Fact Checking The Gore Fact Checker

Andrew Ferguson of the conservative Weekly Standard has an op-ed in the Washington Post in which he attempts to discredit Al Gore, starting out by saying, “You can’t really blame Al Gore for not using footnotes in his new book, The Assault on Reason. This implication is that Gore is making errors and does not provide references. I would refer Mr Ferguson to page 277 where the notes begin.

Despite the implications about the accuracy of Gore’s work, Ferguson only directly challenges one item writing, “I’d love to know where he found the scary quote from Abraham Lincoln that he uses on page 88.”

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.

The note on page 282 shows that Gore attributes this quote to Lincoln as being from a letter to Colonel William F. Elkins from November 21, 1964. Gore’s source for this letter is The Lincoln Encyclopedia edited by Archer H. Shaw (New York: Mcmillan, 1950, p. 40.)

Ferguson states this is a misquotation from Lincoln, and having two contradictory claims I cannot be certain which reference is correct. What I do know is that Ferguson is incorrect in claiming Gore does not provide a source for the quote, or the other facts in his book. It very well may be the case that a quotation attributed to Lincoln was incorrect, but even if Gore’s reference is in error, this hardly undermines the many arguments that Gore makes.

Michael P.F. van der Galiën comments and accepts Ferguson’s claim that the quotation is not correct. Even in accepting this, he rejects Ferguson’s argument:

Having said that, it has to be pointed out, of course, that this misquote does not discredit Gore’s message. His point still stands: Reason is, according to Gore, assaulted by politicians, lobbyists and the media alike. Reason has been replaced by soundbites and shouting and yelling at each other. Political discourse has become a caricature of what it once was. Science is under attack by pseudo-science, the list goes on and on.

Related Posts:

A Review of “The Assault on Reason”
David Brooks’ Assault on “The Assault on Reason”

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    linus bern says:

    It is extraodinary how the MSM rushes to illustrate the themes in Gore’s book. Gore takes his book on talk shows and only gets asked if he is losing weight or running for president, and (bias-free) reviewers use the most corrupt logic, specious reasoning, and ad hominem attacks to discredit his message.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Yes it is extraordinary. This example with the false claims that Gore didn’t give a reference for thie quote is fairly trivial, but sure is typical of the attacks. People who have never read his book pick up the meme that Gore is not to be believed, when a brief glance at the book would show there is validity to the attack. Similarly they attack An Inconvenient Truth by misquoting sections and then show what they misquoted is “in error” safe in the knowledge that few will bother to check if there is any validity to their attack.

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