No, this isn’t another post about that horrible Nancy MacLean book, but it is related. As an early, vociferous critic of the book, I wound up in email, blog, and Twitter debates with some of her defenders among fellow historians, especially those who purport to specialize in intellectual history. And what I learned from this was troubling. While I’m sure there are many excellent historians around, I found that the historians I interacted with not only tended to reason backwards from their political priors, but that their standards of how one makes an appropriate inference from existing evidence are such that they would be laughed out of any decent philosophy or law school academic workshop.
Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.