Blogs > Cliopatria > Why You Aren't Being Misled by Thomas C. Reeves ...

Jan 26, 2005 8:45 pm


Why You Aren't Being Misled by Thomas C. Reeves ...



Well, the main reason, obviously, is that you are not reading him. Although he has at least one admirer, most reasonable people stopped doing that quite some time ago. I was the first person to welcome him to the"HNN roster of blogs", but, after this, I'll join them.

Let it be said that Tom Reeves is the author of nearly a dozen books. They include biographies of Chester A. Arthur, John Kennedy, Joseph McCarthy, and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, a twentieth century American history textbook, and studies of religion in America. That publication record might justify HNN in giving him a platform. I understand that HNN's Rick Shenkman wanted a conservative American political historian to blog here in the 2004 election year to balance Alan Lichtman's liberal political commentary.

But consider this: After teaching at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside, for 31 years, Tom Reeves retired in 2001. He marked his retirement with this bitter diatribe against his institution and his former students. HNN might have taken note when his six former colleagues signed a reply which said, in part,"Every paragraph [of his article] is replete with false, erroneous, misleading or outdated information."

In Rick's defense, even I had forgotten that exchange, until I came across this comment by Michael Meo on Tom Reeves's HNN blog. Michael wrote:

I am aghast to record here that the reference this writer provides to ‘solid studies' to support his encomium of school uniforms turns out to be dominated by authors and studies that find no correlation between school uniforms and any of the wonderful things this author claims they promote.
In other words, Mr. Reeves says, for supporting evidence look here, and when you do you find it says he's wrong.
How many times does a historian have to be accused publicly by his colleagues and peers of lying about how many subjects before his credibility on every subject is suspect? Reeves never replied to his former colleagues' accusations. He systemically ignores comments on his blog and probably still doesn't even realize that he's been corrected by Michael Meo.*

Is there any reason to believe that Tom Reeves did credible work in his books, when he has misrepresented primary and secondary sources repeatedly at HNN? Since 2002, HNN has refused to publish Michael Bellesiles's op-eds circulated by History News Service because Bellesiles's credibility had been destroyed. I don't know whether HNN would publish an op-ed by John Lott. But in repeatedly publishing articles by Tom Reeves and then giving him a blog, HNN has raised up its own credibility problem. The problem isn't that Tom Reeves is a conservative. ....

*My kinder, gentler [and, what the heck, smarter] colleague, Tim Burke, suggests that I simply send Tom Reeves a careful, courteous e-mail, pointing out Michael Meo's corrective to his post. Reeves is retired and has no published e-mail address. From my point of view, Reeves has already been told in comments on his blog. It is only his arrogant ignorance of his audience that may prevent his knowing it.
Update: Subsequent to posting this, I have received an e-mail address for Tom Reeves from a private source. I have sent a link to this post to that e-mail address.

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Peter F. Pingitore, Sr. - 2/26/2005

I would suggest in a rereading of replies to Dr. Reeves's original blog, that he has at least two admirers.


Derek Charles Catsam - 1/26/2005

Jim --
Thanks. I hope that after all this is said and done you keep reading both Clio and Rebunk.
dc


Jonathan Dresner - 1/26/2005

Mr. Williams,

I agree with you about the tone (though I would point out that the HNN time-stamp is Eastern time, and some of us are further west than that; in my case, Hawai'i), though I would point out that below these comments are several in which several of the main participants in fact do "cool off" as you suggest.

As much as I treasure the dignity of the academy, it would serve students (and academicians) to remember that we are people, prone at times to be petty and narrow and to take things personally. It isn't the ideal, but it explains a lot.

The initial question about Mr. Reeves' source was in a comment on Mr. Reeves' blog (which is public and to which Mr. Reeves could respond at will), and Mr. Reeves has no publicly accessible e-mail address. Whatever you think of this discussion, it wasn't a surprise attack, nor was it intended to be one-sided.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/26/2005

Mr. Williams, It's 3:10 p.m. and I'm not exhausted. You and I share common general perspectives on things. But, Mr. Williams, you seem to be reading the debate without having read the full post. As I said, Reeves has no published e-mail address and it was made available to me by a private source only when I had named him. As soon as it was made available to me, I sent him a link to the post and discussion. As is his habit in re his articles at HNN and on his blog, Reeves choses not to engage with _any_ reaction to what he says. In the blogosphere, that is considered to be rude. I've apologized for any excess I've engaged in. My critics have yet to apologize; and Reeves has yet to correct his false documentation. Even Michael Bellesiles -- too late -- tried to do that.


Jim Williams - 1/26/2005

Folks, tone it down! I'd hate to have my students read this. I am a conservative and an evangelical (though not a supporter of "voodoo economics", a regressive tax structure, our current deficit spending, or the attack on Iraq), everyone else in my department is significantly to my left, and yet we respect each other. If we have issues with each other, we broach them with consideration and tact!

Ralph's substantive comments on Reeves appear to be valid, but, Ralph, I think you should have contacted him for comments or rebuttal and included a link in your essay to Reeves' response.

I do think that Reeves' tirade at his institution was both "bad form" and almost certainly factually inaccurate. As a state college teacher, I have seen that attitude in others, and it overlooks the wonderful students we encounter, gifted students supporting a family and also working their way thru college. I will spare you my anecdotes, but I admire these folk!

