More medical speculation about Lincoln

A new article wonders if Lincoln carried the ataxia gene based on incidents detected in his larger family. (Subscription may be required.)

These excitement around these medical stories fascinates me. We know Lincoln through his record, his actions, his writings: why do people think medical information "may cast new light" on this subject? Since our picture of Lincoln is very well set, new information basically is put to work confirming the lines of the story we have agreed upon.

And so, a new book argues that Lincoln's depression made him stronger, better suited to deal with the national crisis.

And so, the discovery that Lincoln stopped medicating himself with mercury tablets at the start of the war produces the response "Whew! He could have killed himself!" rather than an "Aha, so that's why he was so erratic."

This ataxia finding, on the other hand, is so odd it cannot even be applied to the lines of Lincoln's legend, pro or con. It has no bearing on anything except that it touches on the subject of Lincoln.