Disarmin' America

By Megan McArdle

Consider my mind officially boggled.  (Yes, yes . . . many of you so considered it years ago.  Point taken, etc.)

Remember Michael Bellesiles?  The Emory history professor who faked data to "prove", in an award winning book, that guns were not common in early America?  The one who lost his job, and his Bancroft prize, after the fraud was revealed? 

Well, if you don't, here's the Yale Law Review article from Jim Lindgren on the topic.  Now prepare to be amazed:  Bellesiles has a new book out.  And the publicity materials for said book highlight the previous fraud--for the purpose of claiming that he's some sort of tragic martyr who was "swiftboated".

I felt bad for the guy at the time, and I have an American fondness for second and third and eighth chances.  But really.  I have a hard enough time believing the guy got a book published--I mean, maybe this book is 100% on the level, but who has the time to check all his footnotes to make sure.  And when he has the gall to complain--or allow his publishers to do so in his place--that his previous work was unjustly prosecuted, well, both my sympathy and any willingness to suspend my disbelief sort of evaporate.  It's like his real academic project is doing case studies of chutzpah.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2010/05/disarmin-america/56615/