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I wish I had the money to go to Harvard and take just one of his classes. Or just hang with him for an hour or so talking history.

 I agree! Even when he makes those hypotheses I don't agree with, I think it would be fascinating to discuss why- without having to worry about him biting one's head off for dissenting.  I like and respect his work a great deal and I, especially, like how he presents the stories and detective work in a way to appeal to virtually anyone watching it to want to do their own investigations.

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It's hard to take Gates's knowledge seriously when he made such a fundamental error in the Maggie Gyllenhaal - Robert Downer Jr. episode.

In going over Downey's history, he explained how Downey's great-great grandmother Ida died in New York in 1893 at age 45.  Both Downey, Downey's father (Robert Downey, Sr. -- also appearing in the episode), and Gates remark how young this is.  To which the "expert" Gates proclaims, "In 1901, the average life expectancy at birth for a woman in New York was 45 years. So while it seems to us that Ida died very young, her life span was typical for the time."


Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.


Professor Gates ignored the part about "life expectancy at birth."  For people who survived childhood, as Ida did, the life expectancy was much more than 45. Specifically, fpr Ida who was 45 in 1893, her life expectancy was about 25 -- so to about age 70.  (source: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005140.html)

idea did in fact die much younger than most other women of her age at that time.

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The way I read it, Ida died much younger than other women who lived to be 40 years old at the time. In general, women who reached age 40 could expect to live to another 28 years, or to about 70. 


And not to nitpick, but if Gates said "average life expectancy at birth" then he was correct - many did not survive childhood.


I'd like to see a table that eliminates infant mortality and shows average life span, the infoplease table isn't clear on general life expectancies.

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I'm not convinced I'd want to take a course with him or not.

I don't' know him none of us do….and I'm not going to make it a racial issue -- but I get the sense that he's the kind of man that actually does NOT take very well to being challenged.


I'm not saying he's not likable, lovable and wouldn't give you the shirt off his back -- and all that.

But I just get the sense that if challenged with another point of view or a disagreement that he would pull rank very quickly.


I'm sure we all know certain people that they're all lovey-dovey -- but just have that one quirk, that their ego can't take being challenged.

They take every different point of view as a personal affront to their knowledge and title.

They'll let you know in a heart beat -- "I'm the professor," or "I'm the manager."


I wouldn't mess with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

I can see him thinking a student was challenging him and trying to embarrass him or something.

I just don't think he takes dissent from HIS opinion very well.


I have nothing concrete to base that on at all…it's just an opinion.

Edited by selhars
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I have taken classes with Gates, and you couldn't be more wrong. The atmosphere in his class is very collegial/collaborative. He never lectures at his students. (Or at least he didn't as of 20+ years ago, when I took classes with him.) Does he have flaws? Sure. But that's not one. 

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