May 24, 2019

Now, it's time to feel empathy for Naomi Wolf...

77 comments:

tim maguire said...

That's a mortifying way to have such a vital mistake exposed. It would be different if she were being called out for a deliberate lie, but there's no reason to doubt her good faith here.

But still. A mistake like that. Wow.

Mad props to Matthew Sweet for doing his homework. A lot of journalists could learn a thing or two from him.

JML said...

Oops. I'm a Contracting Officer. When I have to cite the Federal Acquisition Regulations or use a legal term in my Determinations and Findings, I look it up. Even if I used it the day before. Why? Because "Oops" is very bad in the profession I'm in. You'd think that would apply to journalists, too...

mgarbowski said...

I give her credit for handling that with grace. But the failure to conduct minimal research on what is meant as a scholarly work (a follow up on her dissertation) is pathetic. The interviewer indicates he found the definition she missed on the Old Bailey website FFS. It was not buried in some obscure, limited edition manuscript.

EDH said...

Wolf also makes a mistake at the very beginning of the video.

"You get a sentence, as I've mentioned, of penile servitude of 10 or 15 years."

So, he was not executed and and he committed an indecent assault on a 6 year-old boy?

"Never mind."

JustSomeOldDude said...

Oops

I think I could forgive her for not understanding what Death Recorded meant back in those days, but the true shallowness of her research is revealed when she didn't look deep enough to find out that the victim was a 6 year old boy.

But now I'm wondering why they would have NOT executed Thomas Silva and instead release him.

So many questions.

gilbar said...

The Facts Of the Matter ARE!

NONE of these 'deaths recorded' happened before the industrial age
BEFORE CAGW..... NO 'deaths recorded'
AFTER CAGW...... LOTS of 'deaths recorded'

CO2 emissions (well, Some Sort of emissions) were causing boys to be sentenced to DEATH for buggery
Face the Facts Sheeple!

Dave Begley said...

Knowing and understanding the meaning of words - especially terms of art - is important. The Dems should know what the Founders meant by "high crimes and misdemeanors" before they start running their mouth about impeachment.

MBunge said...

This is why all the talk of "meritocracy" is mostly nonsense. Most of our so-called elites are no smarter than the average HVAC repairmen from Peoria, Illinois, and many of them are a good deal stupider.

Mike

Francisco D said...


"Well that is a really important thing to investigate"

She sounds like a Capitol Hill Democrat.

To her credit, she sounded embarrassed.

Shouting Thomas said...

You get published by writing weepy shit about gay martyrdom.

The publishing industry is dominated by fag hags.

What can you expect?

wildswan said...

Here's a section from the web page of the opponents of capital punishment that backs the position of the Wolf critic.

"The role of the King and Privy Council.
Once a death sentence had been passed the trial judge had to notify the Privy Council by letter. In this letter he was able to make his private recommendations as to whether the person should hang or not. The King presided over what were known as “hanging cabinets” where together with members of the Privy Council, the fate of each condemned person was decided. They could be offered a conditional pardon (reprieve) on condition of transportation to America or later Australia as an alternative to execution. In London & Middlesex the Recorder of the Old Bailey made his report to the Privy Council in person at the end of each Sessions." http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/hanging1.html

It's quite a failure on the part of the author and the book editors. They say the English and the Americans are two peoples divided by a common language and this is an example of the truth of that joke.

whitney said...

That just makes me so happy. She deserves this

PackerBronco said...

Get a few more "historians" like her and you will have a consensus.
The history is settled ...

wildswan said...

It seems as if Wolf made a similar mistake once before in her book the Beauty Trap. "... Christina Hoff Sommers criticized Wolf for publishing the estimate that 150,000 women were dying every year from anorexia. Sommers states that she tracked down the source to the American Anorexia and Bulimia Association who stated that they were misquoted; the figure refers to sufferers, not fatalities."

EDH said...

Does this mean Wolf will turn her scholarship to how barbaric as some Islamic societies are today compared to how, as it turns out, western societies 200 years ago were not as barbaric?

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

Doubt the shoddy scholarship will make any difference. (Not as if Wolf is a serious writer, anyway.) The book is out and will be consumed by the usual suspects. It will be assigned in Grievance Studies classes, errors intact, and those errors will become "what everybody knows" to be true about the past.

Jeff Brokaw said...

A huge mistake because she was too narrative-driven to dobasic research? I’m like SOOPER DOOPER shocked.

