed far higher incidences of gun ownership than he reported, and, alas, a good many of the probate records he checked turned out to not exist.

He was exposed as a fraud and fabricator to such a degree even the political-education complex couldn't cover for him, and he was cast out of his professorship at Emory University.

He's now teaching at a small, second tier (if that) school in Connecticut. One would think he's ready to bear down and really do some solid research this time around, to maybe earn a little of his reputation back. And avoid just making stuff up that will sell to the liberal political-education complex.

Well... you may think that but you'd be wrong, it seems.

What is sort of remarkable about this is that Bellesiles story here -- about a student whose brother is killed in Iraq, and another veteran who only suddenly (under Bellesiles' instruction) realizes the men he's killed have families of their own, and hence decides to not re-enlist -- is so minor, so weak, so lame. It does of course have a liberal-pleasing moral to it, but a fuzzy and weak one.

It's as if he constructed a tale that was as unimportant as humanly possible in order to avoid drawing attention to it and getting it checked out.

Well, Jim Lindgren checked anyway, and he can find absolutely no men killed in Iraq during the time frame in question (or even nearby timeframes) whose deaths correspond at all to the details provided by Bellesiles.

Thanks to dri.

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posted by Ace at 12:26 PM

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