Monday, September 21, 2020

Feminist author Naomi Wolf admits error in new book after called out live on air for misunderstanding data

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It is every author’s biggest nightmare – getting called out live on air for featuring factually incorrect information in your new upcoming book.

Feminist author Naomi Wolf, who advised both former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, was told on the air that in her new book she misread the evidence, making her entire premise false.

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“I found several dozen executions,” Wolf said during a BBC interview on Thursday, explaining what she believed were executions in the 1800s in Britain for sodomy.

She was speaking with BBC’s Matthew Sweet to promote her new book “Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalization of Love,” that examines same-sex relations in the Victorian era and how they were criminalized.

“I don’t think you’re right about this,” the host swiftly replied to Wolf’s comment. “Death recorded is what’s in most of these cases that you’ve identified as executions. It doesn’t mean that he was executed.”

“It was a category that was created in 1823 that allowed judges to abstain from pronouncing a sentence of death on any capital convict whom they considered to be a fit subject for pardon. I don’t think any of the executions you’ve identified here actually happened,” Sweet said.

“I don’t think any of the executions you’ve identified here actually happened.”

— Matthew Sweet


Wolf was taken aback by the remark, saying, “Well, that’s a really important thing to investigate” and asking the host to explain what he meant “death recorder.”

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Sweet explained to Wolf she used a case of a man who fell under the category of “death recorded” yet was discharged, according to official records. “I think it is quite a big problem with your argument,” he said.

Wolf attempted to control the damage on social media as many users jumped to criticize her and reminding that she has dabbled in poor scholarly work and conspiracy theories, including that the ISIS beheadings of westerners were false flags or that the U.S. government is preparing to turn the country into a fascist state.

But she admitted Friday that her book, which will soon be published, contains massive errors.“ There is an error on on 71 and p 72 of my book Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalization of Love. 14 year old Thomas Silver, sentenced to death at the Old Bailey for sodomy, was not ultimately executed, nor was 60 year old John Spenser. Corrected,” she tweeted.

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the book’s publisher in the U.S., told the New York Times called the issue an “unfortunate error,” but said that the “the overall thesis of the book ‘Outrages’ still holds.”

The publisher added that it while it “employs professional editors, copyeditors and proofreaders for each book project, we rely ultimately on authors for the integrity of their research and fact-checking.”

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