Fernandistein said...

feel empathy for Naomi Wolf

Can I borrow a feeling?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I'm sending a pattern...

Naomi Wolf Got Her Facts Wrong. Really, Really, Really Wrong

Henry said...

Did her blunder disprove her thesis or some facts supporting her thesis?

Robert Cook said...

"The Dems should know what the Founders meant by 'high crimes and misdemeanors' before they start running their mouth about impeachment."

Well, what, specifically, did the founders mean by that phrase?

Rick.T. said...

I think I'm feeling a bit of schadenfreude, if I understand the correct meaning of that word.

Robert Cook said...

"That just makes me so happy. She deserves this."

Why?

Temujin said...

My God. She's been so wrong about so many things over the years, yet they keep on bringing her in with her next book, whatever it may be. But Naomi is very much a part of today's intelligentsia. Highly degreed, yet without the proper skills to do proper, even simple research. And in the end, just not great thinkers. Or as Nassim Taleb has coined them, "intellectual, yet idiot".

At least Al Gore hired her to tell him to wear brown suits. That made all the difference.


Robert Cook said...

I just listened to the clip. The interviewer was gracious in his manner of revealing to Wolf her egregious mistake.

I wonder if she will call to have her book recalled?

Sebastian said...

"Because "Oops" is very bad in the profession I'm in. You'd think that would apply to journalists, too."

You'd think wrong. Being a journalist means never having to say you're sorry, or oops. Don't even mention columnists -- as far as I know, Paul Krugman still writes for the NYT.

Krugman, at least, has done some good academic work. But most prog commentators know nothing--and in many cases, what they do know ain't so.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

She is an example of proceeding with your thesis/theory/dissertation/rant with a preconceived idea and nothing will change your ideas. The head up your ass method of scholarly publication.

She had already decided what the issue was.... and then did no research to confirm her bias.

Start with a conclusion and ignore the facts, the data. Who needs real research when you jusk KNOW what the conclusion is already.

Jersey Fled said...

I'm guessing what she said was false but accurate.

Worked for Dan Rather.

MadisonMan said...

Well that is a really important thing to investigate

The author has the tense all wrong.

That is a really important thing to have been investigated. Too bad she didn't.

Henry said...

Robert Cook...
I just listened to the clip. The interviewer was gracious in his manner of revealing to Wolf her egregious mistake.

I wonder if she will call to have her book recalled?


And Wolf handled the face palm with graciousness.

I'm not that interested in reading the book, but it's also not clear from the 30 seconds of audio and two sentences of twitter how important the nine executions are to the book's thesis.

Maybe she can issue an erratum, with a new forward by Deepak Chopra.

Shouting Thomas said...

The phony persecution of the gays in the U.S. has been an industry since the AIDS epidemic went nuclear.

Fag hags in publishing and activist gays have worked overtime to re-direct the guilt for that epidemic onto straight white men (or Nancy Reagan, take your pick).

"Brokeback Mountain" was the apotheosis of this campaign to shift the blame for millions of deaths away from the actual perps... gay men.

For a couple of decades the left carried out a media barrage to buttress this lie. The lying continues to this day.

SDaly said...

DBQ -

Scholarship has been destroyed by the requirement to have a "thesis" and back it up. Most theses are bullshit, and to back them up, the "scholars" become like lawyers in a litigation setting, making the best case for the thesis by (1) highlighting (or twisting) evidence in support, and (2) minimizing / twisting or ignoring evidence contrary to the thesis. They act like lawyers in litigation by also refusing to give an inch or engage in misdirection when challenged to get back to a space that is favorable to their client. This is also the problem with modern journalism.

The new defense is that you can't expect people to be unbiased, and that the give and take of scholarly debate will sort things out. There are two problems with that defense. First, going back to lawyers, they actually have to be unbiased when "analyzing" a case. They have to understand both the strengths and weaknesses in their position in order to advise their clients on the best way to proceed. But in court they must jettison the unbiased analysis and "zealously defend" their client's position. I had always envisioned real scholarship and scholars as engaging in *that* type of unbiased analysis. The second problem is that the universities have been so scrubbed of anyone who doesn't subscribe to the left's catechism that the normal give-and-take of scholars no longer functions, and is, in fact, under attack.

Darkisland said...

Why should I feel empathy for Naomi Wolfe?

John Henry

GingerBeer said...

So, about the same amount of effort the FBI put into the Steele Dossier.

Jeff Brokaw said...