Please do not throw bricks at each other's blogs. I appreciate your efforts - both Cliopatria and Rebunk! Thank you for your labors!

I see many of these were "midnight entries", where fatigue caused anger to supersede reason. Perhaps you ought to have a cooling off period before you hit the submit button.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/25/2005

Mr. Nelson, I'm old enough to have opposed McCathyism when there was cost to doing so and smart enough not to be impressed by Tootle's and your clever work on other people's names. Oh, and by the way, since you corrected my spelling at Rebunk, "alot" is not a word. You mean "a lot".


Tom Bruscino - 1/25/2005

Please note that this is the first time I have posted anything on this matter at either Cliopatria or Rebunk.

I agree with Derek. Let me emphasize also that our record of dealings at HNN with a variety of people are all very public and accessible. I encourage any brave souls out there who are still interested to explore Rebunk, Cliopatria, and HNN further.


Jason Nelson - 1/25/2005

Mr. Luker

You seem to have alot of "suspicions" about many different people. The more you write, the more Mr. Tootle's comparisons of you to "Senator Joe" seems to fit.


Derek Charles Catsam - 1/25/2005

Everyone --
This has gotten ridiculous. I wish it had never reached this point. my own involvement in this discussion came about only because in what had become a heated debate between Steve Tootle and ralph Luker both my name and the blog that i share with Steve and Tom Bruscino, rebunk, Tom and I came in for some harsh and unfair criticism that was absolutely unrelated to the issue at hand.
I'll be frank -- I do not much care about Thomas Reeves, his blog, or his books. I do not hold him in as high esteem as Steve does -- in a ranking of the twenty best books on Kennedy and the Kennedy years, no serious scholar would have Reeves' biography anywhere that list. It is not that great of a book. It is not that good of a book. And I surely do not much care about Reeves' views on school uniforms or aything else. But this has come to be about more than Thomas reeves.
For all of the invective, I like Ralph, very much respect him, and think he does a fantastic job with Cliopatria most of the time. He has made it a labor of love and I envy aspects of this blog. My blog is a spawn of this one. It is in many ways a model. But rebunk also has its own approach, its own ethos. That ethos is not as it has been characterized here -- those who have read it should know that it is spirited, a bit more aggressive than Clio, but I'll let readers see for themselves if, in toto, ours is worth reading. I'll put the writing up with any history blog out there and I think we've started to grow and cultivate a readership that quite likes us and we quite like them. We cannot compare numbers with some of the other blogs, but we like what we are doing, we are worthy of respect and we certainly do not deserve anyone's scorn.
I do not think that this latest imbroglio does any justice to anyone. I think that Steve had every right to call Ralph out if he honestly believed that Ralph was being unfair or harsh or worse toward Thomas Reeves. one cannot in good faith say that it is ok for one HNN blogger to call out another, but then to say that it is not acceptable for yet another blogger to jump into that fray and level his own charges if he can defend them.

I'll say it flat out, I really wish Steve had handled this differently. I certainly wish he had not developed the term "Lukerism," which he had to know would generate heat, though probably not light. But that is not to say that Steve's substantive points are without merit, and his second, longer post on Rebunk, posted late last night, is a good example of someone who lays out a sound argument with a clear reading of evidence.

One can agree or disagree with interpretations, but not many of us, myself included, have really done much of that of late. I do think Ralph went too far with his accusations against Reeves. But he has the right to make his case. Steve is far more ardent than I am on this, and he has equal right to write as he did. I think both may have gone overboard rhetorically at times.

Above all, I think that Rebunk has taken abuse we do not deserve and that is fundationless. I am most concernbed that a debate to which we had not contributed got Tom, me, and Rebunk dragged into the mire not once, but several times, with explicit and implicit criticism of our style, our readership numbers, and our age. In the end, it was this last part that I was most concerned with when I entered the fray.

This has gone beyond all sense of scope and scale. Feelings have been hurt. Relationships, already apparently strained, damaged. I do not expect Ralph or Steve to change their minds. I also doubt that either is going to keep approaching history, politics, or whetever else our blogs cover, in whatever way they see fit. I'll continue working hard to make Rebunk all it can be. I'll continue reading and participating on Cliopatria's comments. Does anyone else honestly believe that anything else is going to happen in this discussion to change hearts or minds or to further a productive debate? It is clear from the numbers that people are enjoying this, but my feeling is that they are enjoying it more like people enjoy reality television than they enjoy a good book. Me? I'd rather see them think of us as akin to books. None of what has transpired the last few days is going to further that aim. I do not know what can be salvaged, but I am quite certain that we can all inflict more needless damage. I have no standing here, but I am still going to say it: Enough might be too much.

dc


Ralph E. Luker - 1/25/2005

I've corrected Stephen's post that you cite. I don't see that these conversations do anything but give you opportunity to vent your spleen with additional accusations. So, I too will decline any further public conversation with you about this matter.


