Sunday, November 08, 2015


I mentioned this in an update to my last Ben Carson post, but I wanted to talk more about it. Here's Kevin Drum:
More Ben Carson news today! You remember Doc Carson's story about the psychology test hoax that proved he was the most honest man at Yale? Well, Carson says it really happened, and the proof is ... a piece from the Yale Daily News about a parody issue of the News published by the Yale Record. Apparently the parody issue announced that some psychology exams had been destroyed and a retest would be held in the evening. Hilarious!
Once again, here's the story -- which, as Drum notes, is very, very different from Carson's version:

Carson says in Gifted Hands that this happened in his junior year. The Yale Daily News story says it happened in 1970, when Carson was a freshman. (He graduated high school in 1969 and got his bachelor's from Yale in '73.) Carson says he took the new exam with "about 150 other students." The article says "several students" showed up for the retest. Carson says the questions on the second exam, unlike those on the first one, "were incredibly difficult, if not impossible... a brilliant psychiatrist might have trouble with some of them." The article says the second exam "closely resembled the psychology exam given on Monday morning."

There's no mention in the article of anything like this:
“What’s going on?” I asked. “A hoax,” the teacher said. “We wanted to see who was the most honest student in the class.” She smiled again. “And that’s you.” The professor then did something even better. She handed me a ten-dollar bill.
I have a question about this that, depending on the answer, might lead me to feel a little sympathy for Carson: Did he actually fall for this hoax? I ask because I was a naive college student. Like Carson, I didn't have parents who attended college and I made it to one of the Ivies. It was an awkward fit. I look back and recall missing what to other people would have been obvious cues. Maybe that's what happened to Carson -- and, of course, he was a freshman. Maybe he turned a humiliating moment of naivete into gold in his memoir.

Or maybe not. Maybe he just read about this incident, or experienced it but shrugged it off, then mined it later -- it was just material he could spin into inspirational fiction, not a memory whose pain he could reduce by reworking it. Did he use the story because he's a cynic? A grifter? Or maybe just a well-meaning Christian who thinks tales of prayer rewarded, true or otherwise, will draw people closer to God?

Or did he later come to think this really happened the way he retold it?

Rachel Dolezal feels black even though the facts say she's white. Ben Carson might feel God blessed him in that classroom even though it never happened.


BY THE WAY: Garry Trudeau was the editor of the Yale Record around this time. Has anyone asked him to weigh in?


mlbxxxxxx said...

Don't you think everyone who thinks god has blessed them is essentially as deluded as poor Rachel Dolezal (who I think is a really pathetic case)? Who, or what, do you think is "blessing them" otherwise if it's not a self delusion? Go to any fundamentalist/evangelical church, especially an evening service, and you are likely to hear testimonials of god's blessing in very specific terms. "I asked god for x and got x or something even better." It is endemic. This is why Carson will do well with that type of voter, but will have a hard time breaking away. That type of self-delusion doesn't translate well to the national stage. It needs church pews and inspirational music -- an atmosphere of faith, not rational debate.

Ken_L said...

One thing's for sure: we'll never be able to believe any explanation given by Carson. I think the most likely one is that Carson gave his ghost-writer, sorry "co-author", a bunch of half-remembered incidents from his youth, and the ghost-writer used them as the scaffolding for an inspirational life story that was largely a work of creative fiction. Nothing particularly wrong with that; it wasn't as if Carson was running for office or anything.

Except now he is ...

Feud Turgidson said...