Potential headline: “Feminist Author Gets Basic Supporting Facts Wong (Again) - Has No Impact Because Her Audience Doesn’t Care About Facts”

gilbar said...

IiB points out that...
Naomi Wolf Got Her Facts Wrong. Really, Really, Really Wrong
according to Wolf, 20% of American female students suffered from anorexia


To be fair to Naomi; i think what she MEANT TO SAY was that 20% of American female students were RAPED!
the more things change; the more the lies continue

buwaya said...

Scholarship should be like a voyage of exploration, and the tale of it the outcome.
This and that was found, such a thing happened, such a story was told.
The point of it all ultimately is to develop a mental database wherin new experience can be catalogued in the stacks, so to speak, in perspective.

Arguing a case is not scholarship, it requires tossing out perspective. It is a deliberate process of dissimulation by selective use of knowledge.

SusanS said...

If only thinking made it so. The factually-challenged left takes another hit. But it doesn't matter because truth is not a left-wing value.

Ken B said...

No empathy from me. You have certain responsibilities when you make arguments.

This was lovely though. Thank you.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ SDaly 9:10

Scholarship has been destroyed by the requirement to have a "thesis" and back it up

Agreed with the gist of your post.

First you have a thesis/idea/point of view. No problem with that. Backing up or proving your thesis is the issue, when the writer uses distorted and incorrect data. Also when the writer purposely ignores any contradicting research or data.

Sometimes your data and research will disprove your theory. Be honest about that and publish those results too!

Scholarly arguing is common and a good thing, as long as each side is using honest research data. Arguing about ideas with no foundation is just arguing. You can do that in any bar or with your drunken family members at a BBQ :-) Congress does this daily. What a waste of time.

Sometimes these long drawn out "scholarly" disagreements are more based on ego and not on facts. When new facts or evidence is presented, the egos and protecting their own "ideas" wins over intellectual honesty..

The Anthropological theory of the settlement of the Americas via the Bering Strait by Clovis people is one example. The old guard has their theory carved in stone and nothing will change their minds. The new evidence is not necessarily proven either. But that doesn't stop the egos, infighting and bloviating by those who have a preconceived bias.

Do your freaking research. AND get your facts checked before publication.

This Wolf chick should be more than embarrassed. It isn't the first time she has been caught making things up. She should be humiliated.....and publicly.

AZ Bob said...

This is an example of the narrative controlling the outcome, which we see so much of today.

It also shows why people should consult a lawyer when navigating the justice system.

Ken B said...

A longer excerpt, starting as AA suggests at 19:00 and continuing is even more crushing. She resorts to “my research clearly shows”. But she said what her research consisted of, and Sweet destroyed that.

William said...

I wonder if she'll cancel the book tour. If not, I wonder if any other interviewer will highlight this screw up. How do you walk away from a mistake this huge?

Ken B said...

William
How? You just ignore it. You say things like “I doubt” or I would be surprised “ as she does in the longer video.

She will win a prize of some description, not famous enough to draw scrutiny, but something to serve as an imprimatur, and carry on. Objections will be answered by citing the prize, calling names, suggesting its a small error.

In the long interview you hear that starting already, even to her about face on 1857.

AlbertAnonymous said...

Good God! They should hire her for the State Farm commercials...

“We should definitely investigate”

Not Sure said...

Nancy Maclean was never gracious enough to say "Oops" for her wildly inaccurate book. Of course, people who just make shit up aren't inclined to be gracious when called out on it.

BADuBois said...

She's a moron. She once thought the Bush Administration was interception and reading her kids' report cards.

Mattman26 said...

I believe her errors (multiple) disclosed here were indeed central to her thesis.

I went to the longer embed and started at 18:00. It's a pretty astonishing four minutes or so.

She claims these prosecutions (buggery or what have you) skyrocketed in percentage terms in (I think) the 1850s. She's asked what the numbers were in absolute terms, a very good question. It is quite clear she had no. fucking. idea. Not that she didn't have the precise numbers at her fingertips, which would have of course been understandable. Just not a clue. Plenty embarrassing in its own right.

Next, the biggest problem, her claim that--despite what all the historical websites say--there were dozens of gay men put to death during this time frame just from the Old Bailey alone. Turns out to be absolutely false, and she could have figured it out from reading the Old Bailey's website.

Finally (at least for today), of these dozens of examples she's discussing of men being charged criminally for consensual sexual conduct between adults, it turns out that for those for which you can readily find some background, one involved a 6-year-old victim, and another was a 60-year-old schoolmaster foisting predations on schoolboys. She thinks these must have been outliers, but again; no fucking idea.

