Thursday, November 07, 2002

Looks like the Nation is eating a little crow over its puff piece on Michael Bellesiles. Jon Wiener has no apologies, however.
For his part, Wiener comments that the university "had a kind of tunnel vision" in the way it restricted the panel's mission. "Since the issue here is Bellesiles's integrity as a historian, the Emory inquiry should have been as sweeping as the stakes, instead of being tied to a few pages in a great big book. And if Bellesiles is right in his reply, then those distinguished historians are guilty of some of the same sins they accuse him of committing: suppressing inconvenient evidence, spinning the data their way, refusing to follow leads that didn't serve their thesis. The point is not to condemn them for their inability to achieve the scrupulousness they demanded of Bellesiles. The point is that historians have to deal with the messy confusion of things, and they offer interpretations of it. Historical knowledge advances by the testing of interpretations, not by stifling interpreters, and not by indicting the interpreter's character for flaws in a table."


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