Facts are subversive (1991 attrib I. F. Stone)
adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 10 21:55:15 UTC 2012
An author contacted me about the saying "Facts are subversive" which
is credited to the journalist and activist I. F. Stone. The earliest
citation I could find was in a book titled "Citizen Action and Other
Big Ideas: A History of Ralph Nader and the Modern Consumer Movement"
by David Bollier. WorldCat and Google Books indicate that this book
was published in 1991 (after the death of I.F. Stone in 1989).
The website nader.org has posted the chapters of (a version of) this
book online. Chapter 5 is titled "Corporate Abuses, Consumer Power"
and the quotation with an attribution to I. F. Stone appeared as an
epigraph. In addition, the body of the chapter contained the
"Facts are subversive."
- I.F. Stone
The late journalist I.F. Stone, another underdog known for his
painstaking research and crusading investigations, once disclosed the
secret of his success to an admirer - “Facts are subversive.” If the
key documents, eyewitness accounts, official studies and other shreds
of evidence can be marshalled together, the facts alone can pack quite
If this claim is accurate then it is possible that I. F. Stone did not
write the quotation; he spoke it. I suggested that the author try to
contact David Bollier to gather more details.
Below are two citations that are thematically related to the quotation
under investigation. Neither cite provides substantive evidence about
the quotation. The relationship is tangential. But they do illustrate
word choices made by Stone. The first cite employs a rhetorical
question that contains the words "facts" and "subversive". The second
citation provides a comment about "subversive".
Cite: 1968 December 16, I. F. Stone's Weekly, "Is It Subversive to
Expose the Facts of Hunger in Rich America?", Quote Page 2, Column 1,
Published by I.F. Stone, Washington, D.C. (Unz)
[Begin article title]
Is It Subversive to Expose the Facts of Hunger in Rich America?
[End article title]
We hope CBS will counter with a new TV show "Is it subversive to
mention hunger in America?"
Cite: 1954 March 15, I. F. Stone's Weekly How Stem Witch Mania While
Acquiescing in Demonology?, [Title on page 4], Start Page 1, Quote
Page 4, Column 2, Published by I.F. Stone, Washington, D.C. (Unz)
There must be renewed recognition that societies are kept stable and
healthy by reform, not by thought police; this means that there must
be free play for so-called "subversive" ideas-every idea "subverts"
the old to make way for the new.
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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