Derek Charles Catsam - 1/25/2005

Ralph --
Once again you lie about what I have said. At what point here have I ever criticized you for pointing out anything about Reeves? I only joined this discussion when you brought Rebunk as a whole and Topm and I in particular into this discussion. At no point have I done what you said I have done. Not here, and not in the last post, where you claimed that my comkmenmts continued personal attacks against you. In neither of these posts have i done what you have acccused me of doing.
The accusations grow ever wilder as one reaches to protect one's credibility.
That you get along with other colleagues at Clioppatria is of no matter, though i seem to recall a rather public spat you had with a female Cliopatriate not long ago. The rebunkers all get along too. So what? You are a master at incorporating the irrelevent and pretending it buttresses your cause.

dc


Ralph E. Luker - 1/25/2005

It's only fair to all parties to acknowledge that I was at that time speculating about Stephen Tootle's motivation and, given his obvious failure to deal with the evidence I pointed to, I believe that it remains obvious that his ideological compatibility with Reeves is at the heart of his objections to what I said. It is obvious that he didn't look at the report of Reeves's six colleagues at UW, P, because he characterizes it at Rebunk today as an "e-mail." Had it been an e-mail, I don't understand how he would have had access to it. If he accessed it (bothered to read it), I don't believe he would have called it an "e-mail."


Ralph E. Luker - 1/25/2005

You have considerable difficulty explaining why I manage to get along well with 15 colleagues at Cliopatria and am the exclusive target of repeated attacks from Rebunk's only group members. I've made no charges of "Reevesism" or, for that matter, "Tootleism" or "Catsamism". You know me to be a friend and professional colleague. For whatever reason, you, Tootle, and Bruscino have repeatedly made me your particular target of attack. I have and will call Tom Reeves out for his self-inflicted credibility problems. When I defended Michael Bellesiles's due process rights, you attacked me for being a Bellesiles apologist; now, when I have pointed to Tom Reeves's credibility problems, you and Tootle attack me for simply having pointed that out. The only consistency in your position is attacking Ralph Luker. Get over your fixation.


Derek Charles Catsam - 1/25/2005

Chris --
The first person to invoke partisanship (conservatism versus liberalism is generally not partisanship, by the way) was Mr. luker, who told Steve that he would not have argued as he did were he not a conservative. In other words, if your criticism is accurate, it comes days too late, as any serious reading of the posts in the order in which they came would show.
As for whether or not things break down along party lines in SA, I'll assert that the ANC invokes party unity when it deems necessary. This is simply a fact, and I'll encourage anyone to go look at the mail and guardian to see as muh. It also is not necessarily a bad thing. let's keep in mind that Rebunk cionsists of three members of three different party affiliations and a range of the idological spectrum. It seems as if it is Mr. Petit who wants to make this a question of partisanship, because at least from the vantage point of this Rebunk stuff, it simply does not hold, as rebunk has no political or ideological affiliation, period.
dc


Derek Charles Catsam - 1/25/2005

Ralph --
There you go. name one personal attack in my post. there is not one. Not a single one. But by simply declaring that there is you claim moral authority. I challenge you to point out one personal attack in the post to which you responded Ralph. What I did was respond to at least two personal, attacks of yours, one in which you insulted Steve because of his age, another in which you assert that we somehow owe a great deal of our readership to you and Clio. I responded to both of these attacks with an argument. If an argument against nonsense now suddenly counts as a personal atack, I am afraid you will be in for many of them.
This did nmot, in fact, begin with Steve;s post on "Lukerism," a phrase i frankly wish he had not used. It began when you went after reeves and Steve decided it was inappropriate. He has every bit as much right to challenge you publicly and aggressively as you did to go after reeves publicly and directly. I am not certain why the goose and the gander somehow get different tratment here. you cannot just arbitrarily choose a starting date for this conflict however, as you and Steve had begun this conversation on Clio before he posted on rebunk. This is a simple chrtonological fact available for anyone to see, as anyone who looks at Steve's latest Rebunk post can easily do ( http://www.hnn.us/blogs/25.html )

dc


chris l pettit - 1/25/2005

Dr. Luker is a CONSERVATIVE!!!! Maybe not along the psychotic neo-con lines, which got me a rebuke (rightly deserved) for mistakenly not terming what Republicans I was speaking of when talking about them, but still a conservative. him and I differ on many things...but in this case, denying Tom Reeves' mistakes and lack of credibility is simply indulging in ideological nonsense!

Why does this always have to descend into partisan arguments? Are we all so ridiculously brainwashed by the atrocious system of governance (that has nothing to do with democracy) that we have in the US that we cannot rise above to a level of humanity? From the conversations I have witnessed, I would say not. Here in South Africa, most people who look at things strictly in terms of ANC versus DA are to be derided for their idiocy...I can only dream of that occurring in the US someday...

CP
www.wicper.org


Ralph E. Luker - 1/25/2005

Mr. Nelson, I made a case that Professor Reeves has damaged his own credibility. I offered evidence to support that case. I did not attack his person. I did raise questions about what he had done to himself.


Jason Nelson - 1/25/2005

I would love to hear from them, each one of them. However, I want to know where they sit before they tell me where they stand. I have no interest in witnessing a liberal lynch mob burying a conservative voice for sport. I read the New York Times, that's enough.


Jason Nelson - 1/25/2005

Mr. Luker,

You questioned the validity of a man's entire career, yet "personal attacks" are "simply unwelcome at Clipatria".

I am very curious to know, if what you said is not a "personal attack", what you would consider a "personal attack?"

I have a guess. Anything directed at you is a "personal attack", while anything directed at someone you do not agree with is "fair game". It certainly appears that you learned plenty from the Clinton administration.


