May 03, 2002
Fractured Fairy Tales

Instapundit quotes a letter from military historian Kevin Hurst on Michael Bellesiles:

Most of the reviewers I read took Bellesiles to task for mistakes he committed in their respective areas of expertise. However, all seemed to think these mistakes isolated incidents in an otherwise persuasive book. I think Bellesiles correctly judged that academics loathe military and diplomatic history by and large and that he could get away with almost anything he said in that area ("In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king").

There's more, but this particular passage reminds me of a different fable, "The Blind Men and the Elephant", or rather a new variation on it, "The Over-Specialized Doctors and the Very Sick Elephant". The cardiologist says: "This elephant has an enlarged heart, but is otherwise in excellent health." The dentist says: "This elephant needs root canals on both tusks, but otherwise seems fine." The gastroenterologist says: "This elephant has a duodenal ulcer, acid reflux, and colitis, but should live for many years." The dermatologist, hematologist, pulmonologist, and all-the-rest-of-the-ologists diagnose serious but for the most part non-fatal problems, and they're all surprised when the elephant drops dead in front of them. I'm surprised that Bellesiles' career has not yet been given a decent burial. It certainly began to stink quite some time ago.

Then again, I thought the perfect fable for the Clinton Administration would be a light rewrite of "The Emperor's New Clothes" called "The Emperor's New Pants", with the little boy at the end shouting "mommy, mommy, the emperor's not wearing any pants!"

Posted by Dr. Weevil at May 03, 2002 09:14 PM