Page #Error TypeDescriptionDetailsAdditional DocumentationSignificance (1 = minor, 5 = central thesis)
2Misrepresented evidenceMacLean cites 1960s work of Murray Rothbard to insinuate John C. Calhoun's influence on Buchanan & Tullock's Calculus of ConsentRothbard's work did not influence the Calculus of Consent. Rothbard actually panned the book in an early 1960s memo, said it was unworthy of even reviewing.
31Quotation error - alteredMacLean alters the context of a Buchanan quotation about his grandfather, a former governor of Tennessee. She claims Buchanan stated his grandfather was "psychologically tarnished" by his failure to win reelection as governor of Tennessee, suggesting this event inspired Buchanan' to hold skeptical opinions about democracyMacLean removes the remainder of the quotation. Buchanan's actual statement notes his grandfather "had been psychologically tarnished by his too-early successes in state politics" - a reference to his election to the Tennessee General Assembly as a young man, not his term as governor.Fleury, Jean-Baptiste, and Alain Marciano. "The Sound of Silence: A Review Essay of Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America." Journal of Economic Literature.2
33Factual errorMacLean implies Buchanan picked up the "Leviathan" metaphor for large government from the poet Donald Davidson as a young man in the 1940sBuchanan developed and explicitly cited his use of the Leviathan concept to philosopher Thomas Hobbes. In Chapter 8 of Better than Plowing, Buchanan dates this to 1970s
33Factual errorMacLean claims segregationist Agrarian poet Donald Davidson "seemed most decisive" in shaping Buchanan's intellectual systemMacLean's cited sources do not support this claim. No evidence has been found linking Buchanan to Davidson.
33Factual errorMacLean claims the pro-segregation Agrarian poets attracted Buchanan to Vanderbilt UniversityMacLean's cited sources provide no evidence linking Buchanan's interest in Vanderbilt to the Agrarians & show no influence of the Agrarians on Buchanan's work
34Misrepresented evidenceMacLean claims Buchanan left for New York City in 1940 under the influence of Donald Davidson's Agrarian worldviewBuchanan's autobiography details that he left for New York in 1940 after explicitly rejecting the romanticized version of rural life. Instead he depicts rural life as a hardship he was eager to leave.Buchanan, Better than Plowing, Chapter 82
35Misleading claimMacLean writes “It was uncanny how well young Jim Buchanan’s notions of individual efficacy, group power, and government overreach fit with the teachings of the economics faculty of the University of Chicago.”Buchanan explicitly describes himself as a libertarian socialist on entering UC and writes that had he known the department’s ideological makeup, he might’ve gone elsewhere.“Economics from the Outside In,” pp. 4-52
36[MacLean writes (p. 35, citing "Better Than Plowing" pp. 70, 72): “After some six weeks of Knight’s course, Buchanan, by his own telling, ‘converted into a zealous advocate of the market order.’ Whether it was the cogency of Knight’s teaching or the upheaval on Chicago’s South Side as steel and meatpacking workers downed tools in the most massive strike wave in America’s history was not clear.”
"I attribute this conversion directly to Frank Knight's teachings." "Better Than Plowing," p. 71, sandwiched between the pages MacLean cites. This makes the source of the conversion pp. 70-72 of "Better Than Plowing."2
41Factual errorMacLean claims Buchanan chose to study public finance as a doctoral student at the University of Chicago in the late 1940s due to the libertarian influences of the faculty thereBuchanan's study of public finance actually originated when he was a master's student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville from 1940 to 1941Marciano, Alain. "Buchanan and public finance: The tennessee years." The Review of Austrian Economics (2018): 1-26.2
41Factual errorMacLean claims that UVA economist Warren Nutter rejected "the prevailing focus of the [economics] discipline on mathematical technique and empirical work."The core of Nutter's academic output consisted of a highly empirical study of the Soviet Union's economy, including over 300 pages of data appendixes and mathematical models of Soviet economic performance.