Jason Nelson - 1/25/2005

Mr. Luker,



Jason Nelson - 1/25/2005

Which words of Mr. Luker were "friendly"?


Jason Nelson - 1/25/2005

Cheap shot.


Jason Nelson - 1/25/2005

I for one would have never loged on to cliopatria if it were not for the mad ravings of Mr. Luker, initially read on the Rebunk site. Am I the only one?


Ralph E. Luker - 1/25/2005

Keep up the personal attacks. You and Stephen are really good at cultivating community. Where did this begin? With Stephen's post on "Lukerism." And you deny that there's anything personal about that.


Derek Charles Catsam - 1/25/2005

Let's be very, very, very clear about the way this alleged traffic we get from Clippatria works. We have the same counter, so I am not just making this up. Almost all of our traffic from Cliopatria actually comes from folks who most likely would go to Rebunk anyway. We do not get our traffic from Rebunk Links, but rather from the fact that people come to Cliopatria, and then click on the Rebunk page from the list of blogs to the right of the page. Given that someone clicking on that right hand link has to be pretty familiar with Cliopatria, I'd say that they would be interested in seeing what we have to say anyway.
Yes, our numbers are "modest." We have been in existence for half a year and there are but three of us. Unlike Cliopatria, we do not have an active blogkeeper, the closest being me, and I have a full time academic job which involves teaching, research, and service. Tootle has an academic job which involves the same. Tom is finishing up his dissertation. We are going to add one person in the next week, another in the next month or so. We had a record week last week, with modest numbers, yes, but with a solid readership of which we are proud. We do not owe that readership to anyone, not a person, not another blog. If Cliopatria removed us from any mention on their blog, including the HNN-established sections (over which Cliopatria has no control) our numbers would remain the same and would continue to grow.
At the end of the day, I do not much care about the numbers except that I'd like people to see what we are doing and I think it compares favorably to any history blogs out there. just as the3 best seller lists do not correlate very neatly with quality, I'm not sure that readership does either.
I also think that the "wet behind the ears" comments are rather out of line. All careers start somewhere, and it would be very easy for someone who uses such an ugly phrase to do a simple thing -- Rebunk will facilitate it. We are willing to have Ralph post his vita on Rebunk including only that which he had accomplished up to the age of 33 (we'll give him 35 both because we are charitable and because we are confident). The Rebunkers will offer to post our vitas as they currently stand, as the eldest of us is thirty three. If Ralph's vita at that age is such that he can dismiss someone who through no fault of his own is only 28 or 30, or 33 we'll let him lecture us because of that age factor. If not, then we'd ask him not to use age as a club in these discussions. Our views are and ought to be what matters irrespective of age. Age does not carry with it wisdom. If it did, Ralph would have a difficult time attacking Thomas Reeves. Since he does not, age apparently is merely another weapon in an endless arsenal by which he can attack, but conveniently enough, by which one is not allowed to attack him.
Our readership numbers may be moderate. I'm not certain that has much to do with anything, though ti does make for a nice cheap shot in a seemingly endless line of them.
dc


Ralph E. Luker - 1/25/2005

Derek,
"Consider, I beseech thee, in the bowels of Christ, that you could be wrong." This discussion should have been, as Julie Kemp points out, about Tom Reeves, his work, his blog, and his credibility. It might have dealt with interesting questions, like whether it is appropriate to question the credibility of work in one area when doubts are raised in another area. On the whole, the example of Joe Ellis suggests not, but that might be an interesting and intelligent discussion to have. Instead, Stephen made that impossible by turnking an opportunity for such a discussion into a personal attack on me, whether you deny it was personal or not, and just another HNN bar fight. My colleagues at Cliopatria were not drawn into it precisely because most of them see no point in it. They have better uses of their time. But I'm putting you, Tom, and Stephen on notice: when you come over here, put your bar fighting ways aside for the time being, forget personal attack, and try to use your minds, instead of your fists. At _least_ two of you have good minds. I've seen you use them. But personal attack like Stephen engaged in and you continue to defend are simply unwelcome at Cliopatria.


Derek Charles Catsam - 1/25/2005

Ralph --
Nming something after someone, even something negative, still is not an ad hominem attack in and of itself. But when one person on a blog names something after someine and then the person so named attacks everyobne on the entire blog, that is a prolem. You turned this into an attack on not one, but on three people, and then defended it by past actions allegedly perpetrated by the two other people who had nothing to do with the argument. This would be akin to Tootle dragging two Cliopatria folks into this who had nothing to do with your post on Thomas Reeves, who, by the way, I cannot believe is the precipitating cause of all of this.
dc


Derek Charles Catsam - 1/25/2005

Jonathan --
Yes, this is a history blog. But read what I said: "So the past dictates the present?". No good historian would believe that the past DICTATES the present. None who are sentient, anyway. Hisdtorical determinism is fine for bad journalists and worse historians, but no, I do not believe for one second that the past dictates the present. By playing your cards as you do, I guess you do. Not a good sign.
dc


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

I'm afraid I'm inclined to agree with David. I imagine that Tom believes that any study that showed no correlation between school uniforms and behavior was, by reason of that fact, mistaken. There's a kind of arrogance in blogging for a full year with comments enabled the whole time and never, ever once having paid any attention to them.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

