Monday, January 20, 2020

Oh, Come On

     Apparently, a pretty thorough debunking of a far-Left historian has recently been published.    Good stuff, hey?  Demolishing invidiousness with truth, right?


     Increasingly, pundits are trying to counter prejudice and jingoism, slanted takes on history, by pushing just as hard in the other direction.

     It works in physics, right?

     The problem is, history in all its forms, from today's TV news to the morning paper all the way to weighty multi-volume, small-print works, does not work that way.  Handedness doesn't count for much.  The real divide is different: you've got material that is true and real -- source documents, eyewitness accounts, good-faith objective writing and frankly-labeled subjective analysis -- on one side, and on the other, there's nothing but varying flavors of specious BS.  The vectors of slanted reporting don't cancel and no matter how hard you try to titrate the acid of one political leaning with the powerful alkali of the other, the result isn't salt water, it's just more BS.

     So when you read this stuff, do so with a skeptical eye; do so with a search engine handy, and check the claims.

     What I have read so far (yes, I have named neither the book nor the historian it debunks) is not what I had hoped.  There are no pages of footnotes listing authoritative sources or serious refutations of his allegations.  There's quite a lot of talk about other bad-faith historians, and about the man's own politics and habit of lifting material from other, often slanted, writers instead of going closer to the source.

     But there's no direct refutation.

     It's useful to point out propaganda, to hang a sign on bad information.  It's more useful to supply accurate information.  And yes, lies and misleading claims often have a delicious candy coating that is much more difficult to apply to the truth.  That doesn't mean it is not worth the effort to try.

     I'm going to do some more reading before I decide about buying the book, but it's not looking good.  Dammit, we're drowning in horsecrap.  It can't be remedied by adding to the pile.


Joe Gilbert said...

Cogent analysis!

Jerry said...

Hi Roberta,

Alas I'm not that it even works in Physics. A couple decades ago I was booted from a physics forum for daring to ask just how do we know that the speed of light is a constant.

After all the first accurate measurements of the speed of light date back to the 1880s. This is roughly analogous to taking the outside air temperature at any random second in the last thousand years and saying this is the constant temperature for all time. We know that the outside air temperature varies considerably. The speed of light? We really don't know and some radical physicists are contemplating that c is not a constant.


Roberta X said...

It worked in "classical" or "Newtonian" physics. Then they let that darned quantum in and everything got tricky.

pigpen51 said...

I once heard that history is written by the victors.

I myself find that often there is more than one way of looking at history, and that I can benefit from exposing myself to various points of view on some topics from the past. But that doesn't mean that you can have more than one point of view on truth and the actual history of something that happened.

While you can argue, and many do, about the true causes of the Civil War, you cannot debate the actual details of the various battles and what took place, or how each side armed themselves,or what Sherman did on his march to the sea. Facts are always going to be facts, and that is the problem with some so called historians. They want to let their opinion and their own bias get in the way of what are strictly facts. And that is how we get more than one picture of history, as seen through different lenses. When the only lens to see through is the lens of truth.