Saturday, March 17, 2018

Nancy MacLean Continues to Embarrass Duke, but Exposes its Double Standards

By George Leef

Last year, Duke University History Professor Nancy MacLean became one of the country’s best-known academics for her book Democracy in Chains. That is not, however, to say that her book was so praiseworthy that it made her famous. Quite the opposite—Democracy in Chains was excoriated by academic critics for its blatantly dishonest attack on the thinking and indeed the character of the late James M. Buchanan, the 1986 Nobel Prize winner in economics.
MacLean sought to depict Buchanan as a closet racist whose intellectual breakthrough of what is now called “public choice” theory was actually meant to help segregationists ward off the integration of public schools in the South. While her conclusions were embraced by most leftists because they cast such an ugly shadow over the intellectual opponents of big government, scholars who have actually read Buchanan objectively and many who knew him (he died in 2013) blasted the book with salvo after salvo of careful criticism.
I noted a few of those attacks in this Forbes article, in which I lamented that the federal government had helped to underwrite MacLean’s shoddy “research.” Especially telling was this review by a faculty colleague at Duke, Professor Michael Munger, who found it strange that she would write a book on Buchanan without bothering to discuss her thoughts about him with leading public choice scholars who had first-hand knowledge of his life and work.
Read the rest here.

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