46Factual errorMacLean attributes to Buchanan a "disdain for how...civil rights organizations" were seeking government policies to bring about social justice.MacLean offers no evidence that Buchanan held civil rights organizations or their objectives in disdain.2
50Factual error MacLean claims that libertarian Frank Chodorov "framed the South’s fight [against Brown v. Board of Education] as resistance to federal coercion in a noble quest to preserve states’ right and economic liberty"MacLean's cited source not only doesn't support this claim, it shows Chodorov praising the Brown decision
50Factual errorMacLean portrays Chodorov as being excited that Brown presented the opportunity to “do away with the public school system"In the cited source, Chodorov envisioned “a larger network of private schools, denominational and non-denominational, side by side with the general public school system.“
50Factual errorWith regard to the early libertarian movement, MacLean claims that "nothing energized this backwater movement like Brown."MacLean's cited sources do not support this claim.
51Factual errorMacLean claims that libertarian members of the Mont Pelerin Society such as Buchanan "parted with classical liberals such as Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill on so much - not least, enthusiasm for public education."Mill's actual views on public education strongly resemble and anticipate Buchanan. Like Buchanan, he believed in a compulsory function for state-financed universal education but believed that government should remove itself from the operation of schools. Mill also made one of the earliest arguments in favor of a voucher-like competitive education system.J.S. Mill, On Liberty, Chapter V4
59Factual errorMacLean claims Buchanan recruited W.H. Hutt to a faculty position at the University of Virginia because of his early work criticizing labor unionsBuchanan recruited Hutt shortly after he published his anti-Apartheid book Economics of the Colour Bar in 1964. Hutt's archival material confirm that he delivered multiple anti-apartheid and anti-segregation lectures during his time at UVA
59Misrepresented evidence & factual errorMacLean suggests that the hiring of economist W.H. Hutt at UVA as a visiting scholar in 1965 was intended to gain favor with the Byrd MachineThere is no evidence supporting a connection between Hutt and Byrd. During Hutt's time at UVA he lectured extensively against segregation - the opposite position of the Byrd machine
61Factual errorIn a lengthy passage, MacLean claims that Buchanan and Nutter "ignored the overt racism [of segregation] and turned a blind eye to the chronic violations of black citizens' liberty an constitutional rights"MacLean offers no evidence of the two economists' alleged apathy toward the victims of segregation. Later writings from both men evince a sympathy toward civil rights. Buchanan and Nutter's continued work on vouchers for a 1964 report (largely ignored by MacLean) indicates their belief that school competition was being used to undermine segregation.
66Factual errorMacLean asserts that Nutter and Buchanan advocated school vouchers as part of an attempt to "salvage what remained of massive resistance while surviving court review"MacLean provides no evidence of this claimed segregationist motive or link to the massive resistance movement. Other evidence in Nutter and Buchanan's archival collections affirmatively disproves this claimed link.
66Misrepresented evidenceMacLean claims that a passage in a letter by Nutter and Buchanan, "letting the chips fall where they may," indicated their indifference to the effects of a proposed school voucher system on African-American childrenThe context of the "letting the chips fall" passage in the original letter indicates that it refers to the authors' low expectations of how politicians will react, not the racial impact of their voucher proposal
69Factual errorMacLean claims that African-American students boycotted the state's tuition grant voucher system in place from 1959-1965Statistics from the tuition grant program indicate that African-American students receiving vouchers grew in number from 48 in 1959 to 423 in 1964Thomas Jefferson Center for Political Economy, 1965. “Report on the Virginia Plan for Universal Education” Occasional Paper No. 2., Table III3
69Factual errorMacLean claims that "to a person...the southerners clamoring for state subsidies for private schooling were whites who wanted to maintain segregation."During the Virginia tuition grant program's operation (1959-65), the Virginia Education Association complained frequently that the vouchers were being used for non-segregationist purposes and unsuccessfully petitioned state regulators to limit them to segregationist uses. Statistical analysis by the Thomas Jefferson Center in 1965 confirmed this pattern, and criticized the VEA's pro-segregation position.Thomas Jefferson Center for Political Economy, 1965. “Report on the Virginia Plan for Universal Education” Occasional Paper No. 2; Robert F. Williams, “Hardly a Surprise,” Virginia Journal of Education, November 19643
70Factual errorMacLean claims Buchanan appears to have coordinated publication of a school voucher article with segregationist newspaperman James Kilpatrick of the Richmond News-LeaderMacLean's citations show no evidence of coordination. Other extant documents demonstrate that Kilpatrick was unaware of the economists' paper until shortly before Buchanan published it with Virginius Dabney of the competitor Richmond Times-Dispatch
71Factual errorMacLean, in an unsourced passage, claims Buchanan blamed "educrats" for rejecting his 1959 paper on school choice. She also claims this term was rooted in segregationismAccording to Google NGram viewer, the term "educrat" did not become a common term in the English lexicon until around 1970 - over a decade after MacLean's claims.2
71Factual errorMacLean claims Buchanan had previously "taken cues" on the politics of Virginia from segregationists Byrd and KilpatrickMacLean provides no sources or documentation that Buchanan ever took "cues" from segregationists Byrd and Kilpatrick.