Hurray! Julie is exactly right and it needed to be said. Richard has spoken _to_ the issue. I confess to getting side-tracked by the attack on "Lukerism."
But, yes, of course, I believe that blogs like those on HNN should adhere more closely to academic standards than a livejournal would. That's one reason I'm so enthusiastic about blogs like Early Modern Notes or War History. I'm not for excluding other kinds of blogs, but I do think that HNN has a responsibility to set reasonably high standards of accountability and that _includes_ accountability to readers. One of the problems with Reeves's blog is that it has comments enabled, but they are ignored. If comments are enabled, it seems to me that the blogger has some obligation to attend to them. It's just very peculiar that if Tom had disabled comments on his blog we probably wouldn't even be having this conversation over here.
For the kinds of blogs that I have in mind, a link is essentially like an annotation -- it isn't a personal favor or a whimsical choice. I like Mark Grimsley's notion of blogs as a new step in scholarship and I think you can see in some of Tim Burke's posts, for example, the processing of essays toward a book. We need more of that kind of thing going on.
We also do need, as you've said, Julie, blogs focussed on teaching and there surely is and ought to be a major place for them on HNN. I don't think livejournaling should or will find a place here, but it surely does play an important role elsewhere on the net.


David Lion Salmanson - 1/24/2005

Um, he didn't mispost a link (and if he has he hasn't fixed it). I really believe the guy thinks this research supports him because how could it not? I don't think he actually bothered to read it.


Julie A Hofmann - 1/24/2005

that this is neither pleasant nor productive. It also seems to have shifted subtly to an argument over how different commenters think people *should* behave in the blogosphere, rather than remaining a discussion of whether or not a person's blog writing should be subject to the same scrutiny as academic writing and the collateral issue of whether a questionable use of sources in one forum indicates a possibility/probability of a misuse of sources in another. Another possible question is whether blog readers expect bloggers to maintain the same standards in a blog that they would in a book or peer-reviewed article.

It would be nice to see some discussion on those topics, rather than what's gone on above.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

Richard, It is yet possible that we will hear from historians at UW,P. At least some of them are aware of this discussion. At minimum, we have had nine historians raise questions about Reeves's veracity.


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/24/2005

Apologies. I can't seem to spell anything right lately.


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/24/2005

Tottle has said Ralph attacked Reeves without good cause, and asked for adequate evidence. He obviously isn't impressed with the evidence offered. From that he draws his negative conclusions about Ralph. The last constitutes a personal attack, but not an ad hominem argument or attack (strictly speaking). I say that as someone who has on occasion used 'personal attack' and 'ad hominem' as synonymous expressions. They aren't. An academic point, no doubt.

We disagree on some of the claims for evidence, and we disagree on what implications to draw. How's that for neutral language? The link doesn't show what Reeves claims it does. He should correct it, as KC regularly does. There's no evidence that Reeves knew it didn't show what was claimed for it, nor that he even reads the responses -- perhaps he feels he has provided a service just by supplying a thesis for debate. In any case, one would think there is a positive responsibility to correct one's errors. I think this all falls short of demonstrating a repeated pattern of misrepresentation and lies. I hope I cleared up how I see things, without stepping on my johnson or misrepresenting others' views.

Now can we return to a more thorough examination of the claims and the evidence adduced for the claims? I'm personally underwhelmed by a post that claims an article is replete with errors, but then doesn't back it up. Others may take claims of consideration for our patience more seriously than I. People differ.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

Ms. Bruschino, I do not think of myself as being on the defensive. It is Tom Reeves's work that is properly being discussed here. Interesting, isn't it, that he has not and would not engage in discussion of this sort on his blog? That is, as Richard Morgan has noted, a real part of the problem.


Terrie Bruscino - 1/24/2005

Jonathan,
Perhaps you are correct in that "calm down" is traditionally a dismissive tactic, but I believe that one can read into Stephen's use of the phrase many ways. I read "calm down" as just that...calm down...it is not as earth shattering as one would think to mis-post a link in one's blog. I suppose that is the difference between someone who is already on the defensive -as Mr. Luker seems to be - and someone who is looking on from the outside.


Jonathan Dresner - 1/24/2005

Derek: "So the past dictates the present?" This is a history blog.

"Terrie B.": "Calm down" is a traditionally dismissive tactic, particularly when unaccompanied by any substantive contribution. It's not a friendly gesture.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

If I am called "dishonorable" and, therefore, my claims are not to be trusted is ad hominem -- it is directed to the person -- not to the claims. Tootle has yet to say squat about the claims. I offered the evidence at hand. The links are there. Judge for yourself, as Richard has. Though, of course, Richard and I rarely agree about his judgment.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

"Lukerism" "Re-buncombe" Which includes the name of a _person_ and is intended to smear a _person_ by association with Joe McCarthy? And which word was used first. I don't know anyone named Rebuncombe, but to them I apologize.


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/24/2005

Just to make it clear (in case there might be some confusion on the matter), an ad hominem argument or attack is an attack "to the man" in order to discredit what he claims. An example would be:

"PMS Blackett's historical reconstruction of nuclear diplomacy can't be trusted -- he's a communist."

