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Pseudo-history, and related issues
#46
Quote:
john m roberts:2vob8922 Wrote:My term for the phenomenon: "The Persistence of Untruth."
Oh, that should have been the titel of the book... I'll keep that for the English translation, if there ever will be one, and if you can agree.

Be my guest, Jona.
Pecunia non olet
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#47
All this talk of peer review and pseudoscience has me wondering if I'll make a good history teacher ( or student Confusedhock: ) after all.

M.
-Michael Eversberg II
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#48
Well, you could always be a good pseudo-history teacher, couldn't you? :wink: :lol:
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
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#49
Quote:All this talk of peer review and pseudoscience has me wondering if I'll make a good history teacher
As long as a teacher is willing to admit ignorance and look for more information, he can not be bad. One of my teachers consistently replied to unexpected questions: "I do not know it today, but I will check it, and I will know the answer tomorrow." This made a lasting impression, and I often use those words myself.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#50
Quote:"I do not know it today, but I will check it, and I will know the answer tomorrow." This made a lasting impression, and I often use those words myself.
Hear, hear. My version is: "Interesting question. Let's try and find the answer." Smile
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#51
Quote:
Jona Lendering:3f6ppa8n Wrote:"I do not know it today, but I will check it, and I will know the answer tomorrow." This made a lasting impression, and I often use those words myself.
Hear, hear. My version is: "Interesting question. Let's try and find the answer." Smile


Absolutely!

:|

Narukami
David Reinke
Burbank CA
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#52
Quote:Well, you could always be a good pseudo-history teacher, couldn't you? :wink: :lol:

To me, that is the stuff of nightmares Confusedhock:

Ah, well, I guess we'll have to wait and see. As an ideal, I'd like to teach at a college or university level -- perhaps if I make it there I'll have run into proper information.

M.
-Michael Eversberg II
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#53
Quote:I am always bemused by the fact that ancient history is a subject that many feel they can turn their hand to, without having had any instruction whatsoever. We don't seem to see the same thing happening in other disciplines. I can't suddenly decide to be a barrister, for example, and pitch up at the law courts one morning. Usually, we have to demonstrate our expertise in some way... but publishers seem to fall over themselves to publish anything and everything. I recently had the misfortune to review a book entitled Cartimandua, and I have absolutely no idea how it ever got across an editor's desk -- if it had been submitted as an undergraduate dissertation, it would have been shredded.

Perhaps the main offenders are writers who have not studied their source material diligently, and/or are unaware of the limitations of their source material, and/or are willfully ignorant of the range of relevant source material...

I notice you're diplomatically not mentioning the author's name, but was it this book?: [url:otk5q2z0]http://antoninuspius.blogspot.com/2009/05/romans-in-fantasyland.html[/url] The blogger in this case certainly seems to share your opinion!

I wouldn't be so sure that the same thing isn't 'happening in other disciplines' - at least in terms of history writing. Even the more conscientious and accredited historians are now facing the added pressure from publishers to deliver new and saleable work to a tight schedule, thus cutting down on research time and necessitating reliance on secondary sources and cut'n'paste quotation - the time that once might have been spent on peer reviews and in-depth study is now being lost to the demands of editorial and marketing department deadlines. As for peer reviews - I think much of the time the only 'review' a book is likely to receive prior to publication will be from the publisher's editor, who will seldom have anything but a passing familiarity (at best) with the material. Not surprisingly, this leads to a drop in standards.

This sort of work has been called 'popular history', but it's also (very often) specifically narrative history as well. What we see, particularly, is an emphasis on literary sources (often themselves narrative) over more analytical disciplines (prosopography, numismatics, even archeology), except where their 'evidence' can be used to support the 'plot'.

An example, in one of those 'other disciplines': I recently attempted to punt an idea for a book about the 1857 Indian Uprising to a number of publishers... thier eyes glazed over. Then I mentioned that the book would also concern a radical Islamic fundamentalist plotting to destroy the British Empire. Eureka! "That sounds fantastic," I was told, "how soon can you let us see the manuscript?"

:roll:  

- Nathan
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#54
Thanks for the link

You make several excellent points -- all too sad and all too true.

Good luck with your India project.

:|

Narukami
David Reinke
Burbank CA
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#55
Quote:I notice you're diplomatically not mentioning the author's name, but was it this book?: [url:q75802ml]http://antoninuspius.blogspot.com/2009/05/romans-in-fantasyland.html[/url] The blogger in this case certainly seems to share your opinion!
I reviewed it for Classics Ireland, Nathan -- but I see their electronic content is 3 or 4 years behind.
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#56
Further to my post above, today's (UK) 'Observer Review' has an article about 'the new history boys and girls' ("Too Cool for School"):

[url:1ith0hrm]http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/jun/28/history-starkey-historians-writers[/url]

'Theory is a thing of the past for these hip young historians... What they're after is a cracking story' !

Apparently, "history is becoming cool [again] and the fightback is being spearheaded by a group of young, fashionable writers". All of them are between 27 and 31, and all studied at Oxbridge. The article continues: "this wave of young historians has sprouted up to fill the vacuum left by the departure of theory - or the "ism" - from mainstream academic life... I think [says one of them] if you produce a good narrative history, which convincingly creates the world you're writing about, then people will read it and draw their own conclusions."

"I had toyed with the idea of staying in academia [another says], but I was advised not to by the people at Cambridge. You see too many academics in Britain dragged down by constant paperwork and they never have the time to write much."

Hopefully 'constant paperwork' isn't actually a reference to, erm, historical research! :?

- N Ross
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#57
Quote:You see too many academics in Britain dragged down by constant paperwork
If it's anything like Dutch academia, the answer is sadly 'no'. Yell at publishers all you want, but the roots of this problem lie in politics, budgetting and the afore-mentioned problem of academic publishing houses.
Greets!

Jasper Oorthuys
Webmaster & Editor, Ancient Warfare magazine
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#58
Quote:"I think [says one of them] if you produce a good narrative history, which convincingly creates the world you're writing about, then people will read it and draw their own conclusions."
I'm afraid that, in a lot of cases (imho), the appropriate conclusion (as in the aforementioned Cartimandua) is "this is a load of *******". Big Grin
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#59
Does part of the problem lie in the fact that regular historians, academicians and the like, care so little to make their histories interesting?
Multi viri et feminae philosophiam antiquam conservant.

James S.
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#60
Possibly. But what's interesting to one is boring to another, and too many (or not enough) facts and footnotes is somewhat of a subjective judgment, too. It can be distracting to have an inch of text, and three inches of footnotes sometimes. Other times, one wonders "where the heck did they come up with that?"
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
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