71Factual errorMacLean claims Buchanan "learned lessons" from the Virginia school segregation fight that "informed his thinking for the rest of his life"MacLean provides no sources or documentation that Buchanan "learned lessons" from the segregation battle, or ever referred to it as a source of his thinking later in life
83Factual errorMacLean claims economist Ronald Coase received his PhD at the University of ChicagoCoase received his academic training at the London School of Economics under the British degree system, not a PhD at Chicago
83Factual errorMacLean claims that a 1965 report on Virginia's schools by the Thomas Jefferson Center at UVA was authored by local voucher activist Leon DureWhile Dure assisted in the compilation of survey data for the report and was credited as such, he left the project in early 1964. Buchanan's cover letter to the report indicates it was written by faculty and research assistants at the Thomas Jefferson CenterThomas Jefferson Center for Political Economy, 1965. “Report on the Virginia Plan for Universal Education” Occasional Paper No. 2.2
83Factual errorMacLean writes that "Buchanan and Tullock added more academic vocabulary as they elaborated the ideal of self-seeking as the motor of illegitimate government expansion."MacLean appears to be referring to the concept of rent seeking, but mistakenly identifies it as "self-seeking."2
83Misrepresented evidenceMacLean claims that a 1965 report on Virginia's schools by the Thomas Jefferson Center at UVA presented the state's voucher system as "a model for evading government control," implying segregationist motivesThe actual UVA report touted statistics showing that the tuition grants were being used to escape segregation, and strongly criticized a public teacher's union report demanding that they be restricted to segregationist purposes only.Thomas Jefferson Center for Political Economy, 1965. “Report on the Virginia Plan for Universal Education” Occasional Paper No. 2; Robert F. Williams, “Hardly a Surprise,” Virginia Journal of Education, November 19644
89Factual errorMacLean claims the 1964 Republican Platform dropped support for civil rights and added a plank supporting states' rights in its placeThere is no states' rights plank in the 1964 Republican platform. There is a plank endorsing enforcement of the 1964 Civil Rights Act
96Factual errorMacLean claims a reference to "allocation problems" in a Buchanan article is a call upon economists to avoid research into inequality and wealth distributionsMacLean misunderstands the common economic meaning of the term "allocation" in reference to resources, which was also Buchanan's original use
98Factual errorMacLean chastises Gordon Tullock for suggesting that LBJ's War on Poverty was a ploy for votes. As counterevidence, she cites the unpopularity of the Civil Rights Act among white southernersMacLean is confusing two distinct policies. Tullock was not referring to the Civil Rights Act. His comments pertained to the welfare expenditures of the Great Society programs, which were popular within the southern electorate3
98Factual errorMacLean claims that "Buchanan's team" redefined the "mainstream" economic concept of rent into the term "rent seeking," which they then designated as "collective efforts by citizens or public servants to prompt government action that involved tax revenues."MacLean erroneously defines the concept of rent seeking and misattributes its naming to "Buchanan's team." While the economic theory behind rent seeking was developed by Gordon Tullock in a 1967 article, the term "rent seeking" was coined separately in 1974 by University of Minnesota economist Anne KruegerKrueger, Anne O. “The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society.” The American Economic Review, vol. 64, no. 3, 1974, pp. 291–303.3
99Factual errorMacLean describes Gordon Tullock's academic work as an economist as "undistinguished" as of 1967Tullock's publications included multiple articles in the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics & other flagship journals in his field
99Quotation error - omissionCiting William Breit's "Creating the Virginia School," MacLean writes: "It did not help that Tullock struck many outside the center as an egomaniac--or just a twit. (Once, for example, as a new colleague was unpacking his books, Tullock appeared at the door. 'Oh, Mr. Johnson, I'm glad you finally arrived,' he said. 'I need the opinion of someone obviously inferior to me.')"Actual text from Breit, p. 650: "Tullock's favorite weapon was the studied insult. One of my new colleagues at Virginia, a young Englishman named Ivan C. Johnson, told me of his arrival in Charlottesville. While he was unpacking the books in his office, Tullock entered and introduced himself with the words, 'Oh, Mr. Johnson, I'm glad you finally arrived. I need the opinion of someone who is obviously inferior to me.' Johnson felt at home immediately."