I would want the earth to swallow me up.

Michael K said...

She is the one who advised Al Gore on his wardrobe. That worked out well for him.

Molly said...

(eaglebeak)

Although I cannot bear Naomi Wolf's politics, to put it mildly, I am empathizing all over the place with her because it's painful for her (or almost anyone--almost) to be humiliated like that.

Otherwise: I know Matthew Sweet, had a number of conversations with him including at least one interview in connection with a book whose name I cannot mention without revealing my identity, which I don't feel like doing. He has done work on the Victorian Era, penny-dreadfuls and various ghoulish topics associated with that period, so he is well situated to pick up on her rather substantial gaffe.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Molly said:

I am empathizing all over the place with her because it's painful for her (or almost anyone--almost) to be humiliated like that.

I am not empathizing with her in any way.

She did this to herself. Her own sloppy writing and research. I'm giving her a bit of a break here in assuming it was due to her incompetence and not to a malicious disregard of the truth.

In any case, she has NO one to blame but herself. Boo hoo. /s

Known Unknown said...

Is laughing the correct reaction?

Good.

Birkel said...

Does empathy = pointing and laughing?

Because if so, I am empathizing like crazy.

Yancey Ward said...

I am trying to put myself in her place. Of course, if I had read those same records, I would have believed them to mean exactly what Wolfe herself believed. What I don't know is if I would have had the discipline to go deeper on each of the defendants in the book. It is a very, very common sort bias to stop looking at all when you think you understand something. And it is very, very difficult know when to actually stop looking for contrary evidence.

She definitely has my sympathy on this one.

Wilbur said...

Well, then.

Never mind.

Yancey Ward said...

And I truly have to admire Sweet's work here (and I am assuming he is, in fact, correct). I really doubt there are more than a handful of journalists alive today who would have had the chops to actually dig deeper into these anecdotes. I now feel the need to do it myself just to confirm that he is correct.

Molly said...

(eaglebeak)

Empathy ≠ sympathy...

Look, I spent the whole morning brooding over the fall of a nest that a bird had built on the wreath on my front door--a nest with little eggs in it that were broken in the fall--so I was prepared to feel embarrassed for fellow humans.

On the other hand, when she made a difference politically (Naomi, that is) I couldn't' bear her. Now that she no longer matters, she no longer matters.

That affords me the luxury of being embarrassed for her.

Molly said...

(eaglebeak)

Also, any guy who's around her for 10 or 15 minutes will be suffering penile servitude. That's what her kind of feminism has to offer.

And that, boys and girls, is what happened (well, one of many things that happened) to Al Gore.

Fen said...

Unfortunate. I don't agree with most of what she says, but like Glen Greenwald she has on several occasions bucked the GroupThink and committed ThoughtCrimes in pursuit of Truth.

Yancey Ward said...

This reminds me of my own personal anecdote of mortification, though not as public as Wolfe's.

When I was a first year grad student, I was explaining the mechanism of a chemical reaction on the chalk board during a meeting of our research group. It was a radical mediated reaction, and the mechanism I put up was correctly balanced, but was missing the propagation step, but I didn't know that was missing- all I could see was that every step made logical sense, and thus the whole of it had to make sense, too- or so I thought. Our professor, rather than point out the mistake directly, told me that the mechanism was wrong, and that it was obviously wrong. Rather than take a second deeper look, I confronted him, and told him I was correct, and obviously so. He got angry with me and left the room, but about 15 seconds after he had gone out the door, I realized he was right and I had just embarrassed myself before the entire group. The apology I had to make was one of the most shameful of my life.

Fen said...

I believe she was the one that insisted women should stop pretending the fetus is subhuman. She still supported abortion, but thought the "it's just a clump of cells" narrative was dishonest and hurt the pro-choice position in the long run.

She was right.

bleh said...

I don't feel bad for her at all. Zero empathy. Fuck her. Her objective in writing her book was to smear Western societies as bigoted against gays, and her egregious error was basically unforgivable. She conceived of a narrative and just ran with it. A lot of gullible people would have fallen for her lie and concluded that England was executing homosexuals in the Victorian era. Of course she also neglected to mention that the particular case she was discussing with the journalist involved child rape, not the crime of sodomy.

Fuck her.

Yancey Ward said...

Of course, if it is a pattern.........then less sympathy.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Molly said: Empathy ≠ sympathy...

