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Published on February 2, 2004 By russellmz In Politics
I don't care if it's a lie as long as it's entertaining.
             -Commoner, Rashômon

Previously on Urban Legends are Fun I listed reasons why the "Dear Mr. Clinton" article being sent through email was at least 50% bs. Now another Urban Legend has been posted: The inevitable fall of democracies

The article lists several sources and facts that are false. The source for my bitching at their sources? The usually dependable urban legend debunking site,

First off: the statistics by "Professor Joseph Olson" at the Hamline University School of Law. He exists. But according to a January 17, 2001 The Citizen News article titled "Don't believe, or pass on, all you read (an article listed by, "the 'research' was attributed to him erroneously." The article states that Olson said he got it from a Sheriff Jay Printz in Montana, who in turn didn't do the research either, and doesn't remember who emailed the article to him.

Second: (2/26/04 edit!: a poster in the comments claims he found some text from Tytler that has the passages. Haven't received them yet or seen an update on the Lord Woodhouselee, Alexander Fraser Tytler, was an author but it is not likely he wrote the quote. The fact that the email spells his name wrong does not bode well for the article's authenticity. The books "The Fall of the Athenian Republic" or "The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic" are not listed in the Library of Congress. Searches by on a history book by Tytler that is avaliable online reveal the matches to distinctive terms in the article such as bondage, democracy, etc. were not related to the quote.

Third: the number of murders by county are...wrong. Using the calcuations by
Gore: 6.5
Bush: 4.1
A little touch of me: HA! See, those evil Gorians are f--king murderers! Except not. Ever read the population densities for some of those "red" counties? Some of them are less than 1 person per mile. But Gore got the more urban and population dense areas. Obviously, a place with more people will have more murders than a place where you have to do a twenty minute hike to kill your neighbor.

Pop quiz hotshot.
Number of states won by Gore and Bush respectively according to the article? 19 and 29.

What does 19 + 29 equal? 48.

And how many states are there?

Anyway, as Dave Hamrick wrote in 2001 about this very article, "Don't pass this stuff along unless it comes from a verifiable source."

on Feb 04, 2004
Hehehe. Funny. Thanks for the post.
on Feb 23, 2004
I have found some of the ideas found in this email in the work of Tytler. I have submitted the quotes to and can present them to you if you would like them. Like you, I like to verify and debunk the many forwards I receive and as stated, there is a grain of truth in this email - there's just a bigger grain than they found.
on Feb 24, 2004
cool! what book were they in? send them over to

on Mar 29, 2004
The works of Sir Alexander Fraser Tytler, the Lord Woodhouselee, are not in publication, as the last time they were actively used was in the late 18th century. The work in question is most likely one of volumes of his two volume set, "The Elements of General History" used as coursework for his classes in universal history at the University of Edinburgh from 1780 until 1811, during which time he revised them extensively.

They were also used as textbooks in England and some believe in America as well. I believe that Yale currently holds a copy of one of the folios along with some letters between Alexander Fraser and his father, William; I have not yet verified this.

I am currently in Edinburgh. The University library archives have copies of many of his works, including the Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Henry Home, lord Kames, an early mentor to the young Alexander Fraser Tytler, and the Elements, as well as "Ireland profiting by Example, or the Question considered, Whether Scotland has gained or lost by the Union."

At any rate, I have been unable to find the quote in question.

- Nathan Dornbrook
on Mar 29, 2004
We should also note that Gore states, on average, gave more money to the federal government than they received, while Bush states, on average, received more from the federal government than they paid in taxes. This reflects the fact that urban areas are, on average, wealthier and more liberal than rural ones.