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I'd like to request that https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/10001/did-joseph-mccarthy-ever-mention-heinleins-novel-the-puppet-masters be reopened. I do not consider the question off-topic and the given reason of "does not merit historical investigation" is simply opinion and borders on the ridiculous. The fact that they were two prominent members of society who were contemporaries with similar ideologies alone should be sufficient grounds for "serious historical investigation".

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    I don't see how the question could be rephrased into a history one. You claim that Heinlein and McCarthy had "similar ideologies", but your question doesn't reference Heinlein's ideology, but the ideology expressed in a book of fiction Heinlein wrote. I don't doubt the two men have had some similar ideas & opinions, but let's not forget that politically they were on opposite sites (Heinlein was a Democrat). imho the question is not build around historical facts, but conjecture. An interesting question, but not one that's suitable for a Stack Exchange site. – yannis Aug 25 '13 at 14:30
  • @YannisRizos The question itself is about the book itself which, as the question notes, was released in 1951. (Heinlein was also more a Conservative than a Democrat although he didn't like such labels. One thing was sure: he was vehemently anti-communist just like McCarthy.) – coleopterist Aug 26 '13 at 6:57
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    Correlation does not imply causation. Without substantiation, this question amounts to nothing but idle speculation. We could indulge in the same sort of speculation about virtually every major historical figure whose ideas corresponded somehow to some work of fiction that was published during their era. This question belongs on SE.Area51, not here. – user2590 Aug 26 '13 at 21:37
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The year the Puppet Masters was published, there were thousands (if not tens of thousands) of other books published in English. It wasn't even the only SF book with that same theme published in 1951 (see Day of the Triffids). So if this is a good question, why isn't an identical question about Day of the Triffids also a good question? Why isn't another question about any of the other tens or hundreds of books with similar themes a good question? How about thousands of questions about each contemporary book that I can make a tenuous case for being related?

This is why I'd personally prefer to see questions where you have some tangible reason to believe there might be a relationship (heck, I might even settle for "some schmuck in a bar said...". Give me something!)

  • This is a very good point. I actually found some evidence that Heinlein rather approved of McCarthy's actions (though not of the man himself) but so far nothing indicates a conneciton in the other direction. To push the analogy with my question about young callow unknown Ben-Gurion and Trotsky in 1917 - it makes sense, imho, to ask if Ben-Gurion was interested in Trotsky but not vice versa. – Felix Goldberg Aug 26 '13 at 13:42
  • Interestingly, the storyline of Day of the Triffids is at least fairly different than Heinlein's work. However, when the movie was made, it's plot was essentially a mashup of the two (with a dash of War of the Worlds thrown in). – T.E.D. Aug 26 '13 at 13:45
  • No, what would then be a good question would be whether McCarthy utilised any of these novels in his campaign. I don't see why there has to be a more tangible reason than contemporaneity. "Did Mozart ever meet Beethoven?" is a perfectly good question as they were both contemporaries in a similar field as is "Did Beethoven ever meet Napoleon?" as they were prominent contemporaries notwithstanding the Eroica connection. – coleopterist Aug 26 '13 at 14:12
  • @FelixGoldberg I'd be interested in reading the evidence and perhaps using it to render a different spin to my question. – coleopterist Aug 26 '13 at 14:12
  • @coleopterist - Well, the logic of my answer would dictate that your question would be better, just because the pool of contemporary famous composers is much more limited. – T.E.D. Aug 26 '13 at 14:58
  • And I humbly submit that the number of novelists writing with an explicit anti-commie agenda during the Second Red Scare would very likely pale in comparison. But that is beside the point. Why is a question about composers deemed better simply because the scope is more limited? Either question is still a valid history question. Furthermore, Felix's note (if valid) about Heinlein's interest in McCarthy makes this a perfectly valid question with a "tangible reason" to enquire if McCarthy evinced a similar interest in RAH. – coleopterist Aug 26 '13 at 15:09
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Heinlein on Mccarthy:

My task [of defending America to foreigners] was made more difficult by the fact that many Americans with other attributes of a horse than horse sense were asserting loudly that McCarthy had indeed created a 'reign of terror.' Are you terrified? I am not, yet I have in my background much political activity well to the left of Senator McCarthy's position. The worst that Senator McCarthy can do to me is to ask me a lot of questions and demand answers under oath. I may resent some of the questions but I can answer them without taking refuge in the Fifth Amendment; there is no treason in my record. [...] I think that a Senate investigation of communism in the United States would have been fought by propaganda just as angry, just as vicious, had the investigation been chairmanned by Thomas Jefferson with Daniel Webster as his chief counsel.

--Tramp Royale, pp. 62-63.

Quoted from here.

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