Facts are subversive (1991 attrib I. F. Stone)

ADSGarson O'Toole 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


[Begin excerpt]
"Facts are subversive."
- I.F. Stone
[End excerpt]

[Begin excerpt]
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
a punch.
[End excerpt]

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]

[Begin excerpt]
We hope CBS will counter with a new TV show "Is it subversive to
mention hunger in America?"
[End excerpt]

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)
[Begin excerpt]
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.
[End excerpt]


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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