Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Guardian does it again

Apparently, the Guardian is not only blatantly dishonest in its reporting, but it also misrepresents books in its reviews. Alan Dershowitz protests in Slate:
I thrive on controversy and have developed a rather thick skin, having had my fair share of both negative and positive reviews.
But in the quarter of a century that I have been writing books, I've never had the experience of a reviewer claiming that I take a position in one of my books that is the exact opposite of what I have actually asserted
A section in my book concerns Israel. It is supportive of some, and critical of others, of Israel's pre-emptive military actions. Christian focused on this section for the majority of her article. She characterized Preemption as an attempt to "justify the Iraq war and even the actions of the state of Israel (which the author, a Harvard law professor, obsessively admires)." First, notice the "even" before Israel, showing that the author assumes the actions of Israel to be particularly indefensible. Second, she misreads the fundamental point of this chapter. I do not try to justify Israel's actions. I analyze its actions, and I conclude that some of them were justified and beneficial, while others were wrongheaded and unnecessary. Finally, had Christian read the book, she would know that I opposed the war in Iraq. She apparently assumed that because I support Israel's right to exist, I also supported America's war in Iraq. It's a telling assumption.
Most egregiously, Ms. Christian claims that "[i]n its concluding chapter the book goes so far as to suggest that theories of 'chromosomal abnormality' should be pursued as predictive of violent crime to justify long-term detention." In fact, I say precisely the opposite. Christian is referring to an appendix in which I reproduce an article I published in 1975. The whole thrust of the article is categorically against the use of the XYY chromosome to predict violence, since I demonstrate conclusively that the XYY karyotype is not predictive and therefore creates an unacceptable risk of "false positives," which are precisely what we most fear when we engage in preventive or pre-emptive action. Here is what I write: "Nor is it likely that the XYY karyotype, even in combination of other factors, could be used to predict violence. There is simply no hard evidence establishing that any combination of factors can accurately spot a large percentage of future violent criminals without also including an unsatisfactory number and percentage of false positives." Christian confuses my strong opposition to using chromosomes as criminal predictors with support for their use, thereby reversing my position. It is hard to believe that this is a simple mistake.
And this passes for serious journalism...

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