Saying that Blackett is a communist, or a liar, or dishonourable, is an attack, but not an ad hominem argument or attack, strictly speaking, unless used to discredit a claim. There can, of course, be problematic examples, where the link is not explicit.

I don't think Tottle is saying that Ralph's claims can't be trusted because he's dishonourable, but the reverse. That certainly qualifies as an attack.


Derek Charles Catsam - 1/24/2005

So the past dictates the present? You've allegedly been attacked in the past (i bet in at least two of those three previous instances we'd assert that the first volley came from you) but what does that have to do with this case? You do not get the high ground just because you claim it. You attacked our blog on this very conversation strain, and you did so when two thirds of the members of this blog had nothing to do with the conversation. We are each quite capable of independent thought which we exercise regularly. I'll encourage folks who have not read us lately not to take Ralph's word that Rebunk is based on ad hominem. We do not have the well known and overflowing list of contributors, but on a quality basis, I think we do pretty well over there, all misrepresentations aside.
dc


Terrie B. - 1/24/2005

Apparently I did miss out on some prior attacks. Where and when were you attacked, specifically?


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

Derek, Sorry about the bad link. Somehow you found the thing I was referring to. I knew about ad hominem before you were born and don't need instruction in it from someone 30 years my junior. Keep in mind that "Lukerism" went up well before "Re-buncome" came into discussion. I've apologized for the insult. But -- wait -- look at the words: "Lukerism" includes my _person_al name. "Re-buncombe" doesn't include any _person_'s name. "Lukerism", if I understand Stephen's clever definition, is McCarthyism on the cheap. Lukerism is like red-baiting. But wait -- Luker offers _evidence_. Tootle doesn't _bother_ with evidence; nor does he _bother_ to refute the evidence I offered. I think this tells you who engaged in ad hominem and who did not.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

Sorry, Terri, this is the fourth time I've been attacked in this fashion by the three fellows over at Rebunk. You've missed out on that history.


Terrie B. - 1/24/2005

Ralph, it seems to me that you have provided considerable evidence that proves that you are the individual who prefers to attack your colleagues in such a despicable fashion. Initially, Dr. Tootle simply stated that you should “calm down” and you responded by insulting him. Take a step back and look at yourself. You are doing the very thing that you ridicule the folks at Rebunk for doing…and when you got called out on it, you only intensified your hate-fest.


Derek Charles Catsam - 1/24/2005

Ralph -- It is amply clear that you do not know what an ad hominem is which makes it all the more wretched that you would use it as a cudgel. I'll have to assume that you are referring to Steve's post today, since it is not hyperlinked correctly in your comment. (Ooopsie!) What about that is an ad hominem? In fact it is precisely the opposite. It is an attack against your ideas an your style. It is not an attack against your person. Again -- an ad hominem attack is an attack against the person. If I say "Steve's idea is inane; it is full of horsepucky" you may not like the approach, but it is not an ad hominem -- it is an attack against his ideas. If, on the other hand I were to, I don't know, rename the blog for which he writes "Re-buncombe,"now that might qualify as an ad hominem. Words have meaning. It might perhaps be useful that those who use them know what those words mean and then to use them properly. Especially when they are so inclined to engage in the very practice they purport to decry.

dc

(PS -- I can think of another possible ad hominem or series of them on rebunk -- some of my comments about Yankees fans and the team they support in the Sox Diaries, though it should be pointed out that they were both largely satiire and that I stand by many of them! But I have a hard time believing this is what we are talking about. )


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

You must not have been reading Rebunk today! Try this post. Not one word of evidence; exclusively ad hominem. No one at Rebunk bothers to call it what it is, either. "Stephen is a big boy. Stephen is entitled to his opinion." Stephen has no obligation to offer evidence. Stephen has no obligation to refute the evidence I offered. Stephen is ..., but wait -- that's ad hominem. Rebunk ought to have some evidentiary standard that is better than either Tom Reeves's or Stephen Tootle's. I do find it interesting that none of the comments over there give support to Stephen's over the top ad hominem.


Derek Charles Catsam - 1/24/2005

Ralph -- that's BS. We do not engage in ad hominems any more than you guys do. The only example I can think of is when I called Dr. Phil a corpulant gasbag. (which just goes to show that all ad hominems are not factually wrong.) Attacking an idea is precisely the opposite of an ad hominem. It is an ad hominem to say that Rebunk engages in ad hominems. Give examples -- specifics and context, from Rebunk, in which we have done so. I am quite certain we have earned that. I am also certain we do not deserve to be Cliopatronized with these sorts of accusations and blanket condemnations. It is especially interesting that in a conversation about Reeves allegedly making assertions without the evidence to back it up, you make assertions about Rebunk without the evidence to back it up.

dc


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

We are talking about a style of attack that is preferred at Rebunk. It's one in which ad hominem attack -- slurs against a person's honor, without reference to evidence -- are all a part of the day's responsibility.


Derek Charles Catsam - 1/24/2005

Some days it seems that way. We do it all over there, Jonathan. There is ample room to duscuss sports and my incompetence.
dc


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/24/2005

I think I wrote something loosely that invited misinterpretation -- or rather, an interpretation other than the one I intended. I should have said that KC "demonstrated" (or rather, "manifested") not "demonstrates", since it was my intended point that KC does the exact opposite of Reeves by reading his own blog, and the responses to them, and responding to the responses and making corrections (assiduously). I thought the response to that claim strange, but now I see it was perfectly reasonable, given how poorly I wrote it. My bad.