101Factual errorMacLean claims Buchanan & Nutter's foray into public education policy induced the administration at the University of Virginia to withdraw its support for the Thomas Jefferson Center's activities in the late 1960sMacLean provides no evidence that Buchanan & Nutter's positions on public education in 1959 had anything to do with administrative animosity toward the TJC in the late 1960s
107Factual errorMacLean writes "Buchanan showed a marked enthusiasm, both at home and abroad, for the armed suppression of rebellion. Indeed, he never questioned the rightness of American military policy in Vietnam—except to say that it should be more aggressive.”MacLean's footnote does not support this claim and instead links to an unrelated work by Murray Rothbard. Buchanan wrote very little about the Vietnam war, and what he did write evinced his skepticism of the war's costs and overreach. In 1968 a group of Buchanan's doctoral students at UVA also published the book "Why the Draft? The case for a volunteer army" harshly criticizing military conscription3
122Misleading claimMacLean writes that "some of Buchanan's colleagues served as lecturers" for Henry Manne's Summer Economics Institute for Law Professors.These unamed "colleagues" were Armen Alchian and Harold Demsetz. Their career contributions make then more than "Buchanan's colleagues."
123Misleading claimMacLean writes of Henry Manne: "Unable to secure a post in a top law school in his early years, he instead persuaded the aspiring presidents of a string of lesser schools to let him re-create their programs in his image."This might have been true in the 1950s and 1960s, but Manne held appointments at many elite schools (Chicago, Northwestern) and turned down an appointment at Yale because he had already committed to the law & econ center at the University of Miami. He was also the Kenan Professor of Law in Rochester's Political Science Department, which was chaired by William Riker.
140Factual errorMacLean identifies Cato's Letters by Gordon and Trenchard as a set of writings from the American RevolutionCato's Letters were published in London in 1723 - several generations before the American Revolution
140Factual errorMacLean claims the Cato Institute's name was a "wink" to Cato the Elder, a Roman politician who called for the destruction of CarthageFollowing Cato's Letters, the Cato referred to is actually Cato the Younger - a fierce critic of Julius Caesar in the Roman Senate. Suggestions of a nod to his great grandfather are speculative
145Factual errorMacLean claims that Liberty Fund is a "Koch-backed organization"Liberty Fund operates under its own endowment, created upon the death of Indianapolis philanthropist Pierre Goodrich in 1973. It does not receive funding from Koch1
151Factual errorMacLean accuses Buchanan of espousing the basis for a world "in which the chronic domination of the wealthiest and most powerful over all other" peopleMacLean's cited source does not support this accusation. MacLean omits any reference to Buchanan's support for confiscatory inheritance taxes, which runs against her accusation
155Factual errorMacLean portrays Buchanan as an advisor in the crafting of Augusto Pinochet's 1980 constitution in ChileBuchanan did not have a substantial role in the drafting of the Chilean constitution. He also harshly criticized Pinochet's supporters in a 1981 speech to the Mont Pelerin Society
178Misrepresented evidenceMacLean portrays an article by Buchanan in the Cato Journal as a secretive plan to privatize and destroy Social SecurityThe Buchanan article is part of a published academic symposium on Social Security reform in the Cato Journal, and is grossly misrepresented in MacLean's depiction
185Factual errorMacLean claims GMU law school dean Henry Manne only hired "white men" of the same ideological stripe on his facultyAs of 1995 Manne had hired 2 African Americans, 2 Asian Americans, and 2 women on faculty. The footnote attached to MacLean's assertion mentions Bruce Kobayashi, a Japanese-American.
185Factual error
MacLean claims that Dean Henry Manne did not conduct open searches for faculty at the GMU law school.
Her footnote shows only that some of his initial hires were scholars he knew from law and economics circles. When he was dean, the law school did conduct open searches and hired from them.
