(For background on the Bellesiles story, click here)
To be sure, the just-released investigative report by an independent committee made up of scholars from Harvard, Princeton and the University of Chicago could well contribute to that "hostile environment."Ê Findings of falsified, misrepresented and exaggerated research data tend to do that in academia.Ê Add "unprofessional" and "misleading" and not a few other carefully worded descriptions of the professor's research for his book, Arming America: the Origins of a National Gun Culture, and even the OK Corral might be relatively less hostile.
Professor Bellesiles believes it to be "just plain unfair" that the criticism was aimed at "one small part" of his research and worries about the future of "challenging scholarly books."Ê While a culture of victimization may dictate that kind of claptrap, one yearns for anyone in America, man, woman or child, when exposed as a bad actor, to admit culpability absent a plea bargain.
Administrators of the Bancroft Prize and Professor Bellesiles' publisher have a bit of cleaning up to do, but it would surprise us not at all for him to retain the prize, on the basis that he has suffered enough, and have his book stay in print, as a public service, of course, so readers can have evidence, at full cover price, for whichever conspiracy theory they believe.October 31, 2002