Jonathan Dresner - 1/24/2005

Is that what you do? I thought it was a sports blog.


Derek Charles Catsam - 1/24/2005

I'd argue that 90% of our blog is not conducted that way at all. Stephen's a big boy who constructs his own arguments and has his own ideas. If he's been my acolyte, I've done a terrible job, since his vote has countered mine in every election that has happened since we've met. But this is not the forum to weigh my incompetence. That's what we do at Rebunk.
dc


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

Sorry for the insult. It came only after Stephen's been over here on a fairly collegial blog doing his Rebunctious thing. I've been called dishonorable. We're not used to that sort of thing over here and I intended to answer him slug for slug. You and Tom have taught Stephen that insult is the appropriate way to conduct a blog.


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/24/2005

No, it's not a misquotation. What isn't quoted by you, though, is the very next sentence where they graciously and considerately relieve themselves of the burden of providing evidence for their charge (the charge being every paragraph is replete ...). Certain charges demand we suffer the danger of having our patience tried. I wouldn't think that is too controversial nor too demanding a request.

I've no doubt bored and tried the patience of certain people when I've cited chapter and verse on Wills and his creative scholarship when it comes to guns and the Second Amendment. I did so not because I thought I was doing a service to their patience, but because I thought the charge demanded it.


Derek Charles Catsam - 1/24/2005

I'd appreciate this not desceding into a gratuitous insult of our blog or of people (Tom and I) who are not part of this discussion. Tootle is not bringing in other members of Cliopatria. Rebunk does good work and I think it is gratuitous and unfair to call our blog "Re-buncombe". I'll stand by any number of our posts, and I can point you to ones that I think fit in with the best of Cliopatria. You and Steve can do your best to attack one another, but in this case, I'd prefer not to be part of this dogfight. Thanks.
Derek


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

"Every paragraph [of his article] is replete with false, erroneous, outdated or misleading information" is a misquotation? Why not interrogate them? Why not interrogate him? I think this is my last response to you, Richard, about this matter. Go over and have a conversation with Tom.


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/24/2005

I find some things about the six professors' response rather disturbing. As you put it, Ralph, they "in part" offer that "Every paragraph [of his article] is replete with false, erroneous, outdated or misleading information". They then go on to write -- though it isn't quoted -- that "To refute each of these points would, however, take too long and try the patience of the readers."

I'm touched by their concern for the readers, since I am now one. However, this approach relieves them of the responsibility of providing evidence. In fact, I'm hard pressed to see where they refute anything Reeves wrote about the campus, as what little they offer in refutation devolves to opinion. Even their "refutation" of the "open admissions" claim seems strained. They offer that Reeves does not know that the campus is no longer open admissions, but Reeves, in his very first paragraph, says that it admits 95% of its applicants. He does seem to know, though he apparently attaches much less significance to that 5% rejected. This sort of thing shouldn't be dignified by a characterization of having been accused by his colleagues of lying.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

Richard, I think I'll start treating you like Tom Reeves treats _his_ readers. Why not go over to his blog and interrogate him?
The original heavy charge was made, not by me, but by his former colleagues who know him best. He has the technical capacity to disallow comments on his blog. He doesn't. He just ignores them, including Michael Meo's. If he disallowed them, I wouldn't have seen what Michael pointed out. Interrogate his colleagues. Interrogate Meo. Interrogate Reeves. This is getting tiresome, Richard -- a link is in effect a footnote. Whether he did it deliberately or simply assumed the studies said what he believed, it's not acceptable; and the refusal to reply to the charges made against him, the refusal to correct errors when they're pointed out to him is unacceptable. And you, of all people, know that without my having to tell you.
And don't you _dare_ compare Reeves to KC Johnson, unless to confirm my darkest suspicions about you.


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/24/2005

I took your rhetorical questions comparing Reeves to Bellesiles (who HNN won't publish) as hortatory (perhaps incorrectly), and I still don't see the support for your charge (which I highlighted above), nor the charge of being a liar (which invokes intent). I'd like to see a little evidentiary meat put on that bone. In that light, vague references to repeated infractions don't seem to make the grade necessary for even a complaint to the editor (and whatever he may take to be due process, as he is the arbiter in such settings).

Normally, (though there are exceptions) somebody lying doesn't provide links to the evidence that he is wrong. Reeves' big sin perhaps (as you might see it), is that he doesn't seem to read responding posts, or respond to them. I well remember KC Johnson (who I respect) claiming something in his blog that wasn't there, and even providing a link to it. KC demonstrates the virtue of reading his own blog, and the responses, and assiduously correcting errors. That seems to be the complaint with Reeves. Perhaps that should be an accepted norm -- that a blog author attend to criticisms and make corrections. Still, that seems to fall short of the kind of evidence one would like to see for the heavy charge offered. Just a thought.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

Have I ever claimed that the conclusions of his six former colleagues, the conclusion of Michael Meo, or my own conclusion was the final judgment? If so, show me the penalty, Richard. So much for your "due process" argument. You know and I know that due process for Bellesiles was crucial because a short-circuiting of due process for him at Emory would have threatened to establish a precident for all other faculty members there. I have conducted no proceedings. I await your call for them.