185Misrepresented evidenceMacLean quotes a George Mason Law School publication as an appeal to right-wing donors stating that George Mason has a right-wing intellectual flavor. The quote is "At George Mason, the entire curriculum is permeated with a distinctive intellectual flavor, emphasized and developed by almost every professor." This pamphlet was not for donors, but was distributed to all participants at George Mason Law and Economics Center events. Moreover, rather than revealing a secret plot to make George Mason into a bastion of right-wing thought, the “distinctive intellectual flavor” Manne refers to is economic reasoning and the use of quantitative methods.
185Misrepresented evidence & factual error“Manne’s law school would stake out a position on the side of corporations against ‘consumerism and environmentalism,’ two causes that had grown in popularity and influence since the 1970s. His faculty would advocate the superiority of ‘unregulated corporate capitalism’ and assert, as Manne himself argued in print, that companies needed liberation from ‘the distortions created by government intervention.'”Nothing in MacLean's footnotes suggests that Manne was planning to create a politicized law school. One source says only that Manne himself favored unregulated corporate capitalism. The other merely describes the fact that Manne ran economics programs for judges through the Law and Economics Center at Emory University and the University of Miami. It doesn’t remotely support what MacLean wrote about Manne and the law school
189Factual errorMaclean states that the Federalist Society was started "with inspiration from Ed Meese"MacLean's cited sources do not support this claim. One of her sources is a Meese speech from 1985, three years after the Federalist Society was founded. The speech couldn't possibly have served as inspriation, and it makes no mention of the Society.
211Quotation error - alteredNancy MacLean alters a quotation by the Cato Institute's David Boaz to make it sound like he's attacking poor people and the working class as "parasites"The actual passage from Boaz's book says nothing of the sort and argues the opposite point
211Quotation error - falseMacLean quotes Nazi politician Joseph Goebbels stating "If you tell a great lie and repeat it often enough, the people will eventually come to believe it"There is no evidence that Goebbels ever made this statement. MacLean's version is also unique to her book, indicating that she invented her own variant of this fake quote
212Quotation error - omissionMacLean, p. 212: "Koch learned as a young adult, from his mentor Baldy Harper, that 'the great social problem of our age is that of designing the preventive medicine that will stop the ending of liberty in the body politic.' Harper warned that 'once the disease has advanced, a bitter curative medicine is required to gain already-lost liberty.' James Buchanan revealed just how bitter the medicine would be. People who failed to foresee and save moey for their future needs, Buchanan wrote in 2005, 'are to be treated as subordinate members of the species, akin to...animals who are dependent.'"In "Why I, too, am not a Conservative," Buchanan includes a section titled "Paternalism Versus Individual Responsibility" (p. 8), from which MacLean quotes Buchanan. In this section, he is making a point about how we conceive of others rather than a prescription about how people should be treated if they make mistakes. The words MacLean quotes are in bold. The full quote: "The classical liberal is necessarily vulnerable to teh charge that he lacks compassion in behavior toward fellow human beings--a quality that may describe the conservative position, along with others that involve paternalism on any grounds. George W. Bush's 'compassionate conservatism' can be articulated and defended as a meaningful normative stance. The comparable term 'compassionate classical liberalism' would approach oxymoronic classification. There is no halfway house here; other persons are to be treated as natural equals, or they are to be treated as subordinate members of the species, akin to that accorded animals who are dependent.""Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative," pp. 8-9.
216Quotation error - omissionQuoting a statement by economist Donald Boudreaux suggesting that global warming is "best left alone," MacLean insinuates that Boudreaux & other like-minded economists would rather allow environmental catastrophe than permit regulatory restrictions on the economic liberty.Boudreaux's actual position warns that heavy-handed regulation could unintentionally "lead to human suffering worse than will be wreaked under worst-case global-warming scenarios." It does not support environmental catastrophe or suggest the environment is secondary to an ideology of economic liberty.
217Factual errorMacLean writes that Buchanan's theory of "competitive federalism" was "inspired by John C. Calhoun's constitutional theory and Jack Kilpatrick's application of it to fight the implementation of Brown v. Board of Education."There is no evidence connecting Buchanan to Calhoun, and no evidence he was influenced by Kilpatrick's segregationist applications of Calhoun's theories. Contrary evidence also exists for both claims.
223Quotation error - alteredMacLean alters a quotation of economist Tyler Cowen by removing words to suggest that he's opposed to democratic principlesThe removed words show that Cowen was saying the exact opposite of what MacLean claims he said.