One time my mother took me to see this huge turkey, & right beside it was a giant ham: the biggest turkey ever seen, and the ham too the most big anyone ever even heard of. And I was thinking - you really wouldn't believe how awesomely huge that turkey was, & that ham could have been bigger, except, I don't know if you folks know about turkeys, OR hams, but, if you examine a ham it doesn't have the legs left on. Whereas with turkeys, they look bigger to the unskilled eye,than a ham of equal or even a bit bigger size. I'm using size in a technical way, to mean something that's actually bigger or smaller than just looks bigger or smaller; so size is a word that goes either way. It's because turkeys, when your mother or wife goes to cook them, come with their limbs mostly intact. And that gives off an impression of greater or more bigness; and sometimes that can be misleading. And it's interesting, hams don't come that way; I'll leave it to you to think on why that is. Anyway, I was a curious youngster, so I inquired of my mother, Why are we here looking at this awesomely huge turkey, and this big ham, too, which might actually be bigger than the turkey? And I was informed at that time that the reason was that our family had been been chosen to eat that same turkey and ham, and that God and his only son Jesus were to eat with us, that was why. And I found that interesting, so I asked my mother, Why are they coming to eat with us, out of all the houses in the world, this night, why has God chosen to come to this house, and bring his only son Jesus along with him? And she told me, she said it was because of me, because God had been watching over my progress in school and my behavior at home, with her and my brother Curtis, who's older than me but we used to go everywhere together, all time, it was a rule in our house. Also, there was so much turkey and so much ham to eat, there'd be too many people to come to eat at our house, so the meal itself would be at this large hall in the community. My mother went on to inform me that God was very busy that day, so he and Jesus couldn't arrive until very late, after my bedtime; but in the meantime, my brother would stay up while I slept, and when God and Jesus arrived, the plan was for Jesus to stay behind with me, watching over me, while my mother and God went on over to that large hall full of a lot of other people interested in meeting God, and as well in eating turkey and ham. They actually didn't have to eat them together but they could if they wanted. And that's what happened, and that's how it cane to be that I and Jesus had our first sleep-over together.

We know his wife as a "concert violinist" because that's what they call her. Most recently she performed at the event where Dr. Ben Carson announced running for president. She was too busy as a wife, mother to 3 boy children, one named Murray, & help-mate to Dr. Carson, & since the children left home busy heading up a not-for-profit organization, for a more active concert career. It's fortunate she was available for that event honoring her husband, also she feels strongly. The NFP she heads is called The Carson Scholars Fund, providing grants to grades 2>11 school kids showing "academic excellence"* with "interest in the community" **. She was recruited into this position due to board members noting she had an MBA from Yale, achieved in the same university Dr. Ben Carson attended at the same time, & also where they first met & fell into mutual commitment upon discovering they shared an abiding fascination over connections among bestiality, homosexuality, pedophilia, and Nazis.

[* This being "grade school" FCOL, "academic excellence" would have to be largely if not completely synonymous with good report cards showing high class grades'.** This being "grade school" FFS, "community" would not exclude school.]

marieburns said...

Steve, your take on Carson's "misremembering" is kindlier than mine, & you may be right. I would guess that the fake psych test story is Carson's own "politically correct" way of getting back at the rich, white legacies who looked down their noses (or who Carson thought were looking down their noses) at the poor, black scholarship kid. Not only was Carson more honest & worthy than all of them put together, according to his story, his "honesty" was a gift that God granted to him alone. The true "chosen one" at Yale was not to be found among those entitled richy-rich snobs (whom Satan had chosen?), but in the unassuming, Jesus-like hero Ben Carson. Carson says BlackLivesMatter is "sickening" because it "bullies" people, but Carson has his own, more subtle, socially-acceptable & personally-beneficial method of crying discrimination.


maxk1947 said...

"Honest" is a synonym for "gullible," right?

maxk1947 said...

A representative for Dr. Carson claimed on TV (MSNBC?) that there would be evidence presented this past weekend concerning Dr. Carson's stories about his youth that would make the media seem very foolish in its questions. Has anyone seen such a response? It sounds a lot like Trump's birther revelations from his Hawaiian P.I.'s. (which never materialized).

Anonymous said...

I can easily imagine that young Carson, an earnest dorky guy who doesn't know about college pranks and parody issues and the rest, would see the fake, fall for it, show up to take the test, and struggle with it until he was the last one there -- maybe even until being told by someone that the whole thing was a hoax. Maybe someone even felt bad for him and complimented his tenacity. The thing about other students concocting plans to cheat as they left and all the rest... that never happened. I can imagine that he remembers this as something that could have been humiliating but shows his resilience and fortitude. The narrative about how it gave him for the second time the mystical $10 he needed to take the bus to church... uh, doubtful.

Glennis said...

This is actually a pretty fascinating development in this story. What fun!

Ten Bears said...

Not self delusion, a mass delusion. A psychosis.

Feud Turgidson said...

Former Cargo Cultists are now Carson Cultists.