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/24/2005

I read the studies. They don't seem to support a call for uniforms (yet admit their own faults), yet they reveal the pattern Prof. Reeves described: school uniforms aren't imposed in isolation, but as a part of a cracking down, which results in a spike in recorded misbehaviour, before it decreases. Santos' paper warns this might be the interpretation, rather than that uniforms encourage misbehaviour.

In any case, the studies don't seem to support the view that uniforms are associated directly with better discipline. I don't, on the other hand, see the careful support for the charge that Reeves has "misrepresented primary and secondary sources repeatedly at HNN". Nor has he been accorded the due process that was so "essential" and vigorously defended in the Bellesiles case. Nor has he been found out by such a procedure. Draw what conclusions you wish from that.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

I make no claim and, thus, take no responsibility for having promoted Stephen Tootle's career. Bash away, Stephen. They give you points for that over at Re-Buncombe. When the thrill of attack recedes, go check the evidence.


Stephen Tootle - 1/24/2005

Writing that I will rethink the matter "when I dry off behind the ears," and that I will apologize "when I grow up," Luker then wants to take credit for somehow promoting my career. I cannot speak for Mr. Bruscino or Mr. Catsam, but I do not want any help from the likes of Ralph Luker. I have never asked for you to read or promote anything I have written. Frankly I hesitate to even get involved in this matter regarding Reeves any further because I don't want my name associated with yours-- even in passing. Allow me repeat myself to be clear: Because I do not consider Mr. Luker to be an honerable person, I would not want his endorsement.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

Thanks, Jon, for the kind word. The "ethos" at Re-buncombe is rather more than strange. I've been attacked twice by Derek and once by Tom. This Tootle attack may be his bid for acceptance as a full fledged Re-buncombite. Cliopatria mediates a third of their modest traffic, I've nominated Derek for membership in two historical societies, and _nothing_ satiates the felt need over there to attack me. Tootle's cheap shot merely indicates that he refuses to understand that Tom Reeves created his own credibility problem.


Jonathan Dresner - 1/24/2005

Mr. Tootle,

If there is a syndrome worthy to be named after Ralph Luker, it is the incessant searching for, reading through, and promotion of other, mostly younger, scholars' blogs. That, my friend, is true Lukerism.


Jonathan Dresner - 1/24/2005

"I am concerned that you are smearing a good scholar without cause. Unless you have some convincing evidence about his scholarship, ..."

There is one incontrovertible case of abuse of evidence in a public forum. That is not a smear, but a fact.

"...I would hope that your sense of professional propriety would keep you from making further attacks on him, or hinting that his scholarship is suspect."

Calling attention to it is not an attack, but a reasonable act of a responsible person. Calling attention to the fact that Mr. Reeves does not respond to comments -- or even seem aware of them -- even when those comments address issues of fact, may well be an attack, but it is also evidence of Mr. Reeves' approach to public discourse.

Since scholarship is a matter of evidence handling and public discourse, it seems reasonable to me to ask Mr. Reeves to address these questions or have his scholarship questioned. Perhaps an enterprising historiography teacher should have their seminar follow the footnotes in some of Mr. Reeves' work and report the findings?


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

When you grow up, you will want to have apologized.


Stephen Tootle - 1/24/2005

Check my latest post on Rebunk. An apology will not be forthcoming.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

I stand by what I've said. We are not talking about "various gripes". We are talking about misrepresentation of evidence. I've told you exactly what and where that evidence is and you have denied its existence. That's called being in denial. There is nothing in what I've done that is either "unprofessional" or "irresponsible" and, when you dry off behind the ears, I'll accept your apology.


Stephen Tootle - 1/24/2005

I don't know any of their work, or yours. I don't care how many peers have various gripes about Reeves. What does that have to do with anything? If we look at the Amazon.com sales rank of his Kennedy book, would that indicate how many "fans" or "supporters" he has? Where would that get us? I am concerned that you are smearing a good scholar without cause. Unless you have some convincing evidence about his scholarship, I would hope that your sense of professional propriety would keep you from making further attacks on him, or hinting that his scholarship is suspect. You are making unprofessional and irresponsible charges about a serious scholar without any evidence. You are the one who deserves a reprimand from your peers, not Reeves. Consider this to be a public condemnation of you, by me.
That is one of your peers "making the call" on you.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

Sorry, that is eight of your peers making the call on Tom Reeves: his six former colleagues, Michael Meo, and me. 6 + l + 1 = 8. Yes, make that eight.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

At this point, Stephen, I know of only one: the failure to see that misconstruing evidence and claiming that it says something that it does not say is a serious violation of professional ethics. In this case, we have several instances of it, called not only by me, but by John Buenker, Reeves's five other former colleagues at UW, Parkside, and Michael Meo. Since there are now seven of your professional peers making the call, you might want to reconsider your casual dismissal of it before you've even looked into the evidence yourself.


Stephen Tootle - 1/24/2005

I am interested in hearing what your "rational explanation" would be. Which of "my failures" do you find most offensive?


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

Because there is probably some rational explanation for your failures.


Stephen Tootle - 1/24/2005

I give. Why?


Ralph E. Luker - 1/24/2005

Why do I suspect that if the historian in question were not a conservative, you'd see the problem?


Stephen Tootle - 1/24/2005

Calm down.

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