224Factual errorMacLean claims the public choice movement's "lineage traces back to John C. Calhoun"MacLean's cited sources do not support this claim. In the vast academic literature on public choice theory, Calhoun is almost entirely absent. Citations to Calhoun's work are limited to fewer than a dozen references in a public choice literature that spans tens of thousands of scholarly contributions.
227Quotation error - alteredMacLean alters a passage from Buchanan and Tullock to suggest that they viewed 1900 as their "ideal" political state in American history, compared to 1960The actual passage by Buchanan and Tullock simply states that different sets of constitutional rules were suited to the political situation in 1900 vs. 1960
228Factual errorMacLean refers to the U.S. as the "sole liberal democracy" to survive the "global catastrophe" in the 1930sThe United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and Finland are among the liberal democracies that survived both the Great Depression and World War II. If she is referring only to the Great Depression, the list is much longer.1
250Factual errorMacLean claims faculty at the GMU law school are "urging the court" to go back to "its pre-1937 jurisprudence," cited to Bernstein's Rehabilitating LochnerBernstein's Rehabilitating Lochner makes no recommendation of doctrinal changes or reversion to pre-1937 jurisprudenceDavid Bernstein, Rehabilitating Lochner2
259Misrepresented evidenceMacLean suggests that an October 1957 letter from Buchanan to Frank H. Knight conveyed the arguments of segregationist newspaper editor James J. KilpatrickBuchanan's actual letter to Knight contains no evidence of Kilpatrick. In contrast, the letter recommends the reporting of New York Times writer Arthur Krock, who had recently written a commentary welcoming "cracks" in Virginia's massive resistance movementBuchanan to Knight, October 24, 1957, Frank H. Knight Papers, University of Chicago; Arthur Krock, A Break in the Solid Line of Virginia,” New York Times, October 8, 1957.3
260Misrepresented evidenceMacLean claims that an unpublished manuscript by Buchanan on fiscal policy contains an endorsement of poll taxesThe actual manuscript uses poll taxes in abstract to illustrate an economic principle about regressive tax incidence, the rejects them on fiscal grounds noting they are incapable of generating “more than an insignificant amount of revenue."
James M. Buchanan, “The Optimum Fiscal Policy for a Southern State,” Unpublished manuscript ca. 1960, James M. Buchanan Papers, George Mason University
263Quotation error - falseMacLean, seeking to portray Buchanan as complicit in the Pinochet regime, asserts he concluded his memoirs by stating “Literally, I have no regrets."The attributed quote differs substantially from the concluding passages of both cited versions of Buchanan's memoirs
288Quotation error - falseMacLean describes a 1997 speech by Charles Koch by stating that its concluding passage "sounded like John C. Calhoun"The referenced passage by Koch is actually taken from a quotation by the protestant reformer Martin Luther.Charles Koch, "Creating a Science of Liberty," 19973
290Misrepresented evidenceMacLean describes Tyler Cowen's book "The Theory of Market Failure" as having "showcased nonscholars" from Koch think tanksCowen's book included articles from over a dozen economics faculty, including 3 nobel laureates. Only 3 authors/co-authors were from think tanks of any type
1, 6Factual errorMacLean claims John C. Calhoun was the architect of the first tax revolt in US history in 1828There were multiple earlier tax revolts in US history - most notably the Whiskey Rebellion in 17941
182, 198Factual errorMaclean identifies Edwin Meese and William Kristol as members of a "libertarian cadre."MacLean's footnotes do not support this claim, and there is no extant definition of libertarianism under which either man qualifies as such. Both are widely known as adherents of various conservative philosophical positions
34-35Quotation error - omissionMacLean claims Buchanan's experience of discrimination in New York should have made him more sympathetic to victims of discrimination, but it didn't.MacLean's footnote directs us to page 4 of Buchanan's collection of autobiographical essays Better Than Plowing. On that page, Buchanan writes “(t)his sobering experience made me forever sympathetic to those who suffer discriminatory treatment.”
