Thursday, September 02, 2004

You can't make this stuff up

It's not as if we needed any more reasons to dump on Clayton Cramer, but sometimes it's just too good to pass up.

In a recent entry about historians' reception of Michelle Malkin's latest book, Cramer had this to say:

I suppose that I could take the "professional standards" argument a bit more seriously if we didn't have the recent memory of the Bellesiles scandal, where many professional historians did their best to prevent any serious examination of massive and obvious fraud from working its way into popular newspapers and court decisions. We also have the claims of professional historians about the origins of homosexuality laws that appeared in Lawrence v. Texas (2003)--claims that are clearly incorrect, at least to the extent that they make sweeping claims that I was able to quickly demonstrate are false.

There are professional historians who take what they do seriously, regardless of the political consequences of what they find. But I no longer have any illusion that these "professional standards" are adhered to by the vast majority of history professors teaching in the U.S.


You tell them, Clayton! We don't want all those crazy history professors making sweeping claims that are demonstrably false.

But wait! What about this "vast majority of history professors teaching in the U.S." that Cramer is sure don't adhere to professional standards? Isn't this quite a sweeping claim he's making himself? Yes, yes it is.

Two instances do not a trend make, to say nothing of supporting Cramer's ludicrous claim about the scholarly standards about the "vast majority" of Americans historians. If Cramer wants to hold historians over the flames for unsubstantiated generalizations, he might want to light up another fire for himself.

(Incidentally, I have serious concerns about the ability of historians to draw out significant generalizations that accurately capture the past. It's not that I don't think it can be done; I just think it's a damn hard, and you need responsible scholars to do it. I have more to say on this, and I've been meaning to write about it for months. Who knows when it'll actually happen...)

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