Is Candidate Carson nuts: On this morning's Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough aggressively, loudly assailed Ben Carson as a liar.
For ourselves, we'd start with a more elementary question--is Candidate Carson crazy? The story about the Yale psych class is a powerful case in point.
Journalists have been having a hard time summarizing the story. As told in Carson's book, Gifted Hands, the story contains several elements. When journalists offer a quick summary, some part of this highly improbable story inevitably gets left out.
Some part of this highly improbable story? We'd say that's putting it mildly!
If you want to read the full story, it's found in Chapter 9 of Carson's book, all of which appears at this link. Don't miss the three-part tale of the ten-dollar bill, which surfaces for the third time in Carson's psych class triumph.
(A ten-dollar bill also plays a role in Chapter 8, though it seems unrelated to the drama of which runs through Chapter 9.)
Did that story actually happen? Did a Yale professor actually stage a hoax make-up exam in some sort of effort to identify The One Honest Student in her psychology class?
Did she have a photographer on hand to photograph her one Cordelia--who was, of course, Carson himself? Did she then give Carson a ten-dollar bill, thus completing the miracle story which forms the framework of Chapter 9's account of Carson's college years?
There's more! Did the photograph of Carson as The One Honest Student really appear in the Yale Daily News?
To state the obvious, it's hard to believe that anything like these alleged events ever occurred on the earth. And by the way:
If that photograph of Carson really appeared in the Yale Daily News, where's the accompanying photograph of the professor? Presumably, she would have been fired for being batshit crazy and totally out of her head.
That overall story seems utterly crazy, more like some kind of dream fugue. That said, Carson is now presenting evidence designed to show that the story is true. His presentation of this "evidence" is almost as crazy as the story itself.
Carson's evidence seems to suggest that something slightly strange or offbeat actually did occur during his Yale years. According to a report in the Yale Daily News, the campus humor magazine did in fact announce a hoax make-up exam for a psychology class.
According to the news report, this "false exam...was attended by several students not aware that the replacement exam was a hoax." For Kevin Drum's post, click here.
We can think of few people more likely to fall for a hoax than the teen-aged Carson. That said, the report in the Yale Daily News says nothing about a professor pretending to choose The One Honest Student in Her Whole Psych Class as part of this humor mag scam.
Nor has Carson presented the alleged photograph of himself as The One Honest Student, the photograph which supposedly appeared in the Yale Daily News. The claim that Carson was so honored was the whole point of the highly improbable story in his book.
This original story sounds almost completely crazy. Almost as crazy is Carson's post about this "evidence" which he's produced in support of his claim:
CARSON (11/8/15): On Saturday a reporter with the Wall Street Journal published a story that my account of being the victim of a hoax at Yale where students were led to believe the exams they had just taken were destroyed and we needed to retake the exam was false. The reporter claimed that no evidence existed to back up my story. Even went so far as to say the class didn't exist.To see Carson's post, click here.
Well here is the student newspaper account of the incident that occurred on January 14, 1970.
Will an apology be coming. I doubt it.
You'll note that Carson has omitted the key element in the original story--the improbable-seeming claim that he was honored as The One Honest Student in the Whole Class, with his photograph triumphantly appearing in the student paper.
Needless to say, he's also misstating what the Wall Street Journal actually said. Still unexplained is the ten-dollar bill, the strangest part of the tale!
Citizens, can we talk?
At one time, we had societal gatekeepers. As part of this undemocratic procedure, crazy people weren't allowed to have their own radio or TV shows.
That ended with Imus, Howard Stern and Rush. Today, it's hard to get a major talk radio or cable news show unless you're abler to prove to the bosses that you're at least halfway nuts and/or that you're highly compliant.
Within the two major parties, gatekeepers used to play a second role. They refused to let crazy people become presidential contenders.
Today, the gatekeepers are basically gone, and The Crazy is ascendant. Just yesterday, the Washington Post ran some good solid Semi-Crazy in its Outlook section.
We expect to discuss the pieces by Havrilesky and Tankersley at some point. It's very hard to get that dumb; increasingly, though, the nation's journalists are finding ways to do it. For Kevin Drum's mild-mannered, sane reaction, you can just click here.
With the gatekeepers gone, The Crazy's ascendant. It's surprising to see what we humans are actually like, once the gatekeepers trundle away and leave us here on our own.
Way back in 1992, the highly clairvoyant Katherine Boo warned the world about "Creeping Dowdism." She'd only spotted one part of the beast. Increasingly, The Basic Crazy and its kin are pretty much all around.