47-48, 253Factual errorMacLean presents Buchanan's objectives at UVA as a repudiation of economics faculty who had supported politically progressive causes in their research, including desegregation. Her footnote to this claim specifically cites a biography of African-American economist Abram Harris.Buchanan actually invited Abram Harris (a friend and colleague of Buchanan's mentor Frank H. Knight) to speak at the Thomas Jefferson Center in 1963. Harris lectured on colonialism and race.Papers of the Office of the President, Special Collections, University of Virginia2
70-71Factual errorMacLean claims that Nutter & Buchanan's school voucher paper influenced "the plan Prince Edward County was about to put into effect" by shuttering its public school system to impede desegregation from 1959-1964There is no evidence that Nutter & Buchanan's paper influenced the Prince Edward County decision to close its schools. Furthermore, a federal court ruling in 1961 formally barred Prince Edward County from participating in the Virginia tuition grant program because they violated the terms of the statute by closing their public schools.
Allen v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, 198 F. Supp. 497 (E.D. Va. 1961)
80, 228Factual errorMaclean asserts that Plessy v. Ferguson "was one of two pivotal Supreme Court decisions that ensured extreme economic liberty for corporations and extreme disempowerment for citizens on matters from limits on working hours to civil rights." In a second passage she equates the same decisions to "an era of unmatched corporate dominance" and a "heydey" of "plutocracy"Plessy upheld a Louisiana railroad segregation requiring railroads to segregate passengers., which can hardly be construed as granting the railraoads economic liberty. One of the affected corporations helped a local civil rights group set up the Plessy litigation as a test case in the hope of defeating the law.Charles Lofgren, The Plessy Case3
xivQuotation error - falseMacLean purports to describe a mid-1950s conversation between Buchanan and UVA president Colgate Darden in which Buchanan resolved to "fight" the Brown v. Board decisionThere is no evidence that this conversation, or any other resembling it, ever took place. MacLean provides no sources or citations to support multiple italicized passages that she presents as if they were quotes from Buchanan and Darden
xviiQuotation error - omissionMacLean claims that Buchanan referred to segregationist 1956 Virginia a model for a society built on the "rights of the individual"The quoted passage was a narrow reference to the role of the "rights of the individual" in the Jeffersonian tradition at the University of Virginia. It is not a reference to Virginia, the state.Founding documents, Thomas Jefferson Center for Political Economy, December 1956, at University of Virginia Special Collections - Office of the President5
xxMisrepresented evidenceMacLean claims that Charles Koch credited Buchanan with providing the "technology" of ideas to carry out his political objectives in a 1997 speech. This speech in turn is the main evidence behind MacLean's larger thesis asserting a connection between Buchanan's theories and Koch's alleged implementation of them. MacLean misrepresents the contents of Koch's speech. The quoted portion is actually in reference to concepts adapted from the work of Michael Polanyi, not Buchanan. Koch's only mentions of Buchanan in the entire speech are two passing references to a lecture he gave the previous evening in which Buchanan critiqued the current state of the economics profession.
xxxiiFactual errorMacLean calls John C. Calhoun the "intellectual lodestar" of Buchanan and public choice theoryThere is no evidence that Buchanan ever cited, used, or engaged Calhoun's political theory. Buchanan's co-author Gordon Tullock affirmatively wrote in 1975 that both himself and Buchanan were unfamiliar with Calhoun's work. MacLean bases her claim on a misreading of a much later article by two of Buchanan's colleagues in which Buchanan and Calhoun's respective arguments are compared and then contrasted, noting substantial differences between them.
xxxiiQuotation error - falseMacLean attributes a description about the objectives of libertarianism to Buchanan & portrays him calling for a society that does not exercise "control" on the individualMacLean's cited sources do not contain the statement in question, nor does an extensive search among other potential sources. MacLean appears to have made it up
63Interpretive errorMacLean praises the Charlottesville Parents Committee for Emergency Schooling, which in 1958 set up emergency makeshift classrooms for students who were shut out of the public school system by the segregationist Massive Resistance school closure laws.One of the parents who hosted a classroom in his basement was actually G. Warren Nutter, UVA economist and Buchanan's co-author on the voucher paper that MacLean erroneously links to Massive Resistance and segregation.Washington Evening Star, September 24, 19584
59Misrepresented evidenceMacLean cites F.A. Hayek's lecture to a 1958 conference on labor economics at UVA to impugn the motives of Buchanan's research center and to imply it had an ideological link to segregationist Sen. Harry Flood ByrdThe same 1958 seminar actually featured several papers explicitly critiquing ways in which labor unions excluded black workers from the workforce and reinforced racial segregation.
Bradley, Philip D. editor. The public stake in Union Power. University of Virginia Press, 1959.