Blogs > Cliopatria > Noted Here and There ...

Jan 20, 2005 1:49 pm

Noted Here and There ...

Belle's Pony: On this inauguration day and on most days, I am a democrat. But some authoritative voices have, well, more authority than others. If John Holbo, Jacob T. Levy, Ralph Luker, and P. Z. Meyers all say that Belle Waring's"If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride" is the most humorous post, who's to say otherwise? But we need votes! Where are Tim Burke, Adam Kotsko, and Scott McLemee? You know what happens when some people don't vote! Go over to the Koufax Awards and support la Belle! [Update: Kotsko has voted. Where are the other Cliopatriarchs? We need votes.]

Sontag: At last, for Susan Sontag, a fit farewell. Scott McLemee's"The Mind as Passion" at American Prospect is getting appropriate notice from: Crooked Timber, Maud Newton, MobyLives, and, well, Scott McLemee.

Common-Place: The new Common-Place is up! This issue emphasizes trans-Pacific trade. Edward Gray and Alan Taylor survey the possibilities in the Introduction. Particularly interesting looking: Peter Coclanis,"Pacific Overtures: The Spanish Lake and the global economy, 1500-1800" and John Demos,"Viewpoints on the China Trade: A Young Nation Looks to the Pacific."

Ooops Alert: What should happen when an academic blogger delivers himself of opinionated pieces of his mind, but ignores everything said by readers of his blog? He has the option of disabling comments, but he ignores both it and the comments posted there. Consider further: what if said blogger has a well established reputation as a historian and feels himself qualified to deliver himself of opinions on a whole range of social issues? You are re-assured if, in support of his opinions, he offers sources that confirm them. But, what if one of his readers actually bothers to look at the sources said historian/blogger cites? And what if the reader in question notes in comments that the sources he cites actually say the opposite of what the historian/blogger claims they say? Do you: a) rush to the library to check the endnotes in his books and articles, perhaps thinking that you've got the next Michael Bellesiles or John Lott expose? or b) do you suggest that the blogger's platform should be dismantled? I'm not sure, but we have a case at hand. Is an apology to readers sufficient?

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More Comments:

Ralph E. Luker - 1/21/2005

I've been through this before with another historian on a matter of more massive scale. When I sent the quiet e-mail, the historian in question went, first, to the historian's attorney and, second, into 95% public denial. To date, there has been no effort whatsoever on the part of that historian to correct very substantial mistakes in a work that is still being widely read and used. It is, after all, _that_ historian's work, not mine; and I have limited time and energy to expend in correcting other historians' work. Gotta reserve some time to do my own.

Sharon Howard - 1/21/2005

I was in the dark too, but I assumed I was just being ignorant again about what's happening the other side of the Atlantic...

Timothy James Burke - 1/21/2005

I'd say yeah, sure, try a quiet and careful email where you observe the problem. See what happens.

Ralph E. Luker - 1/21/2005

No whimpering necessary, as you know. It's no one at Cliopatria. I hadn't given the name of the historian/blogger because I've lodged a complaint with someone who is authorized to deal with the matter and am still hoping that it is cleared up in some reasonable way. But I wanted to register here at Cliopatria that there is an issue.
If I had a personal or a professional relationship with the historian/blogger in question, I'd probably just send him an e-mail saying something like "Er, ah, did you realize that ..." and suggest a public self-correction. In this case, I don't know the person in question, but have every reason to believe that there may be considerable outrage that anyone would question him about a matter like this. Like me, he's given to self-righteous pronouncements about things other historians do -- and that leaves people like him and me _very vulnerable_ when we are put on the spot about something we've done.

Timothy James Burke - 1/21/2005

No, that's a problem. What I'm saying is that I missed who it is that is accused of doing this. (I hope it's not me...whimper.)

Ralph E. Luker - 1/21/2005

Should I assume that you see no problem if a historian claims that the findings in secondary studies of an issue that he cites in support of his own position on that issue are exactly the opposite of what the findings actually are?

Timothy James Burke - 1/21/2005

Er, I think I'm missing something. What is the oops about?

Julie A Hofmann - 1/20/2005

yeowch! [covers ears and sings, "lalala" really loudly]

Michael C Tinkler - 1/20/2005

If the well-established historian is in your particular field, wouldn't you have an irresistable urge to volunteer to review his next book and do a VERY careful job? I think I would . . . .