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Old August 5th, 2010, 08:21 AM   #21

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Re: History and Historians


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Originally Posted by avon View Post
I knew you'd agree to that part!

Part of the problem with insisting on sources is that, as amateurs, most people do not log citations within careful research that an historian would. I confess that I frequently rely upon memory and an imperfect ability to re-locate a book when needed.
Exactly right...even a reference to the book you got it from would suffice because it gives your readers an opportunity to find the book and examine it for themselves.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 08:23 AM   #22

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Re: History and Historians


This is why I am so dead set against the over use of Wiki citations: if one has not the acumen to wed direct sources to their own thoughts, it conveys a lack of real 'digging' for foundational ideas.

If you really do not know, man up! Don't lean on a Wiki.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 08:24 AM   #23
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Re: History and Historians


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Originally Posted by tjadams View Post
I think I've latched onto the 'cite your sources' bandwagon because I'm enrolled in taking my Masters in US History and when I write a paper, like I'm in the midst of doing now about the French Revolution, I have to site like this:
1. Ruth Scurr, Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2006), 49.

If I leave off one dot or semicolon or whatever, the professors always catch that and take off points.
Referencing is the bane of a student's existence!
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Old August 5th, 2010, 08:28 AM   #24

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Re: History and Historians


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Exactly right...even a reference to the book you got it from would suffice because it gives your readers an opportunity to find the book and examine it for themselves.
Yup. If we were debating an area that I was reasonably familiar with - let's say the origins of WWII - all I would need to know was the historian. I know the historiography well enough to find it from there. (Obviously a full citation is better, but a name would do.) I know where to locate that historian historically.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 08:29 AM   #25
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Re: History and Historians


We have already dealt elsewhere with the merits and shortcomings of wiki as a tertiary source; as a topic IMHO it would deserve its own thread.

Let just say that without exception any statement is as a valid as its primary source, and that experience has systematically shown that even wiki tends to be better than thin air as a source...
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Old August 5th, 2010, 08:33 AM   #26

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Re: History and Historians


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If I leave off one dot or semicolon or whatever, the professors always catch that and take off points.
Ah, you're bringing back memories here.

I remember one time in a small seminar (possibly 20 or 24) students, the tutor starting moaning that very few students knew how to cite sources correctly. I argued back that that was unfair. He then tested me for the next five minutes or so about how to cite differing type of sources and the variants depending on where you use them. When he couldn't get me on that, he started on about using Ibid., and Op. cit., and so on. The only thing most of that class learned was that the tutor was an immature little prat.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 08:36 AM   #27

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Re: History and Historians


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We have already dealt elsewhere with the merits and shortcomings of wiki as a tertiary source; as a topic IMHO it would deserve its own thread.
http://www.historum.com/showthread.p...ht=Wiki+source
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Old August 5th, 2010, 08:38 AM   #28

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Re: History and Historians


Of course, we should all realise that the people we would really like to take notice of this thread, won't. Such is life!
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Old August 5th, 2010, 08:40 AM   #29

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Re: History and Historians


Haha! Sylla referenced a thread about wikipedia as a source in that thread too! Hot topic, I guess...
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Old August 5th, 2010, 08:45 AM   #30

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Re: History and Historians


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Originally Posted by Rosicrucian View Post
Not to take anything away from your excellent argments, I'm just giving a counterview.

Playing devil's advocate is not a bad thing. You make some great points and I think this is a quality post. Let me try to answer some of your points:





Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosicrucian View Post
If that criterion were strictly enforced I wonder how many historians would actually see their books published. Objectivity is an ideal we can only aspire to, regardless of our profession.
It can be done, but its after careful training. Bias is the most difficult thing standing in the way of all historians. Also, its not that a person has bias, but can that person present an objective argument despite their bias. It's more of a matter of keeping the bias in check rather than allowing bias to consume the way you think about a source or historical event.


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Most history books I've read clearly betray the author's bias at some point or the other. Either they love their subject and make no effort to hide it and though they cover a counterview just to keep the narrative balanced, they do so in a way that makes light of the counterview. It's either mentioned in passing or in a way that attacks the motives of those who hold that counterview. On the other hand there are those who go bersek attacking their subject and display the same attitude towards a counterview as the former category. I don't think such tactics fool the reader.
You are spot on about narratives. Narratives tend to be more biased (usually based on political affiliation) than a specialized piece. Have you had an opportunity to read a specialized work? If you haven't let me know what you are interested in and I can refer some recommended works. One thing is for sure, you're right about the readers not buying such tactics.

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Originally Posted by Rosicrucian View Post
Objectivity also tends to get tricky. You say a historian has to interpret the data, look at it in its entirety, connect the dots, so to speak, and yet to do this he must take a stand. If you were to keep things completely objective, you would not be able to make any categoric statements, all arguments would appear dilute, your tone would appear non-committal, and your editor would probably ask you: "What is the point of this book?"
Like all sciences, history is not exact...so you take it as it comes. You may take a stand on an issue, but that doesn't mean its going to be your final stand. A historian may write another book or come out with that same book that has new material (also known as the 2nd edition) based on a reinterpretation of events.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosicrucian View Post
And if you were to reply "We don't really know" I doubt your honesty would be rewarded.
Actually, we use that phrase all the time. The fact is we really don't know. None of us were there so we have to rely on the accounts of others...many of whom have their own biases and problems.





Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosicrucian View Post
I suppose we are all doomed to never finding out the real truth.
Are we doomed to never finding the truth? Probably...but coming up with a likely scenario of how things were or how an event turned out is the closest thing we can get to the truth.
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