Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Here's a story that conservatives of a certain stripe tell a lot these days:

A scholar writes a book which claims that scholarly conventional wisdom in a politically controversial area is just wrong. It's loaded with charts and figures, carefully footnoted to detailed data which supposedly proves his points. But outraged scholars in the field respond that the book systematically distorts the facts, and that the data was cut to make the conclusions fit an agenda. A scholarly review panel is convened, and while they can't prove intent to defraud, they can say the evidence in the book is either dramatically skewed, or just not there. Suddenly, the hot new scholar may not be able to hold onto a job.

Conservatives say that's why you should ignore Michael Bellesiles when you're talking about guns in America. They're right. Remember that the next time you hear them praising Bjorn Lomborg's take on the environment.


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