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News & Editorials

Big Liars Say Drop Dead to All Critics

by John G. Lankford

Battling the academically incompetent agendism peddled as scholarship by Michael Bellesiles in Arming America: The Origins Of A National Gun Culture, Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt encountered the deliberate obtuseness characterizing the antigun and the broader communist (note small "c") onslaught.

On publication of Bellesiles' screed, The Economist, politically-correctist on the antigun topic, dutifully exulted with a rave review, "Arms And The Man", July 3, 1999.

The preface to that article read, 

"America's love affair with the gun is the eternal stuff of fiction. It has not always been the stuff of fact."

In October, 1999, National Review published an academically workmanlike book review, "Disarming Errors", by Clayton Cramer.

In it, Cramer demonstrated how Bellesiles' tome depends on invidious selectivity of sources, misinterpretation of cited language from sources, and, frequent refusal to acknowledge countervailing language in any single source cited.

As a matter of scholarship, Cramer's article along constituted a complete discrediting refutation of the Bellesiles book.

Nevertheless, in December, 2000, The Economist published another article hyping the book. "Gun Running", it was titled, carrying the introduction, 

"A new study dispels the myth of the trigger happy American frontiersman." 

That article acknowledged neither Cramer's piece nor The Economist's own earlier article, consistently with the epithet "new study."

The latter article was a blatant attempt to boost sales of Bellesiles' book by attracting to it, readers who had not heard of it before, were not aware of its refutation, or had forgotten one or both.

My own letter to The Economist pointing out its scholarly gaffe was of course neither acknowledged nor printed.

In A Brief History of Time, brilliant cosmologist and astrophysicist Stephen E. Hawking both acknowledged and, due to the wide audience his popular-science books attract, broadly publicized a prior error of his own, and commented that he followed the example of Albert Einstein in doing so.

To competent scholars, discovery and elimination of an error is almost as gladly experienced an event as discovery of a previously-unknown truth. Both serve to advance the fund of valid knowledge.

But communist pseudoscholarship operates from a pre-selected premise, and conforms its output to that which putatively reinforces that premise, eliminating all else. To that tradition, whatever is empirically true is transcendentally false, and vice-versa, if not helpful to the chosen major premise.

It reflects the subjective or Romantic conviction, which holds that a physical fact may be conjured into validity if enough people believe intensely enough that it is true. To bring that about, it is permissible to repeat any lie, ignore any correction, and, ultimately, slaughter any dissenter.

The bloody fallout of politically-correctist antigun zeal in British Commonwealth thought is notoriously descending on the people of England and Australia in the form of significant jumps in hooliganism.

Not surprisingly, such fallacy has never led anywhere but disaster. But it did, historically, and does now function to inspire adherents to liberty restrained by validity and viability to keep their guns clean and oiled and their powder dry.


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Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. George Bernard Shaw

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