You are right. I was not feeling, and do not feel, any sympathy for her. Maybe empathy IF I were to put myself in such a situations where I was embarrassed by my own incompetence. Similar to Yancy's story.

Empathy is how a person can understand and relate (for example) to a movie where the characters are horrible human beings but still have some feeling as to why they are so horrible. Not liking the characters but understanding of their predicament. Putting yourself in their shoes (so to speak)

Natural Born Killers is such a movie. The characters are repellent. Their stories of childhood abuse are horrific. Their actions are depraved and horrible. The movie is compelling.

Depending on how Ms Wolf handles her humiliation....I might have some empathy for her. Maybe.
But, since her aim in writing this badly researched screed was to try to harm other people with her false narrative....I doubt that the empathy will be flowing.

Szoszolo said...

"... it's also not clear from the 30 seconds of audio and two sentences of twitter how important the nine executions are to the book's thesis."

True, but if I had heard this interview and then started to read the book, how could I not think, again and again, "I wonder if this is based on research that she's interpreting correctly ... or has she gotten both the facts and the meaning of the 'facts' wrong yet again?"

Publishers no longer hire fact checkers. And a careful author who's been as successful as Wolf should know that and should hire her own fact checker before she turns in the manuscript. (I know -- not gonna happen.)

hstad said...

".....Scholarship has been destroyed...." by the Intelligentsia and the Left. It (scholarship) today manifest's itself in Colleges/Universities as pure propoganda pushed by the 'Elites'.

Howard said...

She just expressing her G_d given Hot Chick privilege.

Amadeus 48 said...

Next up:
Naomi Wolfe learns what Stacey Abrams means by “winning”.

Henry said...

This Guardian Article is far more damning than Sweet's gentle correction:

Wolf has committed a “pretty basic error”, Historian Richard Ward added. “If all the people who were mentioned in the Old Bailey records as ‘death recorded’ were subsequently executed, there would have been a bloodbath on the gallows,” Ward said, “yet anyone who has a basic knowledge of crime and justice in the 19th century would know that that wasn’t the case.”

While Wolf only quotes the “death recorded” verdict in Silver’s case, Sweet challenges the wider argument put forward in Outrages.

“I think her assumptions about ‘death recorded’ have led her to the view … that ‘dozens and dozens’ of Victorian men were executed, and that one of the main subjects of her book, the poet John Addington Symonds, grew up with the fear of execution hanging over his head. I have yet to see evidence that one man in Victorian Britain was executed for sodomy.”

Henry said...

@Szoszolo -- I figured my question was worth more Googling. It looks pretty bad for her research -- and her research seems to be pursued in the service of a relatively minor theory about John Addington Symonds.

Wolf’s argument that 1857 saw a brutal turn against consensual sex between men runs counter to most scholars, Sweet continued, who suggest that it was only in 1885 that a less tolerant legal climate developed. “She argues that historians have misread this moment and we should see that 1857 was a more significant date. I think she is wrong.”

Big Mike said...

Wikipedia says Naomi is a Rhodes Scholar who attended Yale and Oxford. I guess neither institution taught her how to do original research.

Earnest Prole said...

Look, Naomi Wolf is a dingbat. If she were a man she would have been shamed out of her profession long ago. If you want to call that proof of sexism I won't argue.

Bilwick said...

So this time Naomi Wolf is bullshitting ACCIDENTALLY?

Tina Trent said...

Naomi Wolf is everything that's wrong and dishonest about leftists' fake scholarship on crime and punishment. Michelle Alexander is another example of the highly remunerated professional liar about crime. How did Wolf screw up so badly? The campus feminist movement to which she belongs is so dysfunctional and hysterically ideological that they provide an ecosystem for growing wrong ideas. She was surely assisted by other sanctioned "scholars" and editors, none of whom are passingly competent.

TheThinMan said...
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TheThinMan said...
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TheThinMan said...

When it came to light that the Gore campaign secretly had Wolf on the payroll as an advisor, what everyone missed was that she was married to David Shipley, who was editor of the New York Times op-ed page. It was a way to bribe the Times for even better coverage of Gore, which he certainly needed. Gore wasn’t paying 10s of thousands of dollars for a couple of paragraphs from Naomi saying to wear earth tones, he was paying for the Times to be an active member of the campaign. Her dilemma was she couldn’t defend herself because saying you were just a conduit for a bribe to the Times is more damning